Samurai Jack is back!

While a touch of food poisoning put me down for the count, and away from the blog for awhile, it could not prevent me from catching the Season 5 premiere of Samurai Jack Saturday night.

I was a huge fan of Samurai Jack, I even have all four seasons on DVD, and I was eagerly awaiting the fifth, and likely last, season.

I had some apprehensions when I heard that Jack was no longer the white-robed, sword-wielding man of the previous four seasons. A motorcycle-riding, guns-blazing warrior didn’t seem to fit the whole Samurai motif.

But somehow they’ve made it work, at least one episode in at any rate. Without laying down any spoilers, Season 5 looks to be set for a great run and I hope, if this is really the last season for Jack, that they wrap up his story by season’s end.

 

Your thoughts?

So I’ve been pecking away at this blog for a bit and now I’m wondering: What would you like to see here?

Sports? Sci-Fi? Mysteries? News of the day? Politics?

Let me know in the comments section below and help shape the future scribbles to come.

A sad reminder

Facebook’s penchant for reminding us of all of our friends’ pending birthday’s or other events usually brings on happy thoughts.

But today one of my notifications was about Carl Knappe’s 63rd birthday today. Only Carl isn’t around to celebrate it. He passed away back in 2015. His daughter occasionally posts to his timeline in a testament to a daughter’s love for her father that not even death can end.

Carl was part of a two-man team that gave birth to Elite Comics back in 1985 in Midland, Texas. He, along with Tom Floyd, launched a comic book series, Epsilon Wave, and in the back pages was another series, Seadragon.

In 1985 they decided to break Seadragon off into its own standalone book series and hired an unknown 21-year-old writer to write the script for the first two issues. If I knew then what I know now, the two scripts would have been a lot different than what they were.

I’ve always felt that I have some unfinished business with Seadragon and, fortunately before his passing, I reached out to both Carl and Tom and got their okay to see if I could put together a novelization of Seadragon, exploring some of those issues and maybe tweaking a few of the questions we never got around to answer before the series was discontinued after six issues.

I wish I could have finished it before Carl passed and I hope to have Tom, and fellow Seadragon alum Dennis Yee, do some illustrations for the book when I do get it done.

But for now,seadragon1 all I can do on what would have been his 63rd birthday is remember one of the men who gave me my first break as a fiction writer and hope that he continues to rest in peace.

Shameless self-promotion time

Declan Finn over at the A Pius Geek Blog just posted his full review of Escaping Infinity. Give it a read, then go here and buy a print or ebook version of the book to see why two members of the SFWA nominated it for a Nebula and why Declan thinks one of these might be in my future…

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The Dragon Award nominations for 2017 are open through July 24th: http://application.dragoncon.org/dc_fan_awards_nominations.php

 

 

 

Tarnished Dream

Colin Kaepernick opted out of his contract with the San Francisco 49ers today.

Now you might be asking why I care enough to mention this minor event on my blog and the answer lies right here. (Go ahead and follow the link, I’ll be here waiting for you when you get back, I promise.)

Yep, I wrote the book about the history of high school football in Turlock, California. Partly because I was born in Turlock a lot more years back than I care to admit to. But mostly because there is a very rich history of the game as it was played in Turlock and I was also able to weave in some forgotten history of my hometown within the book as well.

Kaepernick was a part of that history, playing for John H. Pitman High in Turlock, the town’s second high school opened just after the turn of the century. And as I have said many times, I don’t care about his off-field issues and stances. I only deal with his connection to football in Turlock and that is all I comment on regarding him.

Growing up, Kaepernick wrote a letter in school that he would be drafted by and play for the San Francisco 49ers. His dream came true and he nearly led his beloved team to a Super Bowl win.

As we all know, his star has fallen in San Francisco, leading to his decision to opt out and test the free agency waters. He might end up elsewhere, he might end up staying in San Francisco. Who knows?

But his tale should be a reminder that sometimes our dreams do come true and many times they do so in ways we never imagined. Sometimes that’s a good thing. Sometimes it isn’t. Kaepernick will have to decide for himself which one applies to him today.

The best we can all hope for is that we enjoyed the journey on the way to our envisioned destination and don’t fall away from those lofty peaks too disappointed in what we found when we got there.

 

Marvel Keeps Schooling DC

I rarely go see a movie at a theater. I don’t like the high prices for the tickets or the food. I don’t like the uncomfortable seats that turns your butt numb in 20 minutes or less. I don’t like that you always get someone in the crowd that has to be as loud as possible from  10 minutes before movie time until three minutes after the end of the credits.

I prefer to wait a few months for the DVD release (I’m not a fan of Blu-Ray either, sorry) where I can sit on my comfortable couch, eat my favorite – and very affordable – food and enjoy the film in peace.

So last night we brought home Doctor Strange. The movie has been reviewed nearly to the last frame so this is not going to be a review post. But as we were watching this very solid entry into the Marvel Universe, I realized once again that DC is getting its clock completely cleaned by Marvel in the film adaptation department.

Which is a shame because my favorite comic book superheroes are mostly from DC. Batman was an early favorite as was Wonder Woman, Aquaman and Green Arrow. I always thought Superman was just a little too goody-two-shoes for my taste.In my early years of comic reading

In my early years of comic reading, I never got into Iron Man, Captain America, Thor, Hulk and the others in the Marvel section of the local drugstore’s comic book rack. So for me, the Marvel movies have been a great introduction and I’ve actually gotten more into the characters with each new film. And each new film has been just as good, if not a little better, than the last one.

So it has been very sad to watch DC blunder through its recent spate of films. Man of Steel was promising but Batman vs. Superman was a hot mess. Fortunately,. Gal Gardot’s Wonder Woman exceeded expectations and the WW standalone has promise. The same can’t be said at this point for the others slated to come out soon, sad to say.

It was during Doctor Strange that I realized why DC is lagging so far behind. The DC movies are grim, dark and lack even a semblance of fun anywhere in the film. Marvel can be grim and dark and still manage to have some fun.

The scene that brought on the epiphany came when Strange reaches up to adjust the collar of the Cloak of Levitation up in dramatic fashion with the soundtrack music perfectly conveying the importance of the moment…

…and the cloak decides to dab at the schmutz on Strange’s face in motherly fashion. A perfect bit of comedy that did not ruin the moment in the least bit.

These reminders that we’re on a fun ride with these Marvel characters is why the MU films are standing up on a high pedestal and the DC films are stuck down in the basement.

 

Death On The Range

In lieu of an account of my sojourn along the Gulf Coast – a trip postponed due to illness as mentioned earlier – I thought I would dig into the archives and share with you this 1,100-word short story I wrote several years ago as part of a contest.

It didn’t win, although it was well received by the judges. The premise was to write a 1,200-word or less short story that mixed the Western genre with any other genre. I chose Western/Horror and this was what I came up with.

Enjoy:

 

DEATH ON THE RANGE

By Richard Paolinelli

 

Slim Jenkins swore softly as his buckskin dun topped the ridge and saw what he’d been hoping he wouldn’t see again for a long time. Another dead cow, the sixth in the last two weeks. Even as he rode up to the carcass he knew exactly what he’d find.

The animal would be dead, drained of every drop of blood, and no sign of the wound that caused the loss save for two small holes near the head. Even more puzzling to the lean, aptly-named cowboy, there would not be a spot of the animal’s blood to be found on the ground nearby.

He’d been riding for the Slash- S-Slash brand in the Wyoming Territory for six years now, ever since the War Between the States wound down, and for other brands most of his life before the war. He’d seen his share of dead cattle, but nothing before like this.

“Curly,” Slim shouted back over his shoulder as he heard the rider behind him top the ridge, “come on down here. We’ve got another one.”

“Damn,” Curly exclaimed as he rode up. “The boss ain’t gonna like this.”

“I reckon,” Slim replied as he studied the carcass. “You know what I don’t figure? I saw this very cow alive and well not a mile from here just yesterday. So how the hell does it wind up looking dead and dried out like it’s been out here for a month less than 24 hours later? And with all the coyotes and mountain lions we got crawling around here, why ain’t none of them come down and fed on any of this meat? None of the six cows we’ve found dead have been touched.”

Curly took off his hat, revealing a mop of hair that had earned him his nickname as a young boy. The running joke was that you could tell if it was about to rain by looking at the top of Curly’s head. The more moisture in the air, the more his hair would curl up.

“It just ain’t natural,” Curly said as he looked down on the animal. “Lots of unnatural things going on around these here parts lately, too. Why I was down at Fort Laramie last month and them soldier boys was talking about a ranch south of there they’d come on, all abandoned. All the hands, all the stock, just up and gone.”

“Indians,” Slim replied. “Or maybe they just packed up and left? This is a hard country on folks, they might have had enough.”

“That’s just it,” Curly replied. “That family has been at that ranch for generations. Besides, all their belongings, saddles and tools were still sitting there. Indians would have taken some of the stuff and burned the rest.  It was like every living thing at that ranch had been scooped up and carried away. And what about them lights right here in the valley?”

“What lights?” Slim asked. Riding the line cabin watch in the hills above the ranch, Slim rarely came in aside from a trip in for supplies and to pick up his pay every other month.

“The last week or so we’ve been seeing lights where no light should be shining,” Curly explained. “It ain’t a campfire, ain’t no lantern neither. A couple of times we’ve ridden out toward them but they blink out before we can get to ’em. It just ain’t natural I tell you.”

“Well,” said Slim as he turned his attention back to the dead cow, Curly could carry on like a gossipy old woman once you let him get started. “People leaving a ranch and strange lights ain’t got much to do with our dead cows I reckon. I can’t figure out what’s killing them. These two holes are smaller than even a derringer bullet would leave, no arrow or knife made these either and they damn sure didn’t do enough damage inside to kill a cow. This just don’t figure.”

Ever since Slim had hired on, cattle losses for the ranch had dropped dramatically. While the loss of six cows wouldn’t be considered a huge loss to a ranch running well over three thousand head, Curly knew Slim took it personally if even a single cow was lost on his watch. Once he figured out the how and who of it, Curly mused, Slim would no doubt be ready to read scripture to the culprit, two or four-legged. Still, Curly had to admit, it just didn’t figure.

“No, it just ain’t natural,” Curly said again. “Like that gent that came to visit the ranch. He’s been there a couple of weeks now. Some royalty from Europe, he says, and came in by way of Denver on his way to Seattle.  The womenfolk seem to cotton to him right off, but he just don’t seem human to me. All pale and cold like.”

Slim, who had been trying to tune out Curly carrying on about trivial matters, had caught the undertone in Curly’s voice when he’d mentioned the women taking a liking to the visitor.

“So what does Doris think of him,” Slim said, unable to keep a slight smirk off his face as he looked up. Curly’s face flushed red.

“Now you got no call to go disparaging my Doris that way,” Curly blustered. “She’s jest being polite like the good girl she is. And that don’t change the fact that there’s something not right about him either.”

Slim chuckled as he stood up and stepped away from the carcass. Normally, he’d butcher the cow so the meat would not be wasted. But, like the coyotes and the mountain lions, he was strangely reluctant to touch the remains. As if there was something unclean about it.

With an irritated shake of his head, he dismissed the thought. Keep it up, he thought to himself, and you’re going to end up sounding like Curly. Slim glanced to the west; the sun was just starting to sink below the horizon.

“Well,” he said as he turned toward his horse, “not much more we can do out here. It’ll be dark long before I can get back to the cabin. Might as well head into the ranch and stock up, let the boss know what’s going on out here. He may want to start moving the stock in closer to the ranch house until we figure this out.

“Besides,” Slim continued as he pulled himself up into the saddle, “it’ll give me a chance to see this feller that’s got you all riled up. Say, what’s this European prince’s name anyway?”

“He ain’t no prince,” Curly retorted as he swung his horse around to follow Slim back to the ranch. “He’s a count. Count Dracula of Transylvania, wherever the hell that is.”