Category Archives: life

general posts about my life

New Television

So, one of the reason why I worked so man overtime hours towards the end of last year was to purchase a new television.

My current TV is ten years old, a 42″ HD sett that has worked very well for most of its life and I would have kept going with this one except for a recent fault. In the last two years or so it developed an issue with the backlight that illuminates the screen and that cause a difference in brightness near the top of the monitor. Most of the time it was scarcely noticeable but during dark scenes it became impossible to ignore. (Or at least for me anyway.)

Yesterday I went to a local electronics retailer and purchased my new set and a stand to support it. (Our current stand has begun to bow and the larger set would be too much for it.)

Delivery and set will happen on Saturday morning after that I will be in the 55″ 4K zone for my movie watching. And for a Cinephile like myself that is going to be glorious.

 

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My Personal Film Festival

So, the end of the year period is the time frame where I tend to do a lot of overtime at my day-job. My habit is to take the extra funds generated by the OT, set them aside, and buy myself something nice with that loot. This year it will be replacing my 10-year-old flat screen television. I am looking at a Sony X900E in the 55″ size for my next television. I will be waiting until after the upcoming copyrighted sporting event to make that purchase, as it is not uncommon for TVs to go on sale at that time.

Once the new television is installed and ready to go for a few friends and family I will then host my Cold War Movie Marathon; three films about the cold war, produced during the cold war.

1) The Manchurian Candidate (1962). I selected this film, one of my personal favorites, to capture the essence of paranoia the infused the period. With terrific performances by Lawrence Harvey, Angela Lansbury, and Frank Sinatra it is a classic.

2) The Spy Who Came in From the Cold (1965) Based on the novel by John Le Carre this is the dark and realistic tale of an intelligence officer attempting one final field mission. This one I picked for its excellent sense of cynicism and the moral ambiguity of the both sides during the protracted contest. Starring Richard Burton this movie is pretty much the polar opposite of a James Bond movie.

3) Dr. Strangelove or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb (1964) I will end the series with this classic dark comedy from film genius Stanley Kubrick. Inspired by the novel Red Alert, Kubrick started the production as a serious dramatic film, but quickly found that his preferred method of dealing with such terrible subject matter was to turn it into farce, had it remained a dramatic film I think it would have been remembered but not a classic. Strangelove by being a farce captures the absurdity of that nuclear standoff and the insanity of the period.

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A Bonanza of Movies

I must say that looking forward over the next few weeks my troubles appear to be finding enough time to see all the movies I want to see.

Next weekend The Shape of Water opens and I am both a fan of the Universal Gill-Man movies and Del Torro, so this movie if aimed right at me. The week after that of course if the opening of Star Wars: The Last Jedi and I thoroughly enjoyed The Force Awakens so this one is also on my radar. (I also have no doubts that JJ Abrams is a much better fit with Star Wars than he is with Star Trek.)

On Dec 13th I will be joining a bunch of fans for a sold out screening of 1980’s musical fantasy Xanadu. (Now this film is really a bad movie. The script is terrible and apparently was subject to daily rewrites but there is an emotional core that resonates with me making it a personal favorite. See you can love art that is not well executed. All that matters is that it speaks to you.)

Coco has opened and that is a Pixar movie that has really grabbed my interest. In addition to that I admit a more than passing interest in the latest entry in the Saw franchise, Jigsaw, even though I have never seen any movie of that series. (It’s the directors, they are talented and the three previous films the brothers have all worked for me.)

Sadly this is also the time of year when I am working 10 hours a day helping people get the insurance that they want and that leaves limited hours for going out.

Still, no complaints. Life is good and on the 15th my latest short story hits publication on the web so while I am tired I am happy.

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Horrible Imaginings Film Festival

This weekend is the 8th annual Horrible Imaginings Film Festival. Last year was the first year I had the ability to attend and I had a blast. The quality of the films was quite impressive. The festival is made up of mainly short subjects, with each evening having one or two feature length films to round out the day. The films are presented in themed blocks, such as monsters and things that go bump in the night, or killers and other human horrors.

This year I will not only be attending the full festival but I will also be participating on a panel discussion about horror literature and the coming century. That will be on Saturday afternoon.

If you are in the area and have an interest in horror, you should make time to attend the festival. This year there will be a spotlight on local film talent and that should be interesting.

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Going on Vacation

Soon, Saturday, I will be heading out on vacation to see my family. I do not know how often I will update this blog. I will try to stay on top of it but there are no promises.

Given that flying coast to coast will be a five hour affair and that I am traveling solo for this trip I should at least be able to get some writing completed. (There are few vacations from writing.)

One project I hope I might get started and finished during the trip is a new horror short story. I shared the central premise with some of the writers of my writers group and it was well received, giving me encouragement that the conceit is new enough to be worth pursuing.

If I do get that story completed I’ll do a public reading of at the Horrible Imaginings Film Festival next month. I will be attended as part of the literature horror panel along with a number of horror authors.

I am also working a big blog post, something else I may compose on the flight, going into detail as to why I find Star Trek: Insurrection the most offensive of all the Star Trek films.

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A General Bob Update

Sorry that there was no blog update yesterday but Tuesday turned out to be an interesting day. For several days I have been experiencing a decidedly odd symptomology. Sporadically I would have the strong sensation of smoke in the back of my throat, as though I had been in a club full of tobacco users and coughing nearly always followed the smoke sensation. It was worrisome and I decided to make an appointment with my primary care doctor. That appointment was yesterday.

The x-rays showed that I have the early stages of walking pneumonia, a small section in one lung on the frontal lobe. The doctor has prescribed two antibiotics to run over the next ten days so recovery should be completed and rapid.

By the time I got home yesterday from work – because the doctor had not ordered bed-rest — I was pretty ragged and as the evening wore on that only got worse. I decided that it would be best to take a couple of days off and spend as much time as possible resting. So that’s where I am today, home, coughing, and taking drug. (Not the fun kind those have never been a part of my general lifestyle, but you like it knock yourself out.)

I shall endeavor to continue working on my novel but we’ll see how well that works out.

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Quick Comic-Con Post

Of course I am referring to the San Diego Comic-Con and I did not attend. My preference for conventions are for the smaller cons where there is a more social vibe. That is not to diss Comic-Con, I have friends who love and I hope it stays in town big, and messy, and wonderful. It is just that for my happiness the ideal size is usually under 10,000 people.

The best thing about thins years Comic-Con from a personal perspective was that I did get to have dinner with my friend, her SO, and my sweetie-wife. We had good food, good conversation in a nice little place well away from the con.

Now, it’s Monday and it’s time to revise a short story and do more work on my novel.

 

I hope your coming week is fun and happy.

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Rejection is not Failure

This year was the first time I applied for the Viable Paradise writers workshop. There were a number of factors that held me back from submitting in years past, primarily the financial aspects. A week off, a cross-country trip, the tuition, and room and board expenses were all great enough to present a considerable challenge. This year things are looking well enough that those considerations were now manageable.

Yesterday, while I was home nursing a minor sinus cold, the email came in letting me know that I had not been accepted into the Workshop. I was informed that there are only 24 students and the competition had been unusually tough and the number of applications high. The rejection did also say that the readers had enjoyed my sample writing and that it showed promise but had not won a consensus to get that coveted slot.

Of course not getting in provoked sadness. I wanted in. Even with all the expenses and the anxiety I had applied in hopes of winning, but this is the nature of the beast. Attempted traditional publishing means not just courting rejection, but marrying the old girl and living with her forever. However, rejection is not failure.

Failure is not attempting.

Failure is not learning.

Failure is not dreaming.

Rejections are reality and it is a harsh one. Even harsher is that acceptance does not preclude rejections it merely changes the nature of it. A manuscript is accepted by the agent, but still rejected by a publisher. A manuscript is accepted by a publisher, but rejected by award committees. A book is sold but rejected by readers. A book fails to gain a second printing. The list is nearly endless.

There will also be someone rejecting your work, even if it is just the one star reviews on Amazon. (That’s if you get reviews, and form of rejection, no one even bothers to comment.) Live with the rejection, embrace it, learn from it, but never let it stop you.

To my fellow writers who made the cut and are going to spend a week on Martha’s Vineyard, all my best to you; have fun, learn a lot, and do not let the fear of rejection ever stop you.

I will continue working, sending material to my agents, and if conditions are right next year, I will try again.

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Some Random Thoughts While Recovering

This week has been a rough week. Every single of the week I have suffered a migraine attack. Individually each one has been a mild to mid-grade headache, not enough to keep me home but severe enough to seriously reduced my productivity and enjoyment. This morning I awoke with another migraine and after yesterdays I decided to take the serious step to break the cluster. That means staying home from the day job and taking two does of my medications about four hours apart. This nearly always stops a cycle but leaves me fog-headed and a little unsteady. Right now, for the first time in a week, I do not feel like a headache is about to explode.

 

The Republicans have released the Senate’s bill for repealing and replacing the ACA with their own version. It is cheaper, skimpier, and will result in lots of people losing their coverage. If they pass it and Trump signs it, not a certainty as the man’s alignment is Chaotic Greedy, I think they this victory will serve them as well as Imperial Japan’s victory at Pearl Harbor. They will have won a battle but plunge into a war that looks far worse for them. This will have taught the Democratic party two very valuable lessons. First that it is futile to consider the conservative position on health care. The attempt at a mixed mode or public and private systems produced no benefits at all. Second that reconciliation is the method to achieve their goals; that there is no penalty paid for shutting out the other party. In addition to those lessons further making the ground worse for the conservatives the conversation on health care has changed in a very basic manner; the population in general believes that more people should have access to health care and that it’s a proper role of the Federal Government to make that happen. One of the few consistencies in the Trump campaign was his promise to make healthcare cheaper and covering more people. Trump is salesman and he was telling people what they wanted to hear. It is what they want and the GOP plan does the opposite of that. They might make that sale with a fast talk roll and a quick vote but once implements there’s no three-card monte way to hid the results. Let me close out the political thoughts with one more observations. Conservative positions are a package deal, they are all sailing on the same ship. If the GOP sinks the ship over healthcare it will take down everything else that conservatives might care for, tax cut, ‘pro-life’ policies, gun rights, all of this I think is imperiled in the long term. Is that a trade you really think is worthy? Is this the hill to kill your movement on?

 

I’ll wrap up with an artistic observation. I am quite happy with the releases of Mad Max: Black & Chrome and Logan Noir. After the advent of cheap and easy color film, remember The Wizard of Oz and The Adventures of Robin Hood were 1939 but common color films didn’t come about until the late 1960s, B&W film were for only art house releases and the odd film released wide in B&W generally did not do well. Seeing the special editions in the theaters give me hope that we are seeing a generation of general theatergoers who are more open and interested in artistic expressions that go beyond just the basic entertainment.

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Not Very Productive

Between migraines and software issues today has been a day where I have gotten very little accomplished. No blog posts of note, no editing on the novel in progress.

The good news is that the headache appears to have responded to mediation and after 23 hours has broken. The software now looks to be backing up properly so maybe later today I can get back to work.

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