Audio book is on the way

This last week I listened to the reading of Bad Penny by Mikael Naramore on our trip down and back to Panguitch (and the forest fire from hell) and then later here at the house and was so happy I hooked up with Naramore. He’s done a wonderful job. He nailed the voices of Frank, Sam, Pinto, Carmen, Ed (ye slimy villain), and all the rest and delivered excellent sound. And the process was so easy.

Right now ACX is doing its quality control on the production. When they clear it, it will be posted for sale on Audible, iTunes, and Amazon.

I’m very excited to bring Frank to the audio market. I think he and Naramore are going to please a lot of listeners.

Here’s the final cover for the audio book.

 

Good Stuff: 8 Awesome Movies

Summer is a great time to catch up on great movies you haven’t seen because sometimes the movies that are released to the theaters during this time are contenders for the dud award.

I shall leave films such as Transformers: The Franchise Could Have Been So Cool or Pirates of the Caribbean: Johnny Depp Is Now Acting Really Weird nameless.

Instead of watching duds, try a couple of these fantastic movies, all of which are based on true stories.

Queen of Katwe. A tremendous film based on the true story of depicts Phiona Mutesi, a girl growing up in the slums of Katwe, a city in Uganda, who gets a chance to break out of that life with chess. You will come away having laughed and cheered and been touched in a poignant way. Highly recommended.

The Eagle Huntress. A fascinating documentary about the first girl in Mongolia to compete as an eagle hunter—these are folks who capture and train golden eagles to hunt game like fox or rabbit. You’ll be introduced into a new and interesting culture that triggers you to think about your own.

The Founder. Ever wonder how McDonald’s got started? No, neither had I. Who cares, as long as the food is good, right? Well, if you’re like me, you’re in for an eye-opener. This tells the story of how Ray Kroc started McDonald’s, except, hint, he didn’t. Kroc is played by Michael Keaton. He’s one of my favorite actors, and I loved his performance. This story will fascinate you, and then make you think, and then make you really appreciate folks like Dave Thomas of Wendy’s.

Concussion. An engrossing, suspenseful film about the true story of Dr. Bennet Omalu and the tie between football and brain degeneration. Omalu was working as a forensic pathologist (one who figures out the cause of death) in Pittsburg, Pennsylvania. In 2002, Omalu performed an autopsy on Mike Webster, a former NFL star who played for the Pittsburg Steelers and is considered by some to be one of the best centers in NFL history. And his worked opened up a can of worms the NFL wanted to quash. I loved this film.

Hacksaw Ridge. This one is based on the true story of Desmond Doss, a Seventh-day Adventist who did not believe in killing, but wanted to support his country and all those going to war. So he goes into World War 2 as a medic and is sent to the Pacific theater. His first engagement is the Battle of Okinawa. And, oh my holy heck, what he did during that battle is nothing short of amazing. There’s one part of the film in boot camp that seemed out of place. Really, some dude back in the 1940s was going to do pull ups in the barracks naked (nothing but a bum is shown in the film)? But then I recall that growing up in the 70s and 80s that we guys showered in communal showers. And that wasn’t a big deal. And earlier than that, swimming at the swimming hole often meant shucking your clothes and jumping in. So who knows? We have a similar funny scene in Mulan, but for some reason that one felt more organic. This one felt tacked on. It was a gag for humor and then, thankfully, Mel Gibson, who directed this, got on with the awesome story of Doss.

Deepwater Horizon. This one is based on the true story of the Deepwater Horizon, an oil rig in the Gulf of Mexico that encounters a catastrophe. The details of how such rigs work and the issues involved are fascinating. But what will really get you is the heroism of the captain and crew.

In the Heart of the Sea. This is based on the true story of the whaleship Essex that was sunk in the Pacific in 1820 by a sperm whale and what the few that survived did to remain alive. Back in the 1700s and early 1800s, sperm whale oil, which was contained in the whale’s large head, was highly prized for lamps because it burned bright and odorless. It was also a great lubricant. Later the oil was replaced with kerosene and other and petroleum-based lubricants, but in those days there was a whole industry dedicated to harvesting it. I watched this with my teenage daughter, and we both found it a powerful tale.

The Finest Hours. This last one is based the book The Finest Hours: The True Story of the U.S. Coast Guard’s Most Daring Sea Rescue by Michael J. Tougias and Casey Sherman. It chronicles the 1952 United States Coast Guard rescue, in a dinky boat, of the crew of the SS Pendleton, a big tanker, after the ship split apart during a nor’easter off the New England coast. The movie was thrilling and heroic.

And after you watch all of those, if you want some more great films based on true stories, well, you won’t go wrong with Tom Hanks in Sully or Captain Phillips or Bridge of Spies.

Story updates

A couple of updates.

First, the narrator for Bad Penny contacted me today, told me how much he enjoyed narrating the book, that it’s in post production and the audio should be done next week. I can’t wait.

Next, I’m progressing on The Drovers. Next scene up is a night time battle with a korrog. It’s going to be a blast.

Finally, I just got out of my ankle boot for a surgery I had a few weeks ago. It’s time to go back to lifting weights. I’ve also read an interesting book called The Obesity Code by Dr. Jason Fung. I’ve been testing it out, and the results so far are positive. More on that later.

Good Stuff: Poldark, Monk, and the cure for dragon feet

For all of you longing for just one more season of Downton Abbey, I’ve found a new series from the BBC I think you’ll enjoy (thank you Duane Robinson for the recommendation).

It’s called Poldark and is set in the late 1700s in Cornwall, that little southwestern leg of England that juts out into the Atlantic. The dark-haired and handsome Ross Poldark returns to England after having fought in the American War of Independence and finds that his father has died, and he’s inherited the estate. Except the estate is in ruins.

The house, which is a long way from being anything grand, is a mess and being inhabited by the deceased father’s last two servants. A man and a wife who are equal parts louts and lushes. The land isn’t producing. The mine is closed. And Poldark has very little money.

By the way, when we think of British aristocracy, we most often think of dances and fine clothing and large tracts of lands. We seldom think of mines. But Cornwall has been mining tin for a very long time, and so were its lords. In fact, Cornwall was known outside of the Isles anciently, and some historians suggest that Cornwall was probably selling tin to the seafaring Greeks and Phoenicians many hundreds of years B.C.

So our young and handsome lord has come home to a mess and very little money. But he immediately sets about trying to repair things. And what unfolds is a wonderful story with love, action, humor, injustice, and villains plotting Poldark’s downfall.

We loved Downton in part for the refinement and high society (and Lady Grantham’s hilarious one-liners). However, Poldark isn’t about the top of the aristocracy. It’s about a man almost at the bottom. And many of those of the lower class who are his friends. There’s a refreshing earthiness about it even while you still have scenes of the high society and all that goes with it.

We just finished the first season and are hooked. In fact, I stood up and cheered at the end of the last episode we watched. So if you love English historicals, you’re going to enjoy Polkdark.

*

The humorous detective series Monk debuted in 2002 and ran for eight seasons. It was a huge hit. But because I’m a cave dweller I didn’t get to it until now. But, boy, I’m happy I did.

If you haven’t seen it yet, you’re in for a treat. Monk is one of those brilliant detectives like Patrick Jane in The Mentalist or Sherlock Holmes who sees all sorts of details that so many others miss. But unlike those guys, Monk has obsessive-compulsive disorder plus a number of phobias.

And so he can’t just walk in and stun everyone with his brilliance because at any moment he might get sidetracked straightening pictures or moving lamps or trying to avoid germs. In one funny scene he’s being chased on foot by someone intent on killing him, and he can’t help but touch the poles as he runs by. However, he’s not all helpless because he’s hired a female nurse, Sharona Fleming, to help him. And the interaction between the two of them adds another enjoyable dimension.

And so you get to experience all the awe of watching someone like Sherlock solve crimes plus laugh along the way. I couldn’t help but laugh out loud during a number of episodes.

If you like The Mentalist, Elementary, or Psych, I think you’ll really enjoy Monk.

*

This last review is for all of you who have dragon feet.

That’s what I had until two months ago. Dry dragon feet. So dry and with such sharp and jagged calluses that I regularly wore the area on my sheets around my feet to shreds. Nellie’s side of the sheets were nice and smooth. My side, after a year or two, looked like the dog had attacked it.

The calluses were so bad I periodically sanded them off with 400 grit sandpaper.

I also got stress cracks in the winter, which I tried to heal with band-aides and Neosporin. And that worked a decade ago. But the stress cracks were just getting more frequent and longer-lasting. This last winter I had three that stayed for weeks and weeks.

And so when I went into my dermatologist for my annual skin cancer check, I asked him if there was anything to be done. He said, “Get CeraVe cream with SA, salicylic acid. It has to have SA.”


After the appointment, I promptly drove to Walmart and walked down to the cosmetic aisle and purchased a little tub of CeraVe Renewing SA Cream. And I began to use it that night, putting socks on after I applied it. I applied it every morning and night.

And, miracle of miracles, a few weeks later my feet were normal human feet again. The calluses were gone. The stress cracks gone. The pain gone. My sheets love me. My wife loves me. I’m saving money on sand paper.

Folks, if you have dragon feet and want to be human again, let me suggest CeraVe with SA.

LDStorymakers Presentation

I’m at LDStorymakers this weekend. Had a wonderful time yesterday facilitating idea generation for the magic systems of eight writers who all had some really cool stuff.  Today I will be giving my presentation on banishing writer’s doubt, fear, and block using cognitive therapy.

For those who want the slides, here they are.

Banish writers fear doubt and block with cognitive therapy (PDF)

Enjoy!