Every hero has some weakness…

Originally posted to www.diaryofashieldmaiden.com

Check out the new one from Giles Kristian
Check out the new one from Giles Kristian

Some days it is hard to remember when I wasn’t struggling to get my Warrior to remember something. Then those days come that I have too many things that need remembering in my head and then I forget. HOW IRONIC.

I talk about different ways to help him all the time but one of the easiest ways to help a TBI/PTSD patient work different parts of their brain is to get them to read. Not the easiest thing, granted, but there is really something for everyone out there. It’s worth a shot.

One thing about my Warrior is that he LOVES action (big surprise there) anything. Movies, television, books. One of his favorites is historical fiction books, particularly anything related to other warriors (see a theme here?) I can’t even remember how our household stumbled upon Giles Kristian only that it happened furiously and all at once. It wasn’t possible that we could get enough of him.

Then a funny thing happened…

My Warrior inadvertently became the best fan of Kristian. I don’t say biggest because that’s not really what I mean. I say best because a TBI/PTSD patient is likely the BEST kind of fan because they are constantly setting down books and forgetting where they put them. Sometimes it’s frustrating and sometimes it is hilarious. During our travels, many Kristian books have been left behind in hotels rooms across the country, like some sort of Viking Gideon Bible program. We laugh about it now and imagine all the new fans we have inspired because we leave a book behind somewhere. I can’t remember how many times we have bought each book but it is safe to say MULTIPLE times.

Why keep buying them, you ask?

Because they are just that great. When we first started buying the books, they were not available in the US. I literally would scour EBay after each new release to find which bookstores in the UK and Australia would post them for sale (I bought from both.) When he announced via Twitter that they would be released in the US, we literally had a WOO HOO moment out loud in our house. Now we are hoping for a series of movies based on the books!

Books are the best gifts. Especially Viking books.

One thing my Warrior noticed once we started working on a sleep plan to try to help with the memory loss that sleep deprivation adds to the TBI/PTSD patients problems, was that if he was watching too many of his action/drama type movies, they seemed to activate those parts of his mind that caused the reoccurring nightmares. When I suggested that we switch to reading before bed there was a dramatic decrease in those nightmares. But what happened when he began reading the Raven series was something different altogether.

He was excited to read.

There are a great number of things I could say about the way Kristian writes but largely, for our household, the greatest thing is how he so richly captures the life of a warrior. There are sad and terrible events, but there is bonding, friendships and loyalty. More importantly, he deftly depicts the HONOR. Too many times Warriors return from any number of conflicts and are not revered or cared for. Sadly this continues but one thing so prevalent in Viking culture and shines through Kristian’s stories is the honor in which these warriors live their lives.

I would recommend reading any and all of his books. There are often social media contests in which you can win book copies (both of us have each won once) and you will not be disappointed in any of them. I had the great privilege of previewing his short The Terror and as usual it is full of fierce loyalty, warrior competiveness and love. What is better than that?

That’s right, NOTHING.

So pick up a copy, or two, of the Raven series for a Warrior you know. Check out The Terror HERE. You will be glad you did.

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays!

The Godzilla Anti-Review You Need

Godzilla-1024x539

 

Here we are again, talking about how much I love monsters.  I hope you stick around rather than rolling your eyes, but either way, I have something important to say.

 

Stop reading movie reviews.

 

I will have to say that I have been thinking that for a very long time.  It makes me sad for the people that DO read them, BELIEVE them and choose to make movie-going decisions based on them.  Sad mostly because they are rarely right.  Most times I disagree with them but the “critics” that I have seen reviewing Godzilla have taken the hate to an entirely new level.

 

How do I see a completely different movie?

 

My calendar has been marked as long as the release day was available.  My plans to see the movie set and tickets purchased in advance, much as I do with any movie that I REALLY want to see in the theater.  Nothing that “film critics” and “movie reviewers” were saying would change that but I couldn’t help feel like what they were saying was shaping up to sound a lot like what was said about the OTHER Kaiju movie I liked so much.

 

You know, because, the Internet.

 

I grew up during a time when there was still black and white movies shown on TV regularly.  I had to get up and turn the knob to change the channel and giggle the rabbit ears so the picture was a little clearer.  During those pre-remote, pre-digital times, monsters battling and smashing things was a high form of entertainment.  I didn’t see those old movies with the eyes of a millennial thinking that the effects were cheesy and the plots not cerebral enough.

 

Who cares when there are monsters?

 

Most reviews I have read of Godzilla recently have missed the point of the movie or outright misrepresented things in or not in the movie, presumably after reading someone else’s review.  Come on, when some of you post virtually the same sentences as other reviewers, aren’t you possibly COPYING someone else’s opinion rather than distilling your own?

 

Here is what I know about Godzilla

 

mothra

 

Godzilla 2014 is a beautifully executed homage to the Godzilla vs. Mothra type movie of my childhood.  I wish I had a bowl of Fruit Loops when I was leaning forward watching these beasts fight.  The story of the Brody family was both heart breaking and enduring as the next generation picks up the pieces post-Kaiju devastated San Francisco.  Hands down the best character to emerge from the movie is that of Dr. Ichiro Serizawa (Ken Watanabe.)  Serizawa is our bridge to the past.  He articulates all those things that Godzilla movies traditionally echo.  We are out of balance, Godzilla sets that right again.  His love and respect of this creature is palpable and I found myself rooting for Godzilla right along with him.

 

Thank you Gareth Edwards.

 

I so profoundly appreciate you getting this movie right.  I watched Godzilla thinking, “Wow, he gets it, he really, really gets it.”  As a long time military brat, I sincerely appreciated the accuracy you tried to add to military interactions and scenarios.  Having recently finished a novel in which I wrote a HALO scene, I particularly enjoyed you showed what its like for the soldiers waiting to jump.  Each of them locked in their own private ritual was an important, accurate, depiction for someone like me who notices such details.  Speaking of which, I also really enjoyed the precise attention to detail in which military planes, air craft carriers, etc. were depicted geographically where they would most likely operate, i.e. your use of the Edwards AFB on the tail of planes flying in northern California and Nevada area.  Well done!

I hope there are more Kaijus to come from you and I have the opportunity to make you take my money again.

 

BRAVO!

Web Round Up

loki laundry

 

There is entirely too much going on and I have not had enough time to put any blog up as I intended.  I was sidetracked on Easter by a big Twitter jerk from doing the “what the hell is wrong with people” blog so that didn’t happen.  I might get back to that as soon as I get past spring which seems to be the time of year that is the busiest.

Or I won’t.

Maybe.  Maybe not.

I honestly have had very little time since moving across the country WHILE finishing graduate school to do much of anything because awesome stuff keeps happening.  I was lucky enough to get invited to Alaska and then before I knew it, I was off to do other things in other places.  It hasn’t stopped.  It would be maddening if it weren’t preferable to doing nothing.

I finished a book.

Truthfully I always do that, and if you are here even semi-regularly you know that about me.  I am a really big advocate for NaNoWriMo and I participate every year since 2008-ish even if I don’t finish.  I have finished a total of two novels in the process and one novella and as much as it stresses other people out, the type of writing it requires seems to suit me.  Very well.  So this year, I am taking it up a notch.

Enter stage right.

I decided partially through November’s effort last year that this one would go a step further.  Post-editing and query letter phase, I am going to turn this story into a screenplay.  It’s not that I haven’t thought of doing that before but there was something about this particular story that made me think I need to try that.  It is different from what I have done before and likely it is different from what I will do in the future and there is something to be said for that.  I am freaking out a little but trying to make sure that I am learning the CORRECT way to screenplay the shit out of a story in hopes that it leads to another awesome adventure.

Ridiculous and Awesome.

Its been an insanely long time since I have done a web round up so while I am taking a break, I figured this was as good a time as any to do one because I like talking about random stuff.  So here we go:

Nerd Freakout – I completely lost my mind when I saw this.  I mean “lost my mind” in a good way here.  I am a huge Wonder Woman fan and any time something comes up that adds to that universe in general, it makes me happy for DAYS.  This announcement sent me to YouTube where I watched Shazam, Isis and Wonder Woman videos all morning.  Yes, I am busy, but this is RESEARCH. It is research for something right?  Whatever.

Hogwarts Online – Equally had a freakout over this.  (Yes, I do that a lot.)  This wasn’t a “lost my mind” one as much as text everyone I know that would care about it, sign up for a log in and seriously debate the reason I need to take charms and potions.  I mean, I haven’t DONE anything with it but its totally okay for adult to do that for RESEARCH.

Rorzen – This made me laugh a lot and then made me kinda sad.  I am a Doctor Who nerd from way back.  I mean WAY back.  Further than David Tennant.  Further than McCoy.  Okay, move on.  It has to be hard for these guys to end up in something amazing but never being able to shake it off.  I wish fans were better about articulating stuff like that to people they look up to.  I think sometimes they are making them feel awful, not flattered.

Villain Awesomeness – I literally have no idea who I would put on a fictional preferred list for this role.  I have a strong suspicion whomever it is will not necessarily seem like who you would expect.

I was going to mention some of the jerks that have done crappy things the past week or so but screw them.  I am not about to give their negative crap.  If there is negativity to dish out it will be all mine.

More to come.

So new town, new adventures, busy, busy, busy, geek out, busy, busy…you get the picture.  I am looking forward to some interesting things coming up and for sure, you will hear it from me first.  🙂

Peace and Chicken Grease!

 

 

 

 

Ode to Kung Fu

For hump day we have a throwback-This is a post I put up on an old site a few years ago that now is long gone.  It has a couple of updates and I know everyone is looking for a good movie marathon day from time to time.  Here are some suggestions!

 

Clarification:  Before sending me hate mail, let me explain…I recognize that Kung Fu is culturally a Chinese film term and does not encompass all Martial Arts.  I also recognize that Chinese epics without much Kung Fu are technically just beautiful movies.  When I was growing up, TBS in Georgia would run old Bruce Lee movies and later some Chuck Norris.  Back then, all martial arts movies were called “Kung Fu” so I use that term affectionately as a call back to my childhood, not incorrectly by accident and not as a slight to any school of martial arts.  This also, I realized, outs me as a martial arts movie uber-nerd, of which I cannot deny.  So be it.

 

This week I decided while watching one of the below that I needed to do a better job of telling folks about these movies.  I don’t think there’s a huge section of society that’s running out to grab these at Redbox or looking them up on Netflix but I am suggesting that there SHOULD be.  I have written before on movies and my love of foreign films but this is a genre where I think Hollywood consistently misses its mark.  There are so many different ways to depict it from the stylized CGI versions to the furious fist to foot fighting and luckily fabulous combinations of those.  I have even included a couple of “epics” simply because they are so beautifully shot and have great story lines.  I hope you find something new to watch and if I lure you over to this genre, all the better.

 

1.       Donnie Yen – (Cantonese film) He gets a category all by himself because I am just OBSESSED with his movies. They are equal parts old Bruce Lee movies and new CGI Fx that produce highly entertaining movies.  One of my favorites, loosely based on the story of Bruce Lee’s master is Ip Man and its sequel Ip Man 2.  My understanding is that the second is not related to any true events but I recommend it because of the scene where all the Master’s compete.  Sammo Hung, a legend, is also pretty damn fantastic in this.  Also recommended is Donnie’s Legend of the Fist, equally stunning movie IMHO.  Not really sure why studios opted to do the Ip Man story again, but without Donnie, it’s a mistake I think.

 

2.       Kung Fu Hustle – (Cantonese film) It doesn’t matter how much I watch this one; I laugh hysterical, enjoy the music and continue to be interested in the story line.  Really, who doesn’t love an old lady that can whip someone’s ass with a cigarette hanging from her lip?  Pure entertainment.

 

3.       The Ong Bak Trilogy – (Thai film) Tony Jaa is amazing and I hope this pushes him into the genre more and more.  What he can do is ridiculous and a great ambassador for Muay Thai.  I am sure if he keeps putting secret messages in his films to Spielberg; maybe someone will notice other than me?  I believe a key factor in this series is that Tony grew up with elephant experience and his passion comes across in these movies.  This trilogy is also a brilliant time capsule for the Thai film industry as from the first to the last you can see the evolution which really, by the end, produces a film I believe could rival Hollywood productions.  Really, really excited that US audiences will likely get their first look at him in the next Fast and Furious.

 

4.       Wushu – (Mandarin film) I just loved this movie.  It showcases some of Sammo Hung as well as lets you follow the lives of this group of students from their initial meeting to young adulthood.  You learn about the different styles of fighting and see them effectively portrayed in competition.  This is a great way to introduce your kids to both kung fu and foreign films!

 

5.       Red Cliff – (Mandarin film) This is a beautiful epic by someone you should recognize as a film buff, John Woo.  I suggest seeing the original as it is intended in part one and part two rather than the “theatrical version” which condenses the two into one disc.  It cuts out some of the best story lines and takes away from the director’s vision.  It is a lot to sit through but if you are a fan of history and epics, this does a great job telling this particular story.

 

6.       Curse of the Golden Flower – (Mandarin film) Also a beautiful epic, this film contains one Jay Chou which I predict will be one of the new Hollywood anointed action stars.  (You probably will recognize Jay from The Green Hornet).  While it’s deserved, I think you will find his foreign film work better.

 

7.      Little Big Soldier – (Mandarin film) This was the movie we watched this week that prompted this post. Jackie Chan is well-known, for many reasons, and I believe this is one of his best.  I have found for the most part that I also prefer Jackie’s foreign work just like Jay.  I am not sure how Hollywood messes that up but this movie was just great.  It was infused with Jackie’s trademark humor and great fight choreography.  The story just sneaks up on you.  I wasn’t expecting the ending that I got but it was well worth it.  Make sure that you watch the credits where Jackie puts his hilarious outtakes.

 

8.      Sukiyaki Western Django – (Japanese film)  I wasn’t sure what to expect going into this but was pleasantly surprised by the movie.  I would describe it as a mash-up between West Side Story, The Good, The Bad and The Ugly with some kick ass sword stuff thrown in for good measure.  A cameo by my favorite director, Tarantino, doesn’t hurt.  If you aren’t familiar with the spaghetti western genre, this is a good place to start.

 

9.       The Warriors Way – (New Zealand film)  This was a surprise to me.  I hadn’t heard much about this movie and was blown away when I saw the trailer in the movie theater.  I am a big fan of blending stylized martial arts with westerns, to me it just works, and the addition of big names like Geoffrey Rush and Kate Bosworth makes this a must see.  On a side note, I wish Kate would eat a sandwich, just saying.

 

10.   Ninja Assassin – (US film)  My only US entry and a bloody movie.  If you have a weak stomach, this is probably not for you.  My family, however, saw this on a holiday no less…lol.  I think the actor here, Rain, is another potential for a breakout into US action films.  He’s just superb and worth a look.

 

11.   Storm Warriors – (Cantonese film)  Last but certainly not least.  This movie is loved and hated for the same reason, its use of CGI.  Much like the Matrix and Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon did to advance the use of Fx; I do believe this movie pushes it even further.  If you are not a fan of CGI in movies or stylized Kung Fu in general, this series is probably not for you, but if you take a deep breath and enjoy the story, it can be amazing.  I saw this before the others in the series and it stands alone as a fabulous movie.  How many sequels can you say that of?  Right.

 

So there you go.  You have plenty to work on this weekend.  I would love to hear from you on what are your favorites and if you watch any of these, what did you think?

 

Peace and chicken grease!

 

Great Comic Mashup

If you are ever here, you have probably seen my nerdy kitchen or know how much I love Halo (the artist, not the game).  When I saw this Kickstarter come across my dash, I immediately went into fan girl mode.  Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles was one of those cartoons much like He-Man, Thundercats and Transformers, that you were either really into or didn’t watch at all.  I admit, I am a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle fan.  I was pretty upset when I heard about the changes to the story line in the upcoming movie.  I will watch it because I want to see how they pull it together but in those changes, they completely removed the teenage and mutant part.  It will be whatever it is and we will love or hate it.

Let me just say, THIS I love:

Mike

The artist J.Q. Hammer came up with a FABULOUS idea of a conventional Western mash up with the TMNT that I can’t stop talking about.  Of course, my prints are going in my nerdy kitchen but you still have time to get your own!

Check it out:  TMNT Western Concept Redesign Project

End of the World Baking

No, not that kind of baking.  Get your head out of the gutter.

I had some requests for my recipes from the other night so I thought I would post them for you guys.  We made sure to stay close to home the last few days just out of concern for the crazies exercising their last-day-on-the-planet desires.  As a result, I figured with Christmas coming, baking needed to get done and if some how the Mayans were accurate, what would be a better last meal than desserts?  Remarkably, I actually got a few other folks to do the same and now we are all a few pounds heavier and, well, happier!  So here we go:

Cake

Best Ever Banana Cake lives up to its title.  I found this on Pinterest, have made it a few times and I SWEAR it is actually super easy and comes out looking like you bought it at a bakery!  It is a lighter banana bread with cream cheese icing.  You can top it however you like (it calls for nuts) but I have done variations that include chopped dark chocolate, coconut and sea salt chopped almonds with great success.

Cranberry Upside Down

Cranberry Upside Down Cake is a Martha Stewart masterpiece.  A great bake & take to an event, it is an unexpectedly delicious combo that never lasts more than 24 hours.  I am serious.  It is that good.  What’s awesome about it, aside from being super fast to make, is that if any makes it to the next morning, it is SO good for breakfast with your coffee.  Growing up in Europe, it is the kind of not-to-sweet cake I miss living back here in the US.

 

Sweet and Saltines from Trisha Yearwood is what I would qualify as a candy.  It is so simple and you make it in a total of about 30 minutes start to finish.  A layer of toffee is cooked on the tops of Saltine crackers then smothered in chocolate and popped in the freezer for 15 minutes.  I use dark chocolate chips and it is just DELICIOUS.Sweet and Saltines

 

Cashew Brittle is a take on my friend Kari’s super easy microwave cooked peanut brittle.  Like I NEVER use the microwave to cook so this made think twice about it.  However, trying it, I am hooked!  I doubled the nuts and choose cashews but the possibilities are endless!

 

Cashew BrittleMISS KARI’S PEANUT BRITTLE

 

1 cup sugar

1/2 cup light Karo syrup

1/8 tsp salt

1/2 cup of dry roasted peanuts

1 tsp vanilla

1 tsp margarine

1 tsp baking soda

Spray cookie sheet with cooking spray ahead of time.  Mix sugar, Karo syrup and salt well.  Microwave for about 4 minutes or until amber-colored.  Take out and add peanuts then microwave for 2 more minutes.  Quickly add vanilla, margarine and baking soda and mix well.  Will set up fast so spread quickly on previously greased sheet.  Wait until completely cool, pry up and break into large pieces.

 

Enjoy!

 

Any really awesome recipes you baked this week?  SHARE!