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Saturday, April 11, 2015

Daredevil Season 1: Reviewed (Spoiler Free)

Disney's "Daredevil" premiered exclusively on Netflix on April 10, 2015

Daredevil has typically been one of Marvel's Tier-2 heroes, never quite achieving the fame of Spider-Man or others. Disney and Netflix look to change all of that with a wholly original take on the Man Without Fear, brought exclusively to Netflix for Marvel's darkest, grittiest outing yet. The result is arguably the best show on television right now; a brutal, intelligent and unflinching look at Matt Murdock and the fictionalized version of Hell's Kitchen he has given so much to defend.

Daredevil succeeds on so many levels that it's difficult to know where to begin. It never condescends, nor feels rushed. It expects you to at least have an idea as to how Daredevil came to be and then does the viewer a service by not cramming the entire lore into a single episode. The storytelling is taut and breathless, executed by less cuts and more circular, sweeping takes.

Hell's Kitchen makes Gotham City looks like Sesame Street. It is a city so infused with grime and corruption that one almost becomes exhausted at searching for even the tiniest ray of hope; there's none to be found. Almost no one can be trusted and when you think you have a certain character figured out, they delightfully surprise you.

It is in it's characters and the stars that portray them that Daredevil truly stands out. Nothing is so black and white as good and evil. There are no heroes, no villains. There are simply characters of varying moral ambiguity, dropped into this snake pit of a city trying to figure out who they are.

Charlie Cox's Matt Murdock/Daredevil is magnificent. He is a font of barely-suppressed rage, struggling as much with trying to save his city as he is dealing with his ever-increasing acts of violence, knowing what it will cost him in the end. Daredevil is a character of faith, and some of the best scenes in the series have him speaking with his preacher as he watches himself become the monster he is trying to slay. Elden Henson's Foggy Nelson fills the sidekick role nicely, never quite sure as to what's happening, never quite certain of the decisions being made, doing his best to be supportive until things finally reach a tipping point. Deborah Ann Woll's Karen Page, a tragic character in the Marvel canon, has an interesting character arc, beginning innocently before simultaneously evolving and devolving into the stalwart companion. Vondie Curtis Hall is relentless as Ben Urich, Rosario Dawson needs more screen time, and Bob Gunton as vivid as always.

Vincent D'Onofrio is absolutely horrifying as Wilson Fisk, the Kingpin. Though not as physically big as some would have liked, his presence is felt in every scene from his first, and he is never larger than when he has his first, riveting encounter with Matt Murdock. Wilson Fisk is pragmatic, ruthless, and singleminded until an event begins to change and shape his focus. D'Onofrio plays this with such force that you end up empathizing with the character, even pulling for him. He is also a terrifying physical presence who's acts of violence may even have the most desensitized of viewers catching their breath. If there was any flaw in the production, and this is stretch, is that this is not the Kingpin I would have liked to see. D'Onofrio plays him almost manically, as if he's always on the verge of losing his grip on sanity.

All told, Daredevil is the best series to hit TV since HBO's Game of Thrones. With family-friendly hits such as Agents of SHIELD and darker entries such as Daredevil, Disney is free to continue its domination of the ratings as long as it continues to produce quality such as this.

PS: Spider-Man, the grown man, the teacher, the husband, and occasional Avenger, would fit perfectly into this universe. Make that happen, please.

Thanks for reading.

Sunday, April 5, 2015

Update Your Calendar! The Ring of Asarra, Warblooded, The Anniversary

Hello, Planet Earth! I apologize for going so long without an update (three weeks!) but the truth is I've had to sacrifice blogging for writing. The good news is, the sacrifice has paid off.

So without further ado, let's get your calendars updated. This is going to be a big month.

  • The audio production of Universal Warrior: The Ring of Asarra will be available April 15, 2015. This will be based off of Version 3 of the book and will retail for $2.99.
  • The Anniversary will be available April 22, 2015. This science fiction/romance short story will be available for Kindle, Nook, and all other e-readers for .99 cents.
  • On April 7, 2015, Universal Warrior: The Ring of Asarra will exclusively be available for Kindle. If you want to grab a copy from Barnes & Noble, iTunes, or Kobo, it will be available for forty-eight more hours.
  • The Universal Warrior Wiki is now publicly available. There's now a complete timeline and a partial character list. I'll keep it updated as more titles become available. It's still a work in progress, so feel free to poke around.

Shortly, I'm going to start a promotion that will let you get a copy of the Ring of Asarra completely free of charge (with teeny, tiny stipulations. But no money).

So that's all for now. I hope everyone enjoyed their holiday and I will check in with you all later. Thanks for reading and as always, your support.

Monday, March 16, 2015

"The Anniversary" Release Date and Details


What if you never had to say goodbye to someone you loved?


John and Maria Maldonado live in a run down area of New San Mateo, California. They have never had much, but they have always had each other. After nearly three decades together, life takes an unexpected turn.

The life they have built together is thrown into turmoil as they struggle to make sense of it. In Maria's need to protect John, she has a radical idea. Though John is resistant to the idea at first, Maria's persuasiveness wins him over and life is never the same again...

"The Anniversary" is a science-fiction/romance short story unrelated to the Universal Warrior franchise.

It will drop for all e-readers (Amazon, Barnes&Noble, Kobo) on April 22, 2015.

It will retail for .99.

As of now, there are no plans for a print version or pre-orders.

Thanks very much for reading.

Monday, March 9, 2015

From First Idea To Final Draft Part 1: The Truth About Writing

I'm going to tell you a hard, cold, bitter truth about writing and the creative process in general. It's not going to be something you want to hear. It may turn you off of the craft altogether. But it is the truth.

This meme is darkly funny because it's true. We do spend an inordinate amount of time watching videos, screwing around on social media, or generally staring off into space wishing for some magic force to write the words for us.

Because the truth is, there are moments when we feel trapped; where we would rather do almost anything but write, but knowing that we cannot leave our space until we do. Knowing that once we've written, we will be granted momentary relief.

Because the truth is, writing hurts.

It hurts like hell.

It's much like emotional childbirth; you are literally willing something into reality. You are birthing something that only exists within your imagination and with each stroke of the pen, or strike of the keys, you are dragging, pushing, or pulling the intangible into the real world.

The process is incredibly exhausting and takes its toll in different ways. I never sleep so soundly as I do upon completing a project.

The worse part is; the first thing you write will be complete and total crap, and it will make you wonder what the hell the effort is for.

So there it is, the brutal truth about writing. In the next post I'll show you how to capture your first idea no matter when or where it hits you, but before we got started, I thought you should know the truth.

Thanks for reading.

Friday, February 20, 2015

Universal Warrior: The Ring of Asarra Version 3 is Now Available

I am very proud to announce that Version 3 of Universal Warrior: The Ring of Asarra is now live. Current readers, open your e-reader or app and you should automatically update to the new version.

New readers, click any of these links to pick up your own copy of the story for $1.79.

Revisions include;

  1. Most, if not all, formatting issues have been resolved, including the infamous "double scene" issue.
  2. Free preview of Era of the Scourge Book 2: "Warblooded"
  3. Free preview of science fiction romance "The Anniversary"
  4. General grammar and basic editing
For those of you new to the story, "Era of the Scourge" is a (minimum) four-part short story series that details the events of the Third World, before the split of nations. Centuries after the end of the Thunder Lizard conflict and the disappearance of Adam and Eve, four demigods are unleashed who quickly begin the extermination of all life on the planet. These demigods, avatars of War, Death, Plague, and Famine, would rule the third world for nearly a century and a half before finally being overthrown--at great cost--in Fall of the Scourge.

The Ring of Asarra focuses on Sephtis, an amnesiac who's been granted asylum with the Last Alliance as one of the last of his race.
But Sephtis is no amnesiac; in truth, he is Death Incarnate, one of the four Scourge. Originally sent to infiltrate the alliance, life with them has caused his allegiance to waver. His inner conflict becomes so severe that he can no longer live with his actions.
Rescued from a dire fate by the elven goddess Asarra, Sephtis is offered a choice; he can forfeit his powers, his birthright his destiny, and live as a mortal with the woman he loves as the Scourge complete their conquest of the Third World, or he can use his powers to turn the genocidal tide against his former brethren.

The story is available in e-book format at the following links;

Enjoy the story, look forward to more, and thanks for reading.

Monday, February 16, 2015

The Battle For Equal Rights

I grew up in San Francisco. Sometimes, I take that for granted.

The people I knew, and loved, were of all sorts; straight, gay, trans, hell, some of them didn't even know what they were by their own admission. The point is, they were all cool, so to me, it didn't matter. Someone I used to know, who called themselves "the most confused human being on Earth" had been born a man, undergone gender reassignment to become a woman, and in the middle of the reassignment, had the process reversed. To me, all of this was normal. I didn't even know there was animosity against homosexuality until my late teens, and then, I got into plenty of fights about it.

I am for equal rights of every human being on this planet, and the utter destruction of those who threaten those rights. It really, really doesn't matter what a person is, because the only thing that matters is that they are a person, who bleeds the same color as the rest of us, and as such they should have the same shot as anyone else at happiness.

In fact, I don't even understand why sexual identity or orientation even matter. It has no direct effect on my life, positive or negative. I still have to go to work the next day, so...whatever makes someone happy, good for them.

I wound up in a conversation with a young, passionate advocate of LGBT rights, and this person was angry. Justifiably so, in my opinion, considering how much hate is generated towards that community.

But I never really understood the rage until today. One thing this person was advocating for was the abolition of gender labels and the use of singular restrooms.

I am used to concepts I don't agree with, but this one caught me out of left field. I did not respond to it as well as I should have.

Because I could not overstate how much I disagreed with this.

We argued, he and I. I'm old school; I grew up with these terms. I like being "male" and I like being interested in "females". I know I don't want to share a bathroom with a female and my girlfriend can attest that no one would want to share one with me. I didn't understand what could be gained by abolishing the terms male and female.

Several conversations later with other people who are closely tied to the community, I understood. And that understanding horrified me.

This is a battle for equality, plain and simple. To end the pressuring parents put on children who may not know who they are. To end a growing stigma of conforming to either gender. To cease the killing by doing away with the terms "male" and "female" and simply being referred to as human beings.
Gender fluidity; to be not male, female, or asexual or any label. To simply be human.

And I wondered; Oh my God. Are we really that bad? Do we suck that much? Are we so singleminded in our destruction of all that is different that those who are persecuted are willing to give up being male or female simply to create a society in which they can survive?

This is where I would normally say that we should do better, but honestly, I don't know that we can.

So what I do, my contribution to the world, is to continue to treat everyone equally until they give me a reason not too. I teach my son the same.

Because we gain nothing from our own destruction, but the benefits of acceptance, what we could learn from one another? That's immeasurable.

We were made different to learn and come together. Not condemn.

Maybe we can't do better.

And yet we have too.

Thanks for reading.

Monday, February 2, 2015

Why The SuperBowl May Have Been Bad For Game of Thrones Fans

I find that I fall into this category that can be equally shunned by both groups; a nerd/jock hybrid. I got just as geeked out for Battle of the Five Armies as I did for Super Bowl Sunday. I'm an avid video gamer. I don't play D&D, but my girl does, which means I will inevitably one day play D&D. I'm kind of hopeful for an X-Files revival and may camp out so I can be the first to see Age of Ultron. I can also recite Drew Brees' pregame chant from memory and tell you why that final offensive play in the most recent Super Bowl, so stupid.

I appear to share some of these traits with George R.R. Martin, who, beyond being author of the epic dark fantasy series Game of Thrones, is also a fan of the New York Jets and the New York Giants (do NOT make fun of them on his blog, seriously). As such, he had a somewhat personal stake in yesterday's Super Bowl, as the New England Patriots practically own the division the New York Jets are in.

He wrote from yesterday's Super Bowl, hoping that my hometown Seahawks "deflate" the Patriots.

That didn't happen

After the game he says, and I quote; "Life is meaningless and full of pain."

To which I think oh, shit.

Mr. Martin already has a well-deserved reputation of merciless slaughter when it comes to our favorite characters. I believe the man has greater self-control than I do. However, the final title in the Game of Thrones series is not yet finished.

I am not getting attached to any new characters in Game of Thrones. I'm still recovering from the Red Wedding, and blessedly, my favorite character who I will most certainly not mention here, is still alive.

Just a random tidbit from my observations around the net.

Thanks for reading.