Friday, May 31, 2013

Life, Love, & Literature #001: Shameless Boohooing and Perhaps a Nugget of Truth

DISCLAIMER: The following piece is intended for entertainment purposes ONLY (e.g. tongue-and-cheek) and is NOT intended to be offensive in any way. If you find yourself being offended, feel free to let the author know and he will attempt to correct the error of his ways. That being said, this is a blog and this is the internet, so a little drama is inherent. ~ The Author

In a recent conversation with a friend and fellow blogger, he suggested I write a piece or two on relationships in the modern world. For lack of a better place to start, I shall begin with a short diatribe about the societal pressures media crams down our throats every day and move to other subjects as they come to me.

Firstly, the notion of "love" comes to mind -- especially as portrayed by Hollywood. There are many types of love stories, chief among them being the following formula: 1) guy and girl get together, 2) some issue breaks them apart, and 3) they somehow find a way to resolve said issue and get back together -- the end.

This is deliciously fallacious for the following reasons: 1) simply getting to Step One of the process is hard enough and presents an entirely new set of challenges, 2) in any relationship, there are bound to be issues, but if said issues are present from the start and the couple decides to ignore them, well then, that's their problem and they probably should break up, and 3) nothing is ever as perfect as it appears to be in the beginning. Any couple, once separated for any reason, will never be able to view the relationship through the haze of infatuation that they did at the beginning. Furthermore, if the "issue" was serious enough for them to "take a break" in the first place, that's a clear sign that they should probably just break up. I say this in all seriousness and without pleasure, but that is the hard, honest truth of things.

That being said, I find myself continually sucked into the endless drama and intrigue of such shows as Smallville and Bones, rooting for the prospective couples in each -- investing in the lives of fictional characters and living vicariously through their trials and triumphs. Is that sad? Yes. I know. It's pretty pathetic. Bite me.

Anyway, this type of shameless fantasizing has its uses, but can only lead to heartache, bitterness, and despondency in the end. While the series still survives, I feel alive inside. When it ends however, my soul is crushed. I long to experience what those characters felt. It is here, that Hollywood has set me up for failure. So many people, myself included, approach real relationships like their favourite TV or movie characters would, whether that be with swagger or timidity, it's not what should be happening.

In my experience (and I say this with only a hint of bitterness), real relationships are nothing like they are portrayed in film or television. They are difficult, capricious things that flounder and fail at the first sign of hardship. They are joyous and brief, be they two weeks or two years. In the end, all one is left with is a lingering memory: the smell of her hair, a favourite song, her silly laugh as she wrapped her arms around you... In the words of the gladiator: "All we are is shadows and dust" -- a fleeting whisper in time.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Random Observation #002: Two Men at a Bar


The two men sat at a table in the corner. It could have been any bar in America – a small, hole-in-the-wall drinking establishment with the usual assortment of inebriated townies and various passersby. They conferred in normal tones, just loud enough to carry over the raucous punk music blaring over the house system. To anyone who cared to notice, they were just two guys having a drink on a Saturday night. They could have been businessmen or grad students judging by the laptop on the table and the other stowed casually on the overstuffed booth seat. Their demeanor was one of easy camaraderie, gestures and frowns coming in equal shares in reaction to the turn of conversation.

All at once, they reached a natural pause. One man smiled absentmindedly off into the distance while the other slid from his seat to order another drink from the bartender. After a moment, the second man returned, drink in hand. He sat, careful not to spill the overfilled pint glass. Then, in an action no other patron would have given a second thought to, he nonchalantly closed the top flap of his laptop case.

“Got an LC9 in there.” He remarked casually, a knowing smile playing at the corners of his mouth.

The other man grinned and gestured to his own case. “USP Compact.”

With that, the conversation resumed, all talk on other subjects. It was not the nervous chatter of two conspirators or the verbal backpedalling after a Freudian slip. It was as if it had never been. It was two neighbors talking about their yards or two mothers about their children. It was a remark about the weather or the traffic downtown. It was the epitome of normality for these two men, as strange as it might sound to anyone in earshot.

The unspoken subtext however, was far from that. It was the echoes of a war they had known since manhood. It was the feeling one gets on a dark street at night: muggers in every footstep, killers in every shadow. It was the unconscious imperative to protect one’s self and others from harm. It was all of these things and it was none of them, for a second thought was never given to the two men as they left the bar, bags in hand.

Book Review #011: Picking the Bones

Picking the Bones
by Mike Lee

This short story takes place immediately after the events of Nagash Immortal and involves his erstwhile minion, Arkhan the Black. As stated in previous reviews, I enjoyed the continuation of story lines and characters from the Nagash trilogy. This short story is well worth the read and adds to the awesomeness of the Time of Legends series.


G.A.S.P.:
Character Development - 10
Dialogue - 10
Plot - 10
Overall: 10

LEGAL DISCLAIMER: This review is an opinion piece provided for your viewing pleasure. It does not replicate, in whole or in part, any body of work that I know of. Any and all subject matter is the intellectual property of the aforementioned author/artist and I'll be damned if I'm going to try claim any of it as my own (which I'm not)! If anyone has any legal issue with my review, please contact me before unleashing your lawyer(s)!

Book Review #010: The Red Duke

The Red Duke
by C. L. Werner

First and foremost, a little back story: I first learned about this book because the picture was in the back of Nagash Immortal (and I was on a big vampire kick) so I decided to check it out. The first place I looked was on Amazon (naturally), only to discover that a single print copy was going for around $180 (US)! I then looked on the Black Library website and found that this book was only available from them in eBook format. I like print books when I can get them, but in the event that only a digital copy is available (and given the fact that eBooks provide for the ultimate instant gratification), I promptly created an account and ordered it.

Having read many more Warhammer 40,000 books than Warhammer books, I was only marginally familiar with the fictional province of Brettonia. That being said, Werner does an excellent job fleshing out the cultural details of the place. By way of a brief, spoiler-free description, here is the basic plot: Vampire with ties to the royal family wreaks havoc in Brettonia.

The only beef I had involved the formatting, which failed to put spaces before certain paragraphs before it jumped from one time period/scene to another, leaving me briefly confused and frequently made me have to flip back a couple of pages to figure out what exactly was going on. This might be an ePUB-specific issue, but I'm not sure. It wasn't too much of a detractor, just minorly annoying.

At any rate, it was a good read which kept me interested and engaged and would have been finished much faster had I not been driving across the country when I first started it (though I did manage to sneak a peek at a couple of pages while traversing the Mojave -- don't judge me). :)


G.A.S.P.:
Character Development - 9
Dialogue - 9
Plot - 10
Overall: 9.3

LEGAL DISCLAIMER: This review is an opinion piece provided for your viewing pleasure. It does not replicate, in whole or in part, any body of work that I know of. Any and all subject matter is the intellectual property of the aforementioned author/artist and I'll be damned if I'm going to try claim any of it as my own (which I'm not)! If anyone has any legal issue with my review, please contact me before unleashing your lawyer(s)!


Book Review #009: Nagash Immortal

Nagash Immortal
by Mike Lee

The earth-shattering conclusion to the long-awaited Nagash trilogy, Nagash Immortal finds our despicable villain in an unexpected battle with the vile ratmen -- the ever-scheming Skaven -- and the other powers vying for control over Nehekhara. Truth be told, I'm not sure if the story itself drew me in (though it was very well written) as much as the endless possibilities for spin-offs and sequels generated by the rich characters Lee has created.

In conclusion, I enjoyed this book immensely and look forward to other works by this author, in or out of the Warhammer world.


G.A.S.P.:
Character Development - 10
Dialogue - 10
Plot - 10
Overall: 10

LEGAL DISCLAIMER: This review is an opinion piece provided for your viewing pleasure. It does not replicate, in whole or in part, any body of work that I know of. Any and all subject matter is the intellectual property of the aforementioned author/artist and I'll be damned if I'm going to try claim any of it as my own (which I'm not)! If anyone has any legal issue with my review, please contact me before unleashing your lawyer(s)!

Friday, May 17, 2013

Book Review #008: Cain's Last Stand

Cain's Last Stand
by Sandy Mitchell

What can I say about the sixth book in this series? Awesome? Amazing? These words have no meaning next to the gloriousness inherent in the adventures of the galaxy's most prolific shammer. When I finished it, I would have been seriously depressed had it not been for the fact that there are three more books!

But seriously, this book is just as well written as the others in the series. It chronicles the adventures of Cain in his later years around the time of the 13th Black Crusade.

Bottom Line: Epic Warhammer 40,000 action and hilarity!


G.A.S.P.:
Character Development - 10
Dialogue - 10
Plot - 10
Overall: 10

LEGAL DISCLAIMER: This review is an opinion piece provided for your viewing pleasure. It does not replicate, in whole or in part, any body of work that I know of. Any and all subject matter is the intellectual property of the aforementioned author/artist and I'll be damned if I'm going to try claim any of it as my own (which I'm not)! If anyone has any legal issue with my review, please contact me before unleashing your lawyer(s)!