Monthly Archives: February 2012

Hunger Games and The River, Episode 5

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Hi de ho, there! Welcome back to Fun Stuff Blog and Reviews.

In my attempt to avoid brain implosion this week I picked up the YA novel, The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins. As a novelist myself, I don’t usually like to read the works of others while I’m composing my own but sometimes I just need the escape.

This post apocalyptic, dark adventure is set in a future where society at large is under the rule of the Capital, an elite sect that controls it populace with fear and the yearly reminders of what can happen to those who may oppose it through  a televised fight for survival called The Hunger Games. The country, having been divided into 13 strictly guarded districts, is forced each year to participate in a lottery where one boy and girl from each of these districts, between the ages of 12 to 18, is chosen to compete. The goal is to be the last survivor.

The story is written in the first person, as the character of a sixteen yr. old girl by the name of Katniss Everdeen who, after having lost her father to a mine explosion years earlier has had to provide for her family which consists of her severely depressed and detached mother and younger sister.

I honestly don’t want to divulge much more of the details since I don’t want to spoil the discovery of some truly touching story telling. But, I will tell you this book had me sniveling and looking for the kleenex pretty early on. That’s not to say that I didn’t have a few issues with Suzanne Collin’s writing style.

I found the present tense, first person awkward at times. It was too rigid and interfered with the flow of certain passages causing me to lose focus on the emotion of the moment to re-read what had been written. But for the most part, I was  engaged and really felt an empathetic connection with the character of Katniss.

I know that a film version of this novel is going to be released in March, I think. Not sure if you want to see the movie first, before you read the book, as most screen adaptations can’t measure up to the original author’s story. It’s your call. But if you enjoy a dark and stirring tale, The Hunger Games is a must read. I’ve already handed off my copy and once the rent is paid, will be heading back to Barns and Noble to pick up the sequel in this trilogy, Catching Fire.

And of course, this blog wouldn’t be complete without a re-cap of tonight’s episode of “The River

“The River” Episode 5

I’m a on the fence with this week’s episode of “The River”. Here’s how it went down.

Unfortunately, I tuned in 6 minutes into the action catching the intrepid crew of the Magus desperately trying to avoid a collision with an on coming ship. It’s night and in their attempt to avoid being hit, they run aground while the mystery ship just seems to disappear.

The Magus’ engines suffer a critical failure due to the crash which forces Tess to man the radio in an attempt to find help and the parts needed to repair their ship.

And as I predicted in last week’s recap, our newest member, Jonas, is questioning Lena about her relationship with Lincoln. She, of course, insist there is nothing between them.

So, after a 12 hour marathon stint over the radio, Tess finally raises a response from a near by ship and they quickly come to the rescue. It’s dark thirty on the river…,ooowh!

It is the Exodus, manned by a crew of four, that shows up to lend aid. The grateful crew of the Magus invites its rescuers to stay for dinner while Jahel and her father work at the repairs.

In the meantime, Lena and Jonas think they have spotted someone else aboard the Exodus and set out to investigate.

Hired gun, Kurt, becomes suspicious of their dinner guest, confronting one and even capping the guy several times, but he doesn’t die.

On board the Exodus, Lena finds her father, member of the lost Cole expedition, Russ Landry, locked below, in chains.

It turns out that the Exodus is some sort of ghost ship and its four passengers need to find their replacements before sunrise in order to finally leave the cursed ship. They almost succeed until Lincoln and producer Clark along with cameraman, Shaun come to the rescue with only minutes to spare.

Alas, our poor Lena must leave her father behind when he reveals to her that he is already dead. In tears she watches him disintegrate as the ghost ship goes up in flames.

The episode ends with Russ Landry’s epitaph on the screen which kind of threw me and forced me to search the internet to assure myself that the character wasn’t a real person that had actually died during the making of the series…, lol.

Not to say that I didn’t find this installment interesting but I would have liked to have seen more of the scary ghost instead of the two lightening quick flashes they gave us. And why didn’t Jahel pick up on the fact that she had a bunch a dead people on the ship. She is our physic connection. Shouldn’t she have sensed these things?

We did learn that Russ obviously got separated from Emmet Cole but we weren’t given a clear indication of why, only that they had lost the Magus somehow. And again there were references to the SOURCE and that Cole seemed to have become possessed by something that would cause him to disappear from the ship at odd times.

Well, quite murky goings on here, but I will be tuning in to see what happens next week. Until then, when you have the choice, buy MADE IN USA. Tired now. See ya later!

~ K. L. Parry ~ author of “The Pirate’s Daughter And A King’s Ransom”

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Kum-ba-ya on “The River”

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Welcome back to my blog and Yeah! I’m so excited! I’ve booked the rooms for my annual Vegas Retreat and I can’t be more excited. Three days of no responsibility, what so ever. Ok, that’s not exactly true, the responsibility part, but you know what I mean.

Now this year my sister couldn’t make the commitment to go with me, seeing that she’s got some pressing home repairs to finance, so I’ve invited another friend, Jonelle, to accompany me. I hope she won’t mind my snoring too much, and my constant bouncing from one casino to the next…,he,hee. What can I say? That’s the whole point of staying on Freemont Street, the close proximity of 13 casinos…, I said,13! 

But let me tell you about what else I did this week.

So, Monday, I took off with another very dear friend of mine and headed out to Santa Anita Race Track. I know, sounds like I got a thing for gambling and I kinda, do but always within a strict budget and I never exceed that, no matter what. Now, listen. Yea, you can enjoy the track from the cheap seats  but if your someone like me that doesn’t get to go very often, spend the extra money and pay for the Club House Admission. Then, head on up to the Front Runner Restaurant. Make a right down the narrow hall past the window tables, (act like you know where your going), then out the doors to the outside tables. This is where I love to sit. White table cloths, food and drink service with attentive waiters, your own private tv to better view the action, easy access to betting counters and restrooms and a quick exit when it’s time to leave via the Turf Club Elevator. No, I never win at the track so I keep my betting to a minimum but the experience is what I really enjoy. What a great, relaxing time and a must do when you need to decompress.

If you’ve been follow my recent posts, you’ll know that I’ve been watching ABC’s “The River”, which aires on Tuesday at 9:00pm. Somehow I have found myself now in the business of posting weekly recaps and reviews of each episode, at least until they bore me or piss me off and I decide to stop watching. But, since that hasn’t happened yet, here you have it!

 “The River”- Recap Episode 4

Ah, well, ABC’s new paranormal, thriller, adventure, “The River” redeemed itself this week with what I thought was an engrossing episode that sailed all too quickly through its 60 minute time slot. Interesting nature against man situations, a smoky spirit and the introduction of a new cast member definitely kept my interest this week.

The episode started out with our rescue party chugging happily down an Amazonian river sharing a Kum-ba-ya moment complete with guitar and accordion played by Lincoln and Lena. No doubt a tune recalled for their shared childhood. And that’s when our young, seemingly physic, mechanic’s daughter, Jahel spots a man hanging by his neck in the vines along the bank.

Now here’s where I can’t remember whether Jahel’s taro cards warn her of impending trouble before or after they’ve rescued the hanging man who happened to be, Jonas Beckett, camera man from the missing Cole expedition. But whether prior or not she seems to have the physic insight for what troubles are about to befall our rescue party.

Jahel does her best to convince the others to send Jonas back to the jungle spirit that she believes threatens them all as it seeks to re-enslave the camera man.

We have a mass bird suicide followed by an invasion of some large flying bugs.

Producer, Clark reviews old tapes left by Cole to get some kind of clue as to what might have happened with Jonas.

Jonas does his best to hide the truth from the rescue party until it’s discovered that he recorded the sacred funeral rites of an Amazonian Elder and in fact, managed to steal the Elder’s soul when he captured it on his cellphone camera which is revealed at the end of the episode when Jonas, in a desperate act to save the search party from the spirit storm that is on them, allows himself to be hung by the vines that await him on the ship’s deck.

He drops his cell phone that still displays the image of the spirit which then escapes.

Jonas is released from the spirit’s curse.

Of course I’m just hitting the highlights. And like episode 3, there was a moral of sorts which looks to be the trend for future episodes. The good thing is that this new addition to the crew will provide more insight as to where adventurer, Emmet Cole, was heading.

I, for one, predict Jonas will become a rival like/love interest and cause some tension between the Lincoln and Lena, childhood sweethearts that grew apart but are starting to like each other again, relationship. (I’d bet money on it but then I’d really have you thinking I’ve a gambling problem…,lol.)

The only thing that I thought lacking was the scare factor, I didn’t have any “edge of my seat” moments. And they rushed the ending a little bit for me. I didn’t see the Jonas character make that transition from denial to the acceptance of having done something wrong. It was just BLAM! suddenly Jonas was running towards self sacrifice for the greater good and hadn’t we just seen that in the last episode? Still, all in all, I was engaged, entertained and quite pleased with the pace and will be anxiously awaiting next week’s episode.

Until next week, when you have the choice, buy USA!

~K.L. Parry~ author of “The Pirate’s Daughter And A King’s Ransom”

Chocolate Covered Almonds and “The River”

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Don’t you just hate it when you’ve just spent two hours writing a blog post, setting up all the tags and links and then, when you go to add an image, the whole thing disappears? Really, I can’t be the only one that’s happened to?! Damn freaky, I tell you, and frustrating.

So, another Valentines Day has come on gone and frankly, I’m a bit indifferent. Maybe it’s because most of my Valentine Day experiences have been focused on ensuring that my kids had enough cards to hand out to their friends or that I had enough money to put on a proper birthday celebration two days later for my youngest son. Then it should come as no surprise that my plans this year involved nothing more than a bag of chocolate covered almonds, a bottle of wine and my TV as I settled in to watch episode 3 of “The River”.

For those of you that may have missed it, here is a recap of that episode and a brief note from yours truly, my self, on what I thought.

Recap of “The River” episode III

  After discovering photos of a cave, the group of searchers decide to seek it out in the hope of finding a clue to lost adventurer, Emmet Cole’s whereabouts. But they get more than they bargained for when they are discovered by a secretive tribe who’s act as watchers over the jungle.

When members of the search party start coming down with sudden blindness they decide it’s time to return to the ship.

Believing they have found a cure for the affliction that is quickly claiming all the party members, Lena, hired gun, Kurt and lead cameraman, Shaun head back out into the jungle to find it. In the meantime the M. tribe have boarded the ship forcing the remaining party members, Lincoln, Tess, Clark the producer, and engineer Emilio along with his daughter to hide blind in fear for their lives.

Out in the jungle, Lena and Kurt fall victim to the blindness leaving Shaun as their only hope of finding the cure but, the camera man wants nothing more than to get back to civilization. As he makes his escape, abandoning his companions, Shaun runs into the very tree that they had been sent to find. As a sick twist, he, who had escaped death in a mine collapse years earlier, now faces his greatest fear and must crawl into a shallow cave beneath the tree to retrieve the bulbs that will restore the others sight.

The cave begins to collapse on Shaun.

On board the Magus, Producer Clark, who had received a nasty knife wound when he had startled the near blind hired gun, Kurt, reveals himself as a sacrifice to the M. tribe in order to save the others.

Suddenly the natives decide to leave the ship.

Shaun is pulled from his tomb by a faction of the tribe as they retreat into the jungle.

Shaun with the cure, joins back up with Lena and Kurt.

Back aboard the Magus, the cure is administered, site is restored and Lincoln shares a personal moment with his mother.

 Personal Note:

All in all, not nearly as scary or creepy as last week’s premier. I could have watched this episode by myself, (which is ok with me). I do hope they start developing a more cohesive story line.  The whole thing about the cave, which seemed significant at the start, was dropped 15 minutes in and it was never explained why Dr. Cole would have made multiple visits to it. After all, the cave was the very reason the party left the ship and ventured out in the first place. Though there was enough material here to keep my interest through the 60 mins, I didn’t feel like I’d learned anything new about the characters or their quest other than a few insignificant tidbit that weren’t explored enough to make me care. I can only hope that some revelation is revealed in next week’s installment. They’ll need it if they want to keep my viewer ship.

~ K.L.Parry ~ author of “The Pirate’s Daughter And A King’s Ransom”

The River…, Crazy shit! (plus Recap)

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The River (U.S. TV series)

Sorry, I know my weekly post is a few days early but I just had to tell you this…, Wow!

Just finished watching “The River” on ABC. OMG! That was some crazy shit! It’s a good thing my son was still up to watch it with me cause I’m a bit of a scaredy cat when it comes to freaky, paranormal stuff. I still jump into bed from two feet away because I can’t get over the idea that something is going to reach out and grab me from under it…,lol. So, needless to say that tonight’s 2 hour premier had me snuggled under a blanket and closing my eyes when dolls from the doll tree began to come to life. Creepy! Doll eyes always did freak me out.

If it sounds weird that’s because it is. This mid-season series is about a mother and son, along with film crew, that travel to the Amazon Jungle to find their missing husband/father, an adventurer and documentary film star. The back story is a little complicated so I won’t go into details, besides, they are bound to re-run it for those of you that missed it. And you are going to want to see it. In fact, I’m going to want to watch it again because there was so much that went down that I think I need another viewing just to get all the facts and maybe pick up on some subtle hints as to what the “Source” is. Oh yes, the SOURCE…, owwwww.

Let me say that the production of this show is awesome. Filmed in Hawaii, Peli and Spielberg and an amazing crew have finally given me something to watch on TV. The only bad part is that I’ll have to make sure my son doesn’t go to bed early on the nights the episodes air…, don’t think I can watch it by myself. Damn! I wish I had a DVR.

* Per the request of several readers, this post has been amended to include a re-cap of  the premier episode of “The River”.
RE-CAP
Dr Emmet Cole, adventurer and star of a tv docu. series has been officially declared dead after a 6 mo. search in the Amazon has failed to turn up any trace of him or his missing film crew. However there are those that haven’t given up hope after it’s discovered that an electronic beacon belonging to Cole has suddenly been activated.
Seeing this as proof of life and determined to rescue her husband, Tess Cole enlist the help of ex-producer Clark who secures financial backing for the venture through a studio by promising to document their journey, but everything hinges on the cooperation of Cole’s son Lincoln who, having just finished medical school, wants nothing to do with what he considers to be a futile search.Despite his own reservations, Lincoln is swayed and the party consisting of Tess, Lincoln, producer Clark, several camera men, Lena ( a childhood friend and confidant of Cole’s), a gun for hire by the name of Kurt and old friend, mechanic and ship’s captain along with his young adult daughter, set out for the Amazon.
They locate the adventurer’s ship, the Magus, in a beautiful but spooky, undocumented part of the amazon where they find themselves threatened when they accidentally release a dark spirit that had been sealed up in the ship’s panic room. Seeking to feed, it takes out one of the camera men trying to film its attack and answers Tess’s question on whether he husband still lives. He does.
This event sets them out to retrace the adventure’s steps using logs and videos that had been left on board the Magus.
Lincoln and Lena, ( daughter of one of the missing camera man who had accompanied Cole), having spent much of their early childhood together on the Magus, re-aquaint themselves, reminiscing of their youth.
The mechanic’s daughter who is somehow familiar with the spirit world, becomes inhabited by a spirit that warns the party off. But it only reaffirms their belief that Cole can be found.
Hired gun, Captain Kurt, is caught on camera in a private phone conversation referring to something called “the source”. Assuring the person on the other end that he will “take out Cole” if he has found it.
Lincoln accuses his mother, Tess of having an affair which he believes lead to his father’s quest to discover the magic of the amazon.
Making land fall, the search party heads off through the jungle. When darkness falls they decide to set up camp on a site the locals have deemed haunted. Admits an old collection of dolls that have been hung from a tree to appease the restless spirit, Lincoln finds the teddy bear that was his childhood companion. When he takes possession of it, it sets off a chain of unexplained events including the disappearance of Tess. Desperate to set the spirit at ease the crew uncover the old remains of the spirit’s mother that had been placed in a nearby graveyard. Lincoln releases the old bones into the pond from where his mother had been take. The spirit accepts them, releasing Tess back into the world of the living, a shaken and disturbed mess. The episode ends with them all returning to the ship post-haste and the mechanic’s daughter releasing the spirit she was desperately trying to hold onto.

~ K.L. Parry ~

author of “The Pirate’s Daughter And A King’s Ransom”

HUGO VS. SUPER 8

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Hi there and welcome back to my Blog. Well, I had a lot of things on my “to do” list today including working on my latest manuscript. However, all that went by the wayside when my roommate, who also happens to be my youngest son, was given the day off from work. Since my bedroom/office is also the livingroom and the location of our only TV you can be certain that anything I wanted to do that required solitude was not going to get done. So instead, I spent the day watching movies.

First I was off to the AMC Burbank Town Center 8 in the Burbank Mall to see “Hugo”, directed by Martin Scorsese. Let me say this for the theater, OUCH! My back, my ass and my legs were killing me! This theater is in much need of a remodel. The old style, immobile seating was unbelievably uncomfortable. Hey, Scorsese! Cut loose with a few bucks and adopt a theater. These people need some new seats so the rest of us can better enjoy your movies!

OK, now back to my review.

Movie Poster

This is a story about Hugo, a boy, who having already lost his Mother at some earlier time, now looses his father. Suddenly the boy’s life goes from one of family security to that of an orphan, abandoned by his only living relative, a drunk and slovenly uncle, to live out his existence in the clock tower of a railway station. Left to maintain the clocks so that his shiftless uncle can do as he pleases, Hugo is forced to fend for himself, stealing what he needs to survive from the station’s vendors.

Set in Paris, France sometime near the late 1800’s (I think), this film was visual eye candy for me. I also thought the characters delightful and I was particularly fond of the glimpses of those that worked at the station. But I must say that the story itself lagged for me at the beginning. I kept asking myself “Where is it going?” However, I was a bit, very small bit, intrigued and willing to wait it out. Then somewhere in the middle of the film it flip-flops and the story changes focus. Suddenly it’s Ben Kingsley’s character, George Melies, the toy shop owner, who becomes the focus of the story. The action picks up, his story unfolds then the movie rushes to an ends with a predictable dilemma for Hugo that is quickly resolved. I was left feeling that poor young Hugo was abandoned once again, but this time by the story line.

Johnny Depth is one of the film’s Producers so for this reason it may make it into someone’s personal library. But not mine.

Home from the theater, I made myself dinner and then my son presented me with a couple of rentals, one being “Super 8”, directed by JJ Abrams. This was a film that I had wanted to see at the theater but never did and I don’t remember why?….

Image from Movie Trailer

Super 8 is a story about a middle-grade boy and his friends who are determined to complete the filming of their Zombie movie. After sneaking away from their homes late one night, they arrive at a deserted railway station to work on their film when a horrific train accident occurs right in front of them. They then discover that the accident was no accident after all and are sworn to secrecy until frightening and unexplainable things begin to happen in their town.

Ye, ha! This film had my undivided attention from beginning to end and that spectacular beginning was the most awesome car flying, exploding containers and fiery debris train wreak I’ve ever seen. There were also some wonderful subplots dealing with, yet another, parental loss and a boy falling for a girl.

I really do so wish I had seen this one on the big screen. It is a great middle grade and YA flick that’s fun for the big kids too. I don’t want to say too much more  other than that I loved it and intend on purchasing my own copy to nestle beside my Goonies DVD.

Until next week, keep it real and buy USA!

K.L. Parry ~ Author of “The Pirate’s Daughter And A King’s Ransom”