McDonald’s Arctic Orange Shakes

My coming-of-age supernatural thriller, Revolutionary Ghosts, is set in 1976.  The tale’s hero, an Ohio teenager named Steve Wagner, has a summer job at McDonald’s. 

One of the recurring jokes in the book surrounds the Arctic Orange Shake, which McDonald’s did indeed introduce in the summer of 1976. Continue reading “McDonald’s Arctic Orange Shakes”

Walking and your brain

I’ve been systematically walking and running for going on 40 years now. 

I mostly do this for the fitness benefits. I’ve long noticed, however, that I seem to get some of my best ideas while I’m out and about, on my feet.

I’ve also noticed that when I’m perplexed or upset about a problem, a long walk often makes me feel better about it. Continue reading “Walking and your brain”

Sharks in New England

A 63-year-old New York woman was fatally attacked by a great white shark while swimming off the Maine coast. For whatever they’re worth, I offer my condolences. That would be a terrifying way to go. 

No one really expects to be attacked by a shark while swimming in the waters off Maine. Shark attacks are something we associate with the tropics, generally. Continue reading “Sharks in New England”

Jenna Moreci and WriterTube

“WriterTube” refers to the YouTube community of writers. Basically, it is an ongoing discussion about writing and (mostly self-) publishing with YouTube as the platform.

The vast majority of the WriterTube vloggers and commenters are teen girls and young women who are interested in the romance and young adult fantasy genres. I’m a 52-year-old man who writes and reads suspense, horror, and thrillers. WriterTube therefore isn’t a big draw for me, on either side of the camera.

Nevertheless, there are exceptions. From time to time, I have tuned in to the videos of Jenna Moreci. She was recently interviewed by Craig Martelle, whom I follow.

Most indie writers nowadays spend all of their time writing new fiction, and relatively little time building an online platform. Many indie writers have no fixed online presence beyond their Amazon sales page. As a result, they must spend disproportionately on various ads, mailing lists, and the like. Continue reading “Jenna Moreci and WriterTube”

‘Hanna’ (Amazon Prime series): quick review

I just finished watching the two available seasons of Hanna on Amazon Prime. Hanna is based on a 2011 film of the same name.

This is the setup: A CIA program called  UTRAX alters a group of children’s DNA, in order to transform them into super-soldiers/covert assassins. (In the series, at least, all of the UTRAX program’s subjects are young women.)

Most of the girls (who are coming of age as the series opens) are happy enough to go along with the program. They have known nothing else, after all. But one, the eponymous Hanna, rebels. She is aided by former CIA agent Erik Heller, who is a surrogate father figure to her.

The Bourne Identity with teenage girls/young women, then. Hanna is both a coming-of-age drama and a conspiracy thriller. That could have been a disastrous combination. Thankfully, it isn’t. Continue reading “‘Hanna’ (Amazon Prime series): quick review”

‘Eleven Miles of Night’: $0.99 through 7/20/2020 on Kindle

This is one of my early horror novels, but it’s still a pretty scary one.

What happens when college filmmaker takes a walk down the most haunted stretch of road in Ohio, for a cash prize of $2,000?

Plenty of scares, that’s what!

You can get Eleven Miles of Night on Amazon Kindle for just $0.99 through next Monday (7/20/2020).

So, if you haven’t read it yet, this is a chance to get it for a buck, basically. Continue reading “‘Eleven Miles of Night’: $0.99 through 7/20/2020 on Kindle”

‘The Far Side’ is back

There are many things about the 1980s that I miss.

The music was better, for one thing. (Def Leppard vs. Taylor Swift? No contest, dude.)

Everyone was much less uptight in the 1980s. Less angry about everything all the time.

Everyone seems to have burr up their keister about something in the 21st century. This is the age of trivial anger.

The 1980s were much more chill.

Also…we had ‘The Far Side’. Continue reading “‘The Far Side’ is back”

‘Midway’ (2019): mini-review

I watched Midway (the 2019 version) tonight.

This is a compelling historical film that blends history with action. Although Midway is focused on the great battle that took place in June 1942, the first half of the movie covers events that led up to it—including Pearl Harbor. 

The film is well cast. For once Woody Harrelson appears in a role in which he is not personally annoying. (That hasn’t happened since Cheers.) Dennis Quaid is a convincing William “Bull” Halsey.

But the star of the movie, by far and away, is Dick Best (1910~2001), the US Navy pilot who sank two Japanese aircraft carriers in a single day. I enjoyed Ed Skrein’s interpretation of the role. Continue reading “‘Midway’ (2019): mini-review”

‘The Kids Are All Right’ (quick movie review)

Here’s the setup: Two married lesbians are raising two teenagers that they acquired from a single sperm donor. (They each gave birth to one child.) 

Then the kids (one of whom has just turned 18) decide to contact their sperm donor/biological father.

Hijinks ensue. Unexpected clashes of familial roles (and attraction) throw this perfect little lesbian-headed family out of balance. 

I found this to be an interesting look at the ambiguities of “nontraditional families”. I’m a Roman Catholic guy from the 1980s, and well…I guess I just never thought much about some of this stuff. Continue reading “‘The Kids Are All Right’ (quick movie review)”