Review: Fool Moon

December 10th, 2013

A few years back I read Stormfront, the first book in Jim Butcher’s The Dresden Files. Although I liked the story, I didn’t like the main character harry Dresden, nor did I like the number one supporting character Detective Karrin Murphy. I thought Harry Dresden was a class-A jerk, and Murphy was a thug with a gun and a badge. I just did not like either one of these characters. Friends of mine who had read more of the books assured me that they get better.

Fast forward to today, and I have read the second book in the series, Fool Moon. Dresden is a more likeable character. Murphy, on the other hand, is still a thug with a gun and a badge. Murphy also jumps to conclusions based purely on circumstantial evidence. Some friend!

Johnny Marcone returns, and he is a convincing character that works well. He is a real thug, Chicago’s gangland master. He also has some legitimate business interests.

As for Fool Moon, this is another good tale from Jim Butcher. As the title suggests, we’re going to get werewolves. Lots of them. Butcher obviously did his homework on werewolf folklore and had me doing some of my own. I had no idea that folklore presented so many different ways of achieving the lycanthropic effect, as I am so used to what we used to get in the movies. Full Moon rises, and, behold, Lon Chaney, Jr., becomes the Wolfman. Nope, in Fool Moon, we get a lot more, and Butcher gives each type a unique moniker fitting the type.

Dresden finds himself drawn into an investigation of a recent outbreak of murders that look like wolf attacks, but forensic evidence points to something not quite wolf-like. Thus his research into werewolves with the help of Bob, his air spirit in a skull.

Not wanting to give out too much in the way of spoilers, everything about Dresden’s investigation goes wrong at every turn, and somehow still manages to pull his bacon out of the frying pan in the nick of time. This makes for a nice, fast paced story with plenty of action. It is also extremely violent, more so than what I recall from Stormfront. But then we are dealing with werewolves.

Susan Rodriguez is an important character in this story, not only as the reporter for the Arcane, but also bails Dresden out of several tight situations, and we see a budding romance as it becomes obvious that she has deep feelings for Dresden. Susan is a likeable character, and, character-wise, I think she helps bring out some of the better qualities in Dresden that we see in this book.

Meanwhile, Butcher stitches together some very nice prose, especially when describing the full moon coming up at the climax of the book where Butcher gives us some really nice imagery that goes beyond your typical “silvery moon”. Overall I enjoyed reading Fool Moon more than Stormfront, in part because it was a darn good tale, and also due to Dresden’s improving character. And if you are wondering if I will read more in the series, the answer is, you betcha. Albeit it may be awhile as I have several other books staged up ahead of the next book in the series.

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Review: On Basilisk Station

October 8th, 2013

On Basilisk Station by David Weber is the first book in the Honor Harrington series. Weber chose the name to have the initials H.H. for the main character knowing that his series would be compared to C.S. Forester’s Hornblower series.

Honor Harrington, a commander in the Royal Manticoran Navy, has taken command of the light cruiser Fearless, and after a series of war games, is assigned to Basilisk Station and its single habitable world, Medusa, where intrigue is going on, as well as rampant smuggling. Harrington sets about cleaning up the system and putting a stop to the smuggling only to find herself facing political intrigue and a native insurrection on Medusa.

Like so many of the military SF with a naval focus, the RMN is reminiscent of the British Navy during the Napoleonic War era. There is also a distinct aristocracy. What Weber does in this first book is how the Star Kingdom of Manticore developed into an old Europe style monarchy and nobility in a manner that seems plausible. From a story point of view, it actually made sense how it developed.

We also learn a bit about the Republic of Haven, which sounds more like a metaphor for a Stalinist state than a free republic, but they are the main antagonists in this first book, even manipulating some Manticorans behind the seasons with their own political agenda.

Weber also introduces Treecats, a species of feline native to one of Manticore’s habitable planets, Sphinx. They seem to be somewhat empathic and have a fairly high intelligence, but the humans have not quite figured out exactly how sentient they are. Treecats sometimes bond with humans, and accommodation in the RMN has been made for its personnel who are bonded to Treecats.

Overall a darn good read, which I enjoyed immensely from start to finish. And yes, I expect to read the next book in the series soonish.

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Review – The Ghost in the INvisible Bikini

August 21st, 2013

My daughter had requested we watch The Ghost in the Invisible Bikini. Sadly, I don’t have this in our video collection, but, as luck would have it, Amazon Prime did have it for streaming video, and there was much rejoicing.

The Ghost in the Invisible Bikini is a departure from the rest of the AIP beach movies in that A) there isn’t a beach scene, B) no Frankie Avalon or Annette Funicello, and C) it is a horror/comedy. And, yeah, it did scare my daughter, but, hey, she’s not yet eight, so not a huge surprise.

The only real linkage between this movie and the other AIP beach movies that featured Annette and Frankie is the appearance of Eric von Zipper (Harvey Lembeck) and the Rat Pack. This gang of misfits on cycles is always welcome. Jesse White returns, reprising his role J. Sinister Hulk from Pajama Party.

The plot revolves around Hiram Stokely (Boris Karloff), who is recently dead and has to perform one good dead in order to get into Heaven. To help him accomplish this feat is the ghost of a long dead girlfriend, Cecily (Susan Hart), who is the Ghost in the Invisible Bikini. Cecily’s task is to make sure that Stokely’s rightful heirs receive his fortune and not be cheated out of it by his lawyer, Reginald Ripper (Basil Rathbone). Ripper has hired J. sinister Hulk and his cronies to do away with the other heirs to Stokely’s fortune so he can keep it all for himself.

Good stuff – interesting plot the throws Lili (Deborah Walley) and Chuck (Tommy Kirk) together as a love interest, the Rat Pack with their antics, and Boris Karloff.

Weak points – the Indian in Hulk’s gang was NOT played by Buster Keaton. Not sure when this was being filmed, but it would have been right around the time that Keaton passed away. The editing is a bit choppy during the first third or so of the film, but evens out as it gets into the main part of the story line. Could have done without the Indian, Chicken Feather (Benny Rubin). In fact, would have been better if they had rewrote the role as something completely different instead of trying to build off of Keaton’s Chief Rotten Eagle from Pajama Party.

Overall a satisfying film, but not one of the better AIP beach movies. This I probably the only one of the Beach films I had never seen before. I had heard of it, but never seen it. Karloff is great in this film, as are the leads and most of the supporting cast. I am kind of sad to say that although it is not a bad film, it is not a great film. Still, if you like the AIP beach films, it is worth seeing.

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Review: How to Stuff a Wild Bikini

August 21st, 2013

One of the joys of parenthood is introducing your children to the things you loved growing up, and hoping they love them too. So it was the past Saturday night when, after dinner of too many burgers with a couple of friends, we decided to watch a movie to let things rest before trying out the blueberry ice cream I made (yes, homemade ice cream is the rule in our house). The movie selected was How To Stuff A Wild Bikini, one of the ‘60s AIP beach movies featuring Annette Funicello and Frankie Avalon.

Brief synopsis – Frankie is in the Navy reserve and stationed on some remote South Pacific Island, making time with a native girl, while Dee Dee is at home waiting for him. Said native girl (Irene Tsu) manages to convince Frankie to visit the local witchdoctor, Bwana, played by the great Buster Keaton (okay, I admit it, I am a Buster Keaton fan). Bwana sets up a pelican to keep a bird’s eye view on Dee Dee and then conjures up a decoy to keep other boys away from Dee Dee.

The film also features Mickey Rooney, an ad agency exec, who is looking for the perfect girl to go with the perfect boy to change the image of motorcycling. His plans go awry when he chooses the decoy, Cassandra (Beverly Adams), to be paired up with his boy, Ricky (Dwayne Hickman), and Ricky chooses to pursue Dee Dee. It becomes more complex when Eric von Zipper and the Rat Pack appear on the scene and von Zipper decides that Cassandra is nifty.

Frankie Avalon, for whatever reason, only appears in a few scenes in the film, possibly due to scheduling conflicts as he was filming Sergeant Deadhead about this time. Regardless of his short presence, the story works.

Keaton also turns in one of his best Beach Movie performances as the witchdoctor, with nifty special effects every time he takes a slug of torpedo juice provided by Frankie as payment for his reports on how Dee Dee is doing. Bwana: “She teetering”. Native girl: “I hoped she had tottered!”

All in all, it is a wonderful film. Maybe not the best of AIPs beach movies, but it is a good solid entry in the genre, with a surprise cameo at the end. Sorry, no spoiler on that one.

And yes, my daughter, not quite eight, really liked it.

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Who’s The Doctor?

June 4th, 2013

Matt Smith is leaving Doctor Who, and the “Net is abuzz with speculations and thoughts on who will become the 12th Doctor. Not wanting to be outdone, I thought I would chime in on my own recommendation.

In my highly respected opinion, I believe the best choice to be the next Doctor is William Shatner. Here’s why: Shatner has the experience that few other actors have in traveling through time and space. Has Captain Kirk he has traveled back in time to different points in time on Earth, as well as on other worlds, as well as traveled throughout the galaxy.

Shatner’s experience as a time traveler resulted in keeping Earth’s history on course by preventing a peace movement that would result in Nazi domination of the world in “City on the Edge of Forever”. Kirk again saves the future after accidentally interfering with Earth’s timeline in “Tomorrow is Yesterday”. Not to mention saving the whales in ST:IV.

Shatner has battled bug-eyed monsters, including Gorns, Tellarites, Salt Vampires, and lawyers. Oh, wait, the lawyers are from Boston Legal.

Not only has Shatner extensive experience in traveling through time and space (“No, I’m from Iowa. I only work in outer space.”), dealing with aliens, battling gods, he has traveled to other dimensions by entering the Mirror Universe.

Who is more qualified to play the 12th Doctor? What other actor can bring this much experience to the table? I don’t know? Third base!

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71ST Anniversary of the Doolittle Raid

April 18th, 2013

Today marks the 71st Anniversary of the Doolittle Raid, the famous raid on the Japanese homelands in the opening months of the U.S. involvement in World War 2. Only four of the Raiders are still with us, and they held their last public gathering, with three of the men gathering near Eglin AFB in Florida. There are plans for the four Raiders to gather to drink one last toast together, from a bottle of 1896 Hennessey Cognac, using the goblets that has accompanied every Raider reunion since 1960.

Of the four Raiders, Lieutenant Colonel Robert L. Hite is the only one remaining of those who survived being captured by the Japanese after raid.

The raid itself, doing little material damage to Japan, and all aircraft lost, served as a significant morale booster for America, and proved to the Japan that their homeland was not safe from American air power.

Most of the Raiders made it back home after the raid, with only eight being captured by the Japanese, with two died of drowning when they ditched at sea, and one other killed while bailing out of his aircraft. Of the eight that the Japanese captured, three were executed and one other died during captivity.

The Internet WW2 database has a good article on the entire raid, and well worth reading. Along with watching the movie Thirty Seconds Over Tokyo.

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Changing Direction

April 18th, 2013

Well, after several years of writing about politics and issues facing America, I find myself a bit burned out in that direction, and wanting to refocus my writing energies on topics that would be more productive, and enjoyable. Things like history, science and science fiction, and rural living. Maybe even a bit of fishing. You never know. I’ll continue to dabble in political discussions, but mainly on the LSF site, but not here.

My thanks to all of my reads over the years. I hope that those who have put up with my extended writing absence will stick around for what I have to say going forward, even if it doesn’t involve bashing the current crop of politicians.

A Little Electoral Prediction

November 3rd, 2012

I ran across a piece on Breitbart’s Big Government that noted an interesting historical point: The Republican candidate for president has won the election every time it has fallen on November 6th since the election date was standardized in 1845. The Trend began with Lincoln in 1860, followed by Harrison, McKinley, Hoover, Eisenhower and Reagan. This year the election falls on November 6th, with a heated contest between Obama and Romney.

What is interesting to note is that when you dig up all of the elections from 1848 through today, only the November 6th election date has ever had a one party winning streak. all of the other dates (November 2nd through 8th) tend to be evenly split, but still show a distinct pattern for most dates.

Nov 2 dem (Pierce) gop (Garfield) gop (Harding) dem (Truman) dem (Carter) gop (Dubya)
Nov 3 gop (Grant) gop (McKinley) gop (Taft) dem (FDR) dem (LBJ) dem (Clinton)
Nov 4 dem (Buchanon) dem (Cleveland) gop (Cooledge) gop (Eisenhower) gop (Reagan) dem (Obama)
Nov 5 gop (Grant) dem (Wilson) dem (FDR) gop (Nixon) dem (Clinton)  
Nov 6 gop (Lincoln) gop (Harrison) gop (McKinley) gop (Hoover) gop (IKE) gop (Reagan)
Nov 7 whig (Taylor) gop (Hayes) dem (Wilson) dem (FDR) gop (Nixon) gop (Dubya)
Nov 8 gop (Lincoln) dem (Cleveland) gop (Teddy Roosevelt) dem (FDR) dem (JFK) gop (GHW Bush)

Based on the pattern, I have come up with a set of predictions for the next run of election dates:

Nov 2, 2032 gop
Nov 3, 2020 gop
Nov 4, 2036 dem
Nov 5, 2024 dem
Nov 6, 2012 gop
Nov 7, 2028 dem
Nov 8, 2016 gop

Will any of these predictions come true? Only time will tell. But I do hope I am right for this year.


Get Prince Harry Out of Afghanistan

September 18th, 2012

The Taliban has announced that Prince Harry, currently on deployment in Afghanistan, is target #1. They intend to kill him any way they can.

The United Kingdom needs to pull the Prince, aka Captain Wales, out of Afghanistan. They should do this immediately. Not because he is a prince and subject to special privileges, but because the Taliban, by specifically targeting Prince Harry, puts the lives of all those around him in jeopardy as well.

It is not a question of his manliness. There is no doubt Captain Wales is fully capable of performing whatever he is called to do in the field.

With the Taliban leadership stating that they will use “all our strength” to eliminate Harry, which also means that all those around him are also targeted for elimination.

So, my message to the British Army is get Prince Harry out. Now. Not because of who he is, but because of the families of those with whom he serves want to see their loved ones come home as well.

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Debt Hits $16 Trillion

September 12th, 2012

Obama’s Number 1!

Yes, that’s right folks. Barack Obama is Number 1 – in driving our country further into debt, even surpassing the record set by his predecessor, George W. Bush.

According to the Federal website,, the national debt stood at a STAGGERING $16.015 TRILLION.

To put this in perspective, on January 20th, 2009, when Obama took office the national debt stood at $10.626 TRILLION, which is also an immense amount. Okay, this is simplifying the matter, but to keep things as an apples to apples comparison, and trying to be fair to Obama, on January 20th, 2001, when Bush took office, the national debt was a whopping $5.728 TRILLION. One last data point from the treasurydirect, is that when Clinton took office on January 20th, 1993, the national debt was $4.188 TRILLION.

Doing a little simple math, under Clinton, the national debt rose $1.54 TRILLION, not a small amount, over 8 years (note – Congress, at least the House of Representatives, had a GOP majority, helping rein in spending). Bush (with, I might add, two wars to fight, 9/11 aftermath to deal with, and a Democratically controlled congress the last few years of his administration) definitely topped Clinton, with $4.898 TRILLION, nearly, but not quite, doubling the national debt over 8 years. And I was livid about the national debt level back in ’92! Now we get to Obama, with a little over 3 years and 7 months in office, and the national debt, under his watch going up an obscene (especially for under 4 years, with two years of Congress controlled by the Democrats, and 1 year and a half and change where the Senate was still controlled by the Democrats while the House was controlled by the Republicans) $5.389 TRILLION.

For a little clarity – 8 years under Bush, the debt increased $4.898 TRILLION. In less than 4 years under Barack “Debt is Unpatriotic” Obama, the debt increased $5.389.

At this pace, if Obama is re-elected, the debt will increase over $12 TRILLION to a horrifying $22.675 TRILLION.

Is this really good for America? Is this really good for working Americans? Is this really good for our children?

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A Game of Voter ID

August 21st, 2012

One of the things I like about writing a blog that covers Science Fiction, Fandom, and Politics is when I get to combine the elements into a single post. Thank you George R. R. Martin for making my day.

Martin, the author of A Game of Thorns, has dished out quite a bit of ignorance in regards to the issue of Voter ID laws that are slowly making their way through the country, and even plays the race card, insinuating that anyone who supports such laws is a racist. If that were not enough, his referring to those of us in the Tea Party movement with a euphemism for a crude sex act is more than enough to remove him from my reading list.

Skipping over the obscenity and race card, and other low-brow thoughts we get to this tidbit from his blog Not A Blog:

It is one thing to attempt to win elections. But trying to do so by denying the most basic and important right of any American citizen to hundreds and thousands of people, on entirely spurious grounds… that goes beyond reprehensible. That is despicable.

Now a reasonable person might think he is referring to recent attempts, attempts that have been going on for the better part of a decade, to disenfranchise military voters, especially those serving overseas. Nope, he is referring to Voter ID laws, those pesky initiatives that require voters to prove they are who they claim they are by showing a valid picture ID, like a driver’s license or a passport, or some other form of, yes, government issued identification. You know, the same kind of documents you are required to show when you accept a job with a new employer, or get on an airplane, or enter some public buildings, cash a check, open a bank account, and so many other aspects of everyday life.

As for the claim that these laws are denying Americans their right to vote, Martin, and all the other zealots on the Left, are quite wrong about this. I can’t say that this is true in all cases, but here in Minnesota the proposed law sets up a fund that will be used to provide identification cards to poor people for free (well, at taxpayer expense, and yes, I am okay with this expense). Now it may be denying some people the ability to vote using another person’s name, like John Doe walking into a polling place and claiming to be Bruce Wayne and voting under that name, but that’s why we need these laws. It will also prevent people from voting in more than one precinct, a problem we have here in Minnesota due to the nature of same day registration with no ID required, just someone willing to claim you are who you are and live where you claim you live.

An example of this abuse came in the after the 2004 election when a gal I met had discovered that there were 64 people who were registered to vote using her address, and yes, they all voted. Another more blatant example around the same time happened in the city of Coates, where the guy who ran a strip club there got a bunch of his friends to vote for him for mayor by registering to vote using the address of his club. Not sure if this clown is still in jail or not.

In the aftermath of the 2000 election, it came out that hundreds of people voted absentee in both New York and Florida, and yes, it is believed that there were votes on both sides of the political divide.

But the Left, instead of wanting to address the problems of voter fraud, they want to keep things as they are, because the Left knows that if they can’t win in an honest election.

And those of us who man up and take this issue head on, we get called racist bigots, corruptocrats, as well as other names involving crude sex acts.

Martin goes on with:

It would really be nice if there were still some Republicans of conscience out there who would stand up and loudly denounce these efforts, a few men of honor and integrity for whom “win the election” does not “win the election at any cost.” There were once many Republicans I admired, even I disagreed with them: men like Everett Dirksen, Clifford Case, Henry Cabot Lodge, William Scranton… yes, even Barry Goldwater, conservative as he is. I do not believe for a moment that Goldwater would have approved of this, any more than Robert A. Heinlein would have. They were conservatives, but they were not bigots, nor racists, nor corrupt. The Vote Suppressors have far more in common with Lester Maddox, George Wallace, John Stennis, and their ilk than they do with their distinguished GOP forebears.

Martin doesn’t believe Goldwater or Heinlein would approve of Voter ID laws? How omniscient of him. And, no, those of us who support Voter ID laws are not anything like Lester Maddox, or George Wallace, or John Stennis.

The people behind these efforts at disenfranchising large groups of voters (the young, the old, the black, the brown) are not Republicans, since clearly they have scant regard for our republic or its values. They are oligarchs and racists clad in the skins of dead elephants.

Um, no, we believe in free societies where elections are free of corruption, and as there are always people who are willing to follow the Leftist adage of “Vote early, vote often”, we need to have Voter ID laws.

And don’t tell me they are libertarians either. No true libertarians would ever support a culture where citizens must “show their papers” to vote or travel. That’s a hallmark of a police state, not a free country.

I guess I am not a “true” Libertarian, but that isn’t surprising as there are several key issues I disagree with the Libertarian Party on. But one has to ask, has Martin tried to get a regular job lately? (Papers, please!) Or board a plane? (Papers, please!), or open a bank account? (Papers, please!) And the list of everyday tasks people asked for identification goes on and on and on.

It is clear to me that Martin needs to stop living in Leftie-Fantasyland and learn the basic facts behind Voter ID laws, instead of screaming “Racist” at those who support these laws.

Oh, yeah, be sure to peruse the comments in the thread, as some of Martin’s response to his critics are absolutely hilarious, and I don’t mean that in a good way.

After that, click on the “politics” tag and see some his other rants, including his desire to strip Joe Lieberman of his citizenship. Can we say “totalitarian wannabe”?

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Starship Troopers Revamp

August 2nd, 2012

Over on io9, they have an article on upcoming SF movie reboots (and “why they might not suck”, their words, not mine).

There are a couple of films listed that I definitely want to talk about. The first is the badly needed redo of RAH’s Starship Troopers.

For those who know me, ya know I am a big fan of Heinlein and Starship Troopers is one of my favorite novels (I have read it about a dozen times).

Don’t get me wrong, I liked the 1997 Paul Verhoeven film, Starship Troopers, but it isn’t very Heinleinish, if you know what I mean. Verhoeven took many liberties with the film that didn’t go down well with hardcore Heinlein fans, making the Federation into some sort of fascistic society, which is not in keeping with Heinlein’s novel. As well as other issues (where the heck is my powered armor and capsule drops?).

According to a piece on Empire Online, Jaffe has stated that the plans are to keep the film “a little” closer to the book. I hope so, and if he succeeds, I’ll be in line to buy tickets. And this time, we may even get the powered armor!

The second is Logan’s Run. Not sure how they can improve upon it, even with its deviations from the novel. As io9 states, this is not a certainty, but it would be fun to see what a new look at Logan’s Run would bring us.

We’ll just have to wait and see if they happen.

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Review: The Avengers

July 12th, 2012

Well, I finally got around to seeing Marvel’s The Avengers. I am, unfortunately, sadly disappointed by it. If you love violence, destruction, special effects, and little character development and story, then this is a film for you. If you prefer something with a little more substance to it, then wait for it to come on cable.

This is not to say there aren’t things to like about the film, there are, but they are few and far between. At least in my opinion.

Good stuff first. Special effects are state of the art, and the costumes are mostly good (Iron Man, Cap, and Thor especially), and a few characters are very cool. For the characters we’ve seen before in recent months, we see the same actors returning in those roles, which is a good thing. Chris Hemsworth makes for a darn good Thor (I still need to see that movie) and Samuel L. Jackson makes a good Nick Fury.

There is plenty of action and special effects eye candy to bombard your eyes and mind.

Not so good stuff. Samuel L. Jackson as Nick Fury? Okay, try not to take this wrong, but I grew up reading Nick Fury in the comics, both as Sgt. Fury and as S.H.I.E.L.D. so I was caught a bit off-guard when Fury went through a race change back in Captain America, one of the lead-ins to this. So I did a little digging and found that yep, Marvel re-imaged Fury as part of the new Ultimate Universe re-branding of many of their titles, and, in fact, modeled the new comic book version of Fury AFTER Samuel L. Jackson with the actor’s permission.

On the up-side (back to good stuff), the re-imaging works for Fury as SLJ, and works well. I liked Jackson’s Fury much better than David Hasselhoff’s Fury from the ‘90s, even though Hasselhoff looked a lot like the original comic book Nick Fury. Jackson is also a better actor than Hasselhoff. I may end up missing the Nick Fury I grew up with, but the new Fury is darn good and Jackson is a darn good choice for the role.

More not so good stuff. I hated Iron Man, or, more specifically, Tony Stark. This guy is so full of himself that he is not likeable. Back “in the day” I liked Iron Man and Tony Stark. Why the heck did they screw Tony Stark up?

There are a lot of other things I disliked, but I don’t want to bore folks with it. I do want to make one more point, though, and that is the film is made for people who are very familiar with the Marvel Universe and the various characters. I had to spend a lot of time explaining things to my bonnie bride about the various characters, like why the hulk in one scene was trying to kill Black Widow, and then later on the Hulk is saving her behind. This was a bit jarring for my bonnie bride, but then, hey, this IS based on a comic book.

From the historical perspective, I found that it is worth noting that the villain in Avengers #1 was Loki seeking revenge against his brother Thor, and that the Hulk was involved in the Avengers at that time.

Too sum up, I think there were too many characters in the film to build up a good consistent plot around with good character development. It’s an okay film, but not great. Like Captain America was great. If you are really big into Marvel Comics, or comics in general, you will most likely enjoy it. For me, it was a mixed bag. ‘Nuff said.

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Review: Brave

July 12th, 2012

Having a six year old daughter means being able to go to see animated movies and not feeling out of place. This time we went to see Pixar’s latest film, Brave. It’s hard to pick apart a Pixar film, as each entry seems to get better and better. Brave is no exception. it is a wonderful family film with good humor, excitement and true courage.

Brave is the story of a Scottish princess named Merida, whose father, Fergus, raised her up with a little too much of an independence streak for her mother’s liking. Soon she finds out that being a princess means that she must marry the son of one of the several Scottish lords allied with her father, a fate Merida rails against.

After a fierce argument with her mother, Merida runs away, and the story gets even more interesting when she meets a witch, er, woodcarver, who gives her a spell to change her fate, and change it, it does, but not in a way Merida expected.

Needless to say, and not wanting to give away too many spoilers, all chaos breaks loose, and tragedy is barely averted as Merida and her mother both learn a bit about their selves and each other.

This is a family film that all will enjoy. Excellent writing, animation and voice performances, including Scottish actress Kelly Macdonald in the lead role as Merida makes for a wonderful film.

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SCOTUS ObamaCare Decision Gives Congress Unlimited Power

July 3rd, 2012

It is agreed, historically, that the Founding Fathers crafted a Federal Government that was limited in power, with powers defined in Article 1, Section 8, and the vast majority of power resided either with the States or were retained by the People themselves.

I have watched for years now as our Federal Government grew in both scope and power. Now, with the Surpeme Court upholding ObamaCare as Constitution through Congresses taxing authority, the Federal Government has been granted unlimited power over the People.

Never before has Congress been able to force law-biding Americans to buy a product. Now, thanks to Chief Justice John Roberts, Congress has that ability merely by adding a tax as a penalty for failure to purchase a product.

What’s next? Are they going to require us to buy a Government Motors car or hit us with a tax penalty if we don’t? Or maybe require homeowners to purchase solar panels for our homes, and if we choose not to, hit us with a tax penalty?

Government is the use of force, and the tax code is the ultimate force of government in the United States. I guess this explains why a couple of years back the IRS bought hundreds of shotguns to arm their agents; they had to gear up in order to enforce ObamaCare.

Unlimited power over the people: Now that Congress has been guaranteed the power to tax people if they refuse to buy a product, and this is an annual tax until you capitulate in buying said product, they (congress) can also tax you for owning a product they wish to restrict the ownership of, such as guns. Sure, the Second Amendment says you can own a gun, but now Congress can tax you annually for said ownership. Just like we now pay property taxes on our homes and farms and offices and stores.

The Libertarian movement has proclaimed that “taxation is slavery”, and they are right. Let’s face it; The Power to Tax is the Power to Enslave. And the Power to Enslave us all is what Chief Justice John Roberts has handed over to Congress.

Thanks a lot, you jerk.

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Obama Political Failures #35

June 18th, 2012

Obama went Pinocchio at a recent fundraiser when he claimed, once again, that he inherited a Trillion dollar deficit from Bush. Lies, lies, and damned lies. Fact: The 2009 budget that Obama “inherited” from Bush contained a $550 billion deficit, not a trillion dollar deficit by half. Obama, Pelosi and Reid, the Trinity of Spending, added $787 Billion (ARRA) in deficit spending AFTER Bush left office, and then continued their spending spree with an additional $410 Billion (Omnibus Spending Bill) in deficit spending. That’s over a trillion dollars in deficit spending that Obama, Pelosi, and Reid created, not Bush.

Obama is the only president in the history of our country to have budget deficits that exceed a trillion dollars. No president prior to Obama has had a budget deficit much higher than half that, $500 billion, and that was bad enough. But to blame others for deficits that Obama, Reid and Pelosi created? Despicable!

Obama also said, and you’ll love this (Washington Examiner):

“Those of us who have spent time in the real world understand that the problem is not that the American people aren’t productive enough.”

Obama has never spent any time working in the “real world”. Obama, unlike Romney, or Ron Paul, or a host of others on the political Right, has never produced anything. Except more government debt. In fact, Obama has added over $5 Trillion to the Federal debt in less than four years; for perspective, it took Bush eight years to add roughly that much to the Federal debt.

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D-Day, 68 Years Later

June 6th, 2012

68 years ago today, the Normandy Invasion took place. This would put one of the final nails into the coffin of Hitler’s regime, bring about the liberation of France and the rest of Western Europe, and cost thousands of Allied lives. One of the bloodiest battles in WWII, those who lived through it still remember it.

One article published today was about an Army Medic, who recounts some of the memories of the invasion that haunts him to this day. Reading about Friedenberg’s life, one vivid sees what a living Hell war is.

The tens of thousands of soldiers, sailors, and airmen; the paratroopers, the pathfinders, the tankers, right down to the men driving the landing craft to the beaches. The fighter pilots and the aircrews the bombers and transport aircraft, and the glider pilots and the troops they carried into Harm’s Way. Courageous men all. They fought hard just to stay alive on the beaches until they could breakthrough and move inland.

Too few of the men and women who fought and served in WWII are left. Many of those share their memories. They truly are the Greatest Generation.

Below are a couple of good articles of people who were there, sharing their memories.

Always remember and honor the high price of Liberty, for so many of these brave young men paid that price for us in full.

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Ray Bradbury, Gone At 91

June 6th, 2012

Ray Bradbury passed away last night. He was 91, a little more than two months shy of his 92nd birthday. Bradbury, as most anyone reading this article will know, is best known for three major works: Fahrenheit 451, Something Wicked This Way Comes, and The Martian Chronicles.

Bradbury was a true story teller as well as a visionary. His works ranged from thought provoking “what ifs” and dystopian societies, to space exploration and hauntingly dark fantasies. Without a doubt, Bradbury was one of the best writers produced in the 20th century in any genre, not just in SF.

My first introduction to Bradbury was probably in the fifth Grade, reading the story “A Sound of Thunder”, the story of a hunter who goes back in time to hunt a dinosaur, and inadvertently changes all history.

It would be several years later, while in high school, that I would have my first opportunity to meet Bradbury. He was giving a talk at CSU Fresno, and I was able to get excused from classes that day in order to attend the event. It was well worth while going to. The student union at CSUF where Bradbury was giving his talk was standing room only and overflowed to the outdoors, which is where I was. One of the most memorable things Bradbury said, and it was a great piece of advice, was that if you want to be a great writer, write every day, for at least a half an hour. Sound advice.

Bradbury signed autographs, and I had a couple of books signed by him. It was a fun day, exciting for a teenaged geek.

A few years later, in San Diego, we would meet again, this time at the Old Globe Telethon. It was a busy event for everyone there, as everyone had some “job” they were doing for the Old Globe. Bradbury was one of many celebrities manning the phone bank and taking pledges. I was there with a group of SF fans from STAR San Diego, giving a check to the Old Globe; money raised by a recent convention we ran, organized by Pearl Stickler. The convention, What A Con!, raised $400 for the Old Globe, and a like amount for the Air Museum, both of which had tragically burned down.

Bradbury was not only a fine writer, and a great story teller, he was a fine man, as fine as ever there was. He will be greatly missed, not only by his family and friends, but by all of us whose lives he has touched. Rest well, Ray. We all miss you down here.

Read more at Locus Online.

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Memorial Day, 2012

May 28th, 2012

Today we remember those who died in the service of our country; the Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, and Marines who went to war and gave their all. There are always too many who die in war; that’s one reason they say “War is Hell”.

Today we also honor the Gold Star Families, the mothers and fathers, wives and husbands, and the children of our fallen warriors. Our thoughts and prayers are always with these families, not just today, but every day.

There is a graphic floating around on Facebook of a soldier reporting in to Heaven, and saying to Saint Peter that he has already been through Hell. There is no doubt of that.

I am also reminded of a ballad called “Junior”, in which the narrator of the song recalls what his WW2 uncle said in the refrain, “all the heroes are 60 years and half a world away”, a reference to all his uncle’s fellow soldiers, including his best friend, who died on the beaches of Normandy.

Rest well, Warriors. You’ve earned. Your life was cut far too short. You have our gratitude for your sacrifice and honor your memory.


Happy Birthday John Wayne

May 26th, 2012

On May 26th, 1907, 105 years ago, John Wayne (born Marion Robert Morrison, and later changed to Marion Mitchell Morrison) was born.

For those who know me, you know that I am a big John Wayne fan. He has always been, and always will be, my favorite movie star. He is The Duke.

A lot of people I know don’t think much of his acting abilities, despite the Oscar for Best Actor for True Grit, as well as a nomination for The Sands of Iwo Jima. They must not have seen some of his best films, like Stagecoach, The Searchers, She Wore A Yellow Ribbon, The Quiet Man, The Cowboys, They Were Expendable, The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance or The Shootist. These are some of his best films.

I can’t claim to have seen all of Duke’s films, but I have seen a lot of them, including a fair amount of his “B” pictures and all three movie serials that he made in the ’30s.

Many of Duke’s best roles were as the rugged, individualist American, who survives by his own wits, self-reliance. This is why he is synonymous with the American Cowboy, and is an American Icon.

John Wayne’s life was cut short at the age of 72 by cancer, passing on in 1979. He now rides into the Great Sunset in the Sky. I think he knows that there is a lot of u down here that miss him, and wish that some of today’s actors were more like him.

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