Travel

Fort Point Living History Day

39939459271_0486d6b076_o - CopyThe Living History day happens twice a year.  I went January 27, 2018.  Kept missing my bus routes but made it to where the tourists are buzzing around and walked down quite a steep trail, through a narrow tunnel that was once a battery for cannon and ended up at a long trail with wooden steps.  Following these I made it to the Fort Point, just under the famously orange/red Golden Gate Bridge.

Nice day, sunny with sailboats.  Typical January winter day in the Bay.

The Fort was guarded by two men in Civil War garb, looking at me as I walked through the gate.  Men were marching, women were playing hoop games.  Really fun to watch and shoot.  Was fun taking photos of these men and women deciding to come down for a day and reenact what life may have been like in 1862. 39041085925_b96226b1f0_o - Copy

There was a man discussing the types to rifles and slugs used and regaled us with stories of battle of those times against the men in Gray.  A woman was cutting up a chicken and cooking it on a fire like they would have back then.  I took a photo of a woman and she stayed in character and let me do it.  Neat.

Another I ran into told me that he is a descendant of a general who was in battle at the time.  Though he was dressed as a Union Major, his ancestors were of the Confederacy.  We joked about what his ancestors would have thought, him in a uniform of the North.

Overall a pleasant stay.  Really liked how people would go into character whenever I took they photo.

Sprinkled throughout this blog are photos I shot, most with a Pentax K3, a pretty nifty DSLR.  Enjoy.

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Science Fiction Books

Artemis, by Andy Weir

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First Thoughts:

Andy Weir, fresh off his big win of a novel, The Martian, tells a what-if story – what if we landed on the moon and created a city of giant bubbles, each named after pioneer astronauts. Would we have the same problems any small town USA would have, including gangsters, cover-ups and murder?

You bet!

Story & Plot:

I like how the story is told in first person narrative. Jasmine Bashara (Jazz) lives 15 floors underground in the Conrad Bubble and starts with her failing her EVA Guild exam. An EVA (extra-vehicular activity) exam is botched when Jazz uses a used space suit and almost dies. “The Moon is an old bitch” she exclaims.

Jazz is tough. Jazz smuggles to offset her poor living. She’s lived on the moon since she was six. She has a strained relationship with her dad, a welder, and I would call this story more a coming of age tale more than anything.

Jazz makes a deal with a billionaire devil to mess with some rock harvesters and creates major problems, including creating problems for a Brazilian crime syndicate which would love to have Jazz put into space without a suit.

The story centers on corruption, a murder mystery and how she survives on the moon and barely makes it to the end of the novel with her life. The story is dragging and does gets bloated with science terminology and what happens in certan chemical reactions, etc., that would interest a physics major more than the average young adult novel reader.

Final Thoughts:

Besides all that, the story really picks up and is a page turner when Jazz makes the biggest heist of her life and nearly dies trying to save Artemis and finds the Moon is not such a harsh mistress.

Recommended.

 

Uncategorized

2018 New Years Fireworks!

So going to my office on the 30th floor of that building, I set up my tripod and Pentax K3 camera, set for Bulb mode, f 8.0, ISO 100, and waited breathlessly with my remote shutter crushed by nervous fingers.  Waiting for midnight.  The Witching Hour.  Breaking the time barrier between old year and new.  A new year, 365 more days of craziness on this godforsaken blue marble we live on!

The shots turned out pretty good:Flickr Album

Click on any image for large view!  Enjoy!

Pulp Fiction, Science Fiction Movies, Thrillers

Movie Review: The Last Jedi

Star Wars: The Last Jedi

Directed by Rian Johnson
Cast (in part)
Mark Hamill Luke Skywalker
Carrie Fisher Leia Organa
Adam Driver Kylo Ren
Daisy Ridley Rey
John Boyega Finn
Oscar Isaac Poe Dameron
Andy Serkis Snoke

 

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First Thoughts:

I was excited to see this film since I’m an original, waiting blocks for the 1977 Star Wars film. And I was NOT disappointed!

Though Rian Johnson’s story and direction are somewhat controversial in some circles, overall I liked the direction we are going in.

We left Rey with Luke in The Force Awakens and find Luke as a dissolutioned former Jedi who just wants to die on an island in the armpit of the galaxy far far away. And Rey, shocked by this attitude of a man she’s idolized, tries to wake him up.

You can’t walk away from trouble and though you may have inadvertently caused it, you still have responsibility to make it right. I feel that’s the lesson between Luke and Rey.

Trailer

Legends change – we find anyone can use the Force, not just certain individuals. And Rey has the most sensitivity and the most power, and is on par with her antagonist Kylo Ren.

Ren, like Luke, is a torn individual. He has a Force connection with Rey who communicates with him. That Rey tries to see Ren’s side of the story is telling and so is Luke’s tale with a lot to do with his relationship with both Ren and Rey. Flawed characters trying to do what they think is “the best” but eventually Rey decides – in the main throne room of Snoke’s ship.

Snoke comes across as a villain who seems to have all the cards in his favor. His Dark Side Force power is more powerful than Rey and Ren. They both have a plan for Snoke. And their lightsaber battle with the Praetorian Guard is worth the price of admission!
Forced?

We finally get to see a final confrontation with Ren and Luke Skywalker himself. Luke seems invincible, and Ren wants his blood. How this turns out with shock you.

Another controversial scene must do with the remnants of the Rebel Alliance attempting to escape from the First Order armada and are getting picked off, one at a time, as the Rebels limp towards their base.

There are side adventures with Rose (new character, she really steps up and takes the film) and her relationship with Finn – at first seems to have hero worship and later saves his life.

Final Thoughts:

OK, I’m rambling , but really guys and gals remember this is fiction! Some suspension of disbelief is required. Johnson turns the Force mythology on its ear. And who is the Last Jedi? Can you guess?

Highly recommended!

 

 

 

Science Fiction Books, Uncategorized

Book Review: Time Jumper

TIME JUMPERTIME JUMPER by Matthew Bayan

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Time Jumper, Matthew Bayan

First Thought:

Started out as a typical government-experiements-to-gain-power story but escalated into something so much more.

Story & Plot:

I like this author’s style of writing. Similar to Any Weir in style and pacing. Explains what’s going on but doesn’t reveal too much. And each detail you read is actually important for later on in the plot.

I thought the author got overdone with the Battle of Anteheim but he was accurate in the historical import and detail of the event. In history, some say that the plans from Robert E. Lee got into the hands of the Union. Though the story is not specific on this point, it is implied how that happened.

Ethan used his gift of psychic insite to enrich himself modestly. This was noticed by others who played the stock market and winning more than usual and reported this to a government lackey, Churchill. Churchill’s idea is to use Ethan in an experiment that increases Ethan’s psychic ability.

In doing so Ethan unleashes power he never knew he had. With the help of the drug he’s able to leave his body as a spiritual being, traverse the universal time lines and is drawn to the Civil War era, 1862. There he meets a cast of characters that bring the story to its end.

Ealier I thougth he got too much into the Civil War era, being pursued and “switching” bodies to find his own true love, lost in a lightning storm earlier in the book. Regardless the pacing was fast and frankly I could not put the book down.

Some loose ends were on what happened to certain characters but even this gets swept up at the end. Did it happen or not?

Final Thoughts:

If you like historical fiction and science fiction with some philosophy on the spirit, mind and body, check out this short Young Adult novel. You’ll be amazed how it all turns out.

Highly recommended.

View all my reviews

Pulp Fiction, Science Fiction Books, Thrillers

Book Review: Dan Brown’s Origin!

Dan Brown, Origin

First Thoughts: Well thought out and researched novel about a computer genius who sees where we’ve been and what will be our future.

Story & Plot:

I’ve read all the recent Dan Brown novels and I have read folks’ critical interpretation of them as being too formulaic.

Brown breaks the formula somewhat to present to us one Edmond Kirsch, who was a student of Langdon’s but now is a rich and powerful computer scientist who has created the “E Wave” a new form of artificial intelligence.

The computer called Winston is an unusual protagonist – a computer with access to the Web, all its secrets and can imitate human voice and can influence others. Though we don’t see so much until the end of the novel.

Really liked Langdon in this book – no falling from helicopters nor confronting Freemasons, he’s in Spain to see his friend Kirsch’s big discovery. Just what Kirsch is about to release it tragedy happens, and Langdon begins his journey.

Falsely accused of kidnapping the fiancé of Prince Julian, and the king of Spain on his deathbed, Langdon must clear his name, find out who planned that tragedy and get Kirsch’s recorded presentation out to the world before it is lost.

Last Thoughts:

Though I appreciated the new tech being discussed – an artificial intelligence, wireless headsets and the conflict of Church and state and even the fabric of religion itself under scrutiny, the flashbacks I thought were overdone. And the constant suspense of who killed Kirsch was a letdown for me.

Regardless, it’s an entertaining novel and would recommend any fan of Dan Brown to read it. Controversial? You decide!

Quite a thought-provoking novel!  Purchase HERE on Amazon.com! 

OriginFEAT

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A Small Slice of British Columbia

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Yes a bit of a travel blog I guess you’d say.

I got to go to Canada, the first time I’ve ever left the USA.  Customs offices are quite interesting even if they are untrusting.

Landed in Victoria, really handy shuttle ride to the WorldMark resort.  Nice pool and hot tub.  Great view of James Bay.  Fish and Chips, long walks through autumn leaves, and a few ghost tours and some historic walks through town.  It was Halloween, why not?

Victoria is like Sausalito, so Vancouver was like any urban city, but it was fascinating checking the neighborhood which was a bit sketchy on Hornby Avenue.  I went on a weekday as people went about their work.

Love Canadian money!  So colorful and they even have plastic.  American money is just so much dough out there.

Stanley Park, and even getting lost a bit, was interesting.  They have a cannnon that is fired every morning at 9:00.  They have a statue of a mermaid in the water as well as a large green suspension bridge to West Vancouver.

And most fun of all, besides the natural beauty was a trip to the grocery store where the food is translated to English and French!

Quite a country.  Wish i could have stayed longer.

 

 

Comic Books!, Fantasy/Horror Films, Science Fiction Movies

Film Review: Justice League!

Justice League

[Stream the Movie – Click HERE!]

First Thoughts:

If you want to be entertained and better yet know something about DC Comics, you will have a fun time watching Justice League.

Story & Plot:

Batman and Wonder Woman are trying to put a team together to fight a battle with an invader coming to take over the Earth. A good third of the film involves Batman recruiting these players and though somewhat spoiled by the trailers of late, makes for an interesting start to the film.

I really wish they gave more info on the characters they’re picking up for those who know nada about comics.

justice-league-blur-effect-229823Aquaman, never got the respect he deserved in the comics. He’s brunette rather than the blonde guy we knew, but Jason Moma (“Stargate”) makes a bad ass Aquaman. Teasers included showing Atlantis and a cameo of Mera. We even get to see her flex her muscle with her water powers.

Almost nothing on Atlantis, why it’s important, who Mera is, etc. I can see an uneducated audience would puzzle on that.

Cyborg, an unknown in a lot of circles, who is part machine, part man. We see some relationship with his father who saved his life, conflicting emotion – Am I a freak or a hero? How will I fit in? Cyborg struggles with this which I thought was a great plot line but then it was not followed up! Could have spent more time on this.

Ben Affleck’s Batman delivers and his acting and his hot Batmobile and tricks you never tire of him.

Wonder Woman is her usual personable self, a woman who doesn’t put up with the bad guys, and knows Amazon fighting skills and bouncing bullets off her bracelets that’s cool to watch.

The Flash is the most enjoyable character. He is the viewpoint of the audience, enamored to work with such powerful people, and though he “doesn’t have friends” fits in well with the group. He represents the hero worshipped kid we all would experience if we were in his shoes.

The way they brought Superman back (that’s not a spoiler, that’s a given) differed greatly from the comics – I guess I was expecting something more spiritual or going to the Fortress in the North to do it.

Final Thoughts:

Yes there are fights, explosions and CGI. But there is also a decent plot that carries through well.

Not perfect. Why use Steppenwolf? But the mid and end credit scenes portend a much better future for Justice League II.

Remember, Star Trek the Movie was dull but the second one was awesome. Let’s hope history repeats itself!

Recommended.

Uncategorized

Red Hood & The Outlaws – New 52

816Mpf6OT3LClick HERE for the Graphic Novel! 

I admit I’m not that familiar with The Outlaws. I did enjoy the Red Hood, aka Jason Todd, from Lob’s book “Hush”, but Hood is leaner and meaner in this one.

Anyone who reads reviews knows the basic idea that Jason teams up with Roy, formerly known as Arsenal, and Starfire, where all humans look alike to her and she’s pretty free with the sex card.

Several of the scenes are clearly sexist, such as Starfire in various states of nudity, which is OK for a red-blooded American male like me, but that’s not what I wanted from this book. I wanted some adventure, and did discover some.

I liked how Jason was trained by the All-Caste, they get betrayed and Jason feels the need for revenge and drags his friends into it. We also have an assassin named The Essence, who was once an “item” for Jason and now wants to wipe him out.

Themes of vengeance run throughout the book: a man who becomes alien to get his revenge where a spaceship accidentally crashed into his car one day (yeah, it happens). Or when the All-Caste get wiped out (after a few millennia you’d think they’d guard themselves better) and Jason wants his revenge.

Touching scenes as Jason recalls his time with the Bat and contemplates the Joker, though these items distract from the main theme.

Pros: Good art, almost “Image” like in its portrayal of the women of the book.

Cons: Too much gabbing, not enough action.