Friday, March 30, 2012

They couldn't dominate Death inside the hospital...

"They couldn't dominate Death inside the hospital, but they certainly made her behave. They had taught her manners. They couldn't keep death out, but while she was in she had to act like a lady. People gave up the ghost with delicacy and taste inside the hospital. There was none of that crude, ugly ostentation about dying that was so common outside the hospital. They did not blow up in mid-air like Kraft or the dead man in Yossarian's tent, or freeze to death in the blazing summertime the way Snowden had frozen to death after spilling his secret to Yossarian in the back of the plane."

-Joseph Heller, Catch-22, Chapter 17

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

The Ultimate Medical School Lecture



In case you were wondering what going to medical school is like, here's a perfect encapsulation of the first two years. The third and forth years are better. They let you perform all the fecal disimpactions.

B.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Hungry for The Raid


I know that many of you are looking forward to seeing the Hunger Games this weekend. That's cool. I'm going to go see it too. But while Gary Ross' remake of Battle Royale is appealing, Gareth Evan's remix of Assault on Precinct 13 has my complete and total attention.

The Raid: Redemption has a very simplistic plot: A SWAT team is ordered to clear a building full of criminals. The criminals get wind that they are coming. They let the the SWAT team get halfway into the building before springing the mother of all traps. Again, nothing very complicated here. It's essentially a survival horror sans zombies. A fierce fight to the death in which everyone's back is against a wall. But simple doesn't have to be dumb. The Raid proves this point with panache.

The Raid is also a truly international movie. The Welsh director is a relative unknown named Gareth Evans. Iko Uwais, a renowned Indonesian martial artist, serves both as star and stunt coordinator. The soundtrack we will hear in the States was composed by Linkin Park's Mike Shinoda. The movie was shot and edited outside of the Hollywood studio system by a firm called XYZ. It was then purchased and polished a bit by an American studio. Perhaps that explains what it's getting such great reviews:

"It is ballet with bloodshed, more jaw-dropping than any large-scale battle." 
-Hollywood.com

"Extraordinary stunt and fight work and nonstop excitement, but a warning to those who are at all squeamish: this may be the most violent movie I've ever seen." 
-Christian Science Monitor

"Writer/director Gareth Evans single handily atones for the crimes of every lame action film pumped out of the studio system and crafts one of the greatest martial arts films of all time." 
-Popcorn Junkie

"This electrifying movie isn't just a collection of gory moments. It actually goes somewhere." 
-NPR

"I am dismayed. I have no prejudice against violence when I find it in a well-made film. But this film is almost brutally cynical in its approach." 
-Ebert

The Wiki does a great job of telling the story of how a man from Wales ended up directing an Indonesian cast in what is perhaps the best action movie of the past decade. (And that Hollywood wants to make a remake instead of putting all their advertising mustle between a sure thing tells me all I need to know about the state of the American movie industry right now.)

Hopefully, The Raid will be playing at a theater near you. If not, I guess you can go enjoy some archery.

B.

[A bit of a disclaimer: One of my high school friends was involved in the production.]

Saturday, March 17, 2012

On Killing On Sale



As part of Amazon's Big Deal, Lt. Col. Dave Grossman's On Killing is on sale for only $2.99. I've been meaning to read Grossman's work for quite some time. His textbook was recommended to me by a serviceman as a good guide to the psychology of killing. Now, thanks to Amazon, I can finally afford the purchase.

According to the blurb, Grossman's basic premises are as follows:
  1. That humans possess the reluctance to kill their own kind
  2. That this reluctance can be systematically broken down by use of standard conditioning techniques
  3. That the reaction of "normal" (e.g., non-psychopathic) soliders to having killed in close combat can be best understood as a series of "stages" similar to the ubiquitous Kubler-Ross stages of reaction to life-threatening disease
I've heard that Grossman's theories are considered quite controversial in some circles, but frankly, that just makes me want to read his text even more. I studied psychobiology back in undergrad, and the lab I worked in focused on the effects that extreme levels of stress can have on long-term health. Grossman's work came up even back then. Now, two wars later, Grossman's work has grown in import. I work at a VA hospital as part of my training, and I've found that an understanding of the fundamentals of combat stress is critical to properly managing the health of the numerous veterans returning home from these extended and repetitive deployments. Combat seems to change a person. But I've never been in combat. I find it hard to relate. Hopefully, On Killing can shed some light on the topic.

Oh, and if you have criticisms of Grossman's work that you'd like to air, please feel free to do so in the comments section. I'm walking into this topic as a neophyte. I'd love to hear your alternative viewpoints or textbook recommendations. 

+

In addition to On Killing, Amazon's Big Deal has numerous other titles that you may find of interest. They range from nonfiction to fiction and from $0.99 to $3.99. Fill up your Kindle now. Summer will be here soon.

Two kindleboards author buds have books in the deal. LZR-1143 by Bryan James (4.3 stars) and The Jackpot by David Kazzie (4.5 stars) are getting quite a bit of love from their readers. Maybe their works are up your alley.


And if you haven't read Hugh Howey's Wool. You should probably do so.


B.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Kindle Daily Deal: Zero Sight on sale for 99 cents!



So the wonderful people over at Amazon decided to offer Zero Sight as their Kindle Daily Deal for 3/13/12. Zero Sight will be priced at 99 cents throughout the day, and Amazon will be sending out Emails, tweets, and Facebook posts about Zero Sight in addition to prominently displaying the book on their website.


I was absolutely thrilled to get the news. Many Kindle Daily Deal titles manage to break into the Kindle Top 100 for the day. That amount of exposure is priceless. There is really no way an independent author could ever hope to launch such a publicity campaign on their own. And it is all thanks to you wonderful readers. Amazon pays close attention to the reviews you write, and they value your opinions above all else. I can only assume that this was their response to your feedback, so a big thank you to everyone who took a risk on my first novel and then went out and spread the word. I'll do my best to keep you entertained with more sequels!

But in the meantime...

Tell a friend to pick up a copy.

Check out the Zero Sight's Amazon ranking.

Brew up a pot of joe.

And don't forget to do a bit of gloating!


Have a wonderful Tuesday.

Cheers,

B.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Because Tomorrow Is Going To Be Awesome


Because tomorrow is going to be awesome, here's a complete Iron Maiden concert from their 1984/1985 world tour.


"Intro: Churchill's Speech"
"Aces High"
"2 Minutes to Midnight"
"The Trooper"
"Revelations"
"Flight of Icarus"
"Rime of the Ancient Mariner"
"Powerslave"
"The Number of the Beast"
"Hallowed Be Thy Name"
"Iron Maiden"
"Run to the Hills"
"Running Free"
"Sanctuary"

If you loved you some metal, be sure to support the band.

And why is tomorrow going to be so awesome?

Well, you'll have to check out this webpage tomorrow to find out.

B.

Friday, March 9, 2012

Pairs


I was looking around the web for some inspiration and stumbled onto this cool collection of images. All sorts of interesting pairings. Above is Salvador Dali and Coco Chanel gettin' cancer together. 

I'm also lovin' this one:


Two of my favorite old-timers captured in a single frame.

B.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

So I Was Featured On Boing Boing


Boing Boing featured Zero Sight and The Academy by Zachary Rawlings in an article published today. For those of you that don't know of the site, Boing Boing is an influential group blog that covers a little bit of everything. I peruse their site regularly, so I was pretty shocked to get the Google Alert this morning.

In eBook Review: Two Series That Are Too Much Alike, Jason Weisberger compared the two series. I haven't read Mr. Rawlings or Mr. Grossman's books yet, but it was still interesting to hear Mr. Weisberger's perspective on the magic school genre in general. I think he makes some valid points. Definitely worth a read. (BTW, I freely admit that Diana Wynn Jones served as a strong for my present work. The mea culpa is luxuriating in Zero Sight's dedication.)

 

Mr. Weisberger has been very generous to us indie authors. He's been reviewing a new novel almost every other day, and just last week he gave one of Hugh Howey's titles a huge boost. (BTW, If you haven't read Wool yet, do so.) I haven't seen a similar sales bump, but I really do appreciate Mr. Weisberger spending the time to review our titles.

Marilyn Hagerty was also featured on Boing Boing today. I found this somewhat awesome. (If you know a North Dakotan, it can be assumed that you know about Hagerty.) Her review of Taco Bell was riveting.

B.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Fight Club for $0.25


Fight Club by Chuck Palahniuk is on sale at Amazon for 25 cents. Amazon is price matching Google's new eMedia venture called Play. Get it while it's hot.

Edit #1:

Fight Club's run is over. Anthony Bourdain's Kitchen Confidential is now on sale.



Fascinating book, BTW. He's actually a great writer.

B.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Gloomy Sing-off #2


And we're back with a second helping of Gloomy Sing-off. Gloomy Sing-off takes different versions of the most demoralizing songs ever written and forces them to fight to the death!

The Champ: Bon Iver's "The Wolves" (original)


The Contender: Ellie Goulding's cover


Well, did the queen of dub pull it off?

B.