Guardians of the Galaxy, Volume 2: A Spoiler-Free Review

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If you are living under a rock, you might have missed the big release at the box office this weekend. Guardians of the Galaxy, Volume 2 has now landed at your local movie theatre, and after its (come on, let’s be honest…you thought it was gonna suck…) stunning sleeper performance, the Marvel Studios’ Underdog of Misfits had one incredible bar to clear. The original took the hardest of comic book nerds by surprise while casual fans of Marvel, convinced this would be the first MCU dud, came out pleasantly surprised and downloading Awesome Mix, Volume One on their smartphones before getting home from the theatre.

Now, the Guardians are back.

So where do I begin? Or more to the point, where do I begin and not spoil the insane amount of fun that is happening in GotG, Vol. 2? There is a LOT to be had, but a good amount of this fun are in the twists, turns, and surprises GotG, Vol. 2 packs within its running time. I think I can give an opinion — a sincere, analytical opinion — without giving anything away, but if I do inadvertently spoil anything for you, I apologize.

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Okay, let’s do this… Continue reading

Writing Is Not a Solo Sport

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photo credit: Arne Parrott

Striking a hero’s pose here is Drew Mierzejewski. I briefly met him two years ago through Alyson Grauer. Now if Aly’s name sounds familiar, it’s because you can find her lending her voice to one of my podcasts here, hear her rock the steampunk here, do it again here, and then giving good panel at DemiCon 25. Aly’s got game. So does Drew. That might be one of many reason these two got married.

Check it out, Chicago. This is an up-and-coming power couple to watch. I’m just sayin’.

Thing about Drew—I wish I knew him better. Something just tells me we’d be talking to the wee small hours in the morning about…stuff. Deep stuff. I especially got that impression when I saw a random Facebook post from him yesterday about the road creatives walk. The entire thread is here, and you really should check it out or even chime in if you like, but this was the part that made me stop and think…

Therefore, I would like to place a hypothetical to each of you. Why do we do walk this road alone? There are many of us! Why do we not band together in a great bonfire of creativity and make art? Is it impractical? It is idealistic? Is it too terrifying? What is stopping us from creating a massive company that makes art year round, in which we pool resources and talent to make the best of what we have to offer? Now, I want to reiterate that I ask this in hypothetical but I do want to hear your thoughts on this. So please take a moment and tell me in the comments what you think. Tell me why.

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All the World’s an (Audio) Stage: Wherein an Actor Embraces His Muse Once Again

I’ve met a lot of incredible people in what will be ten years (come May) as an author. One real stand-out started as a star-struck business proposition between myself and Lani Tupu. People know him best for Captain Crais in Farscape, but Lani is a pretty multi-talented, multi-faceted dude. Artist. Teacher. Just an all-around good guy. There are two conversations with him that have always stayed with me, and this weekend one of those conversations came back with a vengeance.

We (me, Lani, and our agent, Jean Orrico) were having a post-convention meal, following the first run of our workshop, From Page to Stage. I remember the subject turned to acting, and how I had resigned that I would not be returning to the stage.

Now this was before I had met Pip in person and understood just how dangerous it is to anger a kiwi. And Lani, when that resignation left my lips, was angry.

“You never stop being an actor!” he stated (quite passionately), “The stage will always be with you, and it will be waiting for you when you return.”

It was more about the zeal behind his statement that stuck with me, and maybe at the time I thought “Spoken like a true-blue actor.” Lani’s sentiment was well intended, but I just felt like I had taken a different path at that crossroad.

This weekend, that changed. Continue reading

A Crossroad Remembered

This weekend, Pip and I took off for a Valentine’s Day weekend. Instead of getting our lovey-dovey on today, we dropped off the Boom with grandparents, and enjoyed a quiet pre-Valentine’s Day weekend in Staunton, Virginia. If you are not familiar with Staunton, this is truly one of the crown jewels of Virginia’s crown. It is a fantastic town nestled within the Shenandoah Valley, just about 20-30 minutes away from my alma mater, James Madison University. Why I chose Staunton as our getaway weekend, though, wasn’t for its historic architecture, quiet setting, or quaint downtown shops. It was for The American Shakespeare Center.

You probably don’t think “Staunton, Virginia” when you think of William Shakespeare, but you should. The American Shakespeare Center (ASC) is located in downtown Staunton, and they manage the Blackfriars, the world’s only reproduction of Shakespeare’s indoor theatre. This weekend, the ASC was putting on The Comedy of Errors, a show that holds a very special place for me. As Pip had never seen a production of Comedy nor a show at the Blackfriars, I thought this would be a great opportunity. Better still, the Frederick House offered a Shakespeare Package that included tickets and a backstage tour. As you can see by the photos (click on them to view in full), the Blackfriars is gorgeous, and how you see the stage—even with the lights up—is how the ASC does Shakespeare. The show itself was tremendous, and Pip and I are still talking about it. The actors (including an old friend from JMU who is still performing with the company, I am proud to say) gave high energy with every line and every comic moment, making the less-than-two-hours traffic fly by. So yeah, when you think of Shakespeare, you should also think of Staunton, and you should make it a priority to catch a show here. It was a terrific choice Pip and I made, and we’re heading back to Staunton in May. (More on that trip to come…)

What I didn’t expect from this trip to the Blackfriars was a memory from the past, back when I was a professional actor and facing a tough call. Continue reading