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Thursday, December 30, 2010

US Military Jargon Part 2

It's been a while since I posted the first installment from my website. Here's some more.


A-Team: The component of a Special Forces unit that carries out the operations.

Airborne: Adjective term for a paratrooper or unit composed of paratroopers.

Air land: Transport of troops by fixed-wing aircraft, usually to an airfield or landing strip secured by airborne troops who dropped behind enemy lines and took it by force.

Air mobile: Verb: To transport troops by rotary-wing aircraft (helicopters). Adjective: Troops who normally move by this method. noun: A mission, or component thereof, utilizing such troops/method.

APC: Armored Personnel Carrier.

ASAP: As soon as possible.

Ate up like a soup sandwich: Sloppy; poorly planned and/or executed. Usually referring to an operation, mission, or event. "That whole Somalian fiasco was ate-up like a soup sandwhich."

Ate up like a football bat: Usually refers to an individual who is hopelessly stupid or confused in a given situation, and has everything bass-ackwards. "Did you see Dumb and Dumber? That Jim Carey is ate-up like a football bat!"

AWOL: Absent Without Official Leave.

The complete glossary is viewable here.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Gratuitous Blood & Thunder: The Expendables

Okay, it took me longer than I planned, but I finally saw it. The secret to enjoying this testosterone-laden flick is to not take it too seriously. Don't look for any profound messages--there weren't supposed to be.

The script was like a fusion of Megaforce and some of the paramilitary adventure fiction from the 1980s. You know--that decade when the big name actors in this cast (Stallone, Swarzenneger, Willis, Lundgren, etc...) were lighting up the box office with huge Hollywood explosions. During a recon for some merc work in a Third World dictatorship, Sly Stallone and Jason Statham inadvertantly befriend the altruistic daughter of the dictator before making a grand exit from the nation and basically saying (with actions-speak-louder-than-words panache), "take this job and shove it."

But back stateside, Sly has an attack of conscience about leaving the fair damsel (Giselle ItiƩ) at the mercy of the dastardly despot and his Evil Capitalist Puppetmaster. He's going back in to get her, doggone it, alone with no plan. But even Sly might have trouble taking on an entire nation by himself, so his merc buddies come along for the pyrotechnic ride. Jet Li, the most mercenary of these mercenaries, is the first to put friendship before money and commit to stick with his comrade come napalm or high pungis. Now you have an adequate excuse for a martial arts shoot-em-up Hollywood Fireball Fest, and director/star Stallone delivers, big-time.

I was expecting it to be far more obvious tongue-in-cheek parody of the genre, but they took a slightly more marketable route, ensuring it's not SO stupid that young adults wouldn't like it. But it's got just enough stupidity, delivered with such finesse, that I had a grand ol' time and laughed out loud several times.
The martial arts segments would have been much more pleasing without all the avant garde camera work, and I could have done without all the close-ups on Stallone's jewelry. But there was a little bit of everything for action flick buffs: A smorgasboard of cinematic fight scene superstars who all get some thumping time; a car chase in which a beautiful old fat-fender stepside hot rod pickup gets shot and smashed to pieces; more exploding ordinance than the Falklands campaign; and some gratuitous gore that is either horrific or hilarious, depending on your mood and personality disorder.

Once upon a time, I fantasized about making a mindless action flick with a cast like this...but when they were all a little shorter in the tooth. Along with Sly, Arnie and Dolph I would have cast Norris, Bronson, Eastwood, Van Damme, Ventura, Weathers, Fred Williamson and Jim Brown. Can you imagine the mayhem and blood-curdling dialog? If my time machine could go back far enough, I'd draft Lee marvin and Robert Mitchum, too.

This isn't The Dogs of War, nor is it Commando. It's not completely sober, but it doesn't descend into campiness, either. What it can be, if you kick the girls and snobs out of the Man Cave for a couple hours, is a lot of fun.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

The Last Legion

Many times, when a creative work is predictable on more than one level, I step away from the experience disappointed or even irritated. Just from watching the previews of The Invention of Lying I'm pretty sure what's going to happen at the end; and I have no desire to watch the film makers connect the dots. But The Last Legion kept me glued to the seat. I mean, I needed to get up and relieve myself, take some dishes to the kitchen and accomplish some quick bedtime chores--and I could have paused the DVR to do so--but I wouldn't pull myself away from the story on screen.

But don't take this as a glowing endorsement. My enthrallment had more to do with the subject matter than any aspect of production.

From the introduction of the young Caesar and his elderly mentor, the mention of a certain object and a certain island, I knew what the end of this movie was gonna be. In fact, if the ending had not accomplished what I expected, I would have been very disappointed. (Ooh, I just watched the trailer and it TOTALLY BLOWS the ending. If you haven't seen it and don't like spoilers, don't watch the preview for this flick. Same person who made the T2 [Terminator 2] trailer must have done this one.)

Prepubescent Romulus Augustus is crowned Caesar as Rome is falling to the Goths. A Roman general, Aurelius, is assigned to protect the young emporer. That means rescuing him from captivity at an island fortress, and spiriting him away to find protection with the 9th Roman Legion--the last known surviving Roman garrison. Accompanying them are Aurelius's faithful soldiers; the aforementioned mentor, Amrosinus; and the obligatory amazon superninja.

This last character was kept gender-masked while demonstrating her combat prowess, licking 50+ times her weight in savage berserking Goths, until an outdoor bathing scene that I suppose was intended to surprise and tittilate all at once. Yawn. I didn't see this coming from a mile away. More like four miles. I did wind up liking this character, despite myself. I credit that all to the actress, who wasn't given much to work with. Throw a rock in southern California and you'll hit an attractive enjenoue; but there's something endearing about this woman's performance, confined though it was.

She wasn't the only one with a part lacking potential. Aurelius might as well have been a cardboard cutout, for all the personality he was written with. Mira and Aurelius hook up eventually, to nobody's surprise, though it's impossible to see what quality Mira found so irresistable in him. Besides him being the leading man, that is.

Anyhoo, you're not going to find any element of film making better than average in this flick, but if you have an interest in European history, legend and lore, you might still enjoy it. I did. Not a bad way to waste a rainy afternoon.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Great Exciting/Suspenseful Sequences in Movies

I'm not as big of an action movie  fan as I used to be, but there are still scenes I enjoy watching over and over again because of the rush they generate. I'm gonna list some here in no particular order. Maybe I'll add to the list down the road.


I already discussed this film in detail, but this scene is worth mentioning again. A midget kingpin and his goons show up at Rorshach's cell to exact revenge under the cover of a prison riot. Meanwhile Night Owl and Silk Specter infiltrate the prison to bust their comrade out. Rorshach's calm resourcefulness in dispatching his enemies is inspiring. Night Owl and Silk Specter wipe out an army of rioting prisoners unscathed with bare hands (and feet...OK, and they have gloves on, too) using Matrix-like martial arts techniques. It's all quite incredible, but then, these are superheroes, aren't they?


As one might expect, our heroine attempts escape from the giant gorilla at first opportunity. But there's a lot more than just one danger on Skull Island, and she is quickly trapped by less noble of the island's prehistoric fauna. When Kong arrives just in the nick of time to save her, you may be tempted to kiss the big furry lug. And it's increasingly obvious from this point on that Kong is the hero of this screen version, not the monster (that would be CarlDenham/Jack Black). My apologies for the comical pop-up balloons--I couldn't find an untampered version on YouTube.


There's a whole lot to like in this retro-cliffhanger adventure flick, but to me this scene defines heroism. Jones' determination and tenacity are larger than life as he commandeers the truck bearing the Ark from a squad of Nazis with two-fisted dispatch. He's shot, beaten, thrown from the speeding vehicle and dragged along the ground at 40 miles-per-hour, all while being chased by more Nazis. But he never gives up until the Ark is under his protection once more. Indie was hard as woodpecker lips.


Spielberg took too much creative license later in the film, I thought, but he sure captured the pandemonium of the Omaha landing as well as anyone could who didn't live through it, probably. Nice hand-held camera work puts the audience in grunts-eye-view. The muted colors approximated the dreary weather conditions (a lull in the months-long showers) of D-Day. Plenty of blood and gore to horrify or gratify. Reivum losing his B.A.R. in the English Channel was a nice touch, as was the magazine-slap against the helmet once he found a replacement.


If you can swallow the idea of a liquid metal cyborg EVER being possible, then nothing in this flick is too incredible. Adolescent John Connor (future savior of humanity) is on a dirt bike, being pursued by aforementioned liquid metal terminator in a Freightliner. Pretty doggone intense, already, and the musical score enhances it. Riding to the rescue is reprogrammed old-school terminator Arnie on a Harley, one-handing a lever action shotgun along the way. It's a white-knuckler. 


Even in the best fight correography, you'll see stunt men and actors standing around waiting to get hit when it's their turn. I hate that. It happens in this flick, too, but not as blatantly as in some. And nevermind the paper-thin plot. This is an action/martial arts flick with Bruce Lee's son, and the film makers figured that was enough. Toward the end is a hand-to-hand showdown between Brandon Lee and a diminutive Kung Fu master who has played non-speaking combat roles in many action flicks. At the conclusion of this fight scene, the audience applauded. Unless you frequently attend Disney films with large preschool crowds, you probably don't experience that very often.


A tall, svelte Swedish model is witness to one of the "Night Slayer" murders. Cobra (Sly Stallone) has had to thwart one of the two attempts on her life thus far. Now he's escorting her through the city when the Night Slayers strike again. In real life, they'd have bitten off way more than they could chew trying to chase down Cobra's wicked nitrous-snorting V-8 powered '50 Merc sled. But before the obligatory Hollywood destruction of a fine automobile, there is some wild, gratifying stunt driving. My favorite: Cobra has had enough of all the damage to his gun-metal-gray paintjob and, at-speed on a Los Angeles freeway, executes a 180 while jamming into reverse. The Merc is still moving in the right direction, but facing rearward so Cobretti can fire a submachinegun burst at the pursuing pickup truck. Don't ask me why the pickup performs a somersault. With magnificent unbroken rhythm, and still at-speed, the Merc 180s back into the correct orientation and resumes tearing up the freeway. HOOWAH!


Probably the best car chase ever filmed. A Ford and Mopar getting sideways and wreaking mayhem in the streets of San Francisco. There are twists and turns gallore--both literal and figurative. 440 Charger is pretty much stock; 390 Mustang sounds a little hopped up. Listen to McQueen (during his driving shots) bounce all over the valve float before each upshift--what a knucklehead. Suspensions were de-tuned to get more skidding action for the cameras. And of course they had to destroy another superb machine for the finale.


I can't find this clip in its originally compiled form. Basically the Saxon knights get spanked by the Normans in the very first joust. A bad day for all but the ruling elite...until a lone knight arrives, who refuses to remove his helmet and reveal his identity. He counts himself a Saxon, and is asked to strike the shield of the Norman he wishes to challenge. He rides around bouncing his lance tip off every Norman shield in the lists. Needless to say, he accounts for himself very well in the following jousts. Aside from the period-correct trumpet fanfare, there is no music during this scene, yet it keeps you on the edge of your seat quite nicely. Even though the moustache-twirling of the Normans is rather over-the-top.


Oh, how I wish I could find this clip in English. I'll translate some of the important lines:

Ransome Stoddard (Jimmy Stewart) enters wearing an apron, carrying a steak platter. He freezes upon seeing Liberty Valance (Lee Marvin) and his henchmen in the restaraunt.

Valance: Well lookee at the new waitress! (Guffaw, snicker, etc.)

Valance trips Stoddard on his way by. More guffaws and snickers, then Tom Doniphon (John Wayne) side-steps into view.

Doniphon: That's my steak, Valance.
Valance: (Scared at first, then snickers.) You heard him, dude: Pick it up!
(Stoddard begins to pick it up.)
Doniphon: Pilgrim, hold it! (To Valance.) No, Liberty: YOU pick it up.

This Spanish dub destroys the tension of this scene, which is palpable in the original.


Why an advanced civilization would ever build armored vehicles on mechanical legs instead of tracks or wheels, I can't say. But it makes for a nifty sci-fi action scene with some swashbuckling derring-do.


You're rolling through Tokyo on a speeding bullet train when a man in a suit, wielding a katana (samurai sword) steps into the car and says, "Attention ladies and gentlemen: Dangerous men are coming from the front of the train. You need to move to the rear...NOW!" Ah, the rest is just haiku in motion.


This clip mostly speaks for itself. Australian Ford Falcon with a clutched roots blower (??), hammer-down on the Wasteland Highway. You can see they began the destruction of the best machine early in this movie.

I'm sure I missed some good ones. I'll think of more for a later installment, and feel free to suggest some of your favorites.

Monday, December 6, 2010

The Cowardice of Race Card Libel

Warning: Political rant follows, which is sure to offend somebody.

M.R. Kayser, like so many indie authors, is unknown and has a long, uphill fight before him to start generating sales of his book. When you don't have money to advertise, the most effective form of advertising (so far as I know) is to get book reviews to spread word-of-mouth. That's what this author was doing when he checked his Amazon page to copy the blurb he had posted there. To his horror, he saw a new tag that said "anti-semitic."

Tags, for those who don't know, are a tool Amazon uses to help shoppers find books in their area of interest. If you do a search on Amazon for "special forces," for instance, one of the titles that search turns up should be Hell and Gone. Now let's say when you visit that book's page, one of Amazon's recommendations for similar titles catches your eye, so you click on that. While looking over that page, you glance at the tags and see "white supremacist literature." You might even see a list of recommended similar titles including Mein Kampf and The Turner Diaries. If you're like me, you would quickly hit the back button and file a mental note to never, ever buy that book.

I've read The Curly Wolf from cover to cover. I also happen to know the author, personally. They are barking up the wrong tree. And so far as his book is concerned, there are no Jewish characters, good or bad; nor is Judaism ever even mentioned. But I have a very educated guess why somebody would want to assassinate the character of the author and destroy the reputation of the book so that nobody buys it.

It's an old, overused tactic.

Recently, multiple and widespread variants of this tactic have been employed to demonize the Tea Party. Some character assassins were caught red-handed recruiting activists to infiltrate Tea Party gatherings and make racist statements (for the news cameras) that were allegedly representative of the movement. You can find at least one Youtube clip of a shill who showed up to a rally in a NeoNazi uniform. There are actually too many documented incidents to list here, lest I try your patience.

Whatever you or I think of Pat Buchanan, and whatever principles he has compromised over the years, I listened to his entire speech at the 1992 Republican National Convention. He made some accurate predictions about what a Clinton Administration would do, but never once did he even allude to race or ethnicity. But "news" coverage in the following weeks described it with phrases like "an apocalyptic speech bordering on race war" and "it sounded better in the original German." It was telling that none of the networks or "news" rags substantiated their accusations with a single quote from the speech. Because they couldn't. If they had ANY evidence to that effect, I guarantee they would have used it. Mel Gibson will never live down his drunken tirade. Only socialists like Robert Byrd, Richard Daley, FDR, Margaret Sanger or Woodrow Wilson get their racism whitewashed by the opinion-making cartel. But nobody of import either noticed or cared that no racist comment could actually be produced from Buchanan's speech. Joe Blow who heard these "news" reports just accepted the story because "everybody knows" Buchanan is a racist. I remember, after reading some of the articles after this incident, discussing the matter with a college student. Aware that he was speaking to someone with knowledge of the facts, he dismissed it all with an argument which could be summarized thus: "Your definition of truth is too rigid. It's OK to lie if the truth doesn't advance an agenda I agree with." Then he claimed he had to be somewhere else and couldn't entertain any more debate.

Senator Jesse Helms was demonized in a much similar way, all during his tenure in Congress.

Nobody else is asking the obvious question, so I'll ask it: Why do the socialists ("liberals") find it necessary to lie, deceive, slander and libel regarding what their political opponents believe? If your ideology is superior to that of your rival, why not display them side-by-side in the public forum, debate the opposition, and let the people decide which side has the better answers/solutions?

I'll answer that question, too: Because they obviously don't believe they can win a fair fight.

Read both the Constitution of the USA and the Communist Manifesto, and then examine the voting record of our alleged representatives in Congress. You will find that about 99% of Democrats and 65% of "Republicans" are abiding by the latter, even though they swore to uphold and defend the former. It's not hard to prove that our current economic meltdown is the result of socialistic "change" being foisted on successive generations, and the prosperity it has poisoned was the result of a free market and historically unequaled freedom secured through inalienable individual rights, separation of powers and a system of checks and balances.

In order to keep Joe Blow from examining the facts and coming to his own conclusions, the socialists must find a way to discredit those in the opposition capable of presenting an intelligent argument, to such a degree that nobody will listen to them.

In the case of Jesse Helms, he was a thorn in the side of the insiders--a politician who took his oath seriously and not only voted according to Constitutional law most of the time, but also influenced others to do so. Hence his demonization.

In 2010 the obligatory knee-jerk reaction when the subject of sodomy comes up is, "not that there's anything wrong with that..." But in 1992 not everybody had ascended to the present level of brainwash--er, enlightenment. If swing voters had actually listened to Buchanan's speech, they might have questioned their support of a candidate hell-bent on advancing the homosexual agenda through judicial appointments, executive orders, and the indoctrination power of the government-controlled school system. Not enough voters would have been turned off by what he actually said, so they had to be made to believe his speech was racist--which is revolting to most Americans.

Now with the proliferation of Internet access and alternative media, it's harder to pull off this kind of hatchet job on a grass-roots movement like the Tea Party, but they're trying just the same. They have to, because the Tea Party scares the snot out of them. Not only does the Tea Party reject the Democrats' socialist agenda, they also reject the Socialism Lite offered by the "conservative" establishment Republican insiders and RINOs.

It seems implausible that a western novel like The Curly Wolf would threaten anyone or generate fear in the hearts of the pagan left, but it is written from a perspective markedly different from what the New York Publishing Cartel routinely offers up: It is Christian-friendly, pro-Constitution, and especially pro-2nd Amendment. Also competently written, but without the typical anti-capitalist undertones of rancher vs. farmer range war sagas.

Lone, struggling indie authors are easy prey for cowardly Thought Police to discredit, though. It can be as easy as a tag on Amazon. The "anti-semitic" tag has subsequently been voted down, by the way, but obviously some goose-stepping coward is out there doing this, and will likely do it again. Whether they do it to this same book again, or move on to other books that threaten their ideology, I can't say.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Economic Armageddon

    I don't review that much non-fiction on Two-Fisted Blogger. The last such book I did was, I think, Guy Sajer's Forgotten Soldier. But though this book is not meant to be entertaining, it is educational and worthwhile.

    Many prophetic scholars (including me, though I'm more of an armchair "scholar") have predicted a catastrophic financial meltdown for decades. Today, many observers inside and outside the Church are grudgingly admitting that we're not crackpots, after all. At least not for that prediction.
    In fact, an astute observer who has never cracked a Bible open--but has merely made an honest effort to inform themselves despite the disinformation from government, media and popular culture--understands that the seed of economic destruction for America was planted long ago. That seed has been nurtured, sometimes by a trickle, and sometimes by great spurts. It has been slowed somewhat a couple times, but never stopped. The harvest is almost upon us.
    Dr. Jeremiah, whose radio program I've partially caught from time-to-time, has written a book that repeats the warning about this pending harvest given 2,000 years ago.
    The first part of the book presents samplings of evidence, from mostly secular sources, about the bitter pill we will soon be forced to swallow. His research has mined some very enlightening quotes to support his other evidence.I appreciated his courage in calling one particular skunk a skunk: Social Security has been transformed into a compulsory, government-run Ponzi Scheme. Politicians and most talking heads are far too cowardly to ever admit this out loud. But while Dr. Jeremiah explains what a Ponzi Scheme is, citing examples, the informed reader will likely come to the same conclusion about Social Security even before he ties it together in black & white. It's also refreshing that he diverges from the ubiquitous "prosperity preachers" in honestly admitting that inflation in particular, and man-made financial calamities in general, widen the chasm between rich and poor while decimating the middle class. Another nice nugget is his analysis of Joseph's management of the Egyptian economy. Some people use this story in Genesis to imply that government-controlled, centralized (socialist) economies are Biblical, effective, or resistant to disaster. David Jeremiah politely takes exception to that notion.
    From there, The Coming Economic Armageddon takes us over familiar territory (for those who have read other books about prophecy). Nobody who reads Bible prophecy for themselves is likely to agree 100% with someone else's interpretations, and that was my experience here. But Dr. Jeremiah has a well-grounded education of the matter, in general, and doesn't try to expound upon aspects of end-times prophecy he doesn't yet understand. (Yes, others have, and do, including some of the "big name" prophecy teachers.) He concentrates on the financial aspect of the end times, and the thrust of this is intended as a warning for those who still fail to appreciate the magnitude of this coming disaster.
    People who have never read a single verse from the Bible have heard of "the mark of the beast," and perhaps even some contextual speculation about a cashless society, bar codes, RFID chip implants, etc. But they don't appreciate how these developments were assumed 2,000+ years ago in the Bible, and like similar assumptions in Revelation and the other prophetic books, were scoffingly dismissed until the development of satellite communications, the Internet, 3G, streaming webcasts, podcasts, etc., etc., etc.
    Perhaps the best treat in store for the prophetically literate is Dr. Jeremiah's chapter on the Millennium. I don't know about others, but I've never heard teaching on this subject, and never read more than perfunctory paragraphs here and there touching on it. It's a pity this period goes unnoticed by prophecy teachers. It is important, fascinating, and painfully revealing about human nature.
    TCEA wraps up with a chapter about preparation for the rider of the black horse (look that one up, haha). Dr. J doesn't give investment advice, but advises practical application of the spiritual advice Jesus evidently considered more important than any earth-bound financial strategy.
    For those who already have a grasp of end-time prophecy, this is like a review, with a few fresh tidbits thrown in. For those who don't, it's a must-read.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Chandler Didn't Pull Punches, Either

I just stumbled upon a quote of Raymond Chandler about the publishing industry and the literary elite that I need to share. Chandler was the pulp detective writer whose Phillip Marlowe character, along with Hammett's Sam Spade, defined the hard-boiled genre.

I'm lifting this directly from Black Horse Extra:

Pioneer hardboiled-crime writer Raymond Chandler, in The Simple Art of Murder, mentioned in his first paragraph Jane Austen's chronicles of "highly inhibited people against a background of rural gentility", and observed, "There is plenty of that kind of social and emotional hypocrisy around today [1950]."

He went on, "Add to it a liberal dose of intellectual pretentiousness and you get the tone of the book page in your daily paper and the earnest and fatuous atmosphere breathed by discussion groups in little clubs. These are the people who make bestsellers, which are promotional jobs based on a sort of indirect snob-appeal, carefully escorted by the trained seals of the critical fraternity, and lovingly tended and watered by certain much too powerful pressure groups whose business is selling books, although they would like you to think they are fostering culture."

Whoa. It seems some attitudes and hierarchies never change--even considering the radical changes in the entertainment industry since 1950 (most ultimately due to technological advances, many due to the ever-accelerating political radicalization of the "creative elite.")

Yet another reason I want to see endeavors like the Coalition of Independent Authors meet with wild success.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

I Give Thanks

Tomorrow is a uniquely American holiday. It is not about turkeys or corn or pumpkin pie. It was declared a holiday to give thanks to our Creator for His provision in the midst of hardship.

That's what I'm doing.

Times have been very tough. I've been brought to the brink of utter despair more than once, but God has given me the strength to get up every morning and keep fighting. And, in the dreary midst of the Great Recession, He's even blessed me to the point that I'm currently paying all my bills on time, and my family has not gone hungry.

But deeper than that, I'm thankful I was born in the United States of America.

Poor people here are more materially wealthy than the rich in most countries. Foreigners are still flooding into the USA by the droves, whether legally or illegally. (Unfortunately, few of them truly love this country--they just want to take advantage of the opportunities here that they can't find where they came from.) A whole lot more are trying to get in than are trying to get out.

Despite the concerted efforts of many to make America less exceptional and more like the nations so many are trying to escape, so far we are still unique. There's a lot wrong with America, and a lot more all the time, but so far it's still the best place on Earth to live.

I thank God that those wig-wearing radicals over two centuries ago sacrificed so much to forge a republic for us, "...if you can keep it."

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

James Wesley Rawles' Survivalist Manual (in fiction form)

I'll start by applauding Rawles for what he tried to do with this book. The setting is a SHTF/EOTWAWKI scenario instigated by an economic collapse--something we might be seeing unfold right now. Along with all the chaos you'd expect with an overnight disintegration of the American way of life, political opportunists don't let this crisis go to waste, transforming the USA into a 3rd-world police state. Absolutely dead-on so far.

The novel was written around some survivalist information Rawles has obviously researched extensively. I didn't agree with all of it (particularly weapons choices and use), but what most readers won't forgive is the length of some of those digressions.

It is the fiction storycraft which is most lacking. Rawles didn't commit some of the most heinous acts of storytelling incompetence that make you toss the book away in disgust, but most of the characters were so unremarkable that I struggled to differentiate between them. Some get married and have kids, but it's all told from such an emotional distance that I had little feel for the personalities involved. Aside from a couple cannibal banditos, there was no individual villain on the reader's horizon until over halfway through the novel (though some of that character's dialog was spot-on perfect). There was a sub-plot about two brothers on the run which I kept expecting to merge with the main plot, but never did. Rawles devoted a chapter or two to their escape from the authorities, then apparently forgot he had written them. Worst of all, the ending was from the cookie-cutter I've seen used in this genre far too often. I'll just call it a "delusional optimistic assumption of victory and restoration." And they lived happily ever after.

I recognize and appreciate what Rawles was trying to do, and don't regret buying the book, but it falls short of its potential and is, unfortunately, lackluster.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

New Podler Reviews Hell and Gone

At first, I was just gonna post a link to this review. But I want to have a copy of the full text saved somewhere, so this is one such place. I've been quoting from the best reviews on my home page, but the more I get, the more I have to trim them for length (which is a great problem for a writer to have, lemme tell ya!). I just went through and trimmed them a little more, so I can excerpt the Podler review, which itself will have to be abbreviated.

Veteran's Day was yesterday (Thank you to all who served). In light of that, Hell and Gone seemed like an appropriate book to review.

The plot is pretty straightforward: Muslim terrorists have a nuclear bomb. The CIA recruits a dirty baker's dozen of veterans and mercenaries to neutralize the threat. There are only a few questions: "Will they succeed?", "How high will the body count be?" and "Who's going home in a body bag?" Instead, Brown focuses his creative energy on the characters and the action scenes.

In an action thriller it would be very easy for the characters to resemble cardboard props waiting their turn to become cannon fodder, but Brown doesn't go that route. Each of his characters has a story and Brown gives each one the time to tell it, although with the sheer number present some get more time than others. And they're a diverse, fractious lot. Yes, they're all dark-skinned (Caucasians would be a dead giveaway in the Sudan, where the action takes place) ex-military or mercenaries loaded up with testosterone, but the similarities end there. They're distinct individuals with their own sets of skills and shortcomings. They're men, not superheroes. You'll hate Mai for his arrogance and bigotry, but you'll admire Scarred Wolf's ability to execute his bloody job with honor and integrity.

The villains in Hell and Gone are truly evil. I don't say that lightly. The manipulation that the Jihadist leader, Ali, and his Chinese consultant, Chin, put fifteen-year old Bassam through is nothing short of diabolical. The scary part is, none of it comes across as far-fetched.

Brown, a veteran himself, uses his characters to address a range of issues. He explores veteran alienation through several men. We get to see how each dealt with feeling disconnected from friends, family and country once they were “back in the World.” There's also the matter of American foreign policy. At his weakest point, Brown's characters sound like they're reading neocon talking points from the back of a cereal box. But at his best, he presents an intelligent examination of our relationship to Israel and the Middle East. You'll wish our leaders would have such a frank discussion with all the facts, rather than dishing out the rhetoric.

The battle scenes are meticulously detailed. It wouldn't surprise me if Brown built scale models of the locales in his basement so that he could properly choreograph each step and shot. He'll have vets and military aficionados nodding their heads as he relates the pros and cons of various weapons down to their milspecs. Meanwhile, civvies will run to Wikipedia to look up the old planes that have been out-of-service in the Western World for decades. But he doesn't do it to impress anyone, he does it to stay true to his characters and himself.

While the dialogue is great, I do have gripes though. For a bunch of leathernecks, they never curse! "Shit" doesn't appear until three quarters of the way through the book. "Damned" has been replaced by "doomed." Every variation of profanity involving "dick" has been replaced by "Richard." For example, "limp Richard" and "Richard head." And there isn't a single F-bomb. This behavior is never explained and strikes me as disingenuous.

As for the technicals, a few homophones slipped through the cracks. There are a few point-of-view shifts that might violate some rule somewhere, but honestly they don't disorient the reader at all. Towards the end of the final battle, the writing breaks down into short, choppy sentences, which impart the feel of a grocery list of action rather than a flowing narrative.

Overall, Hell and Gone is a military thriller that delivers the goods on the action, has vivid, realistic characters who interact with great dialogue, and presents some food for thought. If enough people chew on it, maybe the all too plausible scenario presented here will remain fiction, assuming it hasn't happened already.

This was the most detailed review yet. It's not five-stars, and they highlighted some unflattering details (all the editing I did and some homophones still survived???). Frankly, I'm surprised somebody hasn't complained about the lack of profanity earlier--it's something I've anticipated. And they're right--my characters are not nearly as foul-mouthed as real-life GIs--or even high-schoolers. I explain this a bit at the end of the jargon/glossary pages on my website, but even considering that... I sacrificed some realism to make the novel more palatable for a broader audience.

Reading neocon talking points from the back of a cereal box? At first, I couldn't make up my mind to laugh or be offended. But now I'm actually pleased. I'm not sure exactly what dialog struck them this way, but it reassures me that I kept my characterization consistent (most of them could, in fact, accurately be labeled neocons) and successfully kept my own more radical worldview from skewing their thoughts and speech.

Off to glean the tastiest morsels for my home page.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Laina Molaski's Blog Tour Has Arrived!

My first-ever guest blogger is Laina Molaski, author of Chiczofrenia. She's offering a chance to win a free copy of Stilettos and Scoundrels, so read on.

Chiczofrenic is the term for the woman who is purposeful and intentional in how crazy their life may be. The goal with this book is to recognize many women drive themselves crazy, intentionally, by trying to be all they can. I firmly believe we can have it all. A great relationship, be a great mom, keep a good house (if that’s important to you), be a career woman, follow our dreams, work out, eat right, and many more. Women seem to have the knack of how to manage it all and not go crazy. Women seem to always take on more and more…and are successful at it.
Women have tried forever to pretend they fit in the norm even when the norm wasn’t what they wanted. I want women to embrace that more - without caring what anyone thinks. Learn to laugh at your own craziness and be cool at the same time. Be the strong individual you want to be while looking like a million bucks.
Being a woman is difficult and is a constant journey and evolution of self discovery. It’s not always an easy journey and through the process you realize everyone has her own issues. Her own brand of crazy which is my own kind of normal. Crazy but embracing it.
AVAILABLE at and get a FREE copy of Stilettos & Scoundrels with purchase through November 15th, 2010

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

An Indie Amazon?

Many years ago, Amazon was a guy with a website and a garage full of books. As huge as Amazon is now, it's difficult to imagine it had such a humble beginning.

Somebody perceived a need in the market that nobody knew was there until advancing technology revealed it. Sure, you could buy books mail-order from book clubs and such, but coupling that idea with the internet made it convenient for the ballooning home-computing population to browse through a virtual bookshelf and order a book with a couple mouse clicks. Depending on where you live and how much time you have, it beats the crud out of physically driving to the bookstore to find a good read.

As much as Amazon has revolutionized the book industry, and will continue to with e-books and the like, there are more disasters coming for the stodgy old dinosaur that is the New York Publishing Cartel. One person who may help take the revolution a step further is Sharon Kay Roberts.

Sharon has started an online bookstore called the CIA. No, it's not a pseudo-secret spy network doing infrared scans on your home via  satellite. It's the Coalition of Independent Authors. It's a timely concept that takes some of the marketing burden off of indie authors while giving readers ample opportunity to sample books outside the bottleneck that the New York Publishing Cartel has decided comprises what reading material should be available for consumers.

As both a reader and a writer, I'm sick of the NYPC's monopoly on the publishing industry. There's a whole lot of fiction (and non-fiction) out there that is good, but never gets past the corporate beancounters in Manhattan.

Unfortunately, the good indie stuff is outnumbered probably 10-to-1 by books so abysmal that they seem to validate the NYPC's stranglehold. And that brings up another edge to the sword of revolution: once the Manhattan gatekeepers are bypassed, the readers themselves (and whatever reviewers/bloggers they trust) become the gatekeepers, filtering through enormous mountains of slush to find the good stuff.

Personally, I don't see that as such a huge negative. I haven't been happy with the NYPC gatekeepers' work for the last couple decades, anyway. They've quashed plenty of books for not following approved formulas, for political reasons, or simply because the beancounters' crystal balls told them X would sell and Y would not, but that I would have enjoyed reading. And yet they've still failed to filter out some real literary sludge, too. I trust my own judgment more than theirs, when it comes to what I want to read. I've found plenty of worthless books out there, and will certainly weed through much more, but it will be worth it to find the good stuff that the suits in New York don't believe should be available for me to read.

Anyway, you can visit the Coalition of Independent Authors' Bookstore here, and happy shopping to you.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Comments on the Blog

My apologies to all who have posted comments here. I only recently realized they'd been made, and were waiting my approval. Some had been waiting for over a month.

I changed my settings so that comments no longer have to go through me, but will appear instantly, so this should not happen again.

Also, I thank everyone who took the time to post a comment.


Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Laina Molaski's Blog Tour Coming Soon


    Join us in a cross promotion by joining the Book Tour founded by Dr. Laina Molaski 

To join us Click on Dr. Laina's Link Below:

                                     Laina Turner-Molaski
Laina Turner-Molaski is a business woman, mom, author, Professor, and a major supporter of shopping. She has an undying love for shoes and coffee, which is why she created her main character and alter-ego Presley Thurman.
With a lot of letters after her name and a ton of student loan debt, she is always working to pay the bills. While she enjoys her day job, her passion is writing, and she uses a lot of company time writing her fiction or working on her social website for women, She is hoping to sell her book before she gets fired from her day job for goofing off.
Laina is currently living in Indiana, with her family, and is always writing something, whether it’s blogs, articles, business journals and books or ideas for her next novel. She is continuously doing what she loves which is writing or drinking coffee.

You can check out her ramblings at

Friday, October 29, 2010

Has He Pushed His Streak Too Favre?

Sunday brings a showdown between the New England Patriots and the Minnesota Vikings. Randy Moss has jumped ship from the former to the latter (which is the team he started with).

With a tough, stingy defense, one of the best running backs to ever play the game, and a receiving corps including Moss, Percy Harvin, Bernard Berrian and Visanthe Shiancoe, you'd think it wouldn't take a phenomenal quarterback to win games.

Whoever takes the snaps against the Patriots, it won't be a phenomenal quarterback; so we'll see. Again.

I'm tempted to cut Favre some slack. After all, he's used to throwing to players in Green Bay uniforms. But # 4's intercept-a-thon hasn't been limited to games against the Packers. In fact, the 2010 season looks like just a continuation of the NFC Championship game in New Orleans.

Well, not exactly. On the down side, the defense has yet to score a sack this year. On the up side, Adrian Peterson has apparently decided that the football does not have cooties. But special teams still prefers to allow 60-100 yard kick returns, and Brett Favre still plays with the wisdom of a rookie but the athletic ability of a punch-drunk 40 year old has-been.

What is it with Minnesota and has-been quarterbacks, anyway? Jim McMahon, Bubby Brister, Brad Johnson, Jeff George (who actually did quite well before his age caught up with him), and now Mr. Wishy-Washy Now-I'm-Retired-Now-I'm-Not.

Nobody wants to see Tavaris Jackson start against the Patriots, including Jackson himself, so here's an idea: if Favre's ankle fractures keep him out of the game, maybe the Vikes should coax Terry Bradshaw out of retirement. Like Favre, he had a cannon for a throwing arm, but his Superbowl record was 4-0, not 1-1.

Hey, it's a season for breaking Minnesota tradition. With this many potent weapons on the team, they normally wait until the playoffs to start underachieving. ...Well, since the Bud Grant Dynasty, anyway, when they would make it to the Superbowl before stinking up the field.

As I reflect on the Purple Gang's playoff performances since their almost-amazing finish in 1987, I often consider they should change their name from the Minnesota Vikings to the Minnesota Choke-Kings. Head coaches change, but the self-destructive play-calling continues both on and off the field. Whether it be the Herschel Walker trade that built Dallas into a three Superbowl empire, or the idiotic calls during the 1998 NFC championship game (to include instructing the record-setting league's most potent offense to take a knee to end regulation on first-and-goal--but all fans remember is the shanked field goal by Gary Anderson, who had never missed a single kick all season until then).

I'm not terribly impressed with Brad Childress, but at least the most catastrophic decisions he's made thus far have to do with clock management, use of timeouts...and keeping a has-been quarterback in the game that would otherwise have been winnable. Even with the likes of Tavaris Jackson under center.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Why Men Don't Read Part 1

I anticipate this subject coming up repeatedly. I'm posting part of the thoughts I shared on another blog:

I kinda' knew people in general (and men in particular) were reading less and less all the time, but it didn't strike me just how bad it's gotten until I published some male-oriented fiction myself.

Up until the early 1990s, one of my favorite pastimes was hanging out at a bookstore and perusing the titles. I would always wind up buying at least one book, even if I promised myself not to. But since then there has been less and less fiction making it to the shelves which appeals to me. Window-shopping at a bookstore is now about as enjoyable as a Lifetime movie marathon or death by estrogen asphyxiation.

I like/read all genres except horror, chick-lit and gay/lesbian. (I've even listened to some romance audiobooks from the library when the pickings there were especially slim). But even in the novels written in what's still considered male genres (action adventure, techno-thrillers, military fiction, etc.), it strikes me as of, by, and for women.

As a side note, most feature films suffer from similar obligatory feminist pandering. When I paid for tickets to see Iron Man II, I wanted to see Iron Man, not Scarlet Johannson playing the obligatory amazon superninja. If I wanted that, I would have paid to see Catwoman or Electra or Charlie's Angels.

I'm glad that women have so much fiction to choose from. I wish the New York publishing cartel hadn't so completely turned its back on men. With all the technological competition (DVDs, videogames, internet-based entertainment, etc.), I don't know if men will ever resume reading. There's almost a stigma associated with it reading is "girls' stuff." Now that that concept has so permeated the average male psyche, it's not overcome easily.

And I'll add that many male authors/editors/publishers/film makers are injecting more estrogen into their work than their far more numerous female counterparts. If my entertainment choices are reading The General's Daughter or watching All Men Are Pigs III on Lifetime, I'm probably gonna choose Door # 3: play a videogame.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

The Blind Side

OK...I'm probably the last person in America to have seen this movie, but wow.

It's rare these days for a film to be so powerful that I spend the entire next day replaying it in my mind. But that's what happened. And I know I'm gonna sit through it again some time.

How could I help but be drawn in when the narrative opens on the play that marked Lawrence Taylor's rise to prominence (and Joe Theisman's fall from it)? The horrific mutilation of Theisman's leg (ending the career of a Superbowl champion star quarterback) brought to the NFL's attention the importance of offensive linemen. The voice of Sandra Bullock lists some of the physical attributes of the ideal football player to fill that position.

Then we meet the character who personifies the perfect offensive lineman: Michael "Big Mike" Oher. He's not just perfect because of his size, strength and agility, but also because he scored "in the 98th percentile in protective instincts." Most people assume Michael is stupid because he's big, quiet, and nobody's bothered to teach him anything. Unfortunately, too many Americans--especially black Americans--from the inner city have the same strikes against them that Michael does: MIA father or unknown father, substance-abusing mother who has rented her body out to more men than she can remember, gobs of siblings and cousins in the same predicament, surrounded by predatory scumbags, bigotry and lack of hope. Without Michael's athletic potential and/or the fortunate chain of events which puts him in contact with a family willing to practice Christian charity, millions of kids are ground through the self-perpetuating cruel cycle that ensures they will pay forward the tragedy to the next generation.

This is, by far, the best Sandra Bullock has been in any film I've seen. Ray Mckinnon also delivered a fine performance as Coach Burt Cotton.

When Leigh Ann Tuohy (Bullock) instructs Michael to apply those aforementioned protective instincts to the teammates in his backfield, this "Ferdinand the Bull" becomes one heck of a football player. But when his high school coach shows him the kind of fraternal loyalty Michael has craved all his life, he transforms into a gridiron hero. As we get to know Michael, however, we realize he is a hero with or without football.

There is so much I could say about this film, I could turn this blog into a novella. If I'm not the last person in America to have seen this movie, then my message to the rest of you is: You don't have to like football. Please rent it, borrow it or watch it on cable.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Liberation of Paris: The Sergeant # 4 by Gordon Davis

I first discovered The Sergeant as a teenager, before I imagined I would one day be a soldier myself. This book was my introduction to the series, and to the war genre.

Davis' work is rare in that whatever age I was when I read it or re-read it, the experience was just as entertaining (though I developed an appreciation for his scene shifts into the German field commands to provide strategic perspective as I grew older).

The Sergeant is Master Sergeant Clarence J. Mahoney, a senior non-com from Hell's Kitchen in NYC, who speaks fluent French and German, and is invincible in bayonet combat (which he sees a lot of). He's actually a rather despicable brute who you would probably shy away from in real life. He's a selfish, ruthless pragmatist with limited intelligence or imagination, who will ____ any female willing to raise her skirts (and, like the bayonet clashes in this WWII setting, the frequency of instances defy believability). And I mean ANY female, as proven in this story. And he's not ashamed to pay for it, either. His trusty, loyal sidekick is Corporal Cranepool, who he speaks to with extreme condescension. Sounds like a real-life NCO, personality-wise.

The first book of the series is a cloak-and-dagger pre-invasion mission with the French underground. The First 3 were published by Zebra Books. This book marks Mahoney's first literary forray into conventional combat published by Bantam.

The story opens with Mahoney fighting the division heavyweight champ as a sort of morale-boosting exhibition for the troops. Our pack-of-cigarettes-a-day, boozing, whoring protagonist is too tough (and stupid?) to go down from the champ's more polished boxing skills, and clubs him unconscious. This gets him the attention of some senior officers, who decide to attach him, Cranepool and some other G.I.s to a French formation slated to liberate Paris from the Germans.

"Cushy" duty.

But nothing is cushy for Mahoney for long, and he finds himself in the midst of a see-saw tank battle between the French and Germans, and then in urban combat during the liberation. At one point he enters a Parisian shop during the lull in battle, and hears the sound of a typewriter beyond the locked door of a basement. This strange detail is never overtly explained, but during another scene he encounters war correspondent Ernest Hemingway, who is covering the liberation. I suspect it was Hemingway locked in the basement with the typewriter.

There is a XXX porno scene in a fancy hotel with two French prostitutes, and more graphic violence than you can shake an M-1 Garand at. I think some of us enjoy reading about this incorrigible barbarian so much because we subconsciously wish we could unleash our own primordial base instincts with the same abandon, once in a while, and suffer no significant consequences...just like the Sergeant.

OK, so I've just described an exploitative escapist book full of graphic violence and sex, about an amoral neanderthal who you wouldn't want anything to do with if you met him in real life. Now I'm admitting that I always enjoy reading it and will probably read it again some day.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Five Stars From Midwest Book Review

Most indie authors can tell you (especially if the genre of their novel isn't romance, horror or chick-lit) that getting reviews for your book is often like pulling teeth or selling ice to an Eskimo. That certainly has been my experience. Fortunately, Hell and Gone has received some thoughtful reviews already. But the one I discovered today is a big one, because it's from an organization that has mucho clout in the literary world. I've heard that librarians read the Midwest Book Review and order their stock based on what the picks are. Time will tell.

I'm very grateful to MBR for taking the time and trouble to look at a book from an unknown like me. I know their time is valuable and they have tons of submissions to sort through from other authors hungry for exposure.

Most of all, I thank God for opening this door. This may lead to the breakthrough I've been praying for.

MBR's review is posted on Amazon, and I'll be looking for other places, too. Below is the line I'll be quoting from the review:

"Hell and Gone is an exciting action and adventure novel, highly recommended."

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Interview with Daniel L. Carter, Author of The Unwanted

Today I'm interviewing author and fellow blogger Daniel L. Carter. I met him on the book blogs ning and he agreed to share some info about his novel The Unwanted. We have not yet read each other's books, but his urban fantasy/thriller (part of a planned trilogy) certainly does intrigue me.

HANK: Hi Daniel. Thanks for doing this interview. I read your short bio on your blog site, but why don't you introduce yourself here, too.

DANIEL: I just want to thank you Hank for inviting me to do this interview with you. I'm honored. My name is Daniel L Carter author of The Unwanted Trilogy. I'm married to my fantastic wife Margo for over fourteen years now and we live in Western New York by Rochester. I've been a New Yorker all my life... GO GIANTS!!! Huge football fan in case you didn't get that already. =) Margo and I do not have any children but we have our dog Joy and cat Cuddles whom she treats like her children. hehehe... Those who know me well, know that I'm a computer geek, video game lover, movie buff and all around strange dude. Oh and I love dude-lit!

HANK: Ugh. I was thinking we could be friends, right up until I found out you're a Giants fan.  But you do get some points back for liking dude-lit. (So far as I know, dear readers, I coined this brilliant phrase, searching for a term for male-oriented literature which doesn't connote the poor writing and obligatory porn scenes associated with the term "men's fiction".) Tell us about some of your favorite books.

DANIEL: Well Robert Aspirin is one of my all time favorite writers. Unfortunately he passed away recently but I love his Myth series. They are Tongue N Cheek Fantasy stories that make me laugh. Stephen R. Donaldson is also one of my other all time favorite writers. His fantasy series The Thomas Covenant Chronicles are classic. Mr. Donaldson is for the intellectual in me. His writing is very probing of the inner thoughts of his characters and he's what I call a Wordsmith. He comes up with some doozies some times. I also admire Timothy Zahn who's written several of the Star Wars novels. I'm not huge on hard Sci-fi myself but his books are really good. I have a tendency to like more Urban Fantasy/Sci-fi where the story lines can seem more plausible to me.

HANK: Funny you should mention Robert Asperin. A few months ago I picked up a couple of his books at a library sale. They are now on my bottomless "to be read" list. Anyhoo, your blogger bio mentions you've acted on stage and did some stage writing as well. After working in theater, what convinced you to shift into writing books?

DANIEL: Theater, for me, was a way to express myself emotionally. The process of getting into my character's head and bringing that out into a performance is absolutely fascinating to me. However I've gotten older and had some health issues for many years, so I got away from doing acting. I still do some every now and then but not very often. This was a turning point for me. I found myself doing more directing and writing for skits or short plays and working on editing dialogues. But I missed getting into the character's heads and all that's involved with that process. Writing a novel was the next best thing. With a lot of encouragement from my wife I embarked on a journey to teach myself how to write a novel which is so much different than skits and plays. What I found was that a novel gave me the outlet to express multiple characters all at once. A novel allowed me to explore even deeper realms of the human condition while entertaining people at the same time. 

HANK: I think that's one of the many perks of writing novels. Tell us about the Unwanted Trilogy.

DANIEL: Well Hank I could give you the synopsis we have on book 1 The Unwanted but I'm going to give you a little insight that I haven't really shared with many people. The Unwanted Trilogy is based off of Genesis chapter Six which is right before the flood and Noah. In that scripture there has been a topic that few preachers will teach on. The scripture deals with fallen angels taking (perhaps violently) the daughters of men as their mates. The storyline and idea of The Unwanted Trilogy stemmed from this passage which deals with their unholy offsprings. Now I could get into the research I've done on this subject but that would take a long time to share. The Unwanted Trilogy is based upon this premise. Genetic manipulation, other dimensional beings, heroes being born, demonic forces seeking revenge and the power of God make up this trilogy. Book 2 Children of Anak should be available in the next year and I'm currently working on book 3 Unholy Resurrection.

HANK: Whoa. You have really piqued my interest, now. I've considered the Nephilim potentially great fodder for science fiction plots for some time. It wasn't until I seriously pondered the bizarre events sumarized in Genesis 6 that I was able to reconcile, in my heart, the loving God who created and redeemed us with His commandments to the Israelites to put entire cities to the sword. I thought I saw something about Anak or the Anakites on your website, but dismissed it, assuming it was just coincidence because so few Christians (it seems) study the Old Testament, or believe some of the seemingly incredible history recorded therein. And we all know what happens when we assume. I also find your differentiation between extra-terrestrial and extra-dimensional to be astute. But before I hijack this interview right off the rails...back to The Unwanted:

If you were casting for the film adaptation, who might you choose to play Nick Catlin? Other key characters?

DANIEL: It's funny you should ask this question because when I wrote The Unwanted I did so with a movie in mind. Coming from a theatre background and being a huge movie buff I often had asked myself the same questions for casting. As for FBI Agent Nick Catlin I often envisioned someone like Jesse Williams from Grey's Anatomy for the younger version. With more hair but you get the idea.

The only other character I had a very specific look for was Marcus (Bezerker), the eldest of the five children. You also have to understand that these children are born of middle eastern heritages so I could see (although from India) Shahid Kapoor playing Marcus or someone like him.

As for the rest of the cast I would like to see as many unknowns as possible. That way you aren't having any preconceived ideas and the actors/actresses can make the roles theirs. 

HANK: I think using unknowns is a wise choice for this type of story. Continuing our film adaptation theme, would you shoot it on film or hi-def video? What location would you prefer? What kind of music would be your score?

DANIEL: Wow that's a lot of questions! lol OK let me try and wrap my head around these. I would have to say that I would most definitely shoot the film in HD with a scope of 2.35:1 for a much larger than life feel (widescreen). I would actually like to shoot The Unwanted in Oklahoma which is where most of the book is centered around. And as a New Yorker I would definitely want to shoot in NYC but I know that costs for shooting in other cities or on the lot would probably be more affordable. =) As for the score, I do not want to go with any of the normal big names. Ones that come to mind are John Williams (Star Wars), Danny Elfman (Batman, Nightmare Before Christmas), Howard Shore (Lord of the Rings)... no... I would actually love to have Kevin MacLeod whom I use many of his works for my website and promo videos.

HANK: Your blog is called "A Christian Man's Perspective." What is your perspective on today's entertainment in general and fiction in particular?

DANIEL: The main reason I wrote The Unwanted was because of the misrepresentation or lack therein of God whether it be in movies, TV or the media. I wanted to write a story that took both faith in God and pure Sci-fi/Fantasy elements into one. Also, I had to get rid of cable TV in my home because of the oversexed adds and blatant lack of morals every show I watched was inundated with. I couldn't watch a show without seeing Victoria Secret or condom adds every other minute. I'm as warm blooded as the next man but stop flashing lust before my eyes so that you can sell your products. We've forgotten how to blush as a nation and something that 10 years ago would have seemed absurd and unthinkable to show during prime time has now become standard practice. Hank it makes me sick to think about it.

HANK: You said a mouthful there, Daniel. I admire your discipline to boycott the networks. Hope it wasn't a bone of contention between you and Margo. What infuriates me even more than the pandering to lust are the impudent, unceasing anti-Christian and blasphemous messages spewed out of the bowels of pop culture. For me, 10 years ago it was hard to imagine it getting much worse. Well, it's much worse.

That's a good segue to my next question for you: Would you consider The Unwanted Christian fiction? If distribution to brick-and-mortar bookstores was still the only game in town, would we find your title(s) in normal outlets, competing with secular work, or in Christian stores? I ask this because it's something I struggle with as a Christian who writes. The decision I came to is to appeal to a general audience, rather than limit it to only those who are already believers. However, some friends have made strong arguments for taking the other road.

DANIEL: This is a great question to ask. I cannot tell you how much I hate the fact that people categorize books as 'Christian Fiction'. Come on people! Do we create a genre called Atheist Fiction or Hindu Fiction? No we don't. Because a character in a story has Christian morals doesn't make it a Christian book per say, however that is what the general public does. They classify it as something less than real fiction. To answer your question more directly Hank, no I would not consider The Unwanted as Christian fiction. I purposefully steered clear of preaching to people through the story. Does it have Christian morals and Christian characters, yes. Does it have an atheist who is hell bent on the destruction of America, yes. Does it have a guy's guy in agent Nick Catlin who wishes he had more time to socialize with the ladies, yes. So I guess if we were going by the worlds rating system we should categorize my book as a Heathenistic-Athiest-Christain Sci-fi Fantasy Fiction story. LOL 

HANK: Hyuck-hyuck! Excellent points...and I think I saw some passion leaking out there. Well-put. I think we see eye-to-eye on this one.

There are items on your blog which hint that you have an interest in superheroes. If this is the case, care to say a little about that?

DANIEL: The Unwanted, for lack of a better description, is a superhero origins story. Do the characters run around with costumes and capes hiding their identity? No. The story is not so much about super powers but rather about the characters which makes it unique in my opinion. I love superhero stories and movies but The Unwanted is more than your typical X-Men type story. It's about five children who've had their DNA messed with and the consequences that they face because of it. Unlike many superhero stories where the heroes suddenly have these abilities and off they go to fight crime, the characters in The Unwanted suffer. I wanted a sense of plausibility to the story which always helps me connect with a story on a much deeper level. 

HANK: Aha! The "Children of Anak"--I think I get it. Hmm. Maybe some time in the future we can discuss the whole Nephilim phenomenon. There is some speculation of whether these hybrid creatures are redeemable, whether they are free moral agents with souls and so forth. BTW, I tracked down the Book of Enoch after studying those curious verses in Jude. I must say, I'm even more flabberghasted after reading it than before. Well, you've definitely got me interested in your story, now. What are your literary plans after the Unwanted Trilogy?

DANIEL: The Unwanted Trilogy is literally the beginning series of The G6 Chronicles. You'll see references often to G6 and I've been asked what that means so I'll tell you. It is actually a short version of GSIX which stands for Global Security of Inter-dimensional X's. X's originally stood for extra-terrestrial but as you'll find out in future stories they are not terrestrial in nature. Again this is all based off of Genesis 6 (G6). In book 3 Unholy Resurrection I introduce everyone to G6 Headquarters and what that all entails. My plans as they stand now are to launch The Spirit Walker series after The Unwanted Trilogy.

HANK: Cool. Very cool. What are our options for getting your books, and where can people go to interact with you or read more of your words?

DANIEL: Book 1 The Unwanted is available now through Amazon, Barnes & Noble,, Parable or you can simply purchase it directly from my official website via PayPal. Also the first three chapters are available for free so that you can see if the story is something you will like. Also for those that have already read book 1 I have the first three chapters of book 2 Children of Anak available as a sneak peek. There are also pages that I have on my official site for Internet Marketing, Superhero News, Newsletters and even Prayer Requests. Hopefully there is a little something for everyone. If anyone would like to contact me directly they can email me at

(Hank grins, having already voted for The Avengers as the next superhero flick he'd like to see, since Tony Stark's cameo in The Hulk set it up so nicely.)

On a more personal note I have my blog 'A Christian Man's Perspective' where I do author and blogger interviews as well as book reviews, giveaways and share my life's experiences.

I want to thank you again Hank for letting me ramble on. It's been an absolute pleasure being able to do this interview with you. Blessings.

HANK: My pleasure, Daniel. I really enjoyed it, and it's been great getting to know you better. Here's to a prosperous 2011 for both of us, and strength to keep running the race.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Last Car to Elysian Fields by James Lee Burke

I checked out this audiobook from the library because the idea of a cold-case murder mystery concerning a blues man half a century ago reminded me of a great book by a friend of mine I read some 12 years ago.

I must admit, the actor they chose to read this book probably influenced my experience for the worse. Since the protagonist is a native Louisianan, I guess they figured somebody with a Deep South accent would be appropriate. Between the accent and his rasping about-to-kick-the-bucket squawk, I had to listen to the first disk twice before I could follow him.

Anyway, Detective Robicheux (?) works this case out by interviewing witnesses (flashbacks move him closer to solving the puzzle/plot resolution) and pissing off all the other cops he knows, including his boss. He's a tee-total reformed alcoholic, but the way he wrecks the lives of those who care for him, I'd hate to have seen him when he was still drinking.

The flashbacks paint an infuriating picture of social injustice, but I finished the book with no sense of accomplishment, epiphany or even fond memories of an enjoyable ride. My emotions ran from fury to depression, with no pleasant feelings to dilute the aftertaste.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Virtual is Becoming Actual!

That's right--Virtual Pulp is coming to paperback! Dig that snazzy new cover.

I dreamed up this endeavor many years ago, wanting to bring readers the sort of exciting adventures (in various genres) once available in the pulp magazines. Think Conan, Tarzan, The Black Bat, Buck Rogers, Sam Spade, John get the picture, right?

Here's the back cover blurb:

From medieval Europe to Reconstruction; from a post-apocalyptic future to an alien world's Dark Ages, the drums pound in adrenaline-charged unison. Strap yourself in for a wild escape from the mundane, into adventures that transcend space and time. 

Allan of Barnsdale pledges loyalty to a doomed knight in exchange for inspiration to craft his tale of King Arthur...never imagining they are en route to an ambush by outlaws in Sherwood Forest. 

Pick Garver returns to his hometown after the Civil War a hero to some, a turncoat to most, and less likely to be with his true love than when he left. 

Three warriors from vastly different races must battle a sorcerer, an invading armada, and each other, while desperately seeking honor in a world where treachery is the norm. 

Mechanic, armchair engineer and hot-dog pilot Rebble Rauser and his fellow citizens of the "Barbarian Nation" protect their sovereignty with blazing wing guns; but an old rival of Rebble's makes a surprise visit during a war in a chaotic American future. 


Sunday, September 26, 2010

The Seventh Compass Point of Death by Richard Sanders

I'm tempted to classify this book as "hard-boiled," though it's not really a detective novel. It reads like one. The plot unfolds like one. The main character draws as much sympathy as Sam Spade, Phillip Marlowe, Mike hammer or Kinky Friedman. There are clues, surprises and twists... but not a mystery, per se. Still, I hesitate to call it a thriller, despite the terrorist plot and surrounding intrigue.
Whatever genre this book belongs to, it is a gripping, fast read.

Our hero, Quinn McShane, similar to author Richard Sanders, spent some time as an unwilling guest of state government before moving on to a career in the media. Through a once-casual acquaintance, he is ensnared in a terrorist conspiracy involving key players who are not quite what you expect. McShane is a bit too gullible a few times, as the classic hard-boiled flatfeet are on occasion (and real people like me are way too often). He also commits the cardinal sin of pulling a gun when he's not fully prepared to use it. But he redeems himself with decisive action and gutsy gambits at the point of no return.

The terrorists turn out to be a rather pathetic crew--but no less dangerous for their pathos. Not grim, fanatic killers, but more like neurotic delinquents who might have turned to "normal" lives of Big Apple crime, if not surrounded by a powderkeg rivalry between Sunnis and Shiites. Sanders cleverly portrays their ignorance of their own faith, and it is clear that McShane has studied the Koran (or is it Q'uran?) more than they have.

In keeping with the hard-boiled tradition (and I should point out here that I don't know whether Sanders intended to follow that tradition), McShane's romantic involvement during the plot is rather devoid of romance. And the point may not have been romance anyway, but just the reasonable development one could expect between two people in the circumstances McShane and Shala find themselves in. There is minimal emotional investment for either character...or the reader.

I can't count how many novels I've read that were set in New York City. Few of them, however, made that metropolis come alive for this reader the way Seventh Compass Point of Death does. Sanders evidently knows a lot about NYC, and enlightens while painting the backdrop without overwhelming the reader with details.

One final note: I seldom find the title of a book to influence me far for good or bad. But this title fulfills a savvy double entendre' that I really, really appreciate. Just one more thing to look forward to when you read this book.

US Military Jargon Part 1

Thought I might share some of the info off my website in between reviews and other blogs. I know I missed a lot in this glossary because I occasionally remember a term I should have included...but then I forget before my next chance to edit the pages.

Folowing is a list of GI jargon, spread over several pages. It is certainly not exhaustive, and perhaps not even contemporary for 2010, but much of it is used by characters in Hell and Gone. Some fairly common terms are included. I mean no insult to anyone's intelligence, but it turns out some fairly intelligent readers are unfamiliar with what I had assumed to be household words.

100mph tape: Similar to duct tape, but O.D. green, and strong enough to patch bulletholes in helicopter rotorblades, which spin at about 100mph.
201 File: A serviceman's dossier, reviewed when considering promotions or disciplinary actions.
4th Point of Contact (or 4th Point, for short): The backside, which is the 4th body part to hit the ground during a properly executed PLF.
5.56 NATO: 5.56mm ammunition. Same as caliber .223 Remington, which the M16 and many other assault rifles are chambered for.
550 cord: High-strength nylon parachute cord.
7.62 NATO: 7.62mm ammunition. Same as caliber .308 Winchester, which many medium machineguns and some main battle rifles are still chambered for.
782 gear: Or "deuce gear." USMC equivalent to US Army's "TA-50"--the helmet, canteens/carriers, ammo pouches, load-bearing equipment, etc., issued upon a marine's assignment to a company.
80pax: A "cattle truck"--theoretically capable of hauling 80 men plus their weapons and gear.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

I'm Not Whining. Really, I'm Not.

I just read one of J.A. Konrath's blogs, in which he shares some sales data from his books and ebooks. Inspirational stuff, on the one hand.

Said blog, along with other observations I've been making, have highlighted two changes I need to make if I want to improve my own sales:

1) This one hurts, but it looks like I need to put Virtual Pulp #2 back on the backburner's backburner, and concentrate exclusively on novels. As much as I want to spearhead a revival of pulp adventure magazines, readers are just not as interested in shorter-than-novel-length fiction. It's not as profitable, and I'm in a spot now where I need to maximize profits for whatever I invest my time and effort in. As I write this, I'm working with Amazon to bring Virtual Pulp #1 to paperback. Sadly, I don't know when or if I can sacrifice the time needed to continue the series in either ebook or paperback.

2) I need to get more novels published, to have a wider presence and increase my chances of having my work discovered by readers in my target audience(s). This is the very thing I want to do, truth be told. At any given time, I have at least a dozen story ideas fighting for consumption of my creative energy and I'm going crazy for want of typing the words. But the struggle for my family's economic survival has me occupationally trapped. I work 12-16 hours a day, 6 or 7 days a week, and have no shortage of fires to put out when I get an alleged day off. What I've been doing is paring down my sack time to be productive when I should be sleeping...but lately all that time has gone to marketing, not to writing. My marketing efforts have eked out some modest results--enough that I hesitate to neglect it to pursue what's really in my heart (writing).

So I'm caught in a web of Catch-22s, it seems. I know something needs to change. I just don't know how it can.

OK, maybe I am whining a little bit.

Monday, September 20, 2010

I Gotta See the Expendables

I've seen the title here and there, but didn't know what the movie's about. With a title like The Expendables, I would expect a war movie (in some of my blurbs/synopsis of Hell and Gone I even used the term "expendable" to describe the Has-Beens). But then I've learned not to assume anyone in Hollywood uses logic--even when choosing a title for a film.

Well, evidently, The Expendables is indeed the kind of flick the title suggests--with a comedic approach, that is. Kinda' The Dogs of War with a Lethal Weapon groove. Not since The Substitute can I recall a flick with good-guy mercs. And the cast! Almost...almost the dream cast I used to joke about for the Ultimate Summer Blockbuster Artistically Questionable Action Flick. Stallone; Swarzenegger; Lundgren; Jet Li...

(My own cast extended to Norris; Bronson; Eastwood and Jim Brown. OK, so considering human aging, the feasibility of this fantasy action flick evaporated after the 1980s. Still, they could have added Chuck Norris. Should have--obviously acting talent isn't the primary criteria. I suggest you do a Google search, BTW: "where is Chuck Norris?")

I feel a powerful magnetic pull from the cloud of testosterone which must be hanging over my neighborhood movie theater. How can I free myself from the missus for a couple hours?