December 21, 2023

We're getting the band back together! Sort of . . .

Okay, let me get this out there before people start running into the streets screaming. 

Folks, I have always wanted to come back and open in some form in the DFW area, but in the five years (in another month) that we've been closed, lots of things that I had hoped to have fixed haven't been and with Covid and inflation and this and that, well, I've had to tone down my dreams a little.

In the meantime, I decided to at least dip my toes back into the water before cannonballing. Most of you probably don't know, but the Kid and I had moved out about an hour east of the Metroplex to the little town of Winnsboro. It's an agriculture-meets-the-arts kind of town of only 3500 people. In fact, several friends have
 property out here and several have visited.

We have a few little antique stores that rent booths to vendors and I took the leap and got a very small space to test the waters. I'll be selling mostly books though I'll also be selling pop culture items and toys and will try to expand my space. The idea is to take over a very large corner of the building and sell out of there. If business booms and I can do it affordably, then I will look for a store front of my own, but for now, I will take this spot and make it mine.

These photos are just a few things that I dropped off today. The Kid and I will be bringing more stuff tomorrow to fill the shelves. New and used everything from genre books, graphic novels, comics, statues, figures, toys, etc. I may even experiment with things that I've never carried before. That sounds fun!

If you happen to be traveling through East Texas, stop by Finder's Keepers Antiques on Mainstreet in Winnsboro. Winnsboro is approximately 22 miles southeast of Sulphur Springs. The store is open Monday thru Saturday 10am to 5pm. Let me know that you're coming and we can visit.

Finders Keepers on Main
304 N Main St, Winnsboro, TX

December 2, 2023

Godzilla Minus One - The Big Nuclear Lizard Dominates

The reviews are in and Godzilla Minus One is being hailed as the one of the best, if not THE best, and I have to agree. 

I've been on a Godzilla kick lately as I've been revisiting the older movies and the new Apple TV+ Monarch: Legacy of Monsters. If you haven't seen Monarch, do yourself a favor and do.

But about Minus One. I really went in thinking this was going to be a typical Godzilla movie with tons of carnage and miles of city skyline flattened, but it turns out that Godzilla is not the central character. And that's what makes this movie work.

If you're totally unfamiliar with the premise, basically Godzilla is kicking Japan when it's down right after WWII and the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. That's it in nutshell.

The movie tells the story of a "failed" kamikaze pilot, Koichi, who is one of two survivors of an attack by Godzilla at the end of the war. His cowardice is blamed for the deaths of his comrades and he returns home in shame. There he meets a young woman, Noriko, who is in charge of a baby whose dying mother begged her to save.

The first half of the movie focuses on the relationship these two develop along with the state of Japan after the war. Topics of Japan's government and how the military played upon the soldier's sense of honor in self-sacrifice are backdrops to the characters and action on screen. You have Koichi's shame because he didn't die honorably which in turn makes him feel worthless to those around him. In the end, he finds a way to redeem that honor and it works wonderfully on screen.

It truly is a movie about shame, loss, revenge, and redemption and there is a big nuclear lizard in the movie, too.

Speaking of Godzilla, he doesn't get much screen time in the first part of the movie, but he makes up for it on the second half and when he is on screen he rules the land. It's hard to believe that this movie had a budget of only $15 million. Hollywood needs to take note of this movie for that and the overall way it was written.

There are no end credits, though the end of the movie does leave room for something else to come afterwards, but to me, it's perfect right where it is.

Check it out, if you haven't already, and if you have seen it, let me know what you thought!

August 12, 2023

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutant Mayhem Delivers

 The Kid and I took in a movie last night and checked out the new Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles movie, Mutant Mayhem. From the art style, the soundtrack, and the story, the movie satisfied on all fronts.

First a little history about my time with the Turtles. I loved the first movies back in the eighties but didn't follow the cartoons or the comics. That's fine, you can like one medium and not the others and still love the characters. The Bay movies were okay but didn't really hit with me and so when I heard they were doing a new movie, I wasn't very interested.  Then I saw the trailers. I loved the art style and the overall gist of it and though I wasn't head over heels, I was going to give it a chance. 

I'm glad we did. The overall story differs a little from the original but it works. The art style fits the movie well, also. Though I've never been to New York, it's always been portrayed as a mix of dirt, grit, energy, and color and this style conveys that very well.

The movie has plenty of easter eggs from the other iterations over the decades and it was fun trying to catch them. The one thing that excelled for me was the soundtrack. With a mix of old-school and more modern hip-hop along with other favorites, this movie has a lot of ear candy. In fact, as I write this, I'm listening to the Spotify playlist. Lots of fun!

If you haven't seen it yet, give it a shot. Check out this review from Hollywood Matrimony!

June 5, 2023

Josh Gates of Expedition Unknown in Dallas

In March I surprised the Kid with tickets to see Josh Gates at the
Winspear Opera House
. That day finally arrived last week and it was a blast!

It's very hard to get me to drive back into Dallas now that I've experienced the quiet living of our small town out in East Texas. I hope that Mr. Gates realizes how much we love him to put ourselves through the driving on highways and downtown Dallas traffic. Needless to say, it paled in comparison to the fun that we had at the event.

The Kid is such a big fan of the show and Josh that I thought I would surprise her with tickets. The day couldn't come fast enough for her and I have to admit, I was ready for it too. I splurged on valet parking and tickets to a catered buffet before curtain time that way we didn't have to worry about eating beforehand or trying to find a parking spot. I'm all about convenience as I get older. The only thing we missed out on was a meet and greet before the show. I'm assuming that it was something that donors or members of the AT&T Performing Arts Center were privy to because I couldn't find a single link to it on Josh's website. Oh, well. Maybe next time. We arrived a little before six and had to wait a few minutes before they would let us in, and I think that was because of the said meet and greet. No worries, we waited it out in the little coffee shop in the plaza and listened to a local jazz group. It wasn't overbearingly hot and they had large fans to move the air around. 

Once we were let in, we went up to the Skyline Terrace for the buffet. Bacon-wrapped Pork Tenderloin, Beef and Veggie Kabobs, Smoked Mozzarella Pasta Salad, and a few other items with a Creme Brulee bread pudding to finish it off. They offered a fixed-price dinner, but we liked the variety of the buffet as one of our party can be a picky eater.

As they called for seating in the theater, we made our way to our seats. We were just to the left of the stage and about nine rows back on the aisle. In this theater though, there really isn't a bad seat. The lighting was beautiful and I was entranced with the centerpiece or "chandelier." It was really a collection of lights that hung down and then were retracted into the ceiling before the show. The retracting was a sight, also. Music was played that was composed and performed by students from Booker T. Washington High School for the Performing & Visual Arts.

Before the raising of the chandelier, images projected onto the back of the stage kept everyone amused with quotes from movies and witty warnings about such things as "no flash photography . . . unless you see Bigfoot. Then go for it!"

Josh Gates took the stage to thunderous applause and for almost two hours we were entranced with stories about how he became who he is and how the many shows that he has helmed came about. For those that aren't aware of who he is, well, I hope you've stuck with me so far. Josh got his start with a show called Destination Truth. My late wife and I were hooked on it and loved how Josh doesn't take himself too seriously while mixing science with urban legends. He's kept that same formula with all of his other shows including Expedition Unknown which just started its eleventh season on May 24th, 2023.

He rounded out the evening with a Q&A and I have to admit the audience, with a good number of kids, did not disappoint with the questions. Everything from what's your favorite episode, your worst episode, your most embarrassing moment on camera, to like Indiana Jones' fear of snakes, what was his biggest fear. All answers were delivered with self-deprecation, humbleness, and a wink and sly grin. The only question that no one asked and that I really wanted to was "Has Steven Speilberg called about donning the hat and whip?"

Check out the Facebook page for all of the photos from our trip.

March 21, 2023

Binging the Murderbot!

I have very few book series where I try to read all of the books. Of course, you can't read The Fellowship of the Ring without reading The Two Towers and Return of the King. Most books nowadays, you can get away with reading the first and be done with it. I've never read anything past Dune or Eye of the World. I'd like to, but there are just so many other books out there in the universe.

That being said, there are a few authors that I like to read everything that they have. Not in a one after another way, but every few months. Until now. I had been reading about The MurderBot Diaries and never picked them up, and can't say why or why not. It just hadn't jumped out at me. Then I was reading one of those lists about great recent sci-fi and decided to take a chance.

I didn't realize it at first, but the first few books were actually novellas, which allowed me to finish them rather quickly. I hadn't finished a book in under a week since before I opened the shop back in 2014. And when I finished All Systems Red, I immediately started Artificial Condition. I'm now on book number five, Network Effect, and it continues to deliver like the others. This is, also, the first full length novel in the series, though some of the books to follow are novellas.

This is a series that you should really read from the beginning, though. I'm never been one to jump on a series like this, but believe me it's really good.

Here is a blurb about the first book (Amazon) and links to it on Amazon and Bookshop.

All Systems Red (The Murderbot Diaries) - Martha Wells

Winner: 2018 Hugo Award for Best Novella
Winner: 2018 Nebula Award for Best Novella
Winner: 2018 Alex Award
Winner: 2018 Locus Award
One of the Verge's Best Books of 2017
New York Times and USA Today Bestseller

A murderous android discovers itself in 
All Systems Red, a tense science fiction adventure by Martha Wells that interrogates the roots of consciousness through Artificial Intelligence.

"As a heartless killing machine, I was a complete failure."

In a corporate-dominated spacefaring future, planetary missions must be approved and supplied by the Company. Exploratory teams are accompanied by Company-supplied security androids, for their own safety.

But in a society where contracts are awarded to the lowest bidder, safety isn’t a primary concern.

On a distant planet, a team of scientists are conducting surface tests, shadowed by their Company-supplied ‘droid — a self-aware SecUnit that has hacked its own governor module, and refers to itself (though never out loud) as “Murderbot.” Scornful of humans, all it really wants is to be left alone long enough to figure out who it is.

But when a neighboring mission goes dark, it's up to the scientists and their Murderbot to get to the truth."

All Systems Red (The Murderbot Diaries) - Martha Wells (Amazon) Pictured above

All Systems Red (The Murderbot Diaries) - Martha Wells (Bookshop) - This is the first four books in the series 

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