Justice League Review

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There are a crap-ton of bad reviews for Justice League. This ain’t one of ’em.

I’m 50.

I’ve waited all my life for a Justice League film, this was boyhood dreams come true time for yours truly. And haters of the film might well scoff. They might suggest that I am overwhelmed by the power of nostalgia and my life-long love of the characters. Well, haters can bite me. I enjoyed the hell out of the movie and here are seven reasons:

  1. Unlike last year’s terrible Batman vs Superman, a dark, overly melodramatic and entirely predictable enterprise that took itself far too seriously for anyone’s good, this film doesn’t. Like Thor Ragnarok, there is humor peppered throughout. Mostly carried by Ezra Miller’s Barry Allen/Flash and Jason Momoa’s Aquaman. Even Batman/Bruce Wayne didn’t have a stick up his ass.

2. There was minimal back story for the heroes because the movie assumes the public already knows the backstory of these icons of crime fighting.

3. It didn’t self-examine with existential questions about the hero place in the modern world.

4. Wonder Woman.

5. Exceptional action sequences. For a film that is chock-full of CGI it didn’t feel like the actors were playing out their roles in front of a green screen. It didn’t feel contrived. (Though Steppenwolf, I admit, is a dumb name for a villain and I would have liked it better had there been an actor in a costume instead of a CGI bad guy who makes your skin crawl thanks to uncanny valley.)

6. Boom Tubes. (I was half expecting Granny Goodness or Big Barda to appear. Perhaps in another film.)

7. The mention of Darkseid ensures us that he will be the primary villain to come in a yet to be named sequel.

This was a simple plot: bad stuff is coming. Unite some superheroes and kick the bad stuff to the curb. When I see a superhero movie, I’m there to see heroes kick bad guy ass. That’s it. That’s all. There was a significant amount of ass kicking.

Ezra Miller steals the show as an inexperienced superhero who has never really been in a real fight before. The mere fact that he spends a good portion of the film a bit gobsmacked to be in the presence of Batman and Wonder Woman was perfect. A new hero discovering his new powers. He was an enjoyable geek and I can’t wait to see the Flash movie now.

Jason Momoa’s Aquaman expresses sheer glee to crack skulls every chance he gets – that alone was worth the price of admission because I’ve never been a huge Aquaman fan. I always found the character a bit dry and preferred Sub-Mariner because his hate-on for humanity had him straddling the line between good and evil throughout his history. Momoa’s nautical hero is just plain fun.

Gal Gadot’s Wonder Woman is the best superhero in film today. She’s fearless, she’s fierce, she will @#$#% up your shit.

I wasn’t really enamored with Cyborg because he is a tragic character and he spent the first 40 mins of the move as an emo in a sweat suit. Batman was much lighter in this incarnation and I have to admit, I’m not a huge fan of Ben Affleck, but I do like him a lot as Batman.

For me. the entire film is just plain fun. I went with zero expectations and walked out grinning from ear to ear. 

That’s not to say the film is perfect: it’s not. But it pulls together some of the biggest stars in the DC universe and foreshadows a Hall of Justice, more Justice League heroes (hello Green Lantern. Also, can we have Plastic-Man? I love that guy.)

I liked it. My wife loved it. We geeked out for two hours and fully intend to go see it again.

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Holy @#$% …. I’m 50!

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1977

Today is my fiftieth birthday.

It’s surreal for a number of reasons, chief among them is the fact that my mind keeps telling me I’m not fifty, even though I know that I am. My thoughts, my perception of the world, how I look at all that surrounds me … nothing really has changed. I still feel, mentally at least, like I have always felt ever since I was a young man.

Me at 25

I’m fascinated by the fact that I am growing older. Each new wrinkle, every new patch of grey in my formerly very red beard is a source of wonder. I look at myself in the mirror the same way that I used to gaze upon various items through my old microscope I had a lot of fun with when I was a kid. Items like bugs, leaves, even salt crystals or grains of sand. (If you had one as a kid, you’ll know what I’m talking about.)  I have learned, now, that as your body ages your mind doesn’t necessarily decide to age along with it. I remember my mother’s fiftieth birthday way back in 1984 when I was sixteen. In my mind, that’s literally yesterday. Wham! was yesterday. (And poor old George Michael is no longer with us.)

My car & dog Toby – I snapped this shot and developed it when I was 16

I have been thinking about time a lot lately. Not the passage of time but rather, how we perceive it. I believe that our minds don’t perceive time on a personal level but do so when it comes to those external factors. So every celebrity death tends to act as a benchmark for a period of time that is forever frozen in our minds. A shot in the shoulder to remind you that you too are not going to be here forever.

Last year when Prince died, I was absolutely floored for a few weeks. Even now, more than a year after his passing, I still can’t believe that he is gone. His album Purple Rain was one of the soundtracks of my high school years. And listening to When the Doves Cry now is bittersweet because I can remember the first time I ever heard that song. A friend slapped the cassette in my shitty Sparkomatic cassette player and filled my beater car with that unforgettable opening.

I have found, lately, that I tend to say “I remember the first time …” when just hanging out with my wife and a song comes on the radio or an anniversary of something I remember pops up in the news. I’ve asked my mother about how she perceives time and it’s the same thing for her. Now well into her eighties, she says that she still feels like she has always felt and perceived time the way that she always had.

Still, growing older does offer some benefit in spite of the fact that we are all of us, marching to oblivion. I experience a measure of insight that I didn’t possess as a young man. I am more patient now than I have ever been. I am able now to be less reactive and more proactive. I’m not thinking about retirement because unless I win the lottery, I expect I will be working until I kick the bucket. I dream that maybe I could make a living at this whole writing gig but with eight novels and one children’s book to my credit, I’m nowhere near hitting pay dirt.  And of course, at 50, my mind thinks I am half my age! I actually manage to convince myself that I can do a ton of yard work and walk my dogs three kilometres without breaking a sweat. But when I am doing the work, I find the energy just isn’t there like it used to be. When I return from a long walk with the dogs, I need a good rest for a bit.

I worry about the future – mostly for young people. I worry about the effect of social media on our brains and our culture becoming tribalized and the end of civil discourse. I try not to think about it, but it’s pretty hard when you sit in a restaurant and see that people at every table aren’t talking to each other and instead, are swiping their screens.

I’m not entirely sure where I am going with this blog post. Fifty seemed like a point off in the distance that was so far away you couldn’t even read it on a map. Suddenly it’s here now and I can look back and understand why it arrived so fast. My life had been too busy. Far too busy. I think that if I could offer one smidge of advise to young people it would be this: keep it simple. Keep your life as simple as you can. Squeeze every last drop out of each day. Don’t rush. Slow down, you move too fast, as the old song goes.

I didn’t really understand that as a young person and I didn’t have anyone reminding me that I should.

As I enter this new decade of my life, I have discovered the only thing that matters is very simple, actually. My son asked me this week what I would like for my birthday. I replied by saying that I want everyone to have a good meal this Thanksgiving long weekend and to be at peace.

That’s what I want for the rest of my life. To be at peace with everyone and everything. To enjoy each day and to be content with what I’ve got.

Maybe that’s wisdom. Maybe I have that now, finally. Achievement unlocked.

Fingers crossed for the next ten years.



50 Years Old
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THE GIRL ON VICTORIA ROAD is here!

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It’s October!

I’m 50 this coming Saturday! (Holy smokes, how did that happen??)

What better way to celebrate than to launch the second in my Tim Reaper Series, THE GIRL ON VICTORIA ROAD. This is a much darker novel than the first in the series as Reaper must protect eight-year-old Charlotte from the guys upstairs, downstairs and in-between because all of them want her dead for the knowledge she possesses. She can see the base code of the universe and no mortal is allowed to know the truth of all things. There are lots of explosions, lots of car chases and a whole lot more. (Plus lots or Carol Sparks shooting creatures from the abyss.)

The Kindle version is on sale now at Amazon for $3.99 and as a bonus,

the price on IMMORTAL REMAINS, the first in the series is only 99¢ to celebrate the new book’s release!    Don’t have a Kindle and EPUB is your format? You can get it here! How cool is that?

Paperback is coming soon! So … get yourself settled in and order up some sweet urban fantasy, Canadian style!

Happy Monday!

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A Sampler from THE GIRL ON VICTORIA ROAD

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This comes out in ten days. Feel free to pre-order here for Kindle or here for EPUB.

Enjoy!

It made perfect sense for ghouls to be coming after Charlotte. Protective wards have very little effect on the monsters because of their hunger for human flesh trumps any pain or injury they might sustain by stepping on a magical landmine. Some people believe that ghouls are a kind of evil, man-eating Djinn. I was never one to cling to the notion that ghouls are just flesh-eating genies gone bad because the one time I duked it out with a ghoul, there was nothing magic about the creature. It was a spindly, shape-shifting monster that could twist its torso a full 360 degrees all the while conducting a melee attack with razor sharp claws that could easily slice and dice the Hulk.

In truth, ghouls are just a subspecies of demon that has resided in the human world since the very beginning. As carrion scavengers, they will do anything to get access to decaying flesh and it doesn’t always have to be human. Ever hear about cattle mutilation in the news? The default position of the media is that it’s always poachers and the hot gospellers always say it’s devil worship. They’re both wrong. Mutilated livestock is a ghoul’s calling card, but humanity doesn’t want to consider it. The greasy monsters will do anything for the promise of a big fleshy payday. You want some enemies eradicated? Want ‘em literally scoured from the surface of the earth? Get yourself in contact with some ghouls and offer them access to a dozen head of live cattle or horses or sheep and you’ll have a company’s worth of savage killing machines at your disposal.

I raced to the door and peered out through the blind. I counted six ghouls outside scrambling around trying to pick up Charlotte’s scent. Each was hunched over like Gollum. Each was partially clad in human clothing; three with torn shirts and nothing else, three with ripped up trousers and no shoes and one who was completely naked. Not that ghouls have boy or girl parts to hide. I spotted multiple creatures in the trees; branches shook as more and more of the monsters appeared bathed in moonlight.

“Sparks, we’ve got company!” I said, trying not to sound like was seriously contemplating crapping in my pants. “And they’re not human.”

She scrambled out of her cot, her Glock at the ready. She lifted the blind with the barrel of her gun and gazed out into the darkness. I spotted more flashes of movement when a ghoul suddenly appeared at the window. Sparks reacted with immediate effect. She fired two rounds into the creature and it dropped like a sack of wet laundry.

“What the hell did I just shoot, Reaper?” she choked as another ghoul swung its body in through the broken window. I fired a round from my Beretta that took the top of the creature’s head off. It fell to the floor and twitched a few times.

“Ghouls,” I barked as Charlotte raced up behind me and wrapped her arms around my waist. “They’re huge assholes!”

She fired another three rounds and shouted, “Anything else I need to know about them?”

I fired a round straight into the face of another ghoul as it dove at the window. “Yeah, they’re savage and they’ll show us no mercy. We have to kill every last one of them because they won’t stop!”

I counted another dozen or more ghouls emerge from the tree line. Each was wearing a tanned overcoat with a hood folded back behind their heads. I looked closer to see that hoods were tanned human faces still attached to the skin of their entire upper bodies. One of the ghouls pulled a hood over its head and it looked like a human grotesquery; an overcoat made of human flesh. A hood made from a human face; the hair all brittle and grey. The ghoul motioned for a group of monsters to follow and they immediately went for the broken window. Behind me, I could hear ghouls pounding on the locked metal door. I didn’t know how long it would hold until they broke through.

Sparks emptied her gun at the infantry squad-sized cluster of ghouls who raced at the window. I joined in; each of the bullets from our guns tore into the monsters ripping large chunks of flesh from their bodies. To our horror, a trio of ghouls immediately threw themselves at the freshly dead bodies of the ghoul’s Sparks and I had just ended and started ripping handfuls of bright red meat from the dead ghoul’s bodies. They stuffed their faces; gore and bits of flesh fell from their chins and onto their bellies.

“Maybe if we hit enough of them the rest will want to dine out!” Sparks shouted.

I fired off another quick round that hit a ghoul in the chest with enough force that it spun around like a top.

I could feel Charlotte trembling against my waist. “There’s so many of them, Mister R!” she cried out.

Behind us, the sound of smashing glass. I pivoted and fired a pair of rounds into the throat of a ghoul that was no more than three feet away from Charlotte. She screamed as it clawed at its neck; blood poured from its mouth and dripped onto the floor. It fell back, still clawing and scratching at its throat and a fired another round that split its head wide open like a melon.

“Keep your eyes closed tight, kid,” I ordered as I snatched Charlotte under one arm and fired a round at a ghoul that was just about to dig into Sparks. “We need to move, Sparks!”

She blasted away at another pair of the monsters as they crashed through the roof of the administration building. They fell hard onto the top of a desk; one on top of the other. Sparks fired two more rounds straight into their heads and the creatures stopped twitching.

“What are those things?” Charlotte cried out.

“More bad guys, kid,” I grumbled as I cracked open the front door and peered out into the darkness. The grounds surrounding the dorms and the mess hall were swarming with ghouls; each one as lethal as the next. Sparks’ SUV wasn’t more than fifty feet away from where I was standing. We’d have to shoot our way to her vehicle and drive like hell out of the camp because there were now too many ghouls scrambling around to count.

Sparks glanced through the crack in the door. “We’re going to have to fight our way out of here, Reaper,” she said grimly. “Unless you can do something like you did at the beach.”

I threw her a pained look. “Might be worth a try. Maybe. There’s so damned many of them – I counted at least forty not including the ones that we shot.”

“Don’t go out there, Mister R,” Charlotte said with a sharp edge of panic to her voice.

“We don’t have a hell of a lot of options here, kid,” I muttered as I let her down. “We can try to shoot our way to Sparks’ car but there’s no guarantee we’ll make it. Ghouls are lightning quick.”

She threw her arms against my waist and sobbed. “I don’t want you to die, Mister R. Too many people have died because of me.”

If I’d been sitting on the fence about stepping outside into the night and facing the creatures, that last statement from Charlotte made the decision to risk everything easy. I grabbed her by the waist and placed Charlotte in front of me as I knelt and looked her straight in the eye. “I won’t die, Charlotte. This body might, but I won’t die. I’m like Doctor Who. Do you ever watch that show on TV?”

She blinked. “You mean the one about that crazy scientist in the blue box?”

I nodded. “That’s the one. See, he’s a Time Lord. An alien species, right? And whenever a Time Lord’s body gets too damaged they regenerate into a new and healthy body. You know that I’m not entirely human, kid. If those ghouls destroy this body, I always come back with a new body. That’s how it works with me.”

Sparks fired a round through the crack in the door. “They’re circling, Reaper. We need to make our move ASAP or we’re all dead.”

Charlotte’s eyes were filled with tears and I felt my throat tighten a little bit. I knew that when I stepped out that door, there was about a 95% chance that Scott Richter’s body would wind up as a buffet item for the ghouls. And there was also the matter of their being demons with their own dark power that rivalled that of angels or even higher placed demons like Abraxas. There was a real risk the creatures could destroy the ancient power that fueled my existence. I’d barely survived a battle with the angel Sariel. Ghouls weren’t angels, but they were still supernatural beings. I could possibly wind up erased entirely.

“I’m going out there, Charlotte,” I said, placing both hands on her shoulders. “I’m going to run like hell to the wood line and draw as many of those ghouls away from you. As soon as Sparks sees that it’s clear, I want you guys to make a break for her SUV and drive like hell out of here. If my essence isn’t destroyed, I’ll find you both. I promise.”

“Don’t go!” Charlotte pleaded as she hugged me tightly. I pulled the little girl close and whispered in her ear.

“I got this, Charlotte.”

Sparks leaned over and picked the girl up. Charlotte cried into the detective’s shoulder as I quickly checked to see that all my remaining magazines of nine millimeter were full.

“I’d better see you again, Reaper,” said Sparks as she stepped back from the door. I grabbed the handle and gave it a sharp turn.

“Great, now she chooses the moment to tell me that she’s fallen in love with me,” I griped. Sparks rolled her eyes.

And so, I went outside. The last thing I heard as I closed the door behind me was the sound of Charlotte sobbing.

 

 

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Attention Published Authors – Send Your Sample Chapters For Inclusion In My Forthcoming THE GIRL ON VICTORIA ROAD

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I did it with my best-selling IMMORTAL REMAINS and now I’m doing it again for the second in my Tim Reaper series, THE GIRL ON VICTORIA ROAD.

That’s right, I’m looking for sample chapters from authors whose books are urban or dark fantasy. It’s gotta be published work, though, got it?

Why am I doing it? Because I think we authors need to cross-promote one another’s books and while I am by no means a famous author by any stretch of the imagination, I do have a tidy fan base for my Tim Reaper books and I’ve got space at the back so what’s stopping you?

Got a sample chapter you want to be included? Email me the cover art and the first chapter!

Too easy, right? I’ll be including two samples of cover art and two opening chapters for your work. As well, please include a link to your website where folks can learn more about your book.

There you go! My latest comes out on October 2nd and I will be making this opportunity available for the next week. After that, it will be too late as the e-book formatting will be complete by then.

So, does this sound like a good fit for your book? Here’s a chance to share a sample chapter!

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