Thursday, March 28, 2013

No More Dodgeball

The Windham, New Hampshire school system has removed dodgeball from the gym class curriculum. The reason is to put a halt to the perceived bullying aspect of this longtime gym and playground activity. Myself, I always loved playing dodgeball in school. Never was the champ, but enjoyed it. I can see what they are trying to do, as it is not unreasonable to think that some students are singled out, or ganged up on as targets. This is causing quite a bit of controversy and discussion locally and it appears nationally, as the story gains traction in the media.  Nothing surprises me these days, and I think this decision might be a bit extreme. I would think the potential of getting hit in the face might have been a more worthy reason to evaluate the status of dodgeball in schools, just saying.

Anyway, if you care to read more on the story click HERE, and I would certainly love to hear where you stand on this subject.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

10 Days of Madness Begins

Over at the Leaky Pencil blog, which is hosted by Chris Allinotte, the 10 Days of Madness extravaganza kicked off today.  Benjamin Sobieck and Angel Zapata kick things off. This is the 3rd year of  "the madness",  and  I was very thrilled to be included in the inaugural offering with a story called "Heart Shaped Hammer".

Anyway....head on over to the Leaky pencil, give the story's a read, and let the authors know what you think. Click HERE to be transported to a world of madness.

Friday, March 15, 2013

PBS and Hooked On Downton Abbey

I have been a big fan of PBS for a long time, starting with Sesame Street and the Electric Company as a child. Hell, I remember my mother being hooked on I Claudius way back in the day.  As an adult, Masterpiece Theater has had some great ones: Inspector Morse and Robert Louis Stevenson's, Kidnapped, really did it for me. Recently, I got hooked on Call the Midwife, but oh man, once I starting watching Downton Abbey, it was like a crack addiction. It is the kind of show that makes network TV and even cable  shows, look ridiculous ( or even more ridiculous than I already thought they were) 

Pictured above is the main villain, Thomas (superbly cast and played by Robert James-Collier). This guy is a weasel's weasel. What has drawn me to this show?

1. The high quality of the production.

2. Almost the entire cast was unknown to me
3. Superb acting and story line
4. Does not rely on all of the old standbys of network pretentious music for every scene, over- used / over-paid actors, product placement, and placing style over story.
* There is liberal use of  "someone always overhearing private conversations, or walking into a room at just the right time". This is the trademark of soap operas, but it works very well in this case.
5. I don't feel like my intelligence is being insulted, and actually feel like I am learning something about history / society along the way.
6. The cliff-hanger factor is huge. I want to know "what happens next".
7. My wife and I watch it together and we talk about it! Did the same with Call the Midwife as well.

I was late to the game on this show. We started watching season 1 on Netflix ( via my kids Wii system) about a month ago. I immediately, purchased season 2 at Walmart for $30.00, and then season 3 ( UK version) at Barnes and Noble for $40.00. We burned through these in record time, and loved every single minute of it.  Now, as we have told friends and family who had not watched it, the seasons 2 and 3 DVD's are on a wait list, after they got hooked after watching season 1.

If anyone has seen Downton Abbey, would love to know your thoughts, as I would love talk about it. 

Thursday, March 14, 2013

The Ghosts of Belfast: Movie Update

Stuart Neville has shard his thoughts on the film version of his excellent, and one of my favorite all-time novels, The Ghosts of Belfast. The film title is Last Man Out and it looks like Pierce Brosnan is lined up to play Gerry Fagan. I you have not read this novel, I cannot recommend it highly enough. Check out Stuart's take, on his blog HERE

Over at the My Book, The Movie blog, I was pleased to find out about a novel by Stephan Talty, that I find very intriguing.  Here is the elevator pitch:

"In this explosive debut thriller by the New York Times bestselling author of Empire of Blue Water, a brilliant homicide detective returns home, where she confronts a city’s dark demons and her own past while pursuing a brutal serial killer on a vengeful rampage."

Check who Stephan thinks would be in the movie cast, as well as finding out more about him HERE

Friday, March 8, 2013

TeamNerd Reviews: Grimm Tales

While surfing the net, I found a very detailed review of Grimm Tales via the TeamNerd Review blog. I had a  story in this anthology, Divided We Stand.. A lot of the stories took it to the chin, but some seemed to really impress. The main complaint was the overuse of Hansel and Gretel, which I can certainly understand,  but the authors had no idea which fairy tale the others were choosing. My take from the beginning was to try and use one that I thought no one else would use, so  in that respect, I lucked out. As I read through each story review, I was cringing waiting to see what was in store for my story. But, I was somewhat spared.

Divided We Stand

Author: Sean Patrick Reardon

Mini-Review: This short read like a scene from within an already ongoing scene. It’s hard to wrap your head around what the hell is going on until closer to the end. The ending was good though.

Anyway, you can see the full review and check out the TeanNerd Review blog ( which is a really cool site) 

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Banshee on Cinemax

Recently got turned on to a new crime series, Banshee, which is on Cinemax. Really digging this. It is totally over-the-top in terms of violence, language, and sexual content. Just about everything about it screams inappropriate, and of course, I am all in!  Here is the premise, which at first glance almost seems absurd, but they make it work and pull it off. 

Banshee takes place in the fictional small town of Banshee, Pennsylvania. After serving 15 years in prison for stealing diamonds from Ukranian gangster Mr. Rabbit, the unnamed protagonist travels to Banshee to find his heist accomplice and former lover, Anastasia. When he finds her, the protagonist learns that she is now a married mother of two living under the assumed identity of Carrie Hopewell. Later, when the incoming Sheriff is killed, the protagonist takes on his identity as Lucas Hood, becoming the town's new Sheriff. Banshee sees Hood struggle with adapting to his new identity while dealing with the machinations of local crime lord Kai Proctor, and remaining hidden from Rabbit.

The opening couple of scenes are action packed, and really kick things off with bang. It has all the ingredients I love in a show, although, just my taste, they could cut down on the sex scenes, and dedicate more of that time, to story. It's got the brutality of Oz, the small town dynamics of a Stephen King story, and best of all everyone is a bad guy at heart, even the "good" guys. It's one of those shows where you belief system surely needs to be suspended, and compared to Downton Abbey ( which I really love as well) It is one of those "guilty pleasure" shows.

I love villains and Banshee has plenty. Here's my top 3;

Kai Proctor, played by Ulrich Thomson
* intimidating and wealthy  Banshee businessman who considers himself above the law. Disowned by his Amish family, Kai has a hand in nearly all of Banshee's criminal enterprises.

Job, played by Hoon Lee  ( also a Massachusetts native, extra props for that)
* cross-dressing hair stylist and genius computer hacker who plays a key part in Lucas' criminal endeavors.

Olek aka Widowspeak played by Christos Vasilopoulos
*head henchman and bodyguard of Ukrainian mob boss

An extra special villain bonus goes to the character "Albino" who appeared in one episode.