Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Merry Christmas to all!

That awesome time of year again that is loved by all except for spoil sports, whoo!

Sorry for the lack of updates lately, but I've been busy busy. Trying to get my story edited and cleaned up and at the same time I've gotten my old job back, so free time has been kind of restricted lately.

Even so, it's awesome to be where I am during one of my favorite times of the year. Time to be thankful and take joy in giving to others!

Take care all! :)

Friday, December 5, 2014

I'm definitely on the Naughty List...

Y'know guys, I consider myself a good big brother. I share my stuff, try to be cuddly, give them treats, teach them lessons, watch things with me, give them gifts just out of kindness, all those good things. It doesn't always work though. Being the oldest of the litter, whose size would impress a clan of rabbits, you get to know quite a few things about kids and how to deal with them. Some are happy to comply and do what you say out of respect, while others just do the opposite out of spite or because they haven't yet gotten it through their fragile skulls that you know more than they do.

Just the other day I caught two of the sprogs sticking their tongues to an active light bulb after one of they burnt their finger against the thing. They aren't exactly on the same intelligence tier as the raptors from Jurassic Park. Then again, those things didn't cause as many problems.

Well, today I did something rather drastic to help rein in the insanity in hopes that I could get at least one of them to live long enough to see their next birthday.

I may have let slip that they had better behave or they'd have to face the wrath of the Krampus.

Those of you who know what I'm talking about are either facepalming in sadness or laughing like the sadists that you are. For those of you who don't know what I'm talking about, Krampus is basically the Germanic anti-Santa. No, he's not a Nazi pilot and Santa's arch rival from the December Bombing Raids which crippled supply lines, although that would be awesome. Rather he's a genuinely evil looking critter who goes around at Christmas time snatching children who are behaving particularly bad, rather than giving gifts.

Talk about positive and negative reinforcement! If kids won't stop trying to swallow a cactus covered in bullet ants because you told them not to, then the next best step is to scare them into listening it would seem. I now heavily suspect that 95% of folklore monsters were invented by parents trying to keep their offspring from accidentally offing themselves. Interesting stuff, what?

Well, I'm off to spread some good deeds. Gotta restore the balance enough to get back onto the Good List! Ta folks!

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Turok: Son of Stone Movie

Darned right a legend is born
Who doesn't love Turok the Dinosaur Hunter? People who don't like fun, that's who! The Turok franchise has been an interesting study. It's one of those unusual concepts that refuses to die and keeps getting reincarnated in different forms yet never gets the true appreciation it deserves. Kind of strange, considering how long this guy has been around.

Turok started out as a simple comic in the fifties where Turok and his younger friend Andar find their way into an isolated canyon that still has ancient wildlife still surviving along with what basically amount to cave men and have all sorts of adventures. I've gotten ahold of the first batch thanks to the Dark Horse Omnibus setup they've been doing, but so far they have been underwhelming. The art is nice but the overall feeling of the stories is very mellow. There is rarely a sense of urgency or any sturdy plot. I'm hoping they get better structured later on.

Most people know Turok through the Nintendo 64 video games which I myself enjoyed the crap out of as a kid. In that setting Turok was changed to a special dimension-traveling warrior fighting sentient dinosaurs and all kinds of other imaginative enemies. And boy was that glorious fun!

Other comic variants have been released over the years, often dealing with dimensional shifts, lost worlds and other mind-bending concepts for the sake of awesome. But always it's Turok doing what he does best: Beating up dinosaurs with anything he has on hand. Really, he deserves more recognition than he's gotten! I mean, a Native American traveling between dimensions to fight sentient dinosaurs with alien-esque weaponry? That's one of the most awesome things I've ever heard of!

Ah, but not too long ago dear Turok has been finally awarded something long overdue: A movie! I'm sad that I hadn't heard about it before, but better late than never I suppose. I have to give thanks to Prehistoric Pulp for mentioning it on his place, otherwise I might not have heard of it.

But yeah, you can bet that I got myself a copy as soon as I heard of it, and I gotta say it was a fun watch. This flick is basically a combination of the old and new comics to create yet another incarnation of Turok, yet it doesn't feel like an annoying retcon. It carries a lot of spirit in it which is what I think really carries it through in what might otherwise be a dumb cash in. But let's take a look at the details!

We start off meeting three characters: Turok, the obvious protag, his brother Nashoba, and Catori, their mutual lady friend. All his fun and games for a little while as they frolic through the forest, laughing and having a good old time. But this doesn't last too long as they run into some enemies of their tribe. This is where we get the impression that this incarnation starts off in our timeline, perhaps the early 1800's due to both technology and the appearance of the Native Americans, as they seem to take cues from actual dress and hairstyles. I could be wrong on the styling however, so please correct me if I am wrong.

Things go downhill pretty quickly as the small group of enemies want to show off their fancy cutting objects to Turok and Nashoba's insides and to take Catori for some personal time. The leader of the band starts off by throwing his tomahawk at Turok, but the teen shows some remarkable skill in grabbing weapons out of the air like a champ. This shocks not only everyone watching, but also astounds Turok himself! I get the impression that he, his brother and Catori are only teens at this point, so it w

Turok then quickly lays waste to the four guys in a ghastly display of brutality, and this is when you learn that this is most definitely not a kid's movie. Holy crap no. One guy gets his arm slashed off at the wrist and we get to see it spin majestically through the air in a spray of blood along with its owner splashing face first into the river. In fact this might very well be the most violent cartoon since the 86 Transformers movie. And we all know how that one went...

Rest in peace Prowl, rest.
This is just the beginning though. Although a novice in warfare, Turok is apparently the physical incarnation of destruction, as the second the fight starts he lays waste to them by pure reflex. When they are all dead his brother lays a hand on his shoulder, which proves to be an unwise decision, as Turok is still in a blood frenzy and slashes Nashoba to ribbons. It's only after Catori tells him to knock that crap off that he realizes just how bad he has screwed up and comes to his senses, bringing his brother back to his tribe where the local medicine man patches him up and tries to keep him from keeling over.

Turok's father, the chief, is meanwhile discussing how his son screwed up a little bit but that the guys he slaughtered were their hereditary enemies and that they should chill, but the shaman believes that Turok possesses a vicious warrior spirit. I find it hard to disagree with him, considering how he fought before. "From blood follows blood" he says, and deems that Turok should be exiled, believing no good can come from having a blood-crazed fighter like him around. Turok is then banished and left to survive on his own.

We cut to the future where a young man is running through the woods and stumbles into Turok's current home, a charnal house out in the boonies surrounded by pelts, rotting meat and bones. On his own Turok has become a fierce and deadly warrior, but he is extremely bitter about his banishment and seems to take his anger out on anything stupid enough to be within the same dimension as him. The young man reveals that his name is Andar and that he is Nashoba's son and Turok's nephew. There is a wicked fight coming up and Nashoba who is now chief wants his brother to return and help them.

Turok is still a bit annoyed with that whole exile thing and declines, feeling that he has no ties to his tribe any longer. Andar returns to his family sadly and prepares for the upcoming fight. Catori tries convincing Nashoba, her husband, to simply beat a retreat so that they can build a life for themselves elsewhere, but he declines. He's determined to defend his home to the death. For good luck she gives him her hair clip. Let's just say it's not as lucky as everyone hoped it would be.
Remember that whole river massacre before? Well, it turns out that the prediction of a blood feud resulting was true, as they are now back for revenge. Hard core revenge. We see both groups line up along the river at the same site as the battle years before.

The defenders start off with a salvo of arrows, but they only succeed in hitting the dirt. Wow, someone was slacking off on archery practice. Not Nashoba however, as his arrow strikes one of the other dudes clean in the chest and kills him. Nashoba is awarded +25 XP for scoring the first kill of the match. The bad guys however have a very slight advantage in the form of muzzle-loading weapons, probably traded from white explorers from another territory. This is also where we get to meet our villain of the movie, Chichak and he is a very worthy bad guy! Wearing a head-piece made from the horns and scalp of a bison, he opens up a salvo that devastates Nashoba's defenders and even wounds him in the arm. They are astounded at this display of firepower, showing that they've never seen guns before.

From here things go downhill faster than a communist economy. The bad guys lay waste to the tribe, shooting and slashing like crazy. Chichak rides into the fray on horseback, sporting a pair of pistols and what I believe is a rifle. This guy is a frigging buzz-saw, as he cuts through the good guys like a scythe through dry grass. Even without his weapons he is proven to be quite deadly. Andar is kind of terrified at the battle raging around him and is just trying to survive when he runs right into Chichak who grins and says that this is no place for a child to be. As he begins to fire his pistol into Andar's face Nashoba teleports over and gets into a wrestling match with Chichak. It doesn't last long as the bad guy uses his pistol like a club, bludgeoning Nashoba's already wounded arm, blood spurting at every impact before firing into his chest.

Andar hightails it out of there and collapses just inside of Turok's camp. He knows this doesn't bode well but also seems to rouse his sense of honor. Without a word he takes his bow, arrows and tomahawk that he took from the enemy tribe all those years ago and runs to the scene of the battle with Andar thrown over his shoulders. He hauls arse over to the battlefield only to find just about his entire tribe slashed and gutted, with his brother mutilated and strung up against the bole of a fallen tree. Shockingly Nashoba is still alive. Turok cuts him down and his brother says that if he could have he would have tried to keep him around during that night years ago, and that Chichak is going to their home to slaughter the women and kids. Turok swears to protect Catori and Andar just before Nashoba dies, dropping Catori's hair clip from his hand.

Turok heads off to get some vengeance on and Andar tags along, rightfully wishing to protect his mother. We cut to Chichak and his entire retinue of victorious warriors... both of them. Okay, for some reason at the village Chichak has only two guys along with him to loot the place. I've gotta be honest, I have no idea what happened to the rest of his guys. I don't think those are the only survivors because they were wrecking pretty well. Nor do I know what happened to the other villagers. Maybe they were all rounded up and taken off by the bulk of the victors and the guys left just wanted to loot and destroy. Whatever works.

So they set to burning the tepees when Catori runs out of one of them. Chichak somehow knows she was Nashoba's wife and runs her down on horse back. He swiftly picks her up and begins crushing her torso with his forearm. She screams in pain and he ominously whispers into her ear "Your husband screamed too." Now that is some good villain dialogue!

Suddenly a figure begins to emerge from the inky smoke and Turok walks into the open like a boss with Andar close behind. He demands that they drop Catori and leave while brandishing his tomahawk. Chichak's eyes widen and demands to know where Turok got the weapon from. He says that he took it from those fellows from the beginning and then killed them with it. Chichak hisses that it belonged to his father, pretty well showing off his motivation.

The two nameless warriors lunge at Turok with their own tomahawks and we get a superb example of how to use slow motion as Turok grapples with them, butchering both in a manner of seconds. Slow motion is used very well in this movie along with the audio which helps amp up the tension. I especially like the slow-mo when the guns are used. They actually show the hammer striking the frizzen, igniting the powder and showing the battered lead ball fly out. Very dramatic and effective! I can't recall slow-mo having been used in any other movie or show in this manner. Maybe it has, but I've never seen it and it works especially well here.

Anyway, Andar tackles Turok just in time to keep him from being shot by Chichak and a chase ensues. The chase takes them to a narrow canyon which seems to have gone unexplored to everyone. I'm just going to assume that they are somewhat aware of it but stay far away because it is pretty spooky. The place is covered with broken bones and is eerily dark. Chichak still has Catori who is fighting like the dickens when Turok and Andar show up on their own horse. Chichak holds the woman hostage during a brief face off when they are interrupted by a frigging terror bird emerging from the shadows and decapitating Turok's horse in an unnecessarily brutal manner. Good grief!

Turok and Andar try killing the nasty bird while Chichak knocks out Catori like a jerk-face and drags her into the nearby cave, being the only direction left. Andar shoots the bird through the frigging eye while Turok buries his tomahawk into its flank up to the hilt, which kind of convinces it to stay down and quit fighting back. They gather themselves and go into the cave after their enemy and emerge into a land completely different from their own.

Flying reptiles sail through the sky and dinosaurs thunder across open plains and thick jungles. They pick up pretty quickly on the fact that this place is a wee bit different than their nick of the woods, but don't let that stop them from trying to peel Chichak's skin from his bones.
They quickly pick up the trail and spot Chichak chasing down Catori in the distance across a field and Turok gives chase, hopping along the backs of anklyosaurs like a complete boss. Not sure how Chichak got his horse back though. And I know, I know, there technically weren't grassy fields in the dinosaur ages and that there are names for those periods, but I'll be darned if I'm going to look up those complex names while writing about a comic book character in a cartoon. Just comfort yourself in knowing that dozens of species of plants and animals separated by more than a hundred million years are all interacting without rhyme or reason. Weep paleontologists, weep!

Anyway, it looks like Chichak is about to get ahold of Catori once again when a frigging ginormous Carnotaurus bursts from the foliage and realizes that it absolutely must sample these curious two legged critters at all costs and the chase begins!

So the chase leads Turok, Andar and Catori over hill and dale taking turns being near bitten by Carny and shot at by Chichak, eventually resulting in our three heroes floating downriver on an uprooted tree. We then get a scene that I really like as they try to comprehend where they are and passively observe the brutality of the world they've entered, concluding that it is a place known as the Underworld. Fair nuff given the circumstances.

But the reprieve doesn't last long as an elasmosaur smells some fresh humie in the water and wants to get a good taste of that. Man, maybe cannibals are onto something, because humans seem to be the most tasty thing in the frigging planet. Anything that eats meat sees a human and will stop at nothing to get them! Okay, I'm just making fun. It'd be kinda boring if every predator saw a human in a story like this and just shrugged its shoulders and moved on.

Turok of course isn't going to take any of that lying down and we get an awesome fight scene, half of it taking place underwater. I really have to hand it to the creators of this flick, they really do a good job! Our hero frigging shoots the beast with his bow while under water, and while I checked to see if that was possible, apparently the animators were operating on the Rule of Cool, so any argument against the physical feasibility of archery under water is rendered invalid. Take that physics!
Turok gets a few gashes along his ribs and retaliates by straddling the thing's neck and de-spining it with his tomahawk like a boss.

The obscene amount of blood released attracts the granddaddy of all mososaurs which decides to help out with that elasmosaur problem, but decides it also wants to add our heroes to his diet as well. But they make it to shore and the beast retreats into the depths. Aaaaaaaand then our heroes are instantly found and captured by a group of people that look remarkably like themselves but riding upon terror birds and wearing dino-hide clothing! And what's more, they bear the same symbol as Turok's tribe! Dun dun duuuuun!

Meanwhile, Chicak has buggered off from the earlier river and is cruising around on his horse, finding a strange rock formation that is honeycombed with tunnels and stumbles upon what he takes to be an abandoned child. In the first and only case of him showing any sort of respect for life he dismounts and attempts to talk with the kid, but it turns out she's not quite what he was expecting. We then see he is surrounded by a freaking huge number of overweight neanderthals with spikey teeth and the IQ of Youtube commenters who bludgeon the almighty crap out of his horse and set upon Chichak, almost ripping his arms off. Man, horses do not do well in this place.

Before Chichak is de-limbed the obvious leader of the cavemen comes out muttering gibberish, and Chichak breaks away for his rifle and puts a bullet in the leader's gut. Of course these guys have freak strength and endurance, so that doesn't knock the leader off that easy, who charges down ready to show this newcomer who's boss. Chichak is forced to fire before he is completely done reloading, meaning that he shoots the ramrod instead of a bullet which frigging impales the caveman's head in one of the most gruesome images I've ever seen in a cartoon. Good grief this is brutal...

Anyway, guess who is now in charge of the cavemen? Yup. They basically regard him as a deity and even begin bowing before him.

Meanwhile Turok, Andar and Catori are brought to a cliff dwelling which is populated by a people remarkably similar to themselves, speak the same language and are presented under guard to the leader of the Cliff People, Sepinta. We also get a pair of supporting characters. There is Koba, who is a frigging ripped warrior with an awesome double bladed bone spear and Aniwa, a capable gal who rides on terror birds and is darned deadly with a knife.

They tell Sepinta that Turok is a human buzz-saw, having single-handedly massacred an elasmosaur which brought a mosasaur to finish it off. This kind of weirds them out, as this is not unlike someone using a 22 caliber rifle to bring down an Apache helicopter.

Sepinta doesn't know who these people are or what they're about and is understandably suspicious. She even mentions that they've never seen others of their own kind in this strange land. It's heavily hinted that they are in fact a branch of Turok's tribe, having somehow entered this place long ago. They even have the same phrase "From blood follows blood."

Turok just wants to frigging leave and is a bit grating but Catori is able to persuade Sepinta to allow them a test to prove that they mean no harm. So Turok gets to go on a fun fetch quest before he can use any of the buildings or trade with the... wait, nope, that's my fanfiction RPG. Sorry!
But he does get a fetch quest.

Koba leads Turok and Andar to a nearby mesa which towers high into the sky, scaling it partway before Turok volunteers to go the rest of the way. All he has to do is get an egg, but as you might imagine it's not nearly that simple. Turok starts leaking a good bit of blood from where the elasmosaur grazed him with its teeth but he keeps on, finding a good sized egg at the top and putting it in a specialized satchel. And then come the pteranodons! Things aren't as easy this time because Turok doesn't have his weapons, so he proceeds to frigging fistfight with the fliers. Again, props to the animators and sound department, cuz when he lands a punch it feels like it has impact. It's like watching someone pound a nail with a hammer.

Andar begs Koba to help, but he declines, saying that this isn't his test. Andar isn't exactly up to the challenge himself it would appear. Turok, then being awesome, hijacks on of the pteranodons and uses it as a glider. In an epic display of his awesomeness he actually forces it so high that they clear the clouds and witness the sky above before he steers it right to the front door of the Cliff People and snaps the animal's neck like a Kit Kat Bar. Oh, and he got the egg too. Fetch Quest completed!

Turok finally gets to get patched up and his little group is accepted into the tribe, Party time!

Elsewhere Chichak is undergoing his own sort of initiation ceremony. Within the dank caves of the cavemen they engage in a gristly meal, tearing chunks of flesh from bone while Chichak sits upon a small throne and also wearing the horned headpiece that the former leader wore. It's no accident that it is similar to what Chichak wore before entering this place, which was from a bison. He sits there brooding, looking over the brutish creatures he now commands when one of the women offers him a big hunk of meat. At first he declines, saying that he doesn't eat horse. She doesn't understand him, and confused keeps offering it to him. He accepts and after taking a bite comments that it's not too bad.

But just outside the cave we see one of the neanderthals cooking and eating the body of his former leader, very heavily implying that Chichak unknowingly just engaged in cannibalism. This also serves to illustrate some of the differences between him and Turok, who do share a strange similarity in their capacity for violence. Chichak has fallen in with a group of brutes who are callous and uncaring, reveling in gore. Turok on the other hand has allied himself with a dangerous people, but who also enjoy the lighter points in life, having a structure and customs.

Anyway, the Cliff People party and we see Andar and Aniwa beginning to bond. Turok manages to recover from his wounds quite quickly, but is very withdrawn and at first doesn't engage in the revelry. He leaves the cave he is given and strays away from the heart of action, looking over the edge of the cliff and beyond.

Here he is approached by a strange, masked individual who asks Turok why he is alone there. Turok counters, asking why the stranger is hiding behind a mask. The stranger persists in an innocent way and Turok says that the darkness is where he belongs, hinting that he isn't necessarily bitter at other people, but that he feels he is an outcast and doesn't belong with others.
In a really awesome line the shaman replies "And you say that I am hiding."

Andar and Aniwa find Turok and drag him back to the fun, but as Turok looks back he finds that the shaman has vanished. You wouldn't think it, but this movie really does have some subtlety and character focus.

Meanwhile Chichak tries to get his affairs in order and tries to communicate with the cavies that he wants to find other people like himself so he can brutalize them. Of course they don't understand him, having no real language. In a burst of savagery that is shocking even to them Chichak shoots one of their number in the head with his pistol, and using the blood paints the symbol of Turok's tribe on the wall, demanding to know if they've seen it.

Their reaction is almost instantaneous. The animators do a great job of conveying a look of surprise, recognition and understanding on these very inhuman and savage faces. Good work guys! But they begin barking and pointing in the same direction. Chichak then smiles. He's still got a score to settle.

Next day we actually get a very pleasant little montage as Andar and Catori interact with the Cliff People. It's one of the few scenes that isn't heavy with dread or violence. In fact, I consider it to be a very important scene as it not only allows us to take a breath but shows how the two cultures are beginning to meld. In the commentary the developers comment that this helps establish that while this land is dangerous it's not a bad place to live. There are moments of calm and happiness. The Cliff People don't regard it as being cursed or trying to escape. They've adapted and managed to find happiness even in this territory. All too many things with dinosaurs portray the place as grim and almost apocalyptic. Here we actually get a very nice middle ground. It is dangerous, it is harsh, but it is also their home and they can live there. They've adapted their cultural outlook and thinking to the land and have become stronger for it. Now that's awesome. :)

While this is happening Turok is still very distant, standing off to the side and not engaging much with anyone else. As night settles in Sepinta visits Turok in his cave, returning his weapons as a sign of respect and trust. Sepinta is slightly upset when he informs her that he plans to take Andar and Catori back from where they came from. Sepinta then gives a great speech, saying that his spirit mirrors the land unlike that of any other person she has ever met. The ferocity of his spirit made him an outcast in his former life, but in the Lost Land it makes him an asset. In a figurative and literal sense he was born for this place. This is a concept that resonates strongly with me. Although he wasn't born to this place he understands it and belongs there.

Turok however shrugs off her belief, insisting that he has no home. Sepinta is visibly hurt and you can really tell that his words cut her pretty deep. I really like this scene though. Like a lot. This is perhaps what elevates this movie from a bunch of violent schlock to being a genuinely good movie.

Night settles and a strange figure stalks the bridge that spans the canyon that separates the dwellings of the Cliff People from the rest of the Lost Land. He silently butchers the guard and then two others before signalling across the expanse. Oh yeah, Chichak is back and he's brought friends. One of the caveguys bursts in on Turok and we proceed to have a pretty epic fight scene as the cavemen wage war on the Cliff People. I can't even describe the carnage that takes place in this battle. Well I could, but that would be doing a disservice to it. Cuz holy crap, this is some of the most almighty violent stuff I've ever seen.

In the end Koba is tragically lost, holding off a small army of these buggers on the bridge by his lonesome, racking up an amazing body count. But it's clear he can't hold forever and Sepinta can't bring herself do cut the bridge, and Turok does it for her. He and Koba share a brief moment of eye contact where Koba smiles and nods, giving Turok permission to basically kill him. Even as he tumbles into the abyss he is still killing his enemies in a death grapple. Pretty epic stuff.

Chichak managed to get across to the other side and laughs horribly, telling Turok that he has not yet won and that he will be back to finish them off. Sepinta and Turok look back to see the cliff dwellings in shambles with a horrifying number of their people dead. Pretty darned grim actually.

In the aftermath of the battle the Cliff People are understandably upset and start turning on Turok, knowing that Chichak has come because of their new bestest buddy. Before they can act on mob mentality can fully take over Sepinta speaks up and reminds them what the heck their symbol stands for and how they had better darned well remember who they are.

Sepinta then organizes her people to move to another territory far out of the reach of Chichak and the cavemen where they can't be pursued. It also turns out that the Cliff People have domesticated a wide variety of Pleistocene animals as war mounts and beasts of burden to carry all of their stuff. For such a smart and capable people, you'd think that the cavemen would be on their heels, y'know? Sure, they are harder to kill than cockroaches, but for being so stupid the cavemen apparently have the advantage of numbers and are mostly overweight.

Just a minor complaint, but I think it would have been smarter to take the fight to the cavemen while firing arrows from the backs of mammoths and terror birds. Really, the Cliff people have the major advantages: Crude but effective armor, war mounts, superior weapons, tactics, strategy and a high level of coordination. Ah well. It's not a huge problem, but it did kind of stick out to me.

Anyway, Turok decides that he's going to take the fight to the enemy, going on alone to kill Chichak before he can give any sort of pursuit. Andar and Catori also inform him that they don't wish to return to their old home, but want to stay with Sepinta and the other Cliff People. This honestly doesn't seem odd to me and shows how adaptive they are.

Turok takes off, fueled with purpose and still keeping his promise to his brother. If Chichak dies, then the fighting will end and the others can live in relative safety. He slowly treks back to where they first entered the Lost Land and takes to observing the Carnotaurus, and to his surprise finds that it is actually a mother. He watches it feed its young, the one time the animal isn't trying to kill everyone. It's quite fascinating really, as the two do share a sort of kindred spirit. Both are brutally efficient killers, but at the same time both have a soft side. They watch over those they care about. Just because they are predators does not make them monsters and actually adds an odd level of personality to the Carnotaurus.

Of course while watching this Turok gets a bit sidetracked and a caveman lamps him over the head with a piece of stick. Oops. He wakes up inside one of the caves surrounded by the knuckle draggers and is approached by Chichak who has now reacquired his fathers tomahawk. This is a really tense scene where the two for the first time talk without trying to murder each other. Well, kind of. These two guys are intelligent and vicious warriors with a blood feud, each having killed the family of the other and have nothing but bad blood between them.

When reminded of his brother's death Turok loudly proclaims that Chichak murdered him, and Chichak, having the best lines, replies "Then why were you not fighting by his side?" Ouch man, ouch. You've really got to hand it to this production, they know how to make a great villain!

In a frigging cruel move even for this movie Chichak shoves his hand inside one of Turok's wounds to torture him, trying to figure out where the Cliff People have gone. Like the audience he has reasoned that these are descendants of Turok's tribe, and being a genocidal warlord plans to finish off all remnants of the group. Turok refuses to spill the info though, even when his rival whips out a knife and starts slashing his chest open.

The torture continues until he slips into a delirium, his mind churning over the events that have taken place in a rather trippy way. But we also see the return of the mysterious shaman who explains that the Carnotaurus kills because it is a hunter, that is what it was made for. Then in his dream the shaman removes his mask, revealing him to have the face of Nashoba and asks "What were you made for, brother?"
Man, I've got chills just typing this scene! I am honestly not doing it justice, because it truly does help define Turok as a character. There is a lot of metaphorical stuff going on here but wow does it carry weight. Is the shaman a real person or is he simply Turok's manifestation of guilt, trying to define himself and his purpose in life? Surprisingly heavy stuff.

Turok regains consciousness just in time for his rival to throw Andar before him, who had followed, wanting to help his uncle. Andar kinda feels like dirt for getting captured and it's kind of hard to blame him. At the threat of seeing his nephew cut open at the point of a knife Turok finally gives in and reveals the location of where the Cliff People are going. Personally I would have lied, but that doesn't seem to be Turok's thing.

Chichak gathers his forces and leaves two guards to watch over his prisoners. Andar feels even more like crap as he now feels pretty heavily responsible for the massacre that is going to take place, but Turok tells him to buck up, that the spirit of his father and he are in him, that he has great potential and that now is not the time to get depressed, but to escape and deliver the most epic arse-beating of the century.

He has almost freed himself from some crappy rope and Andar acts as a distraction, flopping around and yelping on the ground in a way that is honestly hard to take seriously. The two cavemen are kinda distracted by this, allowing Turok to thoroughly crush them both. Things still aren't done though, as everyone else has a huge head start on them and he is still pretty badly injured. But this is where things get even more ridiculously awesome, as Turok squeezes his wounds, letting the blood dribble from his palms and onto the ground, reciting the phrase that keeps coming back to him "From blood follows blood." His heart fired with new found purpose and embracing his warrior spirit Turok prepares for one of the most epic things I've ever seen in cinema.

Sure enough, the Carnotaurus picks up on the bloody scent and begins tracking him, but he's got a plan. Instead of getting eaten like a wuss, Turok has a spear with a long thong of leather tied to both ends and actually turns it into a set of reins and makes the Carno his steed. Andar hops on as the two charge ahead for the final showdown.

Ahead on a narrow cliff ledge Sepinta is trying to keep everyone moving, as the animals aren't faring well. Catori then runs up, finding that her son is missing and that Sepinta hasn't dispatched any of her warriors to try and find him. Catori is understandably upset over this and proclaims that if no one else will look for Andar then she will. Sepinta doesn't even flinch, stating flatly that she will die. Apparently Catori was bluffing as she backs down and begs for help, but Sepinta knows she can't spare anyone. It's hard to blame her. She's in a tough position. They just suffered a pretty epic beating and dispatching guys for a Saving Private Ryan mission is likely to cause more trouble than it would solve. She really does kick arse.

It's then that the cavemen appear on the upper level of the cliff and start raining down boulders and spears on our hapless heroes. After leaving the bulk of them trapped the cavemen race down the slope in a really awesome skateborder way while Chichak systematically annihilates anyone he comes into contact with. Sepinta and Catori tap into their Legolas skills, shooting back to back with bows while the bodies pile up around them.

In a nasty turn of events they are separated and one of the cavemen is about to bludgeon Catori, but before he can Chichak, yet again displaying his contempt for life, shoots his own dude just so that he can get credit for the kill. Most guys on online gaming consider this a low thing to do. Ah, but before he can finish her off who should appear?

Why Turok and Andar astride their new house pet! The watchers are understandably taken aback as the fight gets even more intense, what with this trio now turning the entire tide of battle. Andar completes a nice character arc, going from cowering in fear in his first battle to helping save Aniwa as her terror bird is killed beneath her and the two proceed to carve a path of carnage through the cavemen with nothing but their knives and sheer awesomeness.

Then just to be a complete jerk Chichak shoots Sepinta in the back of the head with one of his pistols, ending her once and for all. Poor lass! Turok doesn't appreciate this and the two officially throw down, punching the crap out of each other and grappling. Turok however is still pretty weak from having been cut open like a cow carcass earlier and isn't able to quite fight at full strength, while Chichak is still in fairly good condition.

Turok manages to retrieve the signature tomahawk as he is knocked away and the two face each other down. Turok has his melee weapon and Chichak has his pistol, everyone else just watching. Thinking he's got this in the bag, Chichak fires but only grazes his opponent, but with a really awesome slow mo effect and twin streamers of blood flowing from the graze wound. Turok then sends his rebuttal, throwing the tomahawk and lopping Chichak's head from his neck. Ouch.

His head topples from his shoulders to the ground, only to be followed a moment later by the Carnotaurus crushing it beneath its scaly heel. Now that was a gruesome end! For a moment the Carno and Turok look into each other's eyes, either facing down or sharing some sort of strange moment of connection before the beast pursues the now retreating cavemen.

The battle finally ends and the threat of Chichak at last ended but at great price. The movie ends with Sepinta's body being laid upon an alter with her clothing and weapons, the newcomers now fully accepted into the fold and reciting the motto of the tribe, at last setting her body ablaze in remembrance.

Folks, I really like this movie. The first time I saw it I figured "Yep, that was a decent action flick." and thought that was the end of it. But I kept feeling myself drawn back. For a little while I was baffled, not sure why I was so interested in re-watching what at first glance was a pretty simple and mindless cartoon. This is one of the very few times that I actually watched not only the behind the scenes stuff but the commentary track as well. I had to crack this riddle and find out why I liked it so much.

A surprising amount of depth had been put into this, turning it more into a character oriented story rather than a simple "Man fights beast in lost land" shtick. There is a lot of subtlety to the three main characters and are supplemented with a truly chilling villain. He's now one of my favorite bad guys! Granted, the characters are fairly simple, but they are solid. You get their deal and come to really like them. I was sorely tempted to describe Turok as being a simple grumpy, angsty killer without any deeper meaning, but that simply wasn't the case. It was only after digging deeper that I was able to break down the elements and see how this guy really became solid.

The creators of this really knew what they were doing, making it go far enough in some areas but not so extreme as to be come unrealistic. It's actually pretty impressive how they did some really exciting things but almost all of them within the realm of physical feasibility. With maybe one or two exceptions Turok doesn't do anything you couldn't potentially do in real life. Granted, he is meant to be something special, a guy with a feral spirit in him who can do what few others can, but it's not to the point of him being super powered. In that sense they were very mature in showing restraint, which I think was a very good move.

They also did a good job with pacing, which isn't always easy in a movie. This movie feels rather long, but in reality is only about 70 minutes, barely over an hour. They get a heck of a lot done in that short period of time! Really, nothing is wasted. It's tight with little to no flab to weigh it down.

The animation is a bit simplistic but it really lends itself well to action and there is a lot of detail if you know where to look for it. For example, I really like the clothing of the Cliff People, being very interesting pieces made from dino hide, which really appeals to me. The weapons are imaginative too. Also, gotta call them out for this as well, they understand that muzzle-loading weapons aren't semi-auto. All of Chichak's guns are fired after an appropriate amount of time for reloading, which is sooooooooo rare in this kind of stuff. Granted, he almost always load off screen, but considering that loading a muzzle loader is one of the most time consuming things with guns, I don't blame them for that. A good user can fire three shots in a minute. Do you really wanna stop the action to watch him do that? Do you really? Didn't think so.

The audio also sticks out to me as well. Great attention is given to proper sound selection and placement, often giving some scenes some real weight when the action is going on. Or also grossing you out. I had to chuckle during the commentary where one cliff guard is impaled through the torso by Chichak and you hear him gurgle wetly and one of the commentors says "I think that's the grossest sound in the whole movie." Another chuckles in a morbid way and replies "Oooh no, there's more coming!" It's also nice to see creators have a sense of humor about their work. They actually make fun of a few things and couldn't help but smile.

And cuz I'm in no mood to stop praising this thing, they have the best usage of slow mo I think I've ever seen in a movie. Granted, I haven't seen all that many movies and slow mo tends to make me zone out, but here it is wonderfully utilized.

With very little time and a small budget these guys did just about everything right and churned out a legit good movie. I'm not saying that this is an award winning flick that changed the lives of millions, not at all. But it is a well made, well paced and well executed film with Native Americans and dinosaurs, harking back to the original comic series and updating it without losing the spirit of it all.

I'm actually annoyed with myself for not having heard of it sooner, cuz wow.
And with the holidays right around the corner this would be a perfect time to give it a look see, seeing how cheap it is! Wink wink nudge nudge. So if you have a friend who likes comics, dinosaurs, retro games or just has a sick sense of humor this would make a good stocking stuffer or drive by gift.
And no, I'm not getting paid to recommend this. Trust me, I wish I was! I could really use the cash. But for now I'll have to settle for the warm feeling in my heart at thinking people will enjoy watching this. Sorry for having gushed so much, but... it was fun!


Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Roy Chapman Andrews writing, whoo!

Roy Chapman Andrews is one of those guys that was so awesome he seems almost fictional. In the glory days of exploration and adventure, the early 1900's when science and action went hand in hand, Andrews was but one of many men who blazed trails through untamed wilds in the name of science. He did a great deal to bring paleontology into the public eye, namely by traveling deep into the Gobi Desert of Mongolia and retrieved fossilized eggs and bones.

He was one of those men that was adored in his own time and beloved by the public for being the kind of awesome adventurer most people wanted to be. And better yet, the discoveries he made were real! This was when ancient ruins in Egypt and South America were being discovered and fired up the public imagination. Even my beloved Edgar Rice Burroughs says that he was inspired by Andrews and his exploits. Wow, when your resume can say that you were the basis for one of the most influential authors of an entire century, you know that you're awesome!

I don't know about you, but I find it wonderfully comforting knowing that there was such a surprising multitude of genuine adventurers of this caliber that were real, living, breathing people.

Ahhh, and what did I discover upon poking around a bit on the web? None other than some of his exploits that he recorded! Okay, sure, some journals written even by the coolest trekkers can come across as kind of stale, but I certainly won't turn down this opportunity to check out things from the perspective of a man widely believed to have been the inspiration for Indiana Jones.
As a side note, I'd just like to voice my opinion that I do not believe he actually was. George Lucas and Stephen Spielberg both said that their character was not based on Andrews, and I believe them. They did say that they based him off of old action characters from serials and pulp from the 40's and 50's. Y'know, the era when creators were basing sodding everything off of real life and making it even more entertaining. I think the connections are circumstantial, simply basing Jones off of serial characters who were based off of Andrews himself. Simple, no?

I don't know about you guys, but I'm going to devour these two journals! I may even later on do a more in depth analysis on Andrews in the future. Who knows? It's kinda hard not to write about him!

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Computer ressurection

At last, my computer lives again! Took sodding long enough. Again, I apologize to anyone who has been waiting for my progress. I still have to transfer my old data back and finish editing, but I should be done by late December.

Oh, and for those of you who don't want to check up on this blog every day for updates, I have in fact made a Facebook page specifically for major updates for Primal Frontier. Hopefully this will make things more convenient for all five of you who are interested. Here ya'll go!

Huh? What's that editor? Tell them what? But everyone else already does that... They sound like they're begging. Oh, okay, fine.
Ahem, if you happen to use Facebook and want to support Primal Frontier, please like and share if the chance presents itself. I'd really appreciate it! :)

Oh, and Happy Almost Thanksgiving! I know what I'm thankful for, whoo!

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Coyote: The Outlander review

This here is just a quickie review to tide ya'll over while I try to Frankenstein my computer back to life, which is only slightly harder than getting water to burn with a magnifying glass. Sigh. I don't get paid enough for this crap.

Anyway, I just recently finished reading Coyote: The Outlander, the first in a book series mixing elements of Steampunk and the Weird West. Let me just say that this book is frigging awesome and I have very few complaints. Our protagonist going by the name of Coyote, is a smokin' hot female bounty hunter and quick draw gunslinger hunting down interdimensional criminals who are causing problems in the West, and she's just the gal to whip them into line! Already, from the premise alone, you know this is something special.

I mean, come on! Bounty hunters, dimensional travel, strange weapon technology, what's not to like? Right away I responded well to the author's writing style. Crisp, clear and with a distinct voice. Sure, she does a bit too much telling at points, but that's hardly enough to put a dent into this piece.

Coyote is a pretty fun character and actually quite well defined, feeling more like a real person but at the same time does have a pulpy flavor to her. I don't think this is written intending to be pulp, but I do get the vibe that this is a character that female readers can latch onto. I mean, let's face it: Gals just haven't had nearly as many action role models as guys. We've got Tarzan, John Carter, Conan, Solomon Kane, the Sackett's, Master Chief and innummerable others. Ladies don't have quite as many, and those that do actually survive are usually pounded into the ground by crappy games and creepy fanart.

But not so with Coyote! She's drop-dead gorgeous, determined, darned clever, deadly with a handgun and ready to kick arse at the drop of a hat, this gal is pretty darned cool! A bunch of snooty jerks who've never written a thing in their lives will more than likely accuse her of being a Mary Sue and that the character should be burned at the stake for having so many awesome traits rolled into one. Well you know what? Screw those guys. Coyote is awesome! And remember, I'm the guy who spends most of his freetime trying to find new ways to be manly. So shut up and enjoy the awesome.

I don't want to explain the whole story here as this is a quickie, but I'll try to tack out the basics. Coyote gets hired to hunt down a creature that has come through a Rip, a tear in the fabric of space I believe, that is eating children and in general just being a jerk. So, Coyote has to acquire a particle beam pistol to kill the darned thing cuz her regular six shooter just can't penetrate his hide, and then track the poor sap down and reduce him to an unpleasant memory.

Sounds straightforward enough, and it is, but there is an astonishing amount of detail given to fleshing out character and history here. Like wow, I was genuinely not expecting some of the twists that took place in this story. I don't get blind-sided like that easily, so that's saying something. There are also points where the story has the sort of intensity that makes you clench up tight enough to crack your molars. Most of the pacing is pretty liezurely, but wow there is one chapter early on that almost made my muscles lock up. Now that is cool!

I won't provide spoilers here, so try taking my word for it. This is a story well worth reading and I plan on reading more in the future when I can afford it. There are some attatched games and codes tied in with the chapters, but I haven't messed with those yet. This here be about the book.

Let's see... I don't want to sound like I'm totally sucking up, so I'd better mention something that I didn't like. Hmmm... Um, give me a second... I already mentioned how on occasion the author does a bit too much telling, but that's small potatoes. Erm... Oh! Okay, the only other thing that actually seemed not really cool to me was the fact that Coyote didn't gun down an entire orchestra worth of bad guys. Minor spoiler, but she actually doesn't kill anyone in this story. Most of the meat and potatoes goes to fleshing out her character, which I really shouldn't be complaining about. Maybe it's just the dude in me, but I would have liked to have seen her shoot three or four guys with her six-shooter and then strike a fun Power Rangers pose. Well, maybe that'll be in the next book!

Anyway, go take a look at this good example of Weird West writing!

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Crap crap crap CRAP!!!

Just when I get a role on editing and set a release date, my computer has to succumb to the evils of the online world and is completely corrupted by viruses. I'm only able to write this now because I hijacked someone else's computer when they weren't looking.

So I'm rather irked, being unable to work on my writing at all. Just looking at my sodding rough draft is now a hassle and risks infecting other stuff. Bugger all. At least with a severed internet connection I could still edit and play Fallout 3. But having my entire setup wrecked? Infuriating.

Sigh. But I refuse to give up. This is but a setback and I shall inevitably make a comeback! On the plus side I've been able to dedicate a nigh unhealthy amount of time and effort to reading. Looking through some older literature I had picked up but not had the time to look through that I'd lifted from a thrift store, I discovered a heretofore untapped goldmine of knowledge! Part of the reason I never delved into the thing before is because there is no blurb on the back. Perhaps it once had a fancy dust cover but has since gotten lost. I swear the thing must be older than my dad though, as I've only seen a few books with this type of cover and binding. Quite curious indeed, since it's in amazing shape!

Anywhat, the book is called Gun Notches by Thomas Rynning, true tales of a genuinely great frontiersman. How I haven't heard of this guy before shall forever elude me, but I'm now delighted that I have this copy. It's not meant as a chest beater nor is it a rigid factual recitation. Rather it is a collection of stories and recollections from a man rich with life experience and putting them down on paper for future generations to enjoy. And boy howdy does it fit the bill! A fan of all things Western this guy provides a legion of little known knowledge that I'd never heard of before, everything from cowboy dressing to horse-riding tricks.

If you didn't think the West was wild before, you will after taking a peek at this! Look him up, it's well worth the effort and almost makes going without a computer worth it. :)

Thursday, October 23, 2014

And the embarassments keep coming

I should be finishing up my review of the Turok Son of Stone movie. I really should. And editing my current rough draft. But how can I not make fun of this most recent incident? I mean, I knew that our current Pres is incompetent to the point of legend, but even by his standards this is just astounding.

Under Bush with that one fella and the wicked throwing arm? Okay, yeah, kinda wacky, but that guy didn't get too far. And he didn't have a gun. But wow, one of the most tight and petty guys that ever walked over the threshold of the Whitehouse wanting the strictest of gun control and penetrate every element of personal life and he has a violent guy working for him, but is armed and within French kissing distance of him in the sodding elevator! This is just too delicious. I mean for crap's sake, I've been more thorough in looking over people when they're going to babysit.

Okay, true, it is not Obama's fault, but wow the incompetence of his security leaves me nothing short of astonished. The bar is now so low that you could apparently trip over it.

The reaction of Obama's Secret Service leader.
So Pres, quick question bro. If you can't keep one random armed dude at high-five distance from you while surrounded by Secret Service guys or keep some schmuck out of the White House, what on Earth makes you think you can keep anyone or anything else safe? What makes you think you can keep weapons out of the hands of criminals even if Eric Holder is no longer around to give them quality stuff? Clearly the answer is MOAR CONTROL!

After all, the anti-gun guys are at the forefront of firearms knowledge. Behold, the pinnacle of anti-gunner wisdom!

Pictured: The leading authority on anti-gun lore.

Okay, that's not entirely fair. I'll be honest. Schultz is actually smarter and intellectually honest. And he's adorable!

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Reality is conspiring against me

It's funny how life works sometimes. No sooner did I finish my rough draft of Hunter from the Red Hills than my entire computer gets ravaged by hostile software, prompting me to initiate a totalitarian purge of my system, weeding out any sedition within the rebellious programs skulking about in the background. I freaking hate Trojans and viruses. I'd love to find the guys who made some of these and pay them a visit.

And now when I sit down to actually do some rewrites and editing I just happen to get sick. I need to check around this new place for hexing signs and remove them, cuz this crap is getting ridiculous. Sigh. This just ain't my month it seems. And I have to beg for my old job back. Fun fun fun!

Ugh, wish me luck gents. I'm gonna need it!

Saturday, October 11, 2014

The chaos life!

Holy crap things have been messy lately. The entire clan had to pack up everything nailed to the ground, pull the nails out of everything that was, and haul them around like a pack of mules. But somebody has to do it, and being a strapping young man, I had to chip in. But good grief is it a confused hassle.

Fun fact: When moving something weighing upwards of two hundred pounds over uneven ground, young children like to get in the way and ask really stupid questions. Then they cry when you tell them to get out of the sodding way so that neither you or they get crushed under the worlds most dense piece of furniture. Shocking!

I also find some designs of modern homes most baffling. Specifically in regard to lights. My room isn't installed with a single sodding light bulb! Why the devil are modern constructions so averse to installing lights? I mean, okay, the attic entrance is in my room so you can't put a ceiling fan smack dab in the middle, but why not scoot it over a foot or two? I want to be able to see in my room dangit! Give me some light bulbs! Thomas Edison didn't steal all the credit for inventing the thing just for them to be abandoned after all.

I suppose I shouldn't complain too much. My new command post is rather cozy, complete with the fantastic luxury of having a closet! Not quite enough room for the usual battery of bookshelves though. I swear, with all the literature I lug around you could use them as submarine ballast. Well, back to the literary hammer and anvil!

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Artist Shout out!

It's no secret that this are difficult times around the world. Even so there has been no limit to the skill and creativity some people develop and perform. I'm constantly amazed at some of the things that artists are able to create with little more than pencils and paper. With a chunk of pencil lead and some pulped wood they can recreate battle scenes, vivid facial expressions, landscapes, buildings, anything their imaginations can conjure! I've always been envious of these people, especially since I'm hard pressed to draw a stick figure.
I've been lucky enough to find and speak with some artists on the internet who are truly amazing. On their pages they have asked for help in becoming better known and I am more than happy to share knowledge of them in my little blog. Here are two guys who are excellent visual artists and more than worthy of your time to take a look at!



These two fellows are worth your time looking at. Give them a look see and be amazed!

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

A 460 S&W Levergun at long last!

Ever since Smith and Wesson introduced their infamous 500 Magnum and 460 Magnum in those gigantic revolvers almost everyone interested in them wanted to see the 460 chambered in a levergun. This is because the 460 is based off of the 454 Casull, which for a long time was one of the most powerful handgun chamberings, which was in turn based off of the legendary 45 Colt of western fame. Why? Because the case dimensions were almost identical save for length and wall thickness, allowing the shorter cartridges to fit into the new, larger actions.

This resulted in a rather interesting dilemma. This was a gun idea that everyone wanted. It was also a gun idea seemingly no company was interested in developing. While theoretically feasible it was something that proved very difficult to actually do. For one, there was no existing frame that was ideally suited for this sort of job. Everyone wanted to have it chambered in the 1894 Marlin, but it was deemed by many to be too fragile to handle the extreme pressures. It handled the 45 Colt and 44 Magnum fine, but for heavy hitters like the 454 Casull? Not so much. Also not helping was the fact that the 460 was much longer than either of its elders, something that did not help with the Marline design either.

In addition most lever action designs just weren't in the same league to deal with such high pressure cartridges. While there were a few such as the Browning BLR which is a lever action/bolt action hybrid or the Savage 99, they used internal box magazines instead of magazine tubes. This was not something that would allow an exchange of different cartridge lengths. Nobody wanted a carbine in just the 460 S&W either. After all, if you wanted a high powered 45 caliber rifle, why not just go with the 45-70 or 458 Winchester Magnum? Nope, the appeal lay in the ability to switch between the three cartridges which would make it wonderfully versatile.

The 45 Colt would be ideal for plinking, casual shooting, home defense and low budget practice. The 454 Casull would be superb for the majority of hunting purposes out to ranges almost certainly out to 200 yards with its higher velocity. But the 460 would be used for the serious hunting jobs requiring power and precision. With a muzzle velocity on revolvers of around 2,300 FPS, the 460 would command impressive ranges for a carbine. Or if loaded with fat 300 or 350 grain cast bullets it would be a monstrous penetrator capable of handling dangerous game. Six or seven rounds of medicine like that in a light rapid fire package would be lethal against dangerous game of all types.

Even with all these potential virtues, virtually no company around the world seemed to be interested in making such a package. Until now!
Almost a decade after the 460 S&W Magnum was created, a lever action rifle platform has been created to fit the bill!
Behold the Big Horn Armory Model 90!

Model 89 Trapper
Model 90 Carbine 460 S&W 
Also responsible for creating a lever action accepting the 500 S&W Magnum, the Big Horn Armory company has certainly been keeping itself busy. Their Model 90 frame is a mix between two John Moses Browning classics: The venerable 1886 Winchester and 1892 Winchester. The '86, which was Browning's second rifle was in fact a game changer back in the day and did a lot to solidify Winchester as a premier rifle company as well as securing Browning a pretty solid relationship with the company. Even in the face of more advanced rifle designs such as the 98 Mauser the 86 held up surprisingly well, being fantastically strong and able to handle massive shells that most other lever actions wouldn't accept. Even today when facing Marlin's proud 336 and 1895 platforms with side ejection and ability to easily mount optics, the 86 is still holding its own.

The 92 was basically the 86 made to handle the smaller pistol cartridges and became one of the go-to carbines, competing heavily with the likes of the Marlin 94 and effectively making the legendary 1873 Winchester obsolete. Big Horn has mixed the two platforms to create the Model 90 which from all accounts has done a sterling job of handling the tooth-rattling pressures of the 500 Magnum.

Sadly I won't be giving a whole lot of in depth critique of this rifle as the designers apparently forgot to send me a model to test out, and its price range is a wee bit beyond what I have on hand at the moment. I don't begrudge them this though! From what I gather so far their Model 90 is a rock solid design which they poured plenty of blood, sweat and tears into. At first glance I see nothing except fantastic quality with a great deal of attention given to making it reliable and functional. Not to mention a gorgeous weapon to boot! There is little I can see to improve on in terms of basic construction or the bells and whistles. They have aperture sights, sling studs, and a good black matte finish, although case hardened is also an option. By all accounts these are top notch weapons capable of handling a wide variety of jobs and would be a grace to any wall or gun safe.

To be honest folks, I've been hankering for a weapon like this for a very long time. This concept has appealed to me from the start but I didn't think I'd actually see one produced! I figured I would have to make my own model or cobble together some Frankenstein chimera to make my dream of having a 460 Magnum levergun come true. But now they are being made by a professional company for all to own! There are no words in the human language that can express the child-like delight I feel towards this little setup. And considering that I have a penchant for hyperbolic over-the-top description, that's saying something!

If any of you who happen to be reading this are burdened with an over-abundance of cash and would like to make a complete stranger happy, please let me know! Heaven forbid I invest cash in mutual funds or CDs in the bank. Nope! I've got to get myself a dream rifle! Well, I'd better start saving. Time to celebrate the new birth of one of the coolest long guns I've ever seen. I hope ya'll found this to be of interest!

Ya'll can find their site and rifles here: http://bit.ly/2IbOXPw

Thursday, September 18, 2014

My first con: The Weird West Fest!

At last, months of planning and scheming are about to come to fruition! Having successfully shanghaied a friend and ransomed enough money I have mustered sufficient resources to go to the Weird West Fest in Giddings Texas. This is only the second one they've had, but I'm hoping it will be a fun time! http://www.weirdwestfest.com/festival-info/

Pray for me though folks, as I must take one of the most terrifying modes of transportation known to man: Plane. I know, I know, statistically it is the safest way to travel. The thing is I can walk away from a bus if it suddenly runs out of gas. I've kind of got a thing regarding heights. Or to put it more bluntly, being more than my own height off the ground instills gut-wrenching terror into my very soul. So I've requested a seat away from the windows because I'm not overly keen on seeing The World beneath me. Hopefully I will not pass out or chew through my tongue in fright. No pressure!

Once on the ground though things should be way more fun. Can't wait to meet all sorts of fun gents at Giddings and perhaps spend a penny or two on loot!

Well, take care folks! I've got some packing to do! I leave tomorrow morning!

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Writing update for Primal Frontier

I thought it'd be fair to give a brief update on how my work is coming along seeing as how it's been a good bit of time since the last one.
I'd actually hoped to have my first novella out by now, but after sifting through my rough draft with the input of others I started the entire thing over from scratch. Not terribly fun, but I'm not about to screw up my first story out of the gate. I'm more than half way through already and with luck I'll have it finished by the end of the month. But I'll still have to edit it, get beta readers, correct spelling and grammar, etc, so it will be out in November at the soonest.
I am happy however in that this second version is far superior to its predecessor. It's got all the classic pulpy goodies, wheeee!

On the other hand, I have gotten some other novellas in Primal Frontier started up, so I'm getting some other fun stuff whipped up.

I must mention though that writing stuff involving prehistoric life is pretty darned challenging from many angles.
The most obvious is scientific accuracy. If you look at older depictions of dinosaurs compared to modern depictions then you've probably noticed a thing or two has changed. The science is frequently being updated as new discoveries are made and thus the animals are shifting yearly. Paleo-nerds will pounce on this stuff in a heartbeat. Have you seen forums when you get paleo guys and average joes talking about feathers? That stuff gets intense!
You can get virtually everything nailed in your story, but within a decade most of your stuff will become outdated. A friend of mine flat out stopped researching the entire animal group because she got fed up with the constantly changing facts.

Writers doing time travel plots get flayed over mixing species of different eras and continents together. Those guys have it rough! Hopefully my alternate history setting with convergent evolution and different continental drift with a curious lack of extinction in some species will be enough to keep the hard-core paleo gents from crucifying me. Heaven knows I've tried doing my research!

Mind you though, I'm not complaining. If I get something wrong about behavior or physiology I appreciate being corrected. Improvement never comes without mistakes being pointed out!
(Wait, what do you mean I can't have a dimetrodon battling a megalania? Why not!?)
I'd say the most vexing problem with the setting I've got is that it's difficult to get lesser known creatures worked into the story. I don't want to give the usual parade of standard dinos like T-Rex, trikes, raptors, stegos, etc. After all, there were hundreds of other beasties cruising around back then and I want to create environments that feel real with realistic animals, not Syfi monsters that become obsessed with crushing every human they lay eyes on.

From a world building and realistic standpoint throwing in animals and environmental info is great, but from a storytelling standpoint it isn't. Everything has to have a purpose, otherwise the reader gets bored. The only writer I've seen get away with what is basically an exhibition tour of a carefully crafted world is Dinotopia. You can see all the amazing effort and detail put into every single page and it sucks you right in. It has virtually no story though. It's much more like you're riding a tour bus and seeing all of the cool stuff. If that's the entire point then you might be able to get away with it. But when you're writing a story with action and you need to keep the pace moving you have little room for stopping to check out every little critter and their lifestyle.

It's hard to make tiny animals seem interesting and relevant when you're writing a story about epic exploration and hunting. It's an interesting dilemma, but one I hope to overcome. Readers these days deserve good stories dangit!

Thankfully my obsessive research into firearms will satisfy 95% of all firearm nuts like myself. Historian firearm buffs see lots of unfamiliar weapons as this is alternate history, but they'll have a hard time finding the kinds of flaws that you get in the bulk of Hollywood action movies. Not to mention I can make up all kinds of fun stuff since this is my universe and I'm limited only by physics, so hah! I hope you enjoy Matthew Quigely-esque firearm descriptions, because you'll get plenty of those.

Well, wish me luck lads!

Friday, September 5, 2014

Cowboys of Cthulhu

I'm honestly really divided on this particular book. Even after having had well over a month to ruminate on it I'm still not sure how I feel about it. I think I was initially thrown after having seen all the high ratings it got on Amazon. It had a good number of 5 star ratings and raised my expectations a bit too high I suppose.

Now, I wouldn't say Cowboys of Cthulhu is a bad book, but I wouldn't put it up as high as it has been raised. On one hand the plot is very simple: A cowboy and a handful of people in a traveling oddities circus type thing are sent to settle some very strange goings on in the wild west, which has Lovecraftian elements. The whole thing is done in a rather simple manner, but for this sort of story I think that's for the better. I'd rather have something simple and decent than something convoluted and overly complex for the sheer sake of it. So yeah, simple premise and it's not screwed up.

Character identities are actually done pretty well, each of them very distinct and easy to identify. I wouldn't say they have lots of personality per se, as most of them don't interact much, but you are never confused about who is who and who does what. I don't recall all of their names, because I'm just plain bad at remembering those I'm afraid, but I can tell you a distinguishing feature of each person, so I'd say the author does alright on that count.

Dialogue is... I'm not sure. I don't feel qualified to analyze dialogue, because it is something that I usually don't notice, so I wouldn't put a whole lot of faith in my opinions in regards to that. Feel free to ignore me on this one. That said, it didn't feel natural and was kind of odd to me. Even so, I wouldn't say it was bad either. Just sort of middle of the road. Although one thing that honestly did bother me was how the harsh language was handled. One character in particular peppered every sentence with profanity, which was replaced by stars just like ***** this. Now, I am not a fan of profanity myself and often mark out nasty stuff in books I purchase, but this execution was just plain distracting and left me instead trying to translate what the heck was being said.

The real slippery slope that is tread here is the fact that Lovecraftian stories are really hard to do, even if you happen to be HP Lovecraft. Most people miss the concepts of his work entirely, instead boiling it down to "Tentacles!" I read some comics from Dark Horse supposedly inspired by his work, and most often were just stupid. Sure, one or two were good, but it's really tricky when anyone from the modern era tries to do anything in that mythos.
So does the author fail or succeed in capturing any of the features or themes that made Lovecraft stand out? Yes and no.

The climactic fight scene and their entrance into the canyon are actually interesting. From a distance the geometry of the entire thing keeps shifting and changing, baffling the protagonist. Even when they get inside and the fight starts bullets don't go where they are supposed to. Because of the strange dimensional plane they have unintentionally entered things don't go the way you think they would, resulting in a very strange but interesting gunfight, where the normal laws of physics are in gear only for a short period of time. From a gunfight standpoint it was weird, but from a Lovecraftian angle it was actually rather interesting. And it did end in a way that made it clear that the author understood the fatalist and depressing truth that the Old Ones can be resisted but never stopped, although I don't feel that he succeeded completely. Just partway for me.

But what honestly left me kind of grimacing was the enemy they directly faced. Major world ending spoiler here, so ye be warned.
The enemies are three little Cthuloids wearing Western attire and firing revolvers from their face tentacles. I'm sure other people thought that idea was awesome, but it just plain sat wrong with me. It feels fundamentally wrong for such strange interdimensional beings that have been around for time unknown to be wasting their time with single action revolvers in a pitched gunfight.
In traditional Lovecraft there was very little action or fighting, although it did happen. I fondly remember the atmosphere describing the raiding of the ancient cult in the bayous in Call of Cthulhu. Being a Western, it would have been an absolute crime to not have a gunfight, so I'm not upset on that point, but rather that the enemy fighters were Chthonians.

I think it would've worked better if they had been tracking down a cult that was related to the one in the bayou, running amok and spreading terror in the trackless wastes of the Wild West, having a pitched gunfight in the hills and eventually beating them back into their underground lair before witnessing some strange thing that should not be next to a Cthulhu idol, bending their sanity before sealing it off with a keg of dynamite. It could have ended with victory, but with the crushing knowledge that they've only forestalled the inevitable. This would have easily given us an excellent fight and fit very neatly within the mythos.

There are a few other minor things that bother me, but overall I consider just an okay book. The author does have a distinct voice with some level of flair that gives it energy. Just needs some polishing up is all. I wouldn't have given it a 5 star rating on Amazon, but I certainly wouldn't have given it a 1 star either, as it does do some things right. If you have lower standards for modern Lovecraft than myself and just want a mindless action romp, then this will work just dandy. If you want something that echoes the terror that the original stories did so long ago, you will be disappointed.

I wish the author good luck in improving and making future publications!
You can purchase here: http://www.amazon.com/Cowboys-Cthulhu-Riders-Weird-West-ebook/dp/B005VRWR9Y

Badlands: Wanted Dead or Alive, The Hunter: Book review

I hate being the bad guy on this one. As someone trying to publish independently myself I don't like chopping down others trying to do the same. After all, they're only trying to entertain people and make a living. I want to pick out good authors and tout them for all to see, both to help them be more successful and to give viewers something worth their time and money. But I can't do that here, because simply put, Badlands: The Hunter is bad. In this book's defense, it isn't a complete train wreck. It's just that the major flaw it has sucks out all enjoyment I would otherwise get from it. In terms of plot this is actually darned good.

But I must elaborate here, as there are many levels of bad, and this can serve as an excellent example of this particular case. There are badly plotted stories, badly written characters, bad ideas, stories loaded with plot holes, or poor execution.
The basic premise is a specialist paranormal investigator has been called out in a Wild West setting to deal with some ghostly happenings. From that angle it is in fact good, and the writer did well on that note.

So where does it get bad? Simply put, the writing style is too dry and flat to evoke any emotion from the characters or the reader. It's almost shocking how devoid of flare it is. It almost feels like the characters are all robots giving their interpretation of a Western or mimicking one.

"I am Protagonist. Beep boop beep. Initiate Gritty Hero program 327. Activating interaction module. Scene commence."

I'm really not trying to be mean, but the character interactions were so stock. I got half way through the book before I had to stop, because I felt like I was eating a piece of stale bread. Sure, the bread has its structure and vitamins, but it is so stale that I can't enjoy it.

When characters act outraged it comes as a mild surprise, because it doesn't feel like they were showing any signs of aggression before. Sure, there are some indicators, but there just isn't any real feeling of emotion, and it's an anchor around the ankles of what would otherwise be a story I'd love. I don't hate this book at all, and I honestly hope the author improves if he continues, but this one certainly isn't a good example of the genre. I'd almost recommend looking this book over just to analyze the mistakes as well as the things done correctly, as it is sort of fascinating from an academic standpoint.

I really do hate to actually respond negatively like this, but honesty takes precedence. I really do hope that the author of this learns and improves, because in terms of plotting he actually does have potential.
Next I think I'll do Cowboys of Cthulhu! Stay tuned!

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Dinosaur Wars Trilogy Review

Do I even have to come up with a logical list of reasons why you should purchase this book and its sequels? Do I really? The cover basically tells you everything you're in for, which is what a cover should do dangit. As you may have guessed, when I came across this on Amazon for an extremely reasonable price I just couldn't help myself. I'm a real sucker for dinosaur based fiction, and this certainly looked like it would deliver. I mean, for crap's sake! In one image we have tanks pointing guns at a huge theropod, a cowgirl riding on horseback and things slashing down from the sky!

Earthfall is the first of the Dinosaur Wars trilogy and several followups, but for now I will simply discuss the trilogy as those are the ones that I have read. And just up front, yes, I do like these. So you can expect a bit of gushing here, although I'll try bring some decent analysis to the table. There will be some spoilers below, so if you are curious and want to know if this is worth your money, then my answer is yes: These three books in my opinion are worth your money. They aren't mind-blowing tales that will change the way we look at fiction, but they are fun, well written and well thought out stories that bring some genuine science fiction to the table. They are VERY well priced, and if you enjoy good action, adventure or scifi then you have no reason to not at least check out Earthfall.

So, where to start. Hmmm, synopsis sounds good. I read these last year so my memory might be a wee bit fuzzy on some details but I'll do my best. The basic premise is that dinosaurs are not extinct, and that before the extinction there was in fact an intelligent race of saurians calling themselves the Kra, who in an attempt to dodge the oncoming apocalypse built a base on the moon with very advanced technology, including an insanely powerful death ray, cloning facility, mining operations and manufacturing facilities. They have woken up, and are now beginning to wage a war to retake the planet Earth. It's a pretty awesome clash that actually got me involved on a strategic and tactical level, which is hard to do with me.

We start out in the rural territory of Wyoming where our protagonist Chase is doing work reintroducing wolves as part of wildlife management who is alternating between dealing with the wolves and a local rancher with his daughter, Kit. Rancher is kinda peeved that wolves are being brought back to the woods cuz they eat cows, and he's in the business of keeping cows alive, so there is some understandable friction. An associate of Kit who also happens to be out in the boonies is an eccentric paleontologist by the name of Doctor Ogilvey, who has some rather curious theories about some dinosaurs and is digging around in some cliffs near the ranch.

Just to get this out of the way, Dr. O is eerily similar to the scientist in Valley of Gwangi in both looks and attitude. I couldn't get the image out of my head, so I was a wee bit distracted there. I think it was accidental on the author's part though. Anyway, things seem relatively calm in the Wyoming woods with the exception that they notice a curious aircraft fly overhead at a very low altitude and curious flashes of light that seem to originate from the moon.

Chase is a rather headstrong wildlife ranger boy, a bit too rash in many cases for my taste, but he makes a decent main lead, and he was never stupid enough to make me hate him. Kit is a fun country girl living on her father's ranch with bigger dreams than just becoming a rancher and is actually a pretty strong character, at least to me. I may be biased due to the fact that I swoon over gun-wielding cowgirls. There is literally a line where her friend asks "What kind of guy would be interested in a cowgirl wearing jeans and a cowboy hat?" My reaction was "Meeeeeeeeeeeee!" Sigh.

Elsewhere in the world things aren't nearly as calm. That flashing from the moon? That's a frigging high powered laser coming from the moon and zapping high priority targets. To be honest, when I first heard about a war between humanity and dinosaurs trying to take back territory, I thought it would be a pretty one sided curb-stomp when it came to ground combat. I mean, come on, we've been mastering ground warfare for quite a good while and one country alone would provide quite a big problem for such a small number of dinosaurs regardless of how advanced their tech was. Then it's explained that this super laser aced every single sodding satellite in orbit, effectively neutralizing cell phone reception and wireless communication in general. Right off the bat humanity doesn't know what the heck is happening, and then have trouble relaying that there is even a problem besides the Wifi being down again.

Secondary targets? Radio towers and military installations. Not the barracks mind you, but vehicles of all types are quickly slagged. Tanks, hummers, APCs, jets, helicopters, planes, all are turned to melted piles of scrap. Airports are kinda screwed as well. Meanwhile huge ships are landing on lakes and oceans depositing ground troops. And guess what the Kra get? Frigging mech suits equipped with lasers! Very quickly this series gets pretty awesome by involving lasers, mechs, dinosaurs, tanks and hunting rifles. That. Is. Awesome.

Ah, but humanity is not defenseless! This is where we begin breaking off to meet other characters, and the author, Thomas Hopp, makes it extremely difficult to stay bored because you often switch between character groups who are all doing something of importance. That may sound schizophrenic, but in reality it keeps the pace steady and interesting. At no point are you left being completely bored. It's a simple but effective trick, so lets look at some of our other characters and their groups.

One pair we follow around are a pair of soldiers in charge of an armor column that managed to bunk down and hide from the orbital laser, Suarez and Allencromby, or Crom for short. So now we've got the god of Cimmeria in this thing, although he doesn't act the same way apparently. Anywho, although I wouldn't say these guys are super distinct, almost every character in these books are archetypes but good ones, I really like these guys! They handle the fighting between the mechs and tanks, and by gosh does it suck you in. Okay, maybe I'm just a pathetic mark for this sort of thing, but I relish each engagement where the tanks show up for a good brawl. No joke, every time I got to a fight this song started playing in my head: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=psJMR3je9Go

Hopp does a great job in the fights and manages to make each one seem like a pitched battle where our heroes could be blasted at any minute and that this crap is dangerous. At no point did I find myself yelling BS at any of the tactics, science or anything else when it came to the fighting, which is a good thing.

Then we have a pair of scientists and sadly due to a memory that would shame a goldfish, I can't remember their names. I'm just bad with those, so I do apologize. That being said I remember their characters quite well in fact. One is a female who was involved with a space project that actually found out about these dinos, being one of the programmers for the satellite that was doing the exploring, and the other is one of her associates who also helps with the programming. He's actually quite fun. Overweight and a bit dull he's actually quite likable, having a very innocent teddy bear vibe to him and these two do darned good work. They don't feel tacked on at all, but feel more like active cogs moving the story forward.

Then we have two more military personnel, these being high ranking officers, and again my memory fails me in regards to their names. One is a general who managed to make it to NORAD and his second in command, a nice competent gal who gets stuff done. They have the unenviable task of being in command and not knowing what the heck is going on and trying to deal with this abominable mess. No aircraft, no tanks, infantry unable to move, communications being set back to CB radios and dealing with a bunch of laser wielding dinosaurs is not exactly the sort of thing they teach you to deal with at West Point. Also, NORAD is getting the almighty crap pounded out of it by that moon laser, cuz they kinda know that a base hidden beneath a sodding mountain is kind of an important target.

Then there is Gar, one of the three religious and political leaders of the Kra and one of the guys on the ground who quickly becomes a good guy. His two compatriots want to not only completely retake Earth, but use the humans as food, seeing them as inferior life forms. Gar is soft hearted and wants to work with the humies and actually becomes bros with Dr. O. I can't say that Gar is overburdened with a distinct personality. He's not really bad, but he could have been done better I think. It is however very charming when he and Dr. O visit a McDonald's or are watching King Kong together on TV. Good bit of symbolism too when they were watching the scene where Kong is fighting the Rex!

The villains are all lacking however. One is a shady military attaché who gets axed off in the first book and Gar's two rivals never really strike me as anything other that pieces on a chess board. Oogon, who was in charge of the more Kali Ma type religious stuff sorta makes sense because it's his job to make things bleed, but the other, Saurogon, is bent on keeping war going because of reasons and never really made much sense to me. The President and one of his meanie faced generals never take off from the ground either. Some of the moves made to make them seem eeeeevil actually just plain make sense to me, specifically grabbing a laser weapon to reverse engineer it and grant humanity a fighting edge. Crap, I would have done the same and I like the idea of peace between the two!

Anyway, we get three books where our protagonists try to one up the warmongering Kra, learn about the tech, culture of them as well as some of every day people adapting to dinosaurs suddenly existing and interacting with the world as they know it, which does add a level of humanity and immersion to the story. As a side note, I get the impression that Hopp really hates poachers. I mean, I hate poachers too, but wow. Don't be a poacher in a Hopp story, you have the life expectancy of a lemming in a snake aquarium. There is a good bit of discussion over wildlife management and there is a somewhat environmental edge to it, but thank Odin it isn't a ham-fisted punch to the face message.

Folks, I seethe with hatred at environmental movies and books. I've almost broken my window over seeing that kind of crap. Thankfully, Hopp doesn't take an overly simplistic view and lecture his audience, but rather mentions it here and there from a few very real view points, which is a real breath of fresh air. It's enough to make you think and maybe do some research, but not enough to turn it into a dumb episode of Captain Planet.

These stories do take a rather realistic edge, and as a minor spoiler one dinosaur actually dies from gangrene as a result of being shot. It may sound a bit anticlimactic, but I frigging cheered when I read that. I'm pathetic, I know, don't rub it in.

There are a few romance subplots that run between several characters, and I can't say too much on them. That's mostly because I know more about quantum physics than I do about love, so I'm not qualified to judge the caliber of the love elements. That's not an exaggeration by the way. The best thing I can say about them was that I never called BS on any of it, and I even thought a few moments were genuinely sweet, but don't think that you're going to get anything mind blowing.

As for the scifi elements, I absolutely loved it. Hopp really shines by showing his chops on coming up with scientific ideas that are quite interesting and well thought out. There are some points that are beyond my realm of scientific knowledge so I can't verify if it's just BS, but I felt that each time I was getting suspicious there was good enough an explanation that I found myself saying "You know what, that's pretty good. I'll buy that. Might not be true, but that's clever." I'm also willing to let more slide since this is scifi and I'm more interested in being entertained than seeing cold hard science at work, although this would certainly be a great way to teach such things. I believe Hopp could slip genuine scientific knowledge into here that would be very easy to absorb.

The dinosaurs themselves are all pretty darned fun and awesome. We get everything from standard Utah raptor and T-Rex chases, serene moments where herbivores just hanging out and actually getting along with normal mammals all the way to rather charming moments with the smaller denizens doing cute things. What I like is that the dinosaurs aren't all hyper-aggressive monsters that destroy everything on sight. Only some actually act aggressively, and even then only when it makes sense and is appropriate. A lot of them just do their thing without causing trouble and are noticed the same way you'd notice a lizard basking on rocks in your back yard or an owl sitting atop your roof. It adds a level of reality to the setting that for me anyway is well appreciated

I apologize for this review being somewhat cluttered, I'm just coming off the tail of the worst cold I've ever witnessed, but I hope that this review has been of some help. Overall they were a fun read,
keeping up a steady pace and never leaving you feel bored with wonderful action but also shows maturity in not going too far. If you want a fun dinosaur series with action and cool scifi ideas, then you'll like this. If you're a stick in the mud who can't get past tiny errors and get hung up on dialogue not being on par with Firefly, then you may want to stay away.

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You can purchase the first here: http://www.amazon.com/Dinosaur-Wars-Earthfall-Thomas-Hopp-ebook/dp/B004IWQXKW