Monthly Archives: May 2013

Arnold Schwarzenegger’s THE LAST STAND

All right – so I don’t buy that many dvd’s these days.

For starters, I’ve got a small wall full of the suckers. Horror, western, war, comedy – I’ve probably got close to a thousand DVD’s.

But I’ve been wanting to see this movie ever since I saw it advertised at the theater back when I was watching THE EXPENDABLES 2.

I had wanted to catch this movie AT the theater – for the big screen effect – only it disappeared in about two weeks.

I found out why it disappeared after I bought it.

THE LAST STAND should have been a good movie – but they couldn’t remember what sort of a movie they had set out to create. The director, Kim-Jee-Woon, was way too interested in shooting way too many cool-looking car chase scenes – which would have worked if he had been filming The Fast and the Furious Part Sixty-Eight.

But it didn’t work as a Schwarzenegger movie.

Schwarzenegger is a force. He’s an unstoppable juggernaut of destruction. He’s meant to come at you like a freaking Tiger Tank. He’s not fast, he’s not fancy. He’ll stick a row of spears and swords into the dirt at his feet and wait for you to come at him and then cut you into about a billion tiny pieces.

That’s just how he rolls.

But they spent WAY too much time focusing on build-up.

When it came to delivery they fell short.

******
The choice of actors was one problem. Johnny Knoxville had a really cool Steve Buscemi vibe going on there in the beginning – but then they started to indulge his comical side and things got silly. He did that face-splat against the car window and it looked like an out-take of JACKASS PART SIXTEEN.

Same thing with Luis Guzman – who has a great mighty-ugly face for an action hero – but a voice that sounds like a castrated canary.

You see – there is nothing wrong with a few giggles in an action movie – but the mistake they made was over-indulging those comic actors and letting them get away with goofing around on camera. Keep the side characters playing it straight and save the occasional giggle lines for your hero.

Namely, Schwarznegger.

Like I said – they pulled up short. They took an hour to get to the big shoot-out in town and then spent about five or maybe ten minutes shooting up the town before they decided to shoot this long freaking chase through a cornfield – which DID look all film school cool – but it didn’t have a freaking thing to do with the story.

A movie – or a story – needs to remember what arena it is being shot in.

You need to keep the main action in the main arena.

I wanted to see about an hour of the action going on in that shoot-out in the town. Not chasing through some cornfield that we never even saw before.

Same thing with the interaction of the townspeople. We never really did get any feel for the way that the Sheriff interacts with these townspeople. They were mostly hustled out of town in the beginning of the movie to go and see some all-too-convenient football game.

I would have related a lot more to the old folks who did show up for the gunfight if I had actually got to meet them a little bit more before the gunfight began.

The whole movie seemed rushed, in slow-motion. The filmmaker spent hours on super-cool car chase effects and getting the bad guy out of the lock-up – and then just rushed through the main scene – which should have Shwarzenegger and his buddies going all Magnificent Seven Wild Bunch on the cartel’s drug-peddling ass.

Schwarzenegger still has the chops, as far as I’m concerned. He’s got the perfect look to play that grizzled old juggernaut coming out for one last charge at the windmills – but I want to see him properly used – not just squeezed in around a half-assed car chase story.

I’m glad I saw the movie and I probably will watch it again sometime – but I’m likewise glad that I bought the cheap-and-dirty no-bells-no-whistles DVD of this flick. When I first saw the trailer I thought – HOLY COW, SCHWARZENEGGER IS REALLY BACK – but unfortunately this wasn’t the movie to do it with.

He may have just terminated his movie career.

yours in storytelling,
Steve Vernon

KOBO WEEKEND SALES OFFER

TIME’S RUNNING OUT! GET THIRTY PERCENT OFF SELECTED BOOKS AT KOBO THIS WEEKEND ONLY.

Use the promo-code SPRINGSAVE when you order to save thirty percent off of selected books – offer expires May 27, 2013.

Just click onto this image to get to ALL 200 Selected books that are available for that THIRTY PERCENT DISCOUNT!

Kobo Spring Sale

Note: both TATTERDEMON OMNIBUS – my novel of scarecrow horror – as well as FIGHTING WORDS – my young adult novel of a Nova Scotia teenage fight club gone awry are part of the selection.

yours in storytelling,

Steve Vernon

FLASH VIRUS OMNIBUS – NOW AVAILABLE ON KINDLE!!!

Happy Friday Kindle-Lovers!

I know. I know. My advertising has been rampant!

For folks who have been following my FLASH VIRUS series I’ve got some great news. I’ve just released FLASH VIRUS OMNIBUS – the first five episodes – one complete novel – on Kindle.
AND – if you buy it before the Official Release Date of June 21, 2013 you can have it for $4.99 – that’s over SIX BUCKS OFF of the price buying it episode by episode.

After June 21, 2013 the price will raise to the regular price of $6.99.

I’m REALLY trying to get this omnibus off to a rousing start. I’ve been sort of dead in the water over at Kindle for the last couple of months and I REALLY want to make a little action.
IF YOU HAVE ALREADY PURCHASED THE FIRST FIVE EPISODES OF FLASH VIRUS – then you have already read this omnibus!!!

Likewise – in the interest of total disclosure – I am already working on Episode Six – and in fact I even include a sneak peek at that next episode – BUT THE OMNIBUS IS A TRUE STAND-ALONE NOVEL!
Sales are gratefully appreciated. Reviews are happily accepted – after you get a chance to read the nearly 250 page omnibus. If you do nothing else – share this note and spread the word!

Many thanks!

Flash Virus Omnibus

(click the cover if you want to order it)

Yours in storytelling,

Steve Vernon

Making it Work Through Kobo

Here’s a REALLY informative blog entry on publishing your work at Kobo.

I’d definitely recommend you giving it a read!

yours in storytelling,
Steve Vernon

FLASH VIRUS OMNIBUS NOW AVAILABLE FOR PRE-ORDER ON KOBO!

For those folks who have been following my serial/series FLASH VIRUS, you’ll be happy to find out that the omnibus volume – with the first five episodes of the series is now available for pre-order over at Kobo.

Flash Virus Omnibus

The official release date of the omnibus is June 7 – HOWEVER – if you pre-order now you can pick up a copy for two dollars off the regular price.

Let’s break it down a bit.

The regular price for the serial – bought episode by episode is as follows.

Episode One is FREE.
Episode Two through Five are each $2.49.

That’s $9.96 in total – not counting taxes.

The omnibus version is regularly priced at $6.99 – which is a savings of almost FOUR DOLLARS!

If you pre-order the omnibus it will cost you $4.99 – which is a savings of almost SIX DOLLARS!

How’s that for some kind of math?

Just click the photo and it will take you to where you to the Kobo page where you can pre-order today.

Order before June 7 and save yourself SIX BUCKS!!!

***

While you are at it you might also want to pick up a copy of THE TATTERDEMON TRILOGY – which goes for #3.99 plus $3.99 if you order it separately – or for a meager $6.99 for the entire trilogy.

Tatterdemon Omnibus

Same drill. Click the photo and order at Kobo.

That’s all the advertising I’m going to do for today. I really don’t like spamming my own blog site – but I figured some of you folks might appreciate the opportunity to pick up some of my work and save yourself some solid money while you are at it.

yours in storytelling,

Steve Vernon

My Storytelling Workshop…

I want to write this for all of the kids out there who HAVEN’T seen one of my storytelling workshops.

You didn’t miss much at all, really.

I start out by telling the kids how I grew up to be a storyteller, and how my grandfather taught me, and how I was nearly massacred to death in my first day of school by a half a hundred bullies…complete with a special guest star appeanance by bogth GODZILLA and KING KONG.

And then I tell a touching little story – the very first story in the world – a story that I call “Caveman Steve and the Wooly Mammoth”.

Then I throw in a flame thrower, some bandits, maybe some Martians, and some kick-butt horse-style kung-fu action.

Some of you today at the FOREST OF TREES FESTIVAL will get a chance to hear all this at 10am at 10am to 11am at the BRIGANTINE TENT.

I look forward to seeing you all.

yours in storytelling,

Steve Vernon

My sixth day in Toronto

Well – today was the first day of the Toronto Silver Birch Festival. I was strictly a spectator but I did my best to learn as much and listen as much as I could. Afterwards we had a great meet and greet shmoozathon at THE PEARL restaurant. I chatted with quite a few people – although I am still a very poor shmoozer. I have a hard time hearing what other people are saying in crowded rooms – the by-product of too many years spent working in too many factories and loading docks.

Several people mentioned that they had read and enjoyed my blog entry – MY FIRST FAN LETTER.

I’d post a link here but I am still struggling to master this rinky-tink netbook.

I must be up early tomorrow to get some breakfast into me and to be ready to present my full one hour workshop. It is one of the first events of the morning – which is a BIT of a handicap because it takes a certain amount of time to get ALL of the 5000 or so students succesfully delivered to the Festival Sight. Still – I will do the best I can with what opportunity I havel There is NEVER any perfect time for anything. You just have to wing it and do your best.

Tonight I had supper at the Ferkin Pub on Yonge Street. Had a buttered chicken pie – very tasty.Then I moved up the street and had desert – a vanilla milkshake – at the Hard Rock Cafe. I’ve always wanted to eat there – but the menus had no prices listed – and that ALWAYS makes me nervous – so I settled for a milkshake – just so that I could say that I did actually dine at the Hard Rock Cafe.

Tonight I had a good work-out at the hotel fitness centre and am relaxing before going to bed.

I worry a little that I haven’t done my very best here at this Festival. I have made more than my share of goof-ups – and everyone else seems to be so at ease with an event this size.

In any case – I’ve had a lot of fun and I’ve reached quite a few kids. Talked to teachers and librarians and fellow writers. Met bookstore owners and even drank a milkshake at the Hard Rock Cafe.

This has been the closest I have come to taking a for-real vacation in an awful lot of years – possibly all my life. My early years were spent working labour with very little opportunity for vacations. I was usually too busy trying to pay the bills to bother with leisure. I believe that this time out has done wonders for recharging my batteries. I can’t wait to get back to work on the new YA novel manuscript.

That’s all I’ve got to tell you for now.

yours in storytelling,

Steve Vernon

Why I love movies…

Okay – so I am a SERIOUS movie addict. In fact there is almost nothing else that I prefer to do with my leisure time – when I’m not writing, reading, or eating.

Okay…so sometimes EVEN when I am eating.

So, what sort of movies do I love to watch?

Well, for starters, old ones. I LOVE the Turner Channel and I’m always happy to tune in an old Bogart or John Wayne movie. Charles Bronson, Lee Marvin, Kirk Douglas, Anthony Quinn – I love those old tough guy movies.

So – it’s no surprise that I have spent a fair bit of my leisure time here in Toronto just kicking up at the movie theatre.

I’ve seen two movies in Toronto so far.

The first was IRON MAN 3 – which was a pretty good superhero movie – but as far as Iron Man movies go it sort of sucked. Which isn’t surprising. IRON MAN 2 basically sucked as well.

For starters – Ben Kingsley made a pretty good Mandarin until they started goofing him up and playing it for laughs. Man – I hate it when they take what should be a straight movie and play it up goofy. Where the heck were his rings? And why wasn’t he using them? That’s how I remember the Mandarin – sort of a Fu Man Chu sort of dude with two handfuls of rings – each with their own unique power. Goofy, corny – but heck, it’s a comic book, right? But instead the main menace was some dude who kept turning into some sort of molten fire. I mean – who was he supposed to be – Fing Fang Foom?

I know, I know – my inner geek is shining through.

So sue me.

Another problem – a BIG problem – that I had with Iron Man 3 was the fact that Tony Stark spent about three quarters of the movie WITHOUT his costume on. I mean – comme on – the movie was called Iron Man 3 – NOT Tony Stark 3. I had the same beef with the Tobey Mcguire – Sam Raimi Spiderman movies that kept taking his mask offover and over and over.

I mean – what is it? Is this an actor issue? An agent issue? A contract issue? Did somebody say – if Robert Downey Jr. doesn’t his face seen a certain number of times he isn’t making this movie?

Finally – I was REALLY cheesed off at the lamebrain anticlimactic goofy added scene at the very end of the movie. I think somebody has been watching too many episodes of The Sopranos.

BUT on the plus side let me say that the theatre I watched Iron Man 3 was first rate. It was a little independent theatre called The Rainbow Market Square. They had a full piano in the lobby with a young man playing classical music which – I believe- was then piped into the theatre. It gave the theatre a really classy restrained atmosphere. Sitting in the darkness, waiting for the movie to begin and listening to the piano music was a little like stepping back into a time machine.

I enjoyed the sensation.

Last nght I watched EVIL DEAD at the Richmond Street Scotiabank Theatre.

The movie itself was pretty good. Keep in mind I love the original version, I really enjoy Ash, and I didn’t particular appreciate the goofiness that Raimi insisted on putting into EVIL DEAD 2 – although I did appreciate the over-the-top gore of it all.

Talking about the EVIL DEAD is a bit of mind game – in the way that Raimi has sort of remade this movie TWICE now. It is like the man has eaten a bad cucumber that continues to repeat on him over and over again. It’s like that friend that you have that constantly talks about his days on the high school team – even when he’s forty or fifty years old.

It’s a little unhealthy.

But – like I’ve said a couple of times, I enjoyed this new version.

I didn’t really empathise with any of the characters because they were all film school puppies with milk cream complexion and a distinct lack of anything even resembling personal character – but the jump scenes got to me and a couple of the creep-out booga-booga moments really had me worried.

Of course, it helped a lot that there were ONLY about three people in the theatre, counting me – and we were ALL there for the sole purpose of watching us a creepshow movie. Nobody was giggling, noboday was whispering and NOBODY was trying to text their mom.

(I’ll get back to that texting business in a minute)

An empty theatre like that is PERFECT for watching this sort of movie because it allows you to lean in and soak up the intent of the movie. You experience better without the distraction of giggles and blue screen afterglow.

So I dug the movie and – like IRON MAN 3 – there was a little tiny insert scene at the very end of credits that was worth sticking around to watch.

Unlike IRON MAN 3’s giggling cheapshot little tiny insert scene that REALLY wasn’t worth hanging in there for a billion years worth of rolling credits.

On top of that the movie preshow was a really tedious carnival barker spiel of teasing hints and tiresome trivia and about eight to ten separate FREAKING COMMERCIALS (rising to a raving rant-like fervor) – and worst of all – they actually encouraged the audience to use their cell phones.

That’s right – Cineplex – this whole interactive pre-movie warm-up that you are pushing us movie-goers towards actually encourages movie watchers to USE THEIR FREAKING CELL PHONE.

This loud brassy vapid-brained spokesperson grins out at us from the movie screen and says – “Hey, why don’t you download this uber-cool sky-net-app that will let you play this trivia game and win some skynet-movie-buck-virtual-money – which is then followed by a half a dozen trivia questions worse than anything you might ever see on The Repo Games – following which the winner’s cyber-name is projected up their along with the runners up.

Near as I could tell there was only one person in the audience who actually played – and then that loud brassy woman on the screen – (I think she was a Terminator or something like that) – cheerfully reminded us that we could download the skynet-movie-game-app and play along the next time.

And then she told us in a small-print-voice – oh yeah, you better turn your cell phone off now.

Now come on, Cineplex. Haven’t you ever given a child a single lick at a candy apple and then said – Now save that candy apple for after supper, would you?

Keep in mind this last bit of rant is coming at you from a fellow who is operating on the keyboard of a REALLY FRUSTRATING little netbook that is barely able to keep up with me – and that this is the SAME fellow who refuses to buy and use a cell phone of his own.

Take that, Skynet.

***************************
Lastly, I’ll be meeting with editor Christopher Jones tonight for supper at a place called BARBARIANS. Christopher edited the small press anthology EULOGIES 2 – TALES FROM THE CELLAR. I’d post a photo of the cover – but this rinky-tink netbook is just a little too stubborn to adequately bounce that image onto my blog page.

My golly, I sure miss my own computer.
**************************
I should mention that I had brunch at Paddington’s Pump Restaurant – Home of the Big Oink – at the St. Lawrence Market. I had a meal of eggs and really tasty pancakes and sausages and pea bacon fried to a tasty crisp. It was a lot closer to walk to than Rasher’s and had the same sort of bacon sandwich – so I was a happy camper. My feet appreciated it to – although the Dr. Scholl’s insoles that I picked up along with the ZIM’S HEEL CRACK CREME really helped with my comfort level.

By golly, I sure miss my youth. I walked clear across Canada with nothing but my thumb stuck out in the breeze – and now a few Toronto blocks have brought to my knees…

Sounds like there’s a rap tune in there somewhere.

Who says old dudes like me aren’t hip?

yours in storytelling,

Steve Vernon

The Workshop At TYPE Bookshop

On Monday at 1pm I delivered my one hour workshop on storytelling and writing to the kids of St. Mary’s School. The teachers brought two classes – one of grade five and one of grade six – about sixty kids in all. They had me set up in the bookstore basement – a snug little concrete structure that held our heat like a miniature sauna.

It was hot and uncomfortable but I had the kids rivetted. I could have probably kept on talking and telling stories for another hour. The bookstore had picked up ten copies of SINKING DEEPER and sold seven of them. I signed the copies and answered about a hundred separate questions as the kids made way over to ask me questions at the end of the workshop.

I want to send a BIG thank-you to the folks at TYPE Bookstore for giving me the opportunity to talk with the kids. They really were an eager group – (grade 4, 5 and 6 are ALWAYS a treat to talk to).

Afterwards I treated myself to a slice of potato pizza and a cold bottle of Steam Whistle Lager – which REALLY went down smoothly.

2013-05-13 04.49.46

(I know. I know. I forgot to take a picture of the kids – but I did remember to take a picture of the pizza. How male is that???)

Afterwards I made my way to the Scotiabank Theatre where I snarfed down a plate of poutine and a tall glass of Cherry Coke and watched the new EVIL DEAD remake. There was about three people in the theater watching the movie. That’s how I like to attend a movie. Nobody was talking or texting or giggling. Everyone was silent and intent of just watching the flick. Times like that I can allow myself to totally immerse myself in the story. There were a couple of jump scenes that rattled me nicely and more than a few scary scenes that made me catch my breath. Nothing like a good booga-booga scene.

And the last scene at the end of the credits was…well…groovy!

I checked out a half a dozen bookstores along the way – including the WORLD’S LARGEST BOOKSTORE, and BMV Books where I bought a couple of Hellboy mini-books.

Before going to bed I checked out the hotel’s fitness room and put their rowing machine, free weights, elliptical trainer and a press machine to good use before crashing for a VERY sound sleep.

I don’t have ANYTHING professional planned today – although an editor of an upcoming anthology that I have a story in wants to meet me for a steak. I do hope to check out RASHERS today – a restaurant that specializes in bacon – as well as the Leslieville Pumps – both on Queen Street West.

It is supposed to be getting warmer and sunnier over the next couple of days. I am here until Friday – so I might need myself some sunscreen and a good straw hat for the Silver Birch Festival.

Having a blast on this working vacation but BOY do I miss my wife.

And my cat.

And my FREAKING COMPUTER!

yours in storytelling,

Steve Vernon

A brief update from Toronto…

Hey folks. Just getting ready for a quick breakfast downstairs at the hotel restaurant with my brother and his family. They are heading out today and I’ve had a good visit with them.

I’ll have some REAL book tour info for you later today as I will be performing my storytelling workshop with some cool kids at TYPE BOOKS – 883 Queen Street West.

I’ll tell you all about it this evening.

In the meantime – here’s a shot of a nifty looking gent I met in the Kensington Market.\

IMG_1157[1]

And here is a photo from  Thunder By of THE SLEEPIHG GIANT.

IMG_1146[1]

I’m having a bit of a hard time working with this rinky-tink little netbook – but when I get back home to my desktop I’ll set these up properly.

yours in storytelling,

Steve Vernon