Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Alpha Shift—Hacked

It’s time to introduce the main character of my work in progress—Alpha Shift. Forces on board the ship kidnapped Captain Christina Chechi from the bridge. But she’s escaped, and she’s about to find out how badly the ship has been hacked.

A wall monitor gave a nonsensical message from Captain Akajima that didn’t mention her, Captain Chechi.

Arms at her sides, Christina made both hands into fists, hard, as if she were a teenager willing herself to grow taller. She raised one of them and tried calling the bridge.

A smiling picture of herself showed, wearing the wrong red dress. The image was an abomination of perfect hair, makeup, and costume, and it gave a winning smile as it said that all conditions were normal.

Christina hit the wall monitor.

She put her hands over her eyes and told herself to simmer down. Then she considered anew the general quarters alarms. This is not just about me. Even though she was captain, she was just one person, but communications in general had been sabotaged. They’re trying to take the ship. My ship.

Monday, May 18, 2015

Movie Review: Pitch Perfect 2

If you liked Pitch Perfect, you’ll like Pitch Perfect 2. If you didn’t see Pitch Perfect, then get with the program! Watch the original—as my previous post advised at the time—get a feel for the joy a daffy group of girls have as they learn to sing together, then go see the sequel.

Anna Kendrick reprises her role as Beca, the new girl who had led her a cappella group the Barden Bellas to victory in the first movie. She and the returning members of that group are seniors now, and they perform with confidence their elaborate dance and quasi-gymnastic moves that accompany their singing. But because of a wardrobe malfunction by Fat Amy (Rebel Wilson), the Bellas may be disbanded unless they win an international competition against a scary German group.

As for the inevitable question—is it as good as the first movie—well, no, that would be just about impossible. The first movie had the Barden Bellas as obvious underdogs, whereas the sequel has them as a senior-dominated group capable of professional productions. And Beca was experiencing first love in the first movie, but in this one she is so established in her relationship, the boyfriend is relegated to a minor character. Keeping that in mind, it’s still good entertainment.

 A number of characters are back: Chloe the talkative redhead, who is the actual leader of the group. Stacie, the tall girl who is preoccupied with sex. Lilly, who can barely be heard, whose best line is, “I sleep upside down, like a bat.” Even the two minor characters who don’t have real speaking parts are back, and the joke this time is that after all these years, Beca still doesn’t know their names. And when Aubrey, the blonde leader from the first movie, makes a surprise return, it’s quite funny.

So overall it’s a good effort by the director, Elizabeth Banks. Yes, she plays the female color commentator who puts up with the misogynist comments by her co-host.

Mingle Media TV

Monday, May 4, 2015

Grace Lee Whitney—In Memoriam

Grace Lee Whitney: 1930 – 2015

Grace Lee Whitney was more commonly known to fans as Yeoman Rand from the old Star Trek (though she became Lieutenant Rand for the movies and one episode of Star Trek: Voyager.) I strongly recommend her autobiography, The Longest Trek: My Tour of the Galaxy.

The cover shows them holding flashlights, since the prop department hadn’t issued them phasers yet. She covers other tidbits of insider information like that.

Even if you’re lukewarm about Star Trek, she has funny stories about Hollywood. She was an extra in Some Like it Hot, starring Jack Lemmon and Marilyn Monroe. She describes what an airhead Marilyn Monroe was, sometimes opening a drawer for no reason during filming because she had hidden a page of the script there to read.

What she mainly wanted to be known for was how she survived addiction to alcohol and drugs. Her autobiography is brutally realistic about how she hit rock bottom as an addict. She actually reached the stage where she could not get drunk no matter how much she drank, and could not get sober when she stopped. Her friends in Alcoholics Anonymous warned her that was the final stage before death.

I’m glad she penned such an honest chronicle of her life, and I’m amazed she lived to age eighty-five.

Friday, May 1, 2015

Book Review: Night Owls

“Val opened her mouth to retort, but before she could speak, her nostrils filled with the scent of blood. Not a bright, fresh-from-the-vein smell. This was old, congealing, like blood left to pool in a dark place and forgotten. She wanted to retch as her taste buds kicked in and helpfully supplied the rancid companion to the smell.”

If something creeps out a vampire, that’s not a good sign. Val is my favorite character in Night Owls by Lauren M. Roy. Val is fabulous looking, and I believe she seems about thirty, though she’s really somewhat older. That scent she’s smelling is of a Jackal, an enemy she thought she left behind years ago.

The novel actually starts with Elly, who I think is about nineteen. She comes fleeing into town with Creeps close behind her. (We find out the Jackals and the Creeps are the same thing.) Elly is a streetfighter who likes to use her favorite stake when things go down.

You can probably guess which is which

The Jackals are hard to describe. They give off a rotten stench, but they are intelligent, so they’re not like zombies. Their faces transform so that they have snouts, but they don’t fully transform like werewolves. And they’re irredeemably evil, so it’s fun to read about them getting killed.

The rest of the characters mostly center about the off-campus bookstore that Val runs. She was hoping to lead the quiet life there. But then Elly comes to town. I like how they meet: Through a little misunderstanding, they try to kill each other.

This novel has multiple viewpoints, and the only one I didn’t like was that of Chaz, Val’s Renfield. Believe it or not, I didn’t like to read his viewpoint sections because of his frequent casual swearing. And he seems to remind us about a dozen times that he’s Val’s Renfield.

But I like Lauren M. Roy’s Night Owls. There’s an interesting plot involving the Creeps/Jackals, and it all comes down to a good ol’ hand-to-hand, hand-to-stake and burning wards battle.


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