Archive for the ‘Fandom’ Category

Monty Pythontology

August 13, 2014 Leave a comment

MTNLIn this ramble recorded a few weeks ago (way back in July – remember July?) I talk about going to see Monty Python Live (Mostly) and my relationship with Monty Python in general. And I digress. A lot.



Con Report: ConCarolinas 2014

June 6, 2014 Leave a comment

trumpetsI talk for a while about my recent trip to ConCarolinas and how it smashed my brain about with its many wonders and diversions. Silent movies, alcohol and writing panels galore!

(Recorded earlier this week when I was still a bit punchy.)

Music by Kevin MacLeod

Superheroic Anniversaries

April 22, 2014 1 comment

Image courtesy of Imgur

Batman and Superman have recently had their 75th birthdays, along with DC Comics. I decided to ramble for a while about my experiences with those two characters in particular and the effects their stories seem to have – on me, at least.



It seems I’ve managed to embed those videos after all! 🙂

Categories: Fandom Tags: , , , , ,

Star Thing Apotheosis

March 25, 2014 2 comments

ShipsTime for a bit of a ramble about Star Wars and Star Trek, and how the two seem to have become each other. Over time, Star Wars has become more Star Trek-y and Star Trek has become more Star Wars-y. I wonder where it will lead?


Categories: Fandom Tags: , , ,


February 24, 2014 Leave a comment

cyberevoI ramble for a bit about how the people behind Doctor Who may not have changed as much as we might think at first. I also talk about why old Classic Who fans like myself shouldn’t worry so much about the differences between the old series and the new one. Even though we had a 16-year gulf between times the show was on, one side of the chasm isn’t so different from the other.


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Interview: Starla Huchton – NEMESIS and New Adult Fiction

August 25, 2013 1 comment

NEMESISThe multi-talented Starla Huchton and I have a rambly conversation about her Sci-Fi Romance novel NEMESIS, the New Adult category of fiction and what’s going on with genres in general.

Starla’s web site with links to her current projects (writing, voice work and ALL THE THINGS) can be found HERE, and her book cover design work can be found HERE. You can follow her on Twitter at @riznphnx. You can also learn more about the New Adult category at NA Alley.


Music by Kevin MacLeod

Interview: Valentine Wolfe – Once Upon a Midnight

July 1, 2013 Leave a comment

VW1 VW2Victorian Chamber Metal band Valentine Wolfe are working on a collaborative project called “Once Upon a Midnight.” The project includes both an album and a graphic novel, each of which takes a look at the afterlife of Edgar Allen Poe, as interpreted through his stories and poems.

The Kickstarter for this project can be found HERE. It ends soon, so check it out ASAP!

Valentine Wolfe:

The artist, Jacob Wenzka’s site is HERE, and his Facebook page is HERE.

Click below to hear the interview.


And Now an Interview with Matt Forbeck

February 26, 2012 Leave a comment

(The audio of this interview is available at the bottom of this post!)

12 for `12JR: I am talking to author and game designer Matt Forbeck. Hello, sir!

MF: How are you doing, Jim?

JR: Good, good! Good to have you on here.

MF: Thanks for having me. I appreciate it!

JR: Of your many projects that you’ve got going on, something that I find particularly interesting as a writer is this 12 for 12 project that you’ve got going. For anyone who’s not familiar, why don’t you tell us a little bit about what that is?

MF: Sure. It’s this crazy idea I had last summer. I thought, “Hey, I write pretty quickly. I bet you I could write a novel a month.” (chuckles) Which is like this insane bar bet. And you know, it may have come up at Gen Con, actually last year – the gaming convention.

JR: Oh yeah?

MF: And I looked at it and I thought, you know, I’d love to do that, actually. I think it’d be a lot of fun. I think I could certainly do it. The trouble is that I also have a lot of other gigs that I do as a freelance writer. Like I write the Magic: the Gathering comic book for IDW. And I have a few other things: computer games, toy work, a novel – Carpathia – coming out at the end of the month here from Angry Robot. So I didn’t think I could give all that up and I didn’t want to give all that up, right?

JR: Yeah.

MF: So, I thought, “Let me trim this down a little bit and instead of writing like 80,000 word novels, which is what I usually go for, I’ll try writing 50,000 word novels, which will give me a little bit more breathing room.” And I decided to launch that program back in last November as a Kickstarter and said, “Look, hey guys, I really want to do this but I need to be able to eat so I’d like to basically take preorders for these books. And we’ll do some special editions. There’ll be autographed and hard covers and soft covers and things like that for people who are interested, and you can sign up for a high pledge and get your name in the book or create a character or something like that.” And it did pretty well. It started in November and ended on December 4th and we ended up racking up something over $13,000 for the first three novels. And I’m currently – just about a week and a half ago, launched the second Kickstarter for the second trilogy of novels. And that’s already up just shy of $5000 at the moment, I believe.

JR: That is awesome. As someone who has tried NaNoWriMo and just sitting there – and I’m still at like 30,000 words from last November…

MF: (chuckles)

JR:  …when I saw this project I was like, “Is he insane?!” (chuckles)

MF: Well you know, I’m a full time writer, right? This is my day job. I look at my daily word count and I know I can do this, right? Back before I had a whole bunch of kids as a full-time freelance role-playing game designer I would write regularly 5000 words a day. Since the kids came along they cut into my writing time a little bit so I’m down to about 3000 words a day. But on good days I get to the 5-6,000 words.

JR: That is very cool, and I think anyone who’s aspiring towards being a writer full time is definitely going to try to hit that goal.

MF: Well, now if you’re getting paid by the word, generating more words helps. They all have to be quality words, mind you.

JR: (laughs) That’s true.

MF: They have to be publishable words. But being able to generate them quickly – and after you’ve been doing it for some 10-20 years you do get quite a little bit quicker at it.

Brave New WorldJR: Very cool, very cool. So the first trilogy you already mentioned is already funded.

MF: Yes.

JR: And that was for your Brave New World novels.

MF: Yes.

JR: And why don’t you tell us a little bit about those?

MF: Yeah, that’s based on a role-playing game – not the Aldous Huxley novel. The original quote for Brave New World comes from Shakespeare’s “The Tempest,” actually, where Miranda, who’s the daughter of the wizard Prospero, sees a man washed up on the shore of their private island – for the first time in her life she’s ever seen anybody but her father. And she looks up at this handsome guy who’s about to become her love interest and she says, “Oh brave new world, that has such people in it.” And I thought that was perfect for a superhero role-playing game. So, back in 1999 I came out with a superhero role-playing game called Brave New World through Pinnacle Entertainment Group and it was later published by Alderac Entertainment Group, or AEG. And it’s been basically lying fallow for the last ten years or so. We did about eight or nine different books in the line and then cut it off. But we’ve had some people over at Reactor 88 Studios working on doing an independent film based on it. And I said, “Geez, you know, we’ve got this good fan base of game players out there and we’ve got a lot of people who are interested in my writing. Let’s see what happens if we cross the streams and combine them for this first set of trilogies.” And so far it seems to be going pretty well. For me it’s a lot of fun because I get to return to this world that I spent a lot of time and effort creating a dozen years ago.

JR: Yeah.

MF: And the fans seem to really be enjoying it so far, too.

JR: Can you actually tell us anything about how the movie’s going?

MF: Yeah. It’s currently on hiatus. We got a proof of concept video made which is about five to eight minutes long – I forget. It depends on which edit you look at. And basically the first eight pages of the role playing game are a comic book, and we took those and filmed those. And then we have a screenplay that follows it off after that and tells you what’s going to happen in the world. But we filmed the proof of concept hoping to go out and find funding for the rest of the movie. The problem is that being an over-the-top, high-action role-playing game with superheroes in it, this is not a cheap movie to make, right? (chuckles)

JR: (chuckles) Yeah, I can imagine.

MF: So, you know, we went back to the – well I mean we actually are now working on a couple of different movies, one of which is InSpectres, which is based on the role-playing game by Jared Sorensen.

JR: That is such an awesome game.

MF: Yeah!

JR: I really enjoy it.

MF: Oh, we got a kick out of it. We love that stuff. I love Jared’s stuff from way back, actually. And so we have a screenplay that I and a guy named Jeff Dohm worked on that actually was shot last year and is currently in post-production, so that’ll be out some time later this year. And the idea there again is to prove to people with money that we have a team of people who can make these kind of movies and make them do well. And then hopefully use that as a means of leveraging funding out of people so we can make a bigger movie later on.

JR: Excellent. I wish you the best of luck with that because I really want to see these movies! (chuckles)

MF:  The InSpectres one is a boatload of fun and I honestly think this kind of slacker ghostbuster thing is a lot easier to shoot on a shoestring budget than you would expect.

Shotguns & SorceryJR: Let’s move on to your second trilogy, which is – as of this recording – still being funded.

MF: Yes.

JR: So the Kickstarter is still open for it. That’s the Shotguns & Sorcery novels. And why don’t you tell us a little bit about those?

MF: Yeah, people have until March 11th to get in on this Kickstarter. And just go to or go to my web site at and you can find out about it. But it’s based on a setting called Shotguns & Sorcery that I originally developed as, again, a role-playing game setting for Mongoose Publishing back in about 2001. But then my wife got pregnant with quadruplets and that kind of shattered everything to hell as far as getting that done. (chuckles) So I never actually got very far beyond the notes and selling it to Mongoose. And the rights reverted back to me. I said, “Geez, I’ve had this idea sitting around for a long time. I’d love to get back to this! It’s a lot of fun.” It’s kind of this noir-ish fantasy setting in this city called the Dragon City which is on the coast of this continent that’s basically overtaken by undead and other types of zombies. The city basically has a dragon emperor who controls the entire place and protects the people from the dead. But it’s striated – as you go up the mountain you get more and more powerful people. Like the orcs live at the bottom and the humans and the halflings live about a quarter of the way up, then you have the dwarves, then you have the elves, and then you have the dragon, who sits up top. So it’s got this great Chandler-esque, Hammett-esque kind of noir going on, but in a fantasy setting, right?

JR: Yeah, that is very cool. I really love that mashup. I was actually just last night – I was looking at Goblintown Justice, the short story that you’ve put out.

MF: Yes, that’s available for free for anybody who wants to read it, of course.

JR: As soon as I got to the part where you’re using flying carpets as taxis, I was totally sold on it.

MF: Yeah, I think that’s such a great image, you know.

JR: Yeah!

MF: It’s like I can flag down a flying carpet, you know. “Oh! Yeah, okay!” Suddenly you know exactly where you are – even if you’ve never seen this before.

JR: I love both genres and just the whole mixing of them – the sweet and sour effect – is very cool there, I really like that.

MF: Thank you.

JR: So folks again have until March 11th if they want to get in on that.

MF: The way it works is – what I did was I set a very low goal for the first book in the trilogy and then we try to see if we can hit stretch goals where we can unlock the second and third books in the trilogy. So right now we shattered the first one very quickly, I think in 32 hours. And now we’re stretching out to see if we can get the second book unlocked and then the third book unlocked. And usually this has me chewing my nails right until the last second. (laughs)

JR: (laughs)

MF: But it’s good fun and you know, usually what happens is you have this big spike at the beginning, and then it kind of levels out in the middle. And then in the last week everybody says, “Oh! Oh! Oh! I’ve got to do that or I’m going to forget it!” And then it spikes up again. And you know, the trouble of course is during that middle period you’re always sitting there going, “I hope the spike comes! I hope the spike comes!”

JR: (laughs) Yeah, totally! Totally. Well, let us hope that that happens! Can you tell us anything about the remaining two trilogies you have planned?

MF: Well, I can tell you a little bit. The fourth one I’m not quite sure about yet. I’m actually contemplating a set of thrillers for the next one that are more modern-day stuff. And for the fourth one I’m thinking either science fiction or maybe some combination of three individual one-shot books. So I’m going back and forth between them. Those are still a little bit off for me. Actually I have a really good idea for the thrillers that’s going to set them apart from everything else but I’m not quite ready to announce it yet.

CarpathiaJR: Cool, well we’re looking forward to that, then. And just looking over your Coming Soon list on your web site here, you’ve got – to put it mildly – quite a few plates in the air.

MF: Yeah.

JR: But I noticed that you have here – and you also mentioned that at the end of the month you’ve got a novel called Carpathia coming out. What’s that about?

MF: The 100th anniversary of the sinking of the Titanic is coming up on April 15th and the ship that picks up the survivors of the Titanic was called the Carpathia. And the Carpathia, of course, is also named after a set of mountains that ring part of Transylvania and is actually the mountain range in which Castle Dracula sits. So the connection here is: what happens if the ship that picks up the Titanic survivors is actually full of vampires on their way back to Europe?

JR: (laughs) That’s awesome.

MF: What kind of hell comes out of that? (chuckles)

JR: (laughs) I think that qualifies as irony.

MF: (laughs) Yeah, I mean my publisher is like, “The lucky ones went down with the ship.”

JR: (laughs) Yeah.

MF: You want to be respectful because this is a real disaster, right? I mean, it’s been 100 years, so that means we can play with it a little bit. But I mean there were a lot of people who died in this, but I’m taking care to be very respectful of the actual real-life individuals. And I concoct a lot of – obviously – fabricated vampires and such to battle it out with each other. So it’s good fun.

JR: That’s excellent. Is there anything else you’d like to mention before we go?

MF: Well, I do also have the Magic: the Gathering comic book I’m doing for IDW, and that’s coming out. The next issue will be on February 29th.

JR: Is that based in like their core world or is there a separate world?

MF: It kind of jumps around. It starts out in Ravnica. They don’t have really one core world, but the first issue starts out in Ravnica and from there it goes to Innistrad, which is where the current block is. It’s a kind of horror-themed block. And from there – I shouldn’t probably reveal where it’s going to go from there quite yet.

JR: Okay.

Matt ForbeckMF: But it’s a four-issue miniseries for that. And then they just announced that we’re going to be doing a second four-issue miniseries starting in the month after that.

JR: That sounds like a lot of fun.

MF: Yeah, let’s hope we can keep rolling on with them.

JR: Well, now if folks want to find you online – you and your various projects – where should they go?

MF: Go to That’s F-O-R-B-E-C-K dot com. And I try to keep it updated fairly regularly.

JR: I’ve been there. There is a lot of stuff on there and it is all very awesome. Thanks very much for talking to us!

MF: Thanks for talking to me, Jim. I really appreciate it!

JR: Thank you, take care.

MF: You too.

Click below to hear the interview:


Music by Kevin MacLeod

The Godzilla Theory of Cinematic Quality

September 26, 2011 Leave a comment

One day I found myself sitting in a movie theater watching something abysmal.

I can’t remember what it was, exactly, but a moment of inspiration came to me as I found myself almost about to fall asleep for the thirteenth time.

“You know what this movie could use?” I asked no one in particular. “Godzilla.”

I realized that if Godzilla had been in it, it would have been a much better movie.

It was then that the seed of the Godzilla Theory occurred to me. It goes something like this:

Sometimes I have trouble deciding on whether I think a movie is bad or good – and to be clear, I’m talking about the subjective definitions of “bad” and “good” that refer to my emotional reaction to a film, not the technical definitions used in art appreciation classes. So, when I want to be certain about how I feel, I just imagine what the movie would be like if Godzilla were in it.

If the inclusion of Godzilla would actually make it BETTER, then it’s a bad movie.

I can call it a theory because I tested it out multiple times back when it was but a lowly hypothesis. And it seems to work. Now, granted, it largely only provides a decent barometer of MY opinion of a movie, but I’m sure there are some folks out there like-minded enough for it to work for them as well.

The only kinds of movies this test doesn’t seem to work so well with are… well, giant monster movies. Because, honestly, what giant monster movie WOULDN’T be better with an extra dose of Godzilla in it? But all other movies are fair game.

For example, think about the two Schumacher Batman films. You know, those two movies that I keep trying to forget ever existed and which seem to occupy a category of suck all to themselves (and which are the subject of an entirely different theory of mine that I might talk about some other time). Wouldn’t they be INFINITELY better if Godzilla were in them? Because, heck, if they’ve decided to throw causality out the window anyway they may as WELL get a giant monster with atomic breath involved.

Star Wars, however, would NOT work so well with the addition of Godzilla to the cast. True, they had a similar character in Return of the Jedi, but the Rancor’s method acting manages to sate my desire for giant monster mayhem in that regard. I mean, when you can eat an entire Gammorrean raw in every take and still manage to hit your cues on time, that’s quality. (And on a side note, from what I understand, the Rancor and Godzilla briefly studied together at Juilliard.)

images courtesy of Wikipedia

But what about the edge cases? Say… Jurassic Park?

Well, it seems to me that in the first and third Jurassic Park movies Godzilla would probably be redundant, so in my opinion they qualify as “not too bad.” The middle one, though? Yeah, it’s true they made a Godzilla joke in it, but it only reminded me of how badly I wanted to see the real Godzilla turn up and show the T-Rex who was boss. Plus I sometimes find it difficult to stare at Jeff Goldblum for more than a few seconds at a time without wishing for a giant monster to come along and eat him. (Sorry Jeff, but if you’re out there reading this, they tended to leave the camera on you for a tad too long whenever you were doing the “intense staring” thing in that movie.) So, I’ve got to put it in the “bad” category.

Similarly, some Jane Austen films pass the test and some don’t.  Of course, I’m slightly biased in that I’ve always wanted to see Godzilla turn up in a Jane Austen movie. (“Is that rather crude gentleman known to you, Mr. Darcy?” “Which one?” “That tall, green one out there on the croquet lawn.” “The one engaged in fisticuffs with the giant moth?” “Indeed, sir.” “Certainly not, madam! The unruly cad has disintegrated your potting shed with his atomic breath and, what’s worse, he’s trampled your flower garden. I would never associate with such an uncouth misanthrope!”) I can only hope that one day the film adaptation of Sense & Sensibility & Sea Monsters will be half as riveting as the image I’ve built up in my head.

So, if you’re not sure how you feel about a movie, try adding a dash of Godzilla and see how it looks then. If it doesn’t work for you, then no harm, no foul. But if it does, you may find that there’s nothing more valuable than the sense of perspective you get from a giant lizard.

Click below if you’d like to hear me read the article:


Music by Kevin MacLeod

Why I Need a Doctor

July 22, 2010 4 comments

I think I’ve just figured out why Doctor Who is so important to me these days.

I know, it’s shocking – a geek like myself being a fan of Doctor Who.  I’ve been one since I was about seven years old.  I’d been hearing for years about that odd, British, science fiction show about a dimensionally transcendent police box and a guy who can travel in time and change his appearance, and at that time I’d never been interested enough to look at it.  But then, one day back in the early 1980’s, I happened to catch part of a special early evening showing of The Five Doctors on PBS – not too long after it had first premiered in the United States – and thought I’d go ahead and give watching it a try.  After that, they showed the regularly scheduled story for that week, The Creature from the Pit.  By the time I got to the end of the evening, I was fully hooked and would never miss an episode if I could help it.

photo by Andrew Wong

The show was like a life-line for me.  It encouraged people to revel in being different – which meant quite a lot to me.  To say I was a bit odd as a child would be a gross understatement.  My horrifyingly bad grade school experiences kept beating the idea into me that being different was bad, but here was a TV show giving me a completely different message – and in a much more entertaining way than I’d encountered from the name-calling bullies on the playground.

I kept watching the show right up until it went on what we can now happily call a long but temporary hiatus in 1989.  Then there was a long dry spell punctuated only by an American TV movie and a few books from Virgin that I managed to pick up every now and then.  I no longer had Doctor Who in my life in a significant way (though I’d go back and watch episodes that I’d recorded every now and then).  But I was okay with that.

The dynamic changed again, though, when the new series started in 2005.  I put off watching it for a while, but then when I did I became utterly hooked on it once again, and was soon as deeply attached to it as I’d ever been.  The new series had begun acting like a life-line for me again.

I didn’t realize why that was the case until a very short time ago.  It wasn’t because of the whole “being different” thing – that’s pretty much a given at this point – but because of the struggle the Doctor goes through in the new series.

You see, for all practical purposes, my life pretty much fell apart in 2005.  It had started falling apart long before then, but 2005 was the year of the final collapse.  I won’t go into too much detail about it right now, but suffice it to say that I went through some very difficult changes that left me a depressed shell of a person for quite a while.  Eventually, though, I started learning once again how to interact with people and even how to trust them.

It’s still not easy, though.  I’ve gotten to the point now that I can behave as though I’m alive and can go out and do things with friends from time to time.  But there’s always a struggle to keep myself from sinking back into the abyss.

In the new TV series, the Doctor’s life has fallen apart as well.  He’s lost nearly everything he cares about.  And he’s always struggling to keep himself from falling into the darkness.  Since the premiere of the new series there have been three new Doctors, and no matter which one of them you look at, you can see that struggle going on.

Maybe it sounds a bit nuts, but it’s an interesting parallel, and nuts or not, it’s working for me.  After helping me deal with the pressures of early life, my childhood hero went away for a while.  But when I needed him again, he came back.

The Doctor has his ups and downs, but when it counts, he’s able to remind himself that he’s not alone.  Despite everything that’s happened to him, he’s continuing to reach out to people.  He’s trying to befriend them and learn to trust them again, even to the extent of taking on new traveling companions.  Even though he had to watch as so much he held dear was destroyed, he’s still trying to keep going – to get back to living his life.

And if the Doctor can do that, then maybe I can too.

Click below if you’d like to hear me read the article:


Music by Kevin MacLeod
Categories: Fandom Tags: ,