Saturday, November 21, 2020

Curveball at the Crossroads available now



Buy Curveball at the Crossroads here.

I am super excited to announce that my first novel is now available for purchase. Entitled Curveball at the Crossroads, it is the story of a baseball player who makes a deal with the Devil after a career-ending injury. As he rises in success, he realizes eventually all deals come with a price. His deal with the Devil could cost him everything he cares about.

I worked on this book for over eight years. In 2012 and 2013, I wrote Weekly Book Updates on this site. It is interesting to go back and read my thoughts on the book from back then.


I am happy to say the initial rough draft is done. And when I say it is rough, it is really rough. As a matter of fact, it is so rough I am still deliberating on one of three different titles.

(That's ok, the way I see it, Return of the Jedi was Revenge of the Jedi until a year before release. And while filming, the movie's code name was Blue Harvest. So that's three names too.)

I can however tell you what the book is about. I don't want to spoil it, but it's about baseball, the blues, the devil, the crossroads, and a deal gone wrong. It has humor, sports action, and enough mojo to hopefully keep every reader interested. At least that's the goal.

My plan now is to sit on this draft for a little while, at least until I get back to the states, then begin the editing process. There is of course a lot of work that needs to get done before I turn this draft of 120 pages and over 62,000 words of plot into a cohesive story. But such is the creative process.

I'm definitely excited.

What became Curveball at the Crossroads was initially written in 2012-2013. I edited and re-wrote a lot of it in 2013. Then I put it aside for a few years while I went back to school. In 2017, I worked on it a little bit, sent it to publishers, and received several rejection letters.

In 2020, during the height of the pandemic, when everything was closed, no sports were on, and boredom ruled, I dusted off the latest draft and began final tinkering. When I finally wrote an ending I liked, I started looking for independent Florida publishers. After a month of submissions, I found Legacy Book Publishing from Winter Park, Florida. 

After finally receiving an email of interest from a publisher, I drove to Legacy Book Publishing on June 23rd, 2020. I signed a contract and we got to work on making my draft a real novel.

On November 4th, Curveball at the Crossroads was listed on the Legacy Book Publishing website. It will be on Amazon in December 2020. But why support a trillion dollar company when you dollars can support local writers and local publishers?

As always, thank you for reading and thank you for your support.


Thursday, October 29, 2020

Not So Serious Movie Review: Attack Force (2006)



Tonight's cinematic misadventure was Attack Force (2006) starring Steven Seagal. Seagal plays a special forces commander ....

Nope. You are not getting an attempt at a serious review. This movie doesnt deserve it. It is atrocious. According to reports, it was supposed to be an alien sci fi flick, but they turned it into a drug super serum flick halfway through. And the lead bad guy decides he is going to commit bioterrorism with the drug. So Seagal and his team raid a French village and start killing the residents who show effects of the super drug. Pretty sure that's a war crime.

None of the plot makes sense. The bad guys' eyes blink sideways because they are on "the drug", not because they were supposed to be aliens. The fight scenes are poorly shot. But worst of all, half of Seagal's lines are dubbed by another actor who sounds nothing like Seagal.

So so so bad.

Grade: 1 wtf star out of 5.

Tuesday, October 27, 2020

Watching the Unwatched

This video is the kind of videos I like to find - in the nine years it has been on youtube, it had only 2 total view. So just by watching once, I increased its views by 33%. If you watch, you could give it view number 4, and that would increase its total by 25%. And if 200 people watch, total views will go up 10,000%!

Makes you feel important, doesn't it?

Thursday, October 22, 2020

Not So Serious Movie Review: Xanadu (1980)



Tonight's cinematic misadventure was Xanadu (1980). An artist is inspired by roller skating muse to help open a dance club. Includes a cast of dancers and costumes and spandex.

I had no idea what to expect when i started this movie. I am still flabbergasted. Cheesy isn't the word. Its like if an entire class of theater and dance nerds got together to make a movie and turned no idea down.

Get Gene Kelly to dance? Yes.

Include an animation sequence? Sure.

Have baffling transition effects? Why not?

Load the movie with special effects? Absolutely!

No creative idea was too outlandish for this movie. I cant say this movie was bad, as it completely kept me entertained, even if the plot was flimsy. But don't watch it for the plot. Watch it for the experience.

Grade 4 dancing stars out of 5.

Saturday, October 17, 2020

Not So Serious Movie Review: Into the Sun (2005)



Tonight's cinematic misadventure was Into the Sun (2005) starring Steven Seagal with cameos by Eddie George (former NFL star) and William Atherton (Die Hard, Ghostbusters). Seagal plays a former CIA agent who gets involved in a Japanese gang war.

This movie wasn't bad. The shots of Japan were really cool. The editing was a bit choppy but the lights and colors of Japan were a nice touch. Seagal plays this by the numbers - playing by his own rules and kicking and punching his way through various bad guys. His love interest seemed forced as they tried to give his character depth. But does Seagal really need depth? Who watches Seagal to hear him say "I love you"? We want him to kick ass.

The sword fights were cool. I couldn't help but think they were influenced by the old samurai movies back in the day. Lots of squirting blood.

Maybe one day Seagal will leave the violent life and retire to a nice beach, with a loving family, and a white picket fence. But today isn't that day.


Grade: 3 samaurai stars out of 5.

Sunday, October 11, 2020

Winging it in Key West


Last week, I finally visited Key West. Going to the Keys was on my to-do list for years. My first attempt was cancelled by Hurricane Irma in 2017. So after getting laid off of my job a few weeks ago and knowing no one was going to hire me in a week, I took off from Tampa to the Keys for a week of adventure. I had no plan, and only looked at a map the night before to figure out where I was going. 

Here is my running - or bar crawling - diary.

Monday - Day 0 

Attempted to leave but my car battery was dead. And a bird shit on me. Great start. Had to change my shirt and my battery.

Tuesday - Day 1

Left Tampa at nearly noon. An 8-hour drive highlighted by my ipod playing Moving Right Along by The Muppets amidst hours of hip hop and heavy metal. Arrived in Key West at nearly 9pm. Checked into my hotel and ate a good seafood dinner at Conch Republic Seafood Company.

Found a bar to watch the Rays game. Went back to the hotel and slept. 

Wednesday - Day 2 

Checked off the Hemmingway House. Not sure if there could be a modern equivalent of Hemmingway. Maybe Bert Kreischer if he was a writer? Hemmingway's writing tree house was cool. But they claim he wrote 500-700 words a day as if that was an accomplishment. I can write that shitty drunk. Which I guess is kinda what Hemmingway did.

(Writer's note: 1-2 pages per night was what i averaged writing my novel. But it took me eight years to edit it. But i digress.)

The Key West Lighthouse was cool. Talked to a nice old time historian at the top. He was full of information. Meeting him reminded me of a video game when you reach a location and engage with a talking character.

Ran into a friend and his wife at the Hemmingway Museum. Totally random. We decided to hang out for a bit. Went to the beach. I took a nap on a picnic table bench. That was fun. Relaxing.

Went to happy hour at Pepe's. Cheap tasty margaritas. Split with my friend. Went to the Waterfront Brewery and drank a few Crazy Lady Blond Ales. Very good local beer. Drove back to my hotel and took a siesta. Changed my t-shirt. Traveler's tip: pack two shirts per day. No need to be sweaty when you go drinking.

After an hour-long nap, I went to the Green Parrot. Awesome vibe. Any dive that plays a heavy dose of blues on the jukebox is A+ in my book. Drank a Green Parrot Session Ale. Good stuff. Made a joke about having too many Crazy Lady beers earlier that made the bartender chuckle. Or maybe he was glad to have business during a pandemic.

Quick aside number 1: Key West respected the mask rules, but seemed business as usual for the bars. They obviously had some tables and chairs removed, but everyone seemed really cool with the current rules and regulations needed to limit the spread of COVID-19. Wear your mask and respect people's space.

Walked down Duval St. Talked to a street musician about music for 30 minutes. Gave him $5 dollars for a good conversation. Also pitched my book, which he said he would totally buy. 

Went to Capt Tony's Saloon. Wow. Rarely has a bar reminded me more of Mos Eisley Space Port. I swear I saw Figrin D'an and the Modal Nodes tuning in a corner. Unfortunately, shortly after I got there, they closed. So I guess I closed Capt Tony's first time I was there? Check that box.

Walking to find another bar, I saw a fight between two drunk male tourists arguing over a drunk girl. Cheers to them. Wandered with my Capt Tony's souvenir cup to Dirty Harry's for some live music. Grabbed a slice of pizza at Angelinas. Walked by my new musician friend and his friend, a bikini-clad woman named Kelly who had a bag of weed in her hand and complained about having to go to court in the morning on an assault charge she got fighting a local stripper. She seemed too fun for me. My music friend said she was a local legend. 

It was 1:30 AM and I called it a night. 

Thursday - Day 3 

Woke up with a blister on my foot. Would rather have a hangover. My flip flops betrayed me.

Had breakfast/lunch at Dante's. Was the first person at the bar. Talked local spots and sports with Todd the bartender. He had some cool stories about working in the Virgin Islands. A career slinging drinks throughout the Caribbean must be interesting. Drank fruity rum drinks until he suggested a Painkiller, a pineapple rum drink that was stronger and tastier than what I was drinking. 

Walked to the Truman Southern White House. Very cool. Enjoyed the history. Enjoyed the air conditioning. I asked them if they would have to cede their claim as Florida's only presidential museum if Mar-a-Largo ever opened up a presidential museum. The unprecedented questions abound. 

Visited the Key West Historical Museum. Most impressive. Very impressed and actually surprised by the long history of Key West. I didn't know any of the history. Walked to the Mallory Square market. Another place with great air conditioning. Reminded me of the inside markets of the Middle East with their individual vendors. Spoke with a metal artist about art and books  - to include my upcoming novel.

Quick aside number two: people in Key West seem very friendly, especially to another creative. Perhaps due to the inspiring nature of Key West and the abundance of art and creativity. Their kindness seems authentic. Not practiced-for-tourists-friendly or even Hooters girl-being-nice-for-tips-friendly, but genuinely nice.

Went to the Shipwreck Museum. Interesting. At this point, I was getting museumed out. Grabbed a beer at Alonzo's Oyster Bar. Nice view, but I wandered into the classy district. The yachts are bigger than my apartment and there were people there with collared shirts.

After a beer at Alonzo's, I went back to the hotel room for my daily siesta, t-shirt change, and to charge the phone. Keeping my phone charged was important. 

Following my nap, I went on the Key West Haunted Ghost tour. Definitely doomed and a good time. Especially during Halloween season. Some interestingly disturbing stories and well-decorated houses. But the irony of our ghost host wearing a face mask to protect us from covid-19 was not lost. Unless the corona virus is affecting the dead, the mask hurts the gimmick. I get it, it is necessary, and cheaper than a Plexiglas shield.

Following the tour of Key West undead spirits, I embarked on my final tour of Key West alcohol spirits. My first stop was Sloppy Joes. Good music. Good food. But a definite bachelorette party-safe vibe. I don't think I would see anyone with the death sentence on 12 systems hanging out there. At Sloppy Joes I had a good conversation with a bartender named Vicki and she personally recommended me at Joe's Tap Room. 

I dug the Tap Room. Fun alternative spot to the chaos and bacchanalia in Sloppy Joes. Made friends with Chris the bartender and a server named Holli. Holli invited me to Shots and Giggles after her shift. While walking there, she completed a Lebron James-esque, no-look, staying-in-stride toss of her beer bottle into a trash can. SportsCenter top 10 play.

Did I mention Key West allows drinking in the streets? I don't recommend this rule everywhere, but it is an awesome flex.

I drank at Shots and Giggles with Holli and other service industry folks until nearly 4am. They asked about my visit and I mentioned meeting the bikini-clad woman the night before. They knew exactly who I was talking about, confirmed her local infamy, and asked if she touched me. When I said no, they said good, but they wouldn't say why. I guess you don't want to be touched by Kelly the brawling, pot-smoking, bikini-clad local.

While drinking at Shots and Giggles I wondered if my expired parking pass was going get me ticketed. The people I was with promised I wouldn't be. When I eventually found my car, sure enough, there was no ticket. Believe the locals, is what I am saying.

Returned to my hotel room at 4:10am and promptly fell sleep. Another good night.

Friday - Day 4

Breakfast at IHOP. Omelettes and pancakes have a ton of calories and help cure hangovers.

Went to the East Martello Museum. Interesting military and cultural history. Saw Robert the Doll. When the bartender at Dante's told me about Robert, I thought it was a local gimmick - like seeing a dog faced boy or a shrunken head at a state fair freak show. Then other locals told me there experiences with him. Their stories were too convincing to be a hoax, unless the whole island is in on the joke. After hearing all these weird tales, I had to see Robert. As per custom, I asked if I could take his picture. When I asked that, the creepy piano music in his room paused for a moment, then continued. Or did I imagine that?

I then introduced Robert the Doll to my FSU travel gnome. I figured things can't get worse for FSU football, so I might as well ask for help from the spiritual realm. On the other hand, if things do get worse for FSU football, Robert did it.

Before leaving the East Martello Museum I had a great conversation with Kristina the guest services host. She mentioned she used to be a goth music host for USF radio in Tampa and used to hang out in Ybor City often. So we exchanged Ybor drinking stories.

On my way back to the mainland, stopped at Florida Keys Brewing Co. Funky, tied-dyed, little spot with good beer. After my beer, it was time to say goodbye to the Florida Keys. 

I like to think I accomplished a lot in my week in the Florida Keys. I am glad I went by myself. Going solo allowed me to choose my own adventure, and go where I wanted, when I wanted. I went down with no plan and completely winged it. I returned with new friends and new tales to tell. I will be back. 

Tuesday, October 6, 2020

A Journey to Hatchet City Part 8: The Great Milenko



Welcome to my latest review of the Insane Clown Posse and Psychopathic Records's catalog. It has been a while since I reviewed an album here, so I am excited. Today's subject is The Great Milenko, released in 1997. This is ICP's fourth major release and the fourth Joker's Card album. The card in the album calls this ICP's "most controversial release yet". This should be fun.

Before I start, the album liner notes are particularly interesting. The thanks might be the longest thanks I have ever read in an album. There is also an interesting blurb on who is The Great Milenko. I am not sure I understand what they are talking about, but perhaps the album will make it clearer.

Intro

The album starts with a country-western vibe. People are playing a jukebox when a voice comes over the air warning about the Great Milenko. This is actually a very cool and informative introduction of the Carnival of Carnage. It tells the story of why the carnival exists and its purpose. It also describes how three Joker's Cards have already come and gone. This seems like an introduction for those who might not already be down. But it is a good reminder for those of us trying to figure out the clown philosophy. 

Great Milenko

This beat is nice. Violent J introduces The Great Milenko and who he is. A wizard of the dead. I wonder how Violent J and Shaggy brainstormed these ideas. Was it a team effort? Or did one just go along?

Hokus Pokus

Violent J opens this song with a song introducing that ICP is in town. Nice beat. I can see this song being nice in concert. Definitely upbeat. Even Shaggy's verse in this song is decent. I like the DJ scratch segment and breakdown. This song seems like the clowns are announcing the circus is back and led by the Great Milenko. Fun song.

Piggie Pie

This song starts in a prison. Woah, a rock-driven beat. Violent J and Shaggy rap about murdering rednecks and rich people. I am still not sure how the anti-redneck theme jives with the circus. Are the clowns avenging the wrongs committed by southern white culture? Is this is sort of a Django-type fantasy? Interesting mention of a rich man as the devil and Violent J killing the devil. Does this pit the devil versus the carnival?

This songs ends with an awkward suicidal phone call.

How Many Times

A slower beat. This seems like a reflective song. Violent J raps about some of the wrongs of the world, especially the awkward responses of people to wrongs and death. I like this song. It really has nothing to do with the circus or the clowns. It is just interesting observations about life from the perspective of ICP. A weird ending by a braggatocious wannab who gets called home by his mom. 

Southwest Voodoo

Wait, was that a shout-out to Da Lench Mob's "Guerrillas in tha Mist"? Nice. (Ed note: I paused it to find out that "Voodoo, running from my magic" is actually a X Clan line that Da Lench Mob sampled as well.) This song starts with a Shaggy 2 Dope verse. I think he is making things up here. The verse makes no sense. This song also sounds like it would be fun in concert, even if the lyrics are nonsense. This isn't the first time ICP has mentioned Southwest in a song. I am not sure where they are referring. Is it southwest Detroit? Southwest USA? I am confused. Again.

Halls of Illusion

Shaggy 2 Dope starts this song as well. I am not sure what he is talking about. Violent J follows with a verse taking revenge on wrong-doers. Interesting rock-riff chorus. One Shaggy's verses is about how seemingly perfect families and neighborhoods often hide dark secrets. 

Under the Moon

This is a weird song about an obsessed dude who kills for a girl. While he sits in prison he thinks about her. Does this song have anything to do with the carnival or the clowns? Dumb song.

What is a Juggalo?

I am not sure this song actually defines juggalos. But I think that is the point. The point is that the juggalos aren't defined by the song, but the fact that they dig ICP and are strong in their identity. Otherwise, if you take the song seriously, you aren't down with clown.

That's part of my confusion with ICP. If this song isn't supposed to be taken seriously, is the carnival? What about their hatred of rednecks?

House of Horrors

We are now back to the carnival theme. Shaggy 2 Dope opens with a verse welcoming people to the House of Horrors. This is actually a good verse, especially if you consider he is trying to scare people who entered the house unintentionally. Cool beat.  

Boogie Woogie Wu

Interesting intro. Definitely a horror movie vibe. Violent J is back with a scary verse about the Boogie Man. The Boogie Man scares or kills his victims.

The Neden Game

This song was on the Mutilation Mix album from the last review. It follows a TV game show format. Definitely creative. Not sure what this has to with the carnival or the clowns. 

Hellalujah

The intro is of a preacher on TV. Then Violent J drops a verse from a crooked preacher's perspective. At least this song is consistent. While I understand the content, not sure what this perspective has to do with the carnival. Why are the clowns not taking revenge on the preacher? The breakdown "pass me the collection plate" is very cool.

Down with the Clown

I like the upbeat vibe of this song. I like the opening verse, in which ICP discuss how they have their niche and listeners will not seeing them selling out. The group is definitely sure of their identity here. And they are asking the fans to be sure of their fandom as well. This is much more of an affirmation song than What is a Juggalo. All ICP asks is that you be down with them. If you are down, then you are a juggalo.

Just Like That

Not sure what to think about this song. It sounds like filler. What does it have to do with the rest of the album? Eh.

Pass Me By 

Shaggy 2 Dope raps over a piano-driven beat about how he dies and joins the carnival. Interesting chorus. Violent J also drops a similar verse about dying and joining the carnival and being more happy in death with his juggalo brethren. This is almost a 2Pac-like reflection song. Curious way to end the album.

Overall, I liked this album. Some of the songs are filler. But some would be fun to see in concert. ICP shows a lot of growth on this album. They define themselves and what they believe in. They also invite others to be down with them, while still staying true to their underground roots. This album is not as underground sounding as their previous albums, but it is definitely not mainstream. ICP shows a bit more depth and maturity on this album, as much as they can. It is definitely a deeper album than their previous offerings.

Previous Reviews:

A Journey to Hatchet City Part 7: Mutilation Mix

A Journey to Hatchet City Part 6: Tunnel of Love

A Journey to Hatchet City Part 5: Riddle Box

A Journey to Hatchet City Part 4: Shaggy 2 Dope F*ck Off




Tuesday, September 29, 2020

Not So Serious Movie Review: RoboCop 3 (1993)




Tonight's cinematic misadventure was Robocop 3 (1993) starring Bradley Whitford (Billy Madison), Rip Torn, and Jill Hennessey (Law & Order). Robocop joins an insurgency against a corporate-backed paramilitary group attempting to evict a Detroit neighborhood.

The movie is not as bad as people say. Yes, it is cheesy. Yes, it does not have the original Robocop. Yes, a 10 year old has super hacker powers.
But as a protest movie against big corporations and militarized police forces, it is a fun watch. Also features some good anti-Robocop fake news. And the normal police work with the neighborhood and take up arms against the militarized goons.
If that fails to get your attention, flying Robocop, samurai, and smart, attractive, early 90s Jill Hennessey to the rescue.

Grade: 3 Motor City stars out of 5.

Saturday, September 26, 2020

Not So Serious Movie Review: Sandlot 2 (2005)



Tonight's cinematic misadventure was Sandlot 2 (2005). This is a movie about a bunch of kids who play baseball and lose something important over a fence. James Earl Jones reprises his role as Mr Myrtle, the old man with a big dog the kids are afraid of.

During their summer of playing baseball, the kids also go to a fair, go swimming, watch fireworks, and one has a memorable kiss that almost gets them all in trouble.
Does it sound like I described The Sandlot 1? Yup. Because this is basically the same movie. Even many of the same lines of dialogue are used. There are only two differences: one) girls on the team and two) a neighborhood kid who is really into model rockets.
I wanted to try to review this movie independent of the first. Had the plot been different, that might have been possible. But as it is, this is a bad, bad, bad remake. I blame Canada.
And I hear there is a third Sandlot.

Grade 1 lazy star out of 5.

Thursday, September 24, 2020

Not So Serious Movie Review: Cry Blood Apache (1971)



Tonight's cinematic misadventure was Cry Blood, Apache (1970). This is one of the lowest rated Westerns ever and for good reason. It is super low budget, with bad acting, and horrible camera work.

A group of shitty white dudes kill a family of Spanish-speaking Apaches. They kidnap the daughter and attempt to find gold. The son of the family returns from a ride to find his family dead. He hunts down the shitty white guys and kills most of them until the stupid ending. Did I mention that the daughter suffers from Stockholm Syndrome and falls in love with one of the shitty white guys who murdered her family? Because a shitty white guy probably wrote the movie.
This would have been much better if it was a grindhouse horror posing as a Western. Tarantino before Tarantino.

As it is, it sucked.

Grade 1 Native American star out of 5.