Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Go back in time, without having to invest in a Tesla Time Machine.

Amazon Link
Jokers and Dandies by Sharon Schuler Kreps is a book that you could expect to find if you opened up a time capsule and made it past the Atari game console and eight track tapes.  It is Kreps' collection of memories about her family as she grew up in that decade, complete with crazy relatives and great grandmothers which adjectives can't describe.

Kreps goes into what life was like with a whole menagerie of animals - from pigs to parrots.  Add to that an older sister whose mission in life is to torture her younger sister, and two younger brothers, and there is a recipe for mayhem.

The book comes off as if Kreps is sitting next to you with a glass of wine from a box at your first family reunion and sharing stories that no one wants told about them.  You will learn and remember things about the seventies that you may have forgot (or which you could!) along with many things about her family that you may not want to know (I can never think of the term "dinner bells" in quite the same way anymore).

If you like light hearted stories and want to take a trip back in time without having to rig up your own DeLorean time machine and go back to the future, then Jokers and Dandies might be the most economical way to make the journey! 

Monday, July 28, 2014

If you are a baseball stat freak - I have the perfect game for you!

Ok, I thoroughly admit that I am a baseball freak / geek.  Being a huge baseball fan, it would make sense that I am drawn to baseball simulation games.  But the problem that I often run into is that most games have the user bat, pitch, run - which kinda messes up the stats.  Plus, I like "dynasty" games in which you are the owner, draft, and have to work within a budget.  To me - it's all about the beautiful (yes, beautiful) stats that baseball creates.

If you are like me, then Out of the Park Baseball (they are up to edition 15 at this moment!) is the perfect choice for you.  With OOTP 13 and above, you can hold a draft, set it in any year that you wish (deadball, steroid era) and have players from every era pop into the draft at different years.  Or you can just pick a year, have your set roster, and go from there.

The greatest thing about this game is that you can make it as complicated or as simple as you want.  The season I am playing has A, AA, AAA minor league teams that (hopefully) can feed your major league roster.  The computer can initiate trades, and is fairly good about not making a horrible deal.  Injuries, trade deadlines, rule 5 draft picks, minor league options, roster expansion, and almost every conceivable obscure rule that you can think of is included.

You can choose to simulate a whole season in about 5 minutes, or call every pitch of every game - it is all up to you.  The "action" on the field is all "text based", so if you are looking for a HD version of Babe Ruth facing off against Nolan Ryan - well that's not going to happen.  But, the stats are going to be a heck of a lot more realistic.

This game is hands down THE standard for baseball simulations.  Nothing can match it for the stats, playability, customization - it's like Prego - it's in there!

This same group features a hockey franchise game as well, and I am sure if you want to recreate the Johnstown Chiefs and the Hanson Brothers from SlapShot - I am sure there's a way!

This game is a 12 out of 10!  It has been my go-to prescription for many years to combat the most hideous man-made caused infliction ever created - the off season!!!

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Take a pass on the movie "Devil's Pass"

Amazon Link
I broke a rule that I had made for myself tonight.  Never watch a movie that your dad picked up for a buck at a yard sale.  I suppose there is an off chance that my father could have inadvertently picked up a copy of "Time Bandits" and at least I could have enjoyed some nostalgia of my youth.

But, as my luck usually turns out, my dad picked up a copy of "Devil's Pass" instead.  I have to admit, the cover was intriguing.  "Based on a true story" is across the bottom, and I am always up for learning something new.  I had never heard of the Dyatlov Pass Incident in which 9 hikers died under mysterious circumstances in 1959.  There was a picture on monster on the cover - so I figured the movie was going to use that incident and then go into some Yeti theory of the deaths.

Well, saying this movie is based on a true story is like me saying that I had a beer with Babe Ruth.  Babe Ruth (from what I read on wikipedia) was a real person - so I can say anything after that and say it was based on a true story.  I really, really, really try to stay positive in my reviews - because I know that someone put their heart and soul into the effort.  Well, maybe just time and no heart and soul into this venture, because I don't see how anyone could have this "vision" of this movie and convince others to actually follow through with it and create a film.  Astonishing.

I am going to venture from my policy of trying to be positive, mainly because I feel like I was deceived by the "true story" aspect and can not get the time back that I invested in sitting through the entire movie just to write this review.

Instead of talking about the nine hikers that died (which is a true event), the film goes all Blair Witch Project on the unwitting audience to follow 5 college yuppies who decide to travel to the Ural Mountains to try and determine what happened to the hikers on some super extra credit project.  Seriously, I can't suspend my belief here - kids in college are trying to dig through couches to get enough change for a 40 oz beer and bag of Dorito's.  Oh, these kids won a grant to go on this trip - my bad.  They were obviously better grant writers than hikers, because they were seen wearing very little for a place that was -22 degrees Fahrenheit when the original 9 hikers died.

So, through the lens of a shaky camera, the audience is taken on the trip from their point of view.  I am going to cut to the chase on the plot.  The five students climb the mountain, and after a avalanche (which may not have been started by natural causes) one of their members goes missing and another suffers a horrible broken leg.  They spend exactly zero effort trying to locate the missing hiker, and after setting the broken leg, find enough emotion to remark on the lack of cell phone reception one of the hikers has even though they were told that their plan would have the coverage.  I wish I were making that up.  I guess he was taken in by misrepresentation as well - hard to feel sorry for you, dude.

During the night, two of the campers find a door in the middle of the mountain, but the lock is on the outside which means that the metal door was meant to hold something inside.  The door is open - and big footprints start to appear mysteriously with a starting point that looks like the creature was dropped out of the sky and disappeared with the path ending abruptly.

Add in a couple of Russian soldiers shooting at them, running into the door for protection and getting shut in, the Philadelphia Experiment, UFO theories, wormholes, and creatures that look like the Russian Youtube monster in the woods and insert your own ending.  The most unbelievable part - that the freaking camera battery never dies and subjects us to watching the filming.  

Guys, if you have an urge to film everything - even when monsters are chasing you into a room with a wormhole and you let a woman do the dirty work of fighting off the monsters so you can keep filming - I would like to offer this bit of advice.  JUST STOP IT!  PUT THE CAMERA DOWN! You will never get a prom date by sitting back filming girls kick monsters butts with only "chain whips" as weapons.  I know - I tried - didn't work (based on a true story).

One last note - don't panic and think the tube on your TV went bad, there is about 20 minutes of pitch black with audio only throughout the movie.  Now that I think of it, the scariest thing about the DVD was thinking "Ah crap!  I just bought this TV!"

"There is enough potatoes here to choke a donkey," is the one line that sticks out in my mind.  Other than that, there was enough poor dialogue to choke a reviewer. 

I need to quit writing and find enough change for beer and Dorito's now.

Like Country? Me? Couldn't happen...., but it did!

I came across Robin Landry's album by sheer chance - or should I say luck?  I'm going to go with luck, because after listening to "Twenty Years Ago" and "Waiting" - I just went ahead and bought the whole album based on those two songs.  And you know what?  It is now one of my favorite albums to play on my hour commute to and from work.

She has a beautiful voice and you can tell she put her heart and soul into this album.  I don't know much about where her career was before this album, but it wouldn't surprise me if it takes off afterwards!

I was fortunate enough to come into contact with Robin through my book, and I can tell you the world needs more quality people just like her.  It's nice to know that the person behind the songs is as great as their music - it makes it mean just a little more.

It's upbeat, kinda country - but the catchy kind - not the wrecked my truck and dog ran away and spilled my beer type.  For someone who likes rock n roll, Robin Landry might just make me take a trip on the country wild side for a while to explore!

Check her out at -    and let her know that Nate sent you - don't be shy!

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

When is going to be a good time to start?

This past year has been quite a whirlwind of activity and completed things on my "to-do" list.  Since writing down my goals, taking serious steps towards acting on them, and following through, quite a bit has changed for me:
  • I am now the author of two books "How the Tortoise Became Fast" & "Tommy the Tortoise's Wish for Speed"
  • I have gotten both books on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, and iTunes on my own.
  • I designed my own website at
  • Gone to multiple book signings that I have arranged for myself
  • I started a blog with a friend named "Movies & Manuscripts" that is getting hits internationally on a daily basis.
  • I have read 25 books so far this year (mainly for my blog).
  • I have changed out all of the exterior lights on my house on my own (no small feat).
  • I will have dug out by hand and am building a 13 x 23 foot patio complete with retaining walls and firepit.
  • I am 1/5 of the way towards my goal of losing 35 pounds.
  • I have twice beaten my personal best (since turning 30) in 5k's
  • I am working towards becoming a Certified Coach through ICF.
  • I have taken personal days off work to give presentations to veterans groups to help "Pay it Forward".
As I write this, I kind of surprised myself at the list - and this all has happened since January.

Am I writing this to brag?  Well, as the saying goes "It ain't bragging if you really did it." 

No, this post is more about what is possible when you spend just a little time with yourself, commit some things to paper, find the right people to coach you, and then (most importantly) take action.

I committed to quit letting life happen to me this year and make life happen for me instead.

If you haven't done it already, when is going to be a good time for you to start the same?
The Babe goes deep @ the Louisville Slugger Museum.  

Trust me, in the end when you list your accomplishments, you will wonder why you ever settled for less.

Friday, July 18, 2014

Here is something to smile about!

Don't wait until you reach success to become happier!  

Most of us are relatively happy, but we are also aware of a deep sense that we could be happier.  

We believe happiness will come when we reach certain goals in our lives like getting married, buying a new home, getting a raise, a promotion, or a new job.   So we forego a little happiness today and this week so we can reach those goals sooner.  

Our challenge is the days and weeks turn into months and years.  

The goals we thought would make us happy turn out to be just milestones on a long journey, and our happiness does not materialize like we had hoped. Happiness in the form of a deep sense of contentment, satisfaction, and fulfillment seems to be missing. 

This book will help by providing a clear plan on how to choose happiness and then leverage that happiness to become even more successful.

(Paid ad)

Thursday, July 17, 2014

I don't want a GPS system - I was lost in "The Labyrinth" and didn't want to find my way out!

"The Labyrinth" is a strong debut novel by Dorian Zari that any fan of Stephen King should check out.

Zack, Carly, Dan, and Sarah all have senses that are either too good, or not good enough - a deaf cello player who plays to packed houses, a blind man who can see to the stars and paints pictures hung in galleries, a nose that can smell everything to the point that cocaine is needed to dull the sense, and a tongue that can break down the ingredients in Col. Sanders secret KFC recipe!

The villain is a nice young boy who happens to think he is in Corey Hart's "Sunglasses at Night" music video.  Really, dude - lose the sunglasses.  Problem is - once you see what is behind the shades, you might wish that The Guardian left them on.

Past lives and star crossed lovers have waited millennia for just the right moment to take out their arch enemy - but was it really just fate that put them in the moment or was there something else pulling the puppet strings all along?  What happens when you have finished the roller coaster ride of multiple reincarnations and find out that you are on your last one?  What exactly is with the hourglass on the cover?  Why is this labyrinth made of material that just usually isn't associated with your run of the mill carnie fun house maze.

And why does everything have to end when the alcoholic finally lands a beautiful stripper and goes straight?  Maybe it is just crappy luck, or maybe that nice young boy in the sunglasses might know the answer - why don't you just go up and ask him?  I am sure you are dying to know....

Zari must have some dark space in his head that sprung forth in the writing of this novel.  A nice benefit of reading the book is that you can visit these dark spaces, close the book, and put it on a shelf in your basement if you are scared.  Zari must have had to put it on paper to get the light shining in those spots again - and I am sure it was a much longer process...

The story reminded me in a way of Stephen King in the sense that Zari just drops The Guardian into the story and doesn't really go into detail about the how or why he is there.  But, Zari leaves little doubt that The Guardian is a bad, bad man.....  If you hire body guards and the company sent you The Guardian, you might want to ask for a refund for misrepresentation...  LOL.  I am not saying this is a distraction or a weakness at all - just a comparison that jumped to mind.  Heck, if Stephen King can drop a dome around a town in (where else) Maine, offer no explanation, and just start killing characters off - why should anyone else get into the mundane backgrounds before starting the book's body count?

Zari has a few scenes that "blew my mind" (or head off).  One made me literally stop and call my co-blogger and share with him what I just read.  Let's just say that after reading this book, I can never think of Russian Roulette quite the same way again.  Why use a gun, when there are so many other options that are available?

In the end, Zari lifts the veil and nicely wraps things up by explaining things for those in the audience who need that sort of thing.  Me?  I was too interested in The Guardian's modis operandi to really care, but the author did look out for the inquisitive souls that just had to know.

All in all, this was a strong and well thought-out, novel.  For a few dollars, check out Dorian Zari's book and show your support for this talented Indie Author!

Amazon Link                   Goodreads Link                 Barnes & Noble

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

It's high noon, "mashup" style, in Gunknight.

As a young boy, you could say Colt is shy.  Being "shy" on Gunmorrah is a good way to survive as a youth.  But one day, while in a dumpster with his mother (who passed away a few days ago) just minding his own business catching some rats for dinner, a friend shows up into his life.  Astra, a girl on the run from a gang, soon partners up with Colt (after declining a meal of some raw rat) and goes to the local temple to gain entrance - along with thousands of other starving children on Gunmorrah.  (The opening scenes have kind of burned into my mind - can you tell?)

Colt and Astra don't seem to understand the meaning of "no" when spoken from a monk and gain entrance into the temple to choose a path to become trained in.  With a name like Colt (and the books name is "Gunknight"), it is no surprise that training to become master of guns is the path that is chosen.

Training to become a Gunknight is no walk in the park.  It is similar to the show Survivor, except that instead of getting cast off the island - you get dead (very dead) instead.  No "Survivor Castaway Reunion" shows featuring Gunknight's have ever been shown on Gunmorrah!

For those few who finish training without taking a permanent dirt bath, they are awarded with a new set of duds - a "biosuit" that can create guns and bullets out of itself while healing the body of the gunknight at the same time.  In a tight pinch?  Need a grenade launcher?  Just think it to your biosuit and pull it out of your holster faster than you can say "put 'em up!"

Just because these Gunknights have badass armor and have killed many of their classmates to become a Gunknight doesn't mean that they don't have heart.  Colt meets Terra, another Gunknight, and falls in love and manages not to kill her during training.  But, just as a Gunknight can fall in love, they can also become bitter enemies.  Something just doesn't seem right about Astra and the guys she is hanging out with, but it really isn't any of Colt's concern - yet.  Right when things are about to come to a head, Terra's crazy mother enters the fray and let's just say she isn't real fond of the new boyfriend hanging around...


"Gunknight" by Scott & Cynthia Green is a book whose motto might just be - "Genre?  I don't need no stinking genre!"  And those might be the last words you hear before a flurry of lead comes your way.  This book has a bit of everything - western, sci-fi, action, dystopia, jumping time back and forth within the story, and a body count that Jason and Freddy Krueger would be hard pressed to match.  If a Gunknight had to put a notch on his gun for everyone he killed, there wouldn't be much of a handle to hold onto anymore - and that makes shooting just a little too difficult.

How does a Gunknight defend themselves from the bad guy's bullets?  Just shoot the bullet out of the air.  Yes, they are just that damn good - and if you have a problem with that, there might be a round somewhere in this biosuit with your name on it.

Some of the very unique things in this book was the concept of the biosuit and how it functioned, along with the imagination of the temple training that Gunknights have to undertake.  I think there is a ton of potential to build upon the Gunmorrah world, however, I feel the authors may have made things difficult on themselves to continue to build off this novel.

First, while the whole idea of Gunmorrah is very attractive to me - the fact that the story jumps back and forth between Colt's past and present (over 400 years later), and pointing out that Gunmorrah has changed leave me a little perplexed about the setting.  I was really looking forward to falling in love with the whole setting, like I did for the Dark Tower series from Stephen King, but the hopping back and forth made that a little difficult.

The character of Colt was built up greatly, but I really couldn't get myself to care about the other characters much (maybe because I was waiting for them to get full of lead and didn't want to disappoint myself!)

There were also a few more extra or misplaced words than I typically would have liked to seen.  I have read books professionally edited and published that contain a few, but any more than that I find distracts me.

That being said, if you are looking for a action packed, shoot em up novel that is going to entertain you and surprise you with some of the "inventions" imagineered by the authors without taxing your brain or making politcal statements - then this is a perfect book.  In other words, read it and enjoy the ride - I promise you won't get saddle sores!

Amazon Link                               Barnes & Noble          

Friday, July 4, 2014

An incredible journey - check this out and support Jessica Goldman's run across the USA if you can!

I wrote a book about goals titled "How the Tortoise Became Fast:  A Fable to Follow to Achieve Your Goals."  In the book I lay out a path for people to follow to achieve whatever they determine their goals are.

Since writing the book, I have come across some wonderful stories that really serve to take away any excuses anyone has for not even trying.  This is one of them....

Imagine writing down these following statements:

My Goals:

  • I will run across the United States beginning my journey on April 16th 2014. (San Francisco to NYC)
  • I will run self supported pushing a modified jogging stroller full of camping gear and supplies.
  • I will raise funds and awareness for The Brain Injury Association.
  • I will achieve these things on a plant based diet.
  • I will have a crazy, challenging, epic adventure.

Now, just so there is no confusion - these are not my goals.  They are Jessica Goldman's goals.  And she is well on her way to accomplishing this incredible feat.  I came across her story after her team contacted my brother about staying in his Bed & Breakfast so she could get a night to sleep in a real bed.

Look at those five statements.  Those were enough for one person to decide to start on an epic journey and help others along the way.  I am sure there were people who tried to convince her not to try - that is the standard reaction from people who are afraid to admit that they are living lives that are at best "comfortable" and don't push themselves.

I know this isn't a book or a movie (yet), but this real life "Forest Gump" is a story that makes me want to sharpen my pencil and start rethinking some of my "stretch" goals...

Jessica did me the honor of reading my book while at my brother's Bed & Breakfast which he donated a room to her cause. Thank you to Jessica for signing one of my books for me!  More importantly - thank you for being an example that everyone can look to and say "If she can run across America - I have to be able to finish this 5k!"