Monthly Archives: August 2013

It Is Coming! The Ultimate Life Movie!

I was lucky enough to be able to attend a pre-screening of the new film The Ultimate Life last week.  It will be released in theaters September 6, 2013.  This is a movie I have been eagerly anticipating for…well, it feels like forever, but it is finally here and that is all that matters!  It was well worth the wait.  I loved, loved, loved this movie.  It was visually stunning, the acting was wonderful and the story…well, I left the theater with a good feeling that carried over well into the next day.  Here’s the trailer…just to give you a peek.

Looks good, huh?  The real deal is even better.  This is both a prequel and a sequel to The Ultimate Gift. Huh?  Right, it really is both.  And it works, really, really well.  The cool part is that The Ultimate Life is a stand alone film.  No prior knowledge is necessary to fall in love with this one, I promise!  However, I can’t imagine anyone watching The Ultimate Life and then not wanting to go back to watch The Ultimate Gift. (That could just be me though…no?  Good!) The film stars Peter Fonda, Bill Cobbs, Lee Meriwether, and Ali Hillis just to name a few.

Chronologically, it takes places after the events of The Ultimate Gift.  Jason Stevens, played by Logan Bartholomew, is fighting his greedy family to retain control of the Stevens Foundation that he earned from his grandfather, Red Stevens, in the first film.  Jason’s busy, doing good things, trying to help people with the gifts that his grandfather has bequeathed him.  He’s come a long way from the young man we met in the first film, but he’s got a few things let to learn yet.  I’ve always liked Jason.  Not in spite of his flaws, but because of them, I think.  More that as he becomes aware of those flaws, Jason’s trying to work to overcome them.   He’s willing to learn, and become…better.  The Ultimate Life shows him trying to bear the burden of his inheritance.  He’s focusing so hard on trying not to be the person he was before he learned the ultimate gift from Red, that he’s missing out on some big stuff now.

Now, for anyone who has seen The Ultimate Gift you’re probably out there thinking that no one can replace actor Drew Fuller as Jason.  I was kind of worried about this too, I’m not going to pretend I wasn’t.  He did a great job with the role.  Logan had quite a bit of skepticism to overcome, and it took him all of like three minutes on screen to do that.  Really, you’ve got nothing to worry about.  Mr. Bartholomew’s portrayal of this character is spot on, no joke.  His smile is infectious and he embodies the person we know Jason has become to perfection.  After those first few minutes, he was just Jason and I didn’t think about it again.

As the daily grind and the fight with his money grubbing family take over Jason’s life, he does a great job of keeping the big picture in focus.  The details….well, this is where the lawyer comes in to help.  I know, I know.  Not the typical role of an attorney in the movies, but Mr. Hamilton is not just a sharp attorney.  He’s also been a friend of Jason’s grandfather since the beginning of Red’s career as an oilman.  Mr. Hamilton gives Jason Red’s journal to read, in hopes that his grandfather’s struggles will help Jason gain some…perspective maybe.

Red kept a journal since he was 15.  It was given to him by his teacher who told him that it wasn’t “girly”.  Girls had diaries and boys had journals.  Journals were different.  In this leather bound book, he relates his journey.  We get to see it through Red’s own eyes.

Now, Red has always been a favorite of mine in these movies.  It doesn’t hurt that the Red that Jason knows is played by James Garner.  I do so love James Garner…he’s just awesome!  I was a little nervous about the prequel portions, and the men who would be playing Red as a teenager and a younger man.  I shouldn’t have wasted my time.  I had nothing to worry about.  Austin James plays the teen aged Red Stevens, and he does a fantastic job.  All that ambition and drive just pulse out of him, and it just encapsulates the character so well.  I was even more impressed when I found out this was his first major role.  The guy knocked it out of the park.  Drew Waters took over the role of Red as an adult, and the transition was seamless.  The Texas oil man still chasing his dream of becoming a billionaire was just as I’d pictured Red, and seeing how the family ended up…the way they ended up, was a bit heartbreaking.  Just as watching young Red fall in love with his Hannah was breathtaking.

Then there’s Gus.  He’s played by Brian Dennehey in The Ultimate Gift, and I couldn’t wait to see what he would look like in The Ultimate Life.  Seeing their friendship develop throughout this film was just awesome, because they have such a competitive relationship of friendly one-upmanship.  And the young Gus, played by Jack DePew, has just the right mix of  humor, snark, competitive drive and friendly attitude.

Surprise, surprise, there are books that go along with the movies.  They’re titled The Ultimate Gift, The Ultimate Life and The Ultimate Journey by Jim Stovall.  Check out Jason Steven’s limo driver in The Ultimate Life movie, because the author makes a cameo there.  I recommend reading the books also, because…well, you already know how I feel about that.  Just read Book Before Movie? Movie Before Book?.

The author is based in my home town of Tulsa, Oklahoma, and he has written more than 20 books, four of which have been made into movies now.  Jim Stovall is also a motivational speaker and President of the Narrative Television Network as well.  The Narrative Television Network makes movies and television accessible for the blind and visually impaired and their families.  Even though it was originally designed for individuals who are visually impaired, a large percentage of people who tune into programming are like me.  They don’t have issues with their eyesight, but they enjoy the programming.  Sometimes it is as simple as not being able to see the television from the kitchen. (If I were more motivated I would do something about that, but I don’t have to.  NTN tells me what’s going on, and keeps me from moving furniture…and fish tanks.)  He’s even been an Olympic weightlifter too.  Just please don’t ask me which book is my favorite, because I’d have a really hard time answering.

Did I mention The Ultimate Life comes to theaters September 6th?  Just in case I forgot, September 6th-8th is opening weekend.  Go see it.  There will be no regrets!  You can get tickets here.

‘Til next time,

Jessica

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BBC’s Sherlock – A.K.A. Emotional Trauma in Less than 10 Episodes

Oh, Dear Readers, this is my favorite television program.  This is a tragedy.  Why is this a tragedy you ask?  There are only six episodes.  What?  Surely you mean six seasons, right?  No, I do, indeed, mean six episodes.  Each season is three episodes and each episode is two hours long (with commercials).  The real tragedy is the length of the hiatus between seasons…I don’t even want to think about it, but for you I will.  The first season aired in 2010.  The third season will air the end of 2013 or the beginning of 2014…does that give you a clue?  So with all of these egregious insults to the fans, why is it that this is still my favorite show on television? It is just that stinking good.

This is a show about Sherlock Holmes (you’re shocked, I’m sure), and I have been a fan of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s detective since…well, I can’t remember when I read the first stories.  I do remember that I borrowed the book from my cousin in my early teenage years, and I never returned it.  I still have it on my bookshelf today. (Really truly sorry.)  It has been read well.  It isn’t a book that is there for decoration only (Apparently this is a thing people do, buy books to look at them and not to read…why?  It’s a book!  Read it!).  I don’t have books that are for decoration only.

I almost didn’t watch this when Netflix recommended it.  The BBC had created a modernized Sherlock Holmes.  I was a little worried about a modern Sherlock.  Holmes just seemed so at home in 1895, that it was hard to imagine him in our modern era.  I didn’t want them to do something silly like…move him to New York. (Sorry,Elementary, I bear you no ill will.  I swear!  I am a big Johnny Lee Miller fan, but, for me, Holmes just belongs in London.)  Two things persuaded me to give it a shot.

First, co-creators Steven Moffat and Mark Gatiss write for Doctor Who.  (Yes, I am a Whovian.  It will get its own post, but it is very hard to explain and still sound…sane.)  By this point, I’d become addicted to Doctor Who and I finally understood the cries of “MOFFAATTT!!!” that explode across the internet when certain episodes are mentioned.  Anyway, who doesn’t like to suffer more emotional trauma at the hands of a writer who has already proven that the scariest villains are the ones who “kill you kindly”?  I did not understand what a danger Mark Gatiss would become…I have since learned my lesson.  Always beware (but watch immediately), when these two are in cahoots!  Steven Thompson came out of left field and clobbered me, I had no idea.  Apparently, I am a glutton for punishment.

Empire Awards 2008 - Martin Freeman

Empire Awards 2008 – Martin Freeman (Photo credit: claire_h)

Secondly, Bilbo Baggins plays John Watson…I mean Martin Freeman, who plays Bilbo Baggins, plays John Watson.  (Yes, I am also a Tolkien fan.  I could go on and on about The Hobbit, The Lord of the Rings, The Silmarillion…Good grief, just to attend one of his lectures…) Martin Freeman did such an excellent job of embodying a favorite character who I have visited regularly from somewhere around the age of 12 through….well, 36 in The Hobbit, that I would have been willing to watch him act out the phone book.

I began the first episode A Study in Pink on a Saturday morning.  I watched the last episode The Reichenbach Fall later that night.  Here’s what I discovered.  The writers are brilliant.  The actors take these brilliant writers and bring the characters to life.  The jerks make you love the characters and then…yep, trauma. (I mean all of you, actors, writers, photography people and don’t forget the music…you’re all to blame!)  The rest of the crew make everything look so striking and lovely and…well, long before the end credits rolled on A Study in Pink I was hooked.  There are all these details you need to pay attention to.  You can’t be doing other things while you watch, because this is a show for thinkers.  Sunday, I called a friend and I ensnared her too.  There was no way I was going to suffer alone. (You’re welcome, you know who you are.)  Right, I think you’ve caught on to the fact that I watched the entirety of the show twice in two days now.  Still not bored.

So the brilliant writers, Steven Moffat, Mark Gatiss and Steve Thompson, they manage to write a script that stays very close to the Doyle, tone and spirit, while still being very fresh and modern.  If you love the original “canon” you will not be disappointed.  Mark Gatiss (otherwise known to Sherlokians the world over as Godtiss) is an enormous fan of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s stories, and it shines through.  Even if you can quote lines from Doyle, you’ll enjoy Sherlock without becoming bored.  It picks up just enough details, or maybe it is that the right details are chosen from those beloved stories, like the scratched message by the victim in A Study in Scarlet, to warm the hearts of those who love them.   They do love to torture the audience with cliffhangers.  Season One ends with The Great Game in which Sherlock and Moriarty meet face to face for the first time.  Season Two ends with The Reichenbach Fall which parallels Doyle’s story brilliantly.   (Andrew Scott, is an amazing James Moriarty; canny, clever and more than a little bit insane.  “Honey, you should see me in a crown.”)

However, A script will only get you so far.  In order to bring a show to the kind of popularity that Sherlock enjoys, you need so much more.  The facial expressions…good grief. Martin Freeman’s John Watson is unbelievably good.  The delivery of the dialogue is perfect, but John Watson’s silences speak louder than his words in many scenes, and it is fitting for a taciturn former Army doctor.  John defies everyone’s advice when he befriends Sherlock, and you can almost see the “screw you, I do what I want” written on his face during these scenes.

Chinatown, London. Benedict Cumberbatch during...

Sherlock Holmes is played by Benedict Cumberbatch.  He really brought Sherlock to life for me.  I read the books without thinking too much about what makes him who we see when he meets Dr. Watson.  I’m reading them again with a different eye now.  Mr. Cumberbatch makes Sherlock, a self-proclaimed “high functioning sociopath”, human.  Given, he’s a human who is awkward, lacking in any kind of social niceties (unless he’s faking it to get information), and who really has no idea how to relate to people, but he is very human, nonetheless.  In the original Doyle, Holmes was always at the cutting edge of technology and science.  Our Sherlock is no different, his designer clothes, constant texting and use of Google at crime scenes is something that is something that is easily imaginable for Doyle’s Holmes.  You catch guarded glimpses into a man who has been damaged.  For a man as seemingly cold as Sherlock is to tug at the heartstrings takes an amazing actor, and Benedict Cumberbatch certainly delivers.

Seriously, I could rave about the brilliance of the acting in this show for pages, and I’m not even touching on performances by Rupert Graves, Louise Brealey, Una Tubbs, Lara Pulver, Andrew Scott, and Mark Gatiss himself right now.  The cinematography is just fantastic, and the music!   If I tried to say everything I want to about this show in a single post, I’d still be writing by the time Season Three airs, which feels like half past never, although they promise the end of this year or the beginning of next….I got sidetracked.  Sorry.  I’m getting impatient.  Okay, fine, maybe it is just that both the main characters are played by amazing actors who have catapulted into hugely successful careers on the big screen…Star Trek: Into Darkness, The Hobbit are just two of the multitude of projects these two have taken on.  Here are a few others, and I know I haven’t even gotten half of what Mr. Cumberbatch has been working on.  The World’s End ,The Fifth Estate, and August: Osage County don’t even scratch the surface.  It isn’t like they’re busy or anything.  Maybe they all just like to torture the fans.  I’ll tell you this much, I’m sure none of them will ever tell you which it is.

Sherlock Holmes and Moriarty at the Reichenbac...

Sherlock Holmes and Moriarty at the Reichenbach Falls. From Arthur Conan Doyle’s The Final Problem. Original caption in Strand Magazine was “The Death of Sherlock Holmes” (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

About the fans though…The “fandom” it is one of the oldest and most eccentric out there.  The Sherlockians are enthusiastic, incredibly knowledgeable, and just don’t go away.  They even warrant their own entry in Urban Dictionary.  Fans of the show, obsessively pick over every detail of each episode (there’s nothing else for them to do while they wait for the next to air).   They create elaborate theories, and can find clues and hidden meanings behind all sorts of things.  Then they begin to get bored…you really shouldn’t let these fans get bored.  They create things…fanfics, memes, videos…then they start to get ridiculous.

There’s an additional convert to the fandom just this week, and I am perfectly willing to recruit more, any takers?  Did I mention not to let this fandom get bored?  We’ve all gone a little nuts waiting for the next episode to air.  As Lewis Carroll says:

“Have I gone mad?”

“I’m afraid so.  You’re entirely bonkers.  But I’ll tell you a secret.  All the best people are.”

‘Til Next Time,

Jessica

Is anyone already there with me?

What’s your favorite television show?


They Built a Robot!

More Geek Week videos!  Can you tell, I’m loving this? I never would have found this without the awesomeness that is The Nerdist Podcast with Christ Hardwick, Matt Mira and Jonah Ray.

WIRED built a giant robot mech in partnership with YouTube, Stan Winston School and Legacy Effects. And now you get to see how we did it. From design to tech, prototype to insanely detailed finished product, you’ll find out how to build your very own. Just bring a lot of friends and a ton of parts.

Watch more YouTube Geek Week videos at http://youtube.com/geekweek


The Nerdist is Awesome…Enjoy Your Burrito

An example of the Wild West influenced clothin...

Nathan Fillion as Malcom “Mal” Reynolds in Firefly and Serenity. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I learn about all kinds of stuff through Twitter.  The Nerdist is one of those things.  I discovered all this through following Nathan Fillion.  You know Nathan Fillion right?  I may have mentioned him once or twice.  Buffy, Firefly, Serenity, Castle, Dr. Horrible…I’m stopping now because this is not the point.  (I’m working on staying on point here.  How am I doing so far?)  He tweeted about The Thrilling Adventure Hour  with a link to the podcast.

 

This is a staged production done in the style of an old-time radio show, and then broadcast as a podcast.  It is fantastic and awesomely entertaining.  You can listen to the adventures of Sparks Nevada Marshal on MarsBeyond BeliefCaptain LaserbeamThe Cross-Time Adventures of Colonel Tick-Tock, and Cactoid Jim.  The episodes are written by Ben Acker and Ben Blacker and produced by Aaron Ginsberg.  Players and guest stars include Nathan Fillion (as mentioned), Paget Brewster (you might recognize her from Criminal Minds), Paul Tomkins (Mr. Show, LA Complex)…oh, there are too many to list.  Just go to their site and check it out.

 

The first time I listened to Cactoid Jim, I heard them mention the word Nerdist during the credits.  I asked myself, what is this Nerdist of which they speak? (well, maybe not exactly like that…okay, maybe exactly like that, but definitely not out loud.) That’s how I found the Nerdist Podcast.  Basically it is Chris Hardwick, usually with Matt Mira and Jonah Ray, having a conversation with a different celebrity or celebrities every episode, and this happens twice a week.  Yep, twice a week.  I haven’t listened to one that wasn’t immensely entertaining (warning there is no censoring for…well, anything). These are a handful of the guests that they’ve had on their podcast over the last couple of months (okay, some of these may or may not still waiting in my queue , but it isn’t for a lack of trying) George RR Martin, Joss Whedon, Jeff Bridges, Charlie Day, Charlie Hunnam, and Misha Collins just to name a few.  This doesn’t include any of the San Diego Comic-Con stuff they recorded live either.  One of my favorites out of this list was the podcast with Misha Collins.

 

English: Misha Collins at the 2011 Comic Con i...

Misha Collins plays Castiel on Supernatural, and I am a huge Supernatural fan.  This is a show I’ve watched since its inception, and it scared the bejesus out of me.  My best friend and I used to call each other up just to have the “oh-my-god-can-you-believe-what-we-just-saw” conversations.  We tried to have them while the show was on, but quickly discovered that it aired at different rates in Chicago and where she lives.   (Fine I suck at sticking to the point.) I am, at times, physically unable to keep my mouth shut.  This led to spoilers when I was on commercial break and she wasn’t.  The recap call was an acceptable compromise…aka the only possible compromise if I wanted her to still be my friend. She actually hates spoilers more than I do. (This is odd because she almost always reads the last page of a book FIRST.)

 

 During the podcast they were discussing SupernaturalGISHWHES (Greatest International Scavenger Hunt the World Has Ever Seen), costumes, Scotland, and all and sundry topics that came to their pretty little minds.  Including the non-profit organization that Misha works with, Random Acts, that looks to change the world, one act of kindness at a time.  (Love that!)  It was the most entertaining two hours I’d spent at work in a long while. (Wait what?  Not at work…I mean…ummm…) Thanks to this podcast I WILL be participating in GISHWHES next year (I missed the deadline for entry this year by just a couple of days.  I had to make sure I wasn’t going to be traveling for work before I could commit.  Seriously, my boss will put up with a lot, but from what I’ve seen from last year’s…that may leave me without a job if I tried to participate while I was working.)  GISHWHES  received entry into the Guinness Book of World Records two years running for the World’s largest Media Scavenger Hunt.  (By the way did you know that the Guinness Book of World Records was indeed created by the man who created Guinness Beer?  Things I learned in Ireland.) Last year there were over 140,000 participants from 90 countries and each person was on a team of 15 people.  Be prepared…the scavenger hunt consists of acts of kindness as well as…well, creative endeavors? (I’m not sure what you call an 8 foot T-Rex made of sanitary napkins other than a creation, but it was definitely something.)  It just sounds like a lot of zany fun.  My friends and family will either come closer together in love and fun and happiness….or in an effort to lock me up in an asylum (Do they still have asylums or are they just institutions?  Asylum sounds so much more ominous!).

 

Buzz Aldrin salutes the U.S. flag on Mare Tran...

Back to the point….again.  (Seriously, I am trying to stay on topic.)  Then I discovered BBC America…yeah, I know, but there is a television show!  Yes, The Nerdist is also a television show that comes on after Orphan Black on Saturday evening. (No, I don’t know what time, everything gets DVR’d, my friend.  Like 9:00pm Central? The lineup goes Doctor Who, Orphan Black, and then The Nerdist.)  The show is just as entertaining as the podcast.  Chris Hardwick, Matt Mira & Jonah Ray talk with a celebrity guest or two, there’s a stand-up comic in there and then they play a game…it is all a lot funnier than I make it sound (so kind of like the podcast but with visuals…and games and stuff).  My favorite episode so far was the one with Buzz Aldrin (astronaut) and Bobak Ferdowsi (NASA’s mohawk guy.  Poor guy, one day he’ll be known for more than just his hair, really.  He works for NASA for crying out loud, he’s brilliant!)  Just to see two eras of space exploration together on the same show was amazing in and of itself.  One man, Buzz Aldrin, actually set foot on the moon.  I mean, just think about that.  Walked. On. The. Moon.  It kind of blows the mind.  I can only imagine…The other was actually in the control room when Curiosity landed on Mars just over a year ago.  He helped to land a vessel on another planet…another PLANET.  This is like real life people, not some science fiction thing!  All science.  No fiction.  The closest I will ever get to either of those things is to look out at the night sky and imagine.  At least I always know which one the moon is (it is kind of hard to miss) but Mars is another story entirely. (Yes, I totally wanted to be an astronaut when I was a kid.)  Yes, I can easily miss Mars in the night sky…astronomy was not good to me.

 

This podcast has even given me a list of games that I want to try out.  Yes, even games.  I have discovered that I really am not good at the first person shooter games. (Therefore I dislike them immensely.)  However, I really enjoy the role playing games like Assassin’s Creed.  (I also found out that I need to start at the beginning of that game like with Assassin’s Creed I and not Assassin’s Creed III, no wonder I was so confused with the story!  Luckily, my nephew has them all.  I’m borrowing them.  There is no shame.)  So, Chris Hardwick mentions that he really loves Bioshock Infinite right now, and I look it up.  It looks pretty cool.  I think I’ll check it out.  I’m telling you The Nerdist is like a gateway drug for all things geek…well, maybe I was already there anyway, but you get my point, right? (Not that I stayed anywhere near my point for any length of time, but I tried…sort of.)

Nerdist at Meltdown Comics

Nerdist at Meltdown Comics (Photo credit: Sam Howzit)

The Nerdist podcast introduced me to Geek Week on YouTube also…you’ll be seeing more from that, I can assure you.  They also have a completely random tagline (well, probably not random to them…or maybe it is.) They sign off every show with “Enjoy your burrito.”  So ladies and gentlemen, checkout The Nerdist!  There are many amazing things happening there worth enjoying…although I don’t think they have burritos.  Weird.

 

What did you want to be when you were a kid?

 

Do you listen to podcasts? Which ones?

 

Have you ever committed a random act of kindness?  What was it?

 

What role playing games would you recommend?

 

‘Til next time….enjoy your burrito,

 

Jessica

 

 


Urban Shaman: Holey Entertaining Mashup

Urban Shaman by C.E. Murphy

urbanshamanThis is a book that I’ve had my eye on for quite a while.  It kept popping up on recommendation lists and in conversations about genres I enjoyed, but I never picked it up for one reason or another.  It was that fateful trip to Dallas to Half Priced Books that I finally found this sucker…well, for a price I was willing to spend.  Books are expensive and I have a habit to feed.

I know, I know.  What about the library?  I have this thing with libraries.  They are fantastic, beautiful, fascinating places.  Two issues for me though.  Issue the first, they want the books back.  When I like the book, I don’t want to give it back.  It is mine.  I want to hold it and squeeze it and call it George…or something like that.  Second, when I am given a time frame in which I have to do something, I immediately procrastinate until the very last minute.  It is a failing.  Then I end up having to give back the book that I don’t want to give back, but I never actually got a chance to read because I put it off too long.  Oh yeah, it is stupid. (Every time I say/type/read “stupid” I hear it in Debra’s voice from Empire Records.) Luckily, used book stores will let you buy used books for half off the cover price, and then buy them back from you if you don’t want to keep them (Like I ever don’t want to keep a book, pfftt).  This would be why I had to buy two new book cases this month.  (There are two bags of books to go to the used book store…probably…maybe…most likely.)

Urban Shaman is about the merging of cultures in an individual at its heart.  Joanne Walker (legally, Siobban Joanne Walkingstick, see what I mean about merging cultures?)  She has an Irish mother and a Cherokee father and she gets dumped into the deep end of being a shaman in Urban Shaman.  By trade, she’s a mechanic for the police…she also attended the police academy, so technically we discover she’s an officer although she’s never spent a day in the field and she doesn’t think of herself that way.  In her mind she’s a mechanic.  Then again, good old Joanne doesn’t think she believes in things like “gut feelings” either.  All of that changes when she sees a woman being chased, and just knows that she has to help her.  According to her she feels like she’s “going to puke” if she doesn’t help this mystery woman.  The catch is, Jo sees her from the window of a landing airplane, so location is an issue.

This book was really enjoyable.  I like Joanne.  Maybe because female, native american mechanics in this genre remind me of Patricia Briggs’s character, Mercedes Thompson.  Mercy has long been a favorite of mine.  Maybe because I just like strong female characters.  Whatever the reason, I like Jo Walker.  She’s smart and sassy.  Joanne rolls with the punches in this story, maybe a little too much though.  She takes a near death experience that awakens her shamanistic powers, healing herself as she’s discovering said powers and conversations with a Celtic god in stride with very minimal doubt or freak out.  Now, she’s told up front that doubt is going to get her killed, but hey, human here.  I’d have more than a passing acquaintance with doubt and a major melt-down or two if any of that happened.  This is only the first book though, so maybe the breakdown and freak out stage is coming.  Strength and sass can only get a character so far, at some point they have to be vulnerable and human too.  Otherwise, I’m not going to be nearly as invested in the next stage of the story.  Ms. Murphy hints at plenty of vulnerability, but we never really see anything other than the cracks in the windshield that Joanne patches over.

I can certainly see the tie between shamanism and the vocation of a mechanic.  Both of them are healers in their own ways.  The first deals with the spirit and the second deals with something physical and outside of the individual.  It makes sense for someone who has tried to move away from anything dealing with her culture or upbringing to be drawn to a profession like mechanic.  It is as far away as Joanne could get from healing the spirit, mind or body and still fix things.  Not just fixing anything, but repairing something that requires attention to detail, patience, experience, and knowledge.  Not coincidentally, fixing up cars doesn’t leave a lot of room for introspection either. (Not that I actually have any personal experience with this, mind you.  I can’t even change my own oil.)

Part of the appeal in this novel is the melding of cultures too, and that is a purely personal thing.  My father’s family background is Irish and Cherokee while my mother’s is Greek and a mix of a bunch of other things including Osage.  There is a rich religious, mythological, and mystical culture in all of those.  It is fascinating to read something that pulls in parts of my own heritage and uses it as plot points.  Part of me finished the book then sat back to think.  Wow, could you imagine throwing a couple of Greek gods in with all that madness?  (Hmmm…..interesting thought there.)

The plot felt forced in places though.  I don’t want to give away any more spoilers than I already have, so I’m not going into great detail here.  Let’s just say the plot has some holes that you could drive a Mack truck through.  There could be great explanations and fills in the next books though.  The characters are flat in spots where there could have been a lot of depth.  With Joanne, I gave some examples, but this is true of the supporting cast as well.  Some of it could be mystery.  There’s this Gary dude, and I think there is a lot more to him than meets the eye…otherwise he makes no sense.  Another thing, for a world in which, normal people don’t know about this, they sure are accepting of it, and there sure are a lot of people in her circle who do believe in…supernatural thingamajigs.  As I said, this is the first book, the depth could come in the subsequent books.  It certainly did with Cassandra Clare’s Mortal Instruments series.  All the reviews of this book have indicated that the next two in the series Thunderbird Falls and Coyote Dreams are much more engrossing novels.

Even with all the holes, I didn’t want to put this book down.  I needed to know what was going to happen next.  The action moved at a quick pace with no real sense of lagging, and the reader stays intrigued and needing to find the answers right up to the end.  I loved the fact that C.E. Murphy has obviously done her research on Celtic mythologies, because her depictions of the pantheon and elements completely sync up with everything I’ve read.   There were no discordant notes there.  (Believe me, I’ve read a lot on this subject.  I’m not an expert, but I know when something doesn’t fit with all the other stories!)  I wish the same could be said for the Native American side of things.  Joanne does point out that things seen/mentioned aren’t even Cherokee and questions that.  I found it interesting that the character has more knowledge of the Native American side of her heritage, although she’s ignored it since she was 15, and yet that rich heritage isn’t explored in this book.  Joanne doesn’t really know much about her Irish heritage, but everything is focused around that history and mythos in the novel.  I found that odd considering the title of the book, Urban Shaman.

This series has eight books that I can find, and possibly some spin offs.  The author’s site is a bit disorganized.  I couldn’t actually find a list of books that she’d authored under any of her pseudonyms, but it was fun.  Even though I didn’t find what I was looking for, I poked around for a while.  There are definitely chuckles to be had.  I also discovered that she does comic books and there are pseudonyms.  Since comic books are quickly becoming a new interest of mine…hmmm, there are thoughts again…dangerous!

Has anybody else read this author?  Please let me know what you think in the comments below!

‘Til next time,

Jessica

The reading order I’ve been able to find goes thusly:

Walker Papers #1

Walker Papers #1

Anthology:Banshee Cries Walker Papers 1.5

Walker Papers 1.5

Walker Papers #2

Walker Papers #2

Walker Papers #3

Walker Papers #3

Walker Papers #4

Walker Papers #4

Walker Papers #5

Walker Papers #5

Walker Papers #6

Walker Papers #6

Walker Papers #7

Walker Papers #7

Walker Papers #8

Walker Papers #8


It Is Monday…Everything Is Inexpressible on Monday

“After silence, that which comes nearest to expressing the inexpressible is music.”

Spotify Logo

Spotify Logo (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

― Aldous HuxleyMusic at Night and Other Essays

I have a serious case of the Monday’s today.  Everything is…hard.  Music is awesome.  Thank you Spotify.  Yeah, I could totally just use songs to talk to people today so I don’t have to.  Since I’m in sales, that is not an option…bummer.

Have you ever had a song that expressed what you needed to say better than you could?

‘Til next time,

Jessica


A Long Walk Off A Short Pier…Into A Ball Pit

Another Geek Week Video coming your way!  This one is from Head Squeeze.  They give you the low down on the science behind the amazing 9qnn5my52akyrly2kj98_biggerfall that a free runner makes at the British Museum into a ball pit (No, not a pit bull, a ball pit.  I really don’t know why I have a fascination with these things.  Okay, maybe I do.)  60,000 multi-colored plastic balls in a pit…how can you resist?  When Patrick Stewart has a picture of himself in a ball pit…well, your argument is invalid.  Captain Picard says, “Make it so!”

 

Well, I could probably resist making the big jump that Blue did…maybe…probably…I would have been tempted just a little bit.  Resistance is futile.  Definitely don’t try this at home, kids.

Would you have been tempted too?

‘Til next time,

Jessica


Grammar Slam…Seriously Where Has This Been?

Okay, another Geek Week video from Brainiac Tuesday.  Professional wrestler, CM Punk basically spends the video reading a nasty note he received and then slamming their  grammar mistake.  Comma Queen, this is for you…


You Can Dance If You Want To!

“We should consider every day lost in which we have not danced at least once.”
― Friedrich Nietzsche

This seemed very fitting today. Sunday I was dancing in my kitchen while I was cooking. What? It was good music. I went to a great concert the night before. I got to have pancakes for breakfast, and I got to spend time with a good friend. Heck, I even ran into a few friends at the show that I hadn’t seen in a while! Normally, it doesn’t matter, no one would see except for the dog, Dexter. (Not named after the fictional serial killer!) He might look at me as if I’d lost my marbles, but he can’t tell anyone. Except, this time, my best friend was in town to go to the concert the night before (her Christmas present)…yeah, I got busted. Much laughter ensued. Am I saying I can’t dance? No! Well…maybe…You can dance if you want to. That’s all I’m saying.

‘Til next time,

Jessica


My Wish For You…Cassadee Pope, The Band Perry & Rascal Flatts

photo (23)My best friend finally got her Christmas present…hey, no judgement! Rascal Flatts and The Band Perry had been scheduled to visit our fair city in January, but they were struck by illness and had to reschedule.  This is the first time that I’ve seen any of these acts perform, but I know most of their songs by heart, so we were all kind of bummed when they were rescheduled.  I’m just grateful they rescheduled on a date that my friend could actually attend.  She doesn’t live in Tulsa, so that was definitely a concern.  The important part is, we finally got to go to the concert…even though it is now closer to next Christmas than the one for which the gift was intended.  Don’t worry, I did not try to use this concert for either a birthday present or next Christmas…she wouldn’t let me.  Would I do that? No!  Maybe not…probably…okay, no. I wouldn’t do that.

pope2The delay in scheduling meant that Cassadee Pope, winner of the Voice’s third season, was joining the tour. I don’t know who the original opener was going to be, but Ms. Pope impressed me. I’m not a regular viewer of The Voice, and it isn’t because I don’t enjoy it. It just doesn’t stick to a real regular schedule.  Well, apparently it does, but it requires more memory space to remember when it comes in than I’m willing to give television…well television that isn’t Doctor Who or Sherlock…or Supernatural anyway. Every single episode I’ve watched I have thoroughly enjoyed though.  I love the fact that it is a positive show that works at uplifting the contestants and furthering their careers even if they don’t move to the next level.  It seems as if everyone gets something from the experience that is going to help them as a singer and performer.  The point is, Cassadee Pope has a strong, clear voice that carries a ballad like Wasting All My Tears just as well as the get-up-and-move Champagne. This girl not only has the pipes to bring in the crowds but she also has the stage presence to keep them coming to her live shows too, let me tell you. It wasn’t all sweeping white bell sleeves up there. She knows how to work the crowd.  She has a new album coming out on October 8th, and I’m looking forward to hearing more from her.

They had this line of people who waited on the floor to enter the tunnel under the stadium.  We had no idea what they were in line to do….so we started making up stories. When they entered the tunnel we waited for them to emerge somewhere else.  We thought they were there for pit passes (the area right in front of the stage), but they didn’t show up there.  So we waited….and waited.  Apparently it wasn’t the line for pit passes.  All other logical ideas (we came up with) exhausted, we started making them up.  The agreed upon story was they were tribute for the performers. (Hey, you have to keep yourself entertained while you’re waiting for the act to start.)  After Cassadee Pope performed they started to trickle out a few people at a time…I still have no idea what was going on there.  If any readers happened to be at this show (or others with similar mysterious happenings) please help me satisfy my curiosity!  Otherwise I will continue to make stuff up.  Trust me, it gets increasingly fantastic, and I don’t want to know where that goes since I started at tribute.

It is kind of like when someone told me about this show Amish Mafia.  Have you seen it?  (And down the rabbit hole we go.  I would say I’m sorry, but…I’m not)  For the life of me, I couldn’t figure out how an Amish mafia worked.  The purity and simplicity of living that I associate with Amish society just didn’t mesh with the mafia.  Now, of course, people are people and no matter their society or upbringing there are always the good and the bad.  However, with very little technology, and very little that is traditionally associated with the mafia…No electricity, no cars, technology that hearkens back to another era.  (Do they even have guns?)  No matter which way I sliced it…this did not jive with my traditional idea of how mafia works.  What would they do?  Extort protection chickens?  Pay me in furniture or I’ll mess up your carriage?  How would this work exactly?  I just couldn’t wrap my head around this concept, and I didn’t manage to catch the television show for months….months.  I asked everyone if they’d seen this show.  Friends, family, wait staff….yeah, even wait staff.  Then I finally watched the show and I was incredibly disappointed.  There was nothing about paying for protection in livestock!  It was kind of boring in comparison to what I’d created in my head. (Trust me my mind is not a boring place…maybe frightening, but never boring.)

perryintroAnd…..we’re back!  The Band Perry took the stage after Ms. Pope…ladies and gentlemen that family rocks, and they have TALENT. These performers kicked it off with their chart topping hit Done and kept right in rolling, mixing in a bit from The Lumineers and Fun along the way.  For a genre bending fan like me, it was perfect. They got the crowd involved, not just hyped up and excited, but involved. Kimberly Perry was intent on getting the crowd to sing along with…well everything. She commented that while we may be here to hear them sing, they were here to hear us sing with them…and we did…a lot. (Well, you give me a song I like, and I’m singing anyway, whether you want me to or not. Truthfully, I don’t even have to like the song, I just have to know it!  It works out better for everyone when you want me to sing.) I have been a big fan of their sound since their single If I Die Young exploded onto country music charts, and they played all of my favorites along with new stuff too.  Some of it Kimberly said they’d just finished writing with Brad Paisley.  That is one that I can’t wait to hear on the radio!  The visuals were fantastic, with video screens behind them, they turned the performance into something that felt like we’d stepped into the scene of a music video. Neil, Reid and Kimberly Perry played and sang their hearts out for us last night, and there is nothing better than watching a big stage show like that and knowing the performers are giving you everything they’ve got and loving it!

Reid was all mysterious looking with his plum colored jeans, boots, black t-shirt and black cowboy hat pulled low. Neil looked a bit like a rock star with his dark hair plastered to his forehead and black leather vest. Kimberly, she was the country diva with a bit of bad girl thrown in to drive the boys nuts.  Seriously, she was wearing a corset style top made from a material that was a kind of nude and black toile with bright orange piping that was mirrored in the orange ribbon lacing that trailed down the length of the black lace skirt.  The bad girl showed up in her over the knee black leather high heeled boots.  They were awesomely amazing! (Wow, I’m not typically into the fashion thing, but that was awesome.)  During the show one or more of them would pause at the front of the stage or just in front of the screens and the front stage lights would go down, and they’d be back lit.  All the crowd could see were their silhouettes, and it was really visually stunning.  Talk about working a crowd…

photo (21)Rascal Flatts was, of course….they were just, wow.  Now, my voice was already a bit ragged after The Band Perry, but they were playing all my favorites.  Some acts aren’t that great live, but they are awesome in the studio.  Rascal Flatts is amazing no matter where they’re performing.  They opened with Life is a Highway, and just kept running from there.  They pulled some of my favorites out of their collective hats.  I’m sure the people surrounding me were thrilled that my voice probably gave out and they could no longer hear me sing, but yeah, I was still singing….with everything.  The did a short selection where Jay played the grand piano and sang Moving On.  It was FANTASTIC.  Someone handed Gary LeVox a cowboy hat and he made a comment that he looked like Jason Aldean in it, there were fans (like the kind you wave in front of your face to create a breeze, not the kind that scream and ask you to autograph their chest…although those were present as well, I’m sure.) with their faces on them that a fan handed and he sang with one in front of his face.  Just in case you didn’t know, Joe Don is incredibly good looking…we grow them pretty in Oklahoma. Jay is just a funny guy.  The three of them took a few moments to pull up a stool to the front of the stage and introduce each other, and that may have been my favorite part of the show.  Jay’s cracking jokes, Gary’s fixing his hair that had gotten smushed during his hat wearing episode and Joe Don’s up their laughing at both of them. (Did I mention we grow them pretty in OK?  ‘Cause, whew!)

The crowd could actually sing…like mostly in tune and everything.  During Broken Road the guys stopped singing and the crowd kept going and it didn’t sound bad at all.  That doesn’t usually happen, so kudos to us!  I mean, I didn’t count since I’d lost my voice, but…I was there….and singing!  It was a really good mix of old favorites and music from their latest album Changed.  Rascal Flatts have had several songs over the years that have featured predominantly in the song track for my life, and I’m pretty sure they covered all of them in this show.  So memories, both good and bad were swimming all over that arena.  Cassadee Pope joined the trio on stage to sing a duet with Gary that got him a bit choked up.  I can certainly understand why, their voices complement each other well, and they both know how to tug on a listener’s heart strings. *Sniff*

The point being this was a great concert overall.  It left me asking myself the question…Do I like the big arena shows or the small venues better? I mean really.  There’s something to be said for all the screens and the pyrotechnics and wowza type effects, it is just awesome.  Then again, the small venues offer the intimacy of somebody on a stage just playing their music, no gimmicks, no distractions…As a fan in Tulsa, I’m lucky, I can pick the BOK center and seats where I can feel the fire from the pyrotechnics on my face, or Cain’s where I’m close enough that the guitar can melt my face.  I don’t really have to choose between the two.  Whew!  What a relief!  I do have to say that the small venues to offer up better pictures that what I can provide here, but I can only work with what I’ve got, folks.

If you had to choose would you pick the big venues or the small venues?  What do you like best about them?

‘Til next time,

Jessica