Remembering Alan Rickman

Alan-Rickman-zv-alan-rickman-6916293-1280-1024I honestly have no words.

No, wait. I do.

Fuck cancer.

I am still processing the life and death of David Bowie, and then this morning I saw it pop up on Facebook. I was trying to confirm it before I said anything to Pip, but then it downed on me: the news was just breaking. Alan Rickman, star of stage and screen, had died of cancer at 69. Identical to David Bowie.

I’m going to say it again. Fuck cancer. (#becausePGH)

I’ve been a fan of Alan Rickman’s work for decades. He raised the bar for villains in Die Hard, and sure, that’s what everyone knows him best for; but I still recall watching him in Sense and Sensibility and thinking, “This is Hans Gruber…and this time, he’s totally stealing this movie!” As I recall, Sense and Sensibility was marketed more as a vehicle for Emma Thompson and Hugh Grant. The movie also gave Kate Winslet a lovely introduction to American audiences. It was Rickman’s Colonel Christopher Brandon, though, that completely won over hearts everywhere. Any movie Rickman appeared in could be promised at least one solid performance; and when you read his biography and see the amount of accolades he received for his work over the decades, it’s no surprise whatsoever as to why we loved him.

This is really too much. I’m at a loss.

So I’m going to let Alan Rickman speak for me… Continue reading

The Stars Look Very Different Today: A Tribute to David Bowie

IMG_5998Usually when an artist, actor, or celebrity of note dies, the alert gives a quick one line explanation of exactly why you should know this person. “John Q, backup singer for the Flying Wallabees…” or “Adele McManohan, artist of the painting Godzilla in Spring…”—something like that.

This morning, I looked at my phone and read the alert.

David Bowie dies of cancer aged 69.

No preface. No lead-in. No explanation as to what he was famous for. Just—boom.

And not under “Entertainment” but “Top Stories.”

That’s how big Bowie was. The man lived a life in the arts for five decades. He pushed boundaries, lived a life both dangerous and glorious, and he continued to do what he loved right up to his death.

And yet I have not always been a fan of David Bowie. Continue reading

Don’t Make Resolutions. Make Commitments.

 

iStock_000013954253_LargeHere comes the end of 2015. How was it? I’m hoping the year was kind to you. I know that, maybe, there were highs and lows; but I hope the highs were up there and lows not too shallow.

Right now, you’re seeing a lot of blogposts either looking back through 2015 or looking ahead to 2016, and as we close in on the countdown, I wanted to ask you all a favor: Knock it off with the New Year’s Resolutions. Let’s focus on getting shit done. Let’s make commitments for 2016. Continue reading

An Open Letter to Star Wars: A Spoiler-Free Reaction to The Force Awakens

 

Tee-70sHi, Star Wars. It’s been a long time since I’ve reached out to you like this, so I don’t know if you remember me or not. I was that pudgy nine-year old kid who met you back in 1977. The trailers (although back then I just called them “commercials”) scared me a bit because there was this terrifying guy in a black mask that looked like a nasty piece of work, so I wasn’t sure if you and I would get along. My older brother told me I had to see you, so I did.

I went back to the theatres another 39 times in the year you were in Richmond. I saw you at Cloverleaf Mall. I saw you at Chesterfield Mall. I saw you at the Ridge Cinemas. I saw you at the Capitol Theatre. The best time, though, was at the Bellwood Drive-In. At the drive-in, I made a great audio recording of the movie (so I could play it in the background while playing with the toys) and I saw previews for this thing called a “sequel,” The Empire Strikes Back. I have memories of my mom dropping me off at an afternoon matinée and Christmas shopping while I sat through two showings back-to-back. I collected the original figures, all twelve of them. (The Jawa was the toughest find.) I sent in the proof-of-purchase seals to Kenner for my free Boba Fett. I got the toys all the way up to Return of the Jedi. (Too many toys to try and collect.) I remember getting you on VHS and watching you over and over. I knew the dialog. I read every issue of Bantha Tracks. And I remember in May 25, 1983 when my dad (completely out-of-the-blue) took me out of school and bought us tickets for your first showing of Return of the Jedi.  Some of my best years were spent with you in a galaxy far, far away.

If you remember me now, you’re probably surprised by this letter. I’m writing to say “I’ve missed you.” Last night reminded me of that. And what we’ve been through. Continue reading

I’m a “Real” Fan of Star Trek…and That’s Not a Good Thing.

I ranted on Chuck’s Facebook thread (sorry, Chuck…) concerning yet another dust-up over Star Wars. Thing is, this brouhaha brought up a few memories worth sharing. These are memories about me being a hardcore fan of Star Wars and Star Trek, and about hardcore fans of Doctor Who

…and how that can sometimes be a problem.

See, what’s happening within the Star Wars fandom—in the wake of other “real fan” movements—is nothing new. It’s just more public. “Real” fans who draw lines in the sand, piss all over a movie poster or toy collection (mint-in-box, of course), and claim to be the Keepers of the Sanctity of Insert-Your-Favorite-Science-Fiction-Sacred-Cow-Here, thanks to social media and the Internet, are making their voices heard; and are exhorting to extreme measures to protect their Precious.

To understand just how dangerous a mentality this is, you can take a look at my own experiences. Experiences where I was on both the receiving and the giving end of this kind of “real” fandom.

Let me take you back to the 1990’s. I’m thinking the summer of 1996. Yeah, that sounds about right… Continue reading

Remember the Post I Made Two Days Ago?

Things have been moving pretty fast…

KS_checkin-04a

So how am I feeling right now?

Well, after this, ESPN hanging out at my alma mater, and an amazing All Blacks game

psyche

It’s official: The Ghost Rebellion is happening without question, slated for a May 2016 release.

Now, with 22 days remaining, we look ahead to some of those exciting Stretch Goals we talk about in our Kickstarter video, and some killer Add-Ons we weren’t expecting to roll out for another week such as…

  • Leather keychains from Brute Force Studios
  • Autographed prints from Verena Vorsatz
  • Tee-shirts from the Ministry proudly commemorating this incredible Kickstarter
  • …and much more!

With our base goal met, we now look ahead. Let’s make the most of the time remaining and make this a Kickstarter people will talk about. For now, thank you, one and all, for not only taking Pip and me on a wild seven-day roller-coaster ride, but for believing in the Ministry of Peculiar Occurrences. The success of this Kickstarter and this award-winning series would have never happened without you!

Now—onward to those stretch goals. Share this Kickstarter on your favorite social media networks and check-in with us on Periscope for the latest news.

Kickstarting a New Project on a New Social Media Toy.

So, over the weekend, this happened…

In a nutshell, Pip and I attended Steampunk unLimited 2015, launched a Kickstarter for the fifth book in the Ministry of Peculiar Occurrences series, and had a blast with friends and fans throughout the weekend.

12005665_10207806377498556_512412240_oYes, I know I said “Steampunk unLimited 2016” in the video and all I can do is blame my lack of coffee and the desire to time travel, but I digress…

This Kickstarter really has come out of the box strong. We were already at the 50% mark within four days. I don’t think we saw that kind of love even for The Ministry Initiative. We’re doing all we can to keep the momentum going, and are optimistic that not only will we meet the initial goal for The Ghost Rebellion but we may also see some of those stretch goals come to fruition. There’s a lot of possibility ahead, and we are pretty stoked.

So’s one of our stretch goals—V’s Cosplay—who put together a quick little doodle here of Eliza using “grenade incentives” to get people to pledge.

Since we are talking about possibilities, how about we chat a bit about that video posted above.

IMG_5524If you’ve been paying attention to me on Twitter (as well as Books and Braun), you may have noticed a few tweets taking you to the official website for Periscope. If you haven’t heard of this new platform, here’s a quick rundown of what I’ve learnt in two weeks of testing, filming, and posting. Periscope offers you the ability to stream video from your smartphone or tablet, and opens your live broadcast up for comments and “Hearts” (Likes) that  interact with you and your content, all in real-time. You can video for as long as you like, and Periscope will continue the stream for as long as your data connection remains.

So you can see how much fun an app like Periscope would be at an event like Steampunk unLimited.

As for what you can do with Periscope from an author’s point-of-view, there’s a lot of ideas I’ve been kicking around, and if you want to read about those ideas, swing on over to One-Stop Writer Shop where I take you on a deep dive with the app. It’s a lot of fun.

So we are off and running with our Kickstarter. Please make sure to let people know about what we are up to!

KS_checkin

4 Things that Star Wars Fans Should Be More Upset About than Chuck Wendig’s Aftermath

 

chuck-wendig-aftermathSo, if you might have heard, author Chuck Wendig released a book.

Chuck is the author behind Star Wars: Aftermath, the first (of three) books bridging the gap between Return of the Jedi and The Force Awakens. Since its release, both Jedi and Sith alike are losing their midichlorian-laced shit over this book.

The common threads amongst haters are:

  • Chuck wrote the story in 3rd person present tense. Very different from previous Extended Universe books.

    • In Aftermath, we meet a character that is gay.

    • This is Star Wars done in the style of Wendig. If you have not read some of his other works like Blackbirds or Zeroes, this is a very different approach.

    • There is an unexpected crossover between new Star Wars character Norra Wexley and Marvel favorites, Rocket Raccoon & Groot.

Okay, I might have totally made up that last one, but those other gripes are what a lot of panties twisted in special knots only learnt at Jedi Summer Camps. After reading thinly-veiled attempts at hiding homophobia or anti-Disney sentiments behind various “This is bad writing…” comments, I’m a bit stunned. Star Wars fans are pissed over a gay character and Chuck’s style? Seriously? After everything we’ve dealt with across six movies?

Over the decades, we fans have weathered some serious missteps. And no, I’m not talking about:

  • Midichlorians
  • Jar-Jar Binks
  • The feeble attempts to have Han Solo appear to shoot in self-defense

We’ve talked about those (and continue to talk about them) at length. What I’m talking about is the kind of writing or direction that should have made fans call them out to the center of the octagon, but I’ve rarely seen happen. If you really want to be pissed off about something in the Star Wars universe, have you considered… Continue reading

Wide-Eyed Wonder: A Review of Tomorrowland

spa224653LARGEWhen Walt Disney Studios revealed that coming to theatres this summer was a movie called Tomorrowland, a feeling of dread (equaled only by my level of anticipation) welled inside of me. Tomorrowland—the park, not the movie—was a place that, even in my teenaged visits to Walt Disney World, I would hold my breath, make a wish, and lose myself in science fiction come to life. Tomorrowland was not just a special place, it was sacred. I remember visiting Walt Disney World when Space Mountain was under construction. (I’m old. Shut up.) I remember when their first spaceflight simulation “A Voyage to the Moon” convinced me had launched from Orlando and were en route to Tranquility Sea. Yes, I know—Walt Disney World is an amusement park. An expensive amusement park. Walt Disney World, I’ve always believed, has been less about the rides and more about the experience; and for me, nowhere else in the park embodied that more than Tomorrowland.

Now, it was a movie with George Clooney at the helm. And all I could think about was The Haunted Mansion.

Oh. Crap. Continue reading

May Madness: From RT to Balticon

Memorial Day weekend. You know what that means?

1553242_10154200291475241_7077773905793839550_o

Grill time.

It also means showing respect for those who served and made the ultimate sacrifice so that we could have cookouts in the Land of the Free, Home of the Brave. Sometimes, you can forget why we enjoy the extended weekend. This particular one comes with a pretty powerful price tag, regardless of what the sales at Macy’s and Bed, Bath, & Beyond advertise.

But I digress…

AWARDThis May, as you saw in my previous post, has been pretty eventful. Pip made it home safely Monday morning, and when I got home Monday from the day job I was presented with the RT Reviewers’ Choice Award for Best Steampunk of 2014. Wellington, Eliza, Dr. Sound, Professor Axelrod & Dr. Blackwell, Tesla & Edison, and new friends Wild Bill Wheatley and Felicity Lovelace brought home the gold (or in this case, the crystal) with Dawn’s Early Light. It doesn’t feel quite real, you know? Two of the finalists have written for me and Pip, and another was a New York Times Bestseller; but we were presented with honors. It’s a little humbling and immensely rewarding.

The best part? No puppies of any demeanor were involved with this distinction. We earned this award. I’m more than good with that. Continue reading