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Movie-a-Day Challenge: Howl

howl movie posterThis post is part of my movie-a-day challenge in which I will watch a film every day for 365 days. Today is Day 244! You can see all the posts for this challenge HERE. To see the original Movie-a-Day Challenge post, click HERE.

Hey there, friends!

So, I finally got around to watching “Howl,” directed by the dynamite duo Rob Epstein and Jeffrey Friedman. If you haven’t checked it out yet, you’re in for a treat, especially if you dig poetry or have a soft spot for the beat generation. “Howl” is not your run-of-the-mill biopic; it’s a creative whirlwind that captures the essence of Allen Ginsberg’s groundbreaking poem and its impact.

First, let’s talk about James Franco. Guys, he embodies Ginsberg with such eerie precision—it’s like he channeled the man’s soul. Franco delivers lines with a raw, magnetic energy that totally transports you back to 1950s America, a time when speaking your truth was often met with raised eyebrows and even a court gavel. The scenes where he’s reciting the poem? Absolutely mesmerizing. You can feel the frustration and passion vibrating in the air.

The film uses this cool blend of black-and-white and color sequences, and then there are these wild animated sequences that roll out like a trippy, shadowy dream. These bits visualize parts of the poem, and honestly, it’s like stepping inside Ginsberg’s mind during a feverish dream. It’s a bit of a head-scratcher at times, but that’s kind of the point, right? Art is supposed to challenge us. There’s a scene with a saxophone wailing in the background, and the smoky haze just makes you want to snap your fingers like they did in those old poetry readings.

Speaking of challenges, the obscenity trial is a major part of the movie. You’ve got David Strathairn, playing the prosecutor, who’s all stiff and starchy, trying to prove that “Howl” is obscene. And then there’s Jon Hamm, the dapper Don Draper himself, plays the lawyer defending the poem’s publisher with a smooth-as-butter demeanor. Seeing him in a courtroom instead of a smoky bar is a bit of a shock, but he’s as smooth as ever.

The trial scenes are intense, showing how “Howl” was seen as a threat to the establishment. Those courtroom exchanges are a fascinating look at the societal norms of the time, and they pose this big question: what is art and who gets to decide what’s too bold? It’s a reminder that art can be a powerful force for change.

Now, this movie isn’t for everyone. It’s experimental, it’s poetic, and it definitely makes you think. But if you’re into literature, history, or just want to see something different, give it a shot. You might be surprised by how much it resonates with you.

But what really stuck with me after watching “Howl” is how it captures the spirit of rebellion and the need to be heard. It’s about more than just a poem; it’s about fighting for the right to express oneself, about art shaking up the status quo. And while the film takes some artistic liberties (like all biopics do), it succeeds in making you feel connected to that restless energy of the Beats.

So yeah, whether you’re a poetry newbie or someone who can recite “Howl” by heart, there’s something magnetic about seeing this slice of literary history come to life. Plus, who can resist a throwback to when coffee houses were filled with cigarette smoke and fierce ideas, not just laptop screens and latte art? IMHO, this is also the kind of movie that’s meant to be experienced, not just understood.

Who knows? “Howl” may suddenly give you the urge to write, or at least read a bit of Ginsberg. Either way, it’s good!

Catch you later,
Roger

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Movie-a-Day Challenge: The Night Listener

The night listener movie posterThis post is part of my movie-a-day challenge in which I will watch a film every day for 365 days. Today is Day 190! You can see all the posts for this challenge HERE. To see the original Movie-a-Day Challenge post, click HERE.

Hey folks!

So, I sat down last night and entered into some serious psychological thriller territory watching, “The Night Listener,” based on the novel by Armistead Maupin. It’s more like a slow burn that creeps under your skin and keeps you mesmerized until the very end.

For those of you who haven’t caught this flick yet, it’s pretty intense. Robin Williams stars as Gabriel Noone, a late-night radio storyteller whose life kind of spirals when he starts talking to this young listener, Pete, played by Rory Culkin. Pete has written a manuscript about the horrific abuse he suffered at the hands of his parents. Here’s the kicker: Pete’s only 14 years old !

Gabriel is instantly captivated by Pete’s story and his vulnerability. He also starts forming a bond with Pete’s adoptive mother, Donna (played by the ever-talented Toni Collette). But hold on a sec, folks, because this is where things get tricky. As Gabriel delves deeper into Pete’s story, some inconsistencies start popping up. Is Pete really who he says he is? Is Donna as trustworthy as she seems? Has anyone ever even seen Pete? Is the whole thing one elaborate hoax?

Now, I don’t wanna spoil the entire movie for you, but let’s just say Gabriel finds himself questioning everything he thought he knew. The line between truth and fiction starts to blur, and the suspense gets so thick you could cut it with a knife .

Speaking of suspense, I gotta say that it’s not that in-your-face kind of scare but more of a slow burn that creeps up on you. And those scenes where Gabriel’s wandering around Pete’s supposed hometown? Absolute chills, folks. The cinematography’s all shadows and whispers and makes you feel like you’re right there with him, peeking around corners and doubting everything.

Robin Williams is phenomenal in this film by the way. He completely sheds his usual comedic persona and portrays a man grappling with loneliness and desperation. And Toni Collette? Let’s just say her performance is chillingly good – you never quite know what she’s thinking or what her motives might be.

But alright, if I’m being honest here (and why wouldn’t I be?), the movie isn’t perfect. The pace can feel a bit off at times, like it’s unsure whether it wants to sprint or just stroll through the creepy parts. And some plot points feel a bit undercooked, leaving you wanting more or maybe just something a bit different.

However, overall, “The Night Listener” nails that eerie, unsettling vibe that’s perfect for a late-night movie binge. It makes you question the stories we hear and the people we trust. And Robin Williams? Just phenomenal.

So yeah, if you’re in the mood for a thriller that’s more of a slow simmer than a full boil, give it a watch. It might just have you questioning what’s real and what’s just a story.

Peace out ✌️
Roger

P.S. Do you like Short Stories? If so, click HERE to join my newsletter and receive a FREE short story in your inbox every Monday! Note: As with my books, most of my short stories also feature a gay protagonist.

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Movie-a-Day Challenge – Dungeons and Dragons: Honor Among Thieves

Dungeons dragons honor among thieves movie posterThis post is part of my movie-a-day challenge in which I will watch a film every day for 365 days. Today is Day 175! You can see all the posts for this challenge HERE. To see the original Movie-a-Day Challenge post, click HERE.

Hey, friends!

So, last night’s film du jour was a fun fantasy entitled, “Dungeons and Dragons: Honor Among Thieves.” And guess what? I had a blast! 🎉 I mean, who would’ve thought that a movie based on a role-playing game could turn out to be this entertaining? Directed by the dynamic duo John Francis Daley and Jonathan Goldstein, this film isn’t just another fantasy flick; it was so much fun! Like, popcorn-munching, soda-slurping, grin-from-ear-to-ear kind of fun.

Let’s dish about the plot – it’s a total escapade into the world of D&D, complete with all the twists and turns of a classic dungeon crawl. The movie follows this charming rogue named Edgin (Chris Pine, looking oh-so-dapper in leather armor), who’s this charming rogue with a knack for trouble. Pine absolutely nails it, bringing a mix of humor and a little heartache to the role, which totally makes you root for him. He’s like that lovable scamp you can’t help but cheer for, even when he’s making questionable life choices.

The storyline kicks off after Edgin and his buddy Holga, played by the always awesome Michelle Rodriguez, get themselves into a typical mess of needing to steal a magical relic to save Edgin’s daughter. Classic, right? But, oh boy, the fun doesn’t stop there. They end up forming a ragtag group with a wizard named Simon, hilariously underplayed by Justice Smith, and a shapeshifting druid, Doric, who Sophia Lillis brings to life with such pep it’s contagious!

And get this – Hugh Grant as the villainous Forge Fletcher? He’s just perfect, blending sleaze and charm into a villain you love to hate. The dynamics among the characters are spot on, with banter that feels like what you’d have with your friends during an actual D&D game. 😄

There’s this one scene where they’re all sneaking through a dungeon that’s so classic. It’s filled with traps and treasures, and it’s so vividly shot that you almost feel the dank air and hear the distant clinks and clatters of the dungeon life. And don’t even get me started on the CGI effects – they’re seriously cool, not overdone but just magical enough to whisk you away from reality.

One thing I really loved was how the film didn’t just stick to the script of being a visual spectacle; it had its emotional beats. You know, moments where the characters reflect on their past choices, which gives it a layer of depth you sometimes miss in action-packed blockbusters.

Honestly, “Dungeons and Dragons: Honor Among Thieves” is one of those movies that leaves you with a goofy smile as the credits begin to roll. It’s a reminder of how movies can be fun and light-hearted, yet clever and captivating. If you’re in for a good time, with plenty of laughs and some edge-of-your-seat moments, this is your ticket.

TTFN 👋
Roger

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Movie-a-Day Challenge: The Way He Looks

This post is part of my movie-a-day challenge in which I will watch a film every day for 365 days. Today is Day 165! You can see all the posts for this challenge HERE. To see the original Movie-a-Day Challenge post, click HERE.

Hey friends, 🌈

So, last night, after an eternity of scrolling through Netflix (you know the drill), I stumbled upon this gem called “The Way He Looks.” It’s a Brazilian movie from 2014, directed by Daniel Ribeiro, and oh boy, am I glad I hit play! This one’s not your typical teen romance, folks. Get ready for a coming-of-age story that’s equal parts adorable and thought-provoking.

Our main character is Leo, a visually-impaired teenager with a serious case of wanderlust. Stuck between his overprotective mom and his well-meaning but slightly smothering best friend Giovana (seriously, this girl!), Leo just wants a taste of independence. Enter Gabriel, the new kid at school with a voice like smooth jazz and a smile that could melt glaciers. Let’s just say, sparks fly when these two are paired up for a school project. Yep, it’s a coming-of-age and coming-out story wrapped in one. But it’s crafted so beautifully that it feels fresh and utterly captivating.

Now, the beauty of “The Way He Looks” is that it doesn’t treat Leo’s blindness like a defining characteristic. It’s there, sure, but it’s not the entire story. We see the world through Leo’s senses – the comforting rhythm of his tapping cane, the way, the thrill of riding two-up on a bicycle with the wind whipping through his hair (yes, you read that right!). It’s a refreshing change from movies that often portray disability as a limitation.

And let’s talk about Leonardo, played by Ghilherme Lobo. This guy, I tell you, brings such a raw, genuine vibe to Leo that you can’t help but root for him from the get-go. And not in a pity-party way, but more like, “Yes, Leo, go explore the world, make mistakes, fall in love, live your best life!” kind of way. Then there’s Fabio Audi as Gabriel, who’s just… chef’s kiss.

Of course, there’s the whole will-they-won’t-they tension between Leo and Gabriel. The actors, Guilherme Lobo and Fábio Audi, have incredible chemistry, making their friendship and eventual romance in the film feel so real and heartwarming. It’s like, you can feel the butterflies in your stomach during their scenes together. They capture that awkward sweetness of young love perfectly – stolen glances, shy smiles, those fumbled attempts to hold hands that make you wanna rewind and relive your own first crush.

The chemistry between these two is off the charts, making their friendship and eventual romance feel so real and heartwarming. It’s like, you can feel the butterflies in your stomach during their scenes together.

But it’s not all butterflies and rainbows. There’s Giovana’s jealousy to contend with, the ever-present societal pressures, and Leo’s own internal struggles about his sexuality. The plot is simple but incredibly effective. It’s a story about love, jealousy, and the complexities of human relationships. The film doesn’t shy away from these complexities, but it handles them with a delicate touch that feels genuine. The film also doesn’t shy away from addressing bullying and the struggle of wanting to be accepted for who you are.

Did I tear up? Maybe a little. But hey, that’s just the power of good storytelling, right? “The Way He Looks” is a beautiful reminder that love can blossom in the most unexpected places, and that sometimes, the most profound connections are made not with our eyes, but with our hearts.

Anyway, this movie left me feeling all gooey inside and seriously impressed. If you’re looking for a coming-of-age story that’s both heartwarming and thought-provoking, “The Way He Looks” is definitely worth a watch. So grab some popcorn, dim the lights, and get ready to be swept away. Until next time, happy watching!

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Movie-a-Day Challenge: Catch Me If You Can

catch me if you can movie imageThis post is part of my movie-a-day challenge in which I will watch a film every day for 365 days. Today is Day 133! You can see all the posts for this challenge HERE. To see the original Movie-a-Day Challenge post, click HERE.

Today we’re taking a trip back in time to 2002 with the amazing film “Catch Me If You Can” by the one and only Steven Spielberg . This movie is like a rollercoaster ride of wit, crime, and chasing dreams, all wrapped up in a slick 1960s package.

Leonardo DiCaprio stars as Frank Abagnale Jr., a teenager who, well, let’s just say possesses a certain knack for impersonation . We’re talking piloting planes (without a license, no less!), forging checks like a boss, and even becoming a doctor and a lawyer – all before his 21st birthday! His skills are so impressive, he finally catches the attention of the FBI, with the determined and relentless Carl Hanratty (played by the fantastic Tom Hanks) hot on his trail.

Their cat-and-mouse game is nothing short of thrilling. It’s like, every time Carl gets close, Frank just slips away. The tension? Palpable. Frank uses his charm and wit to weasel his way into different identities and situations, leaving Hanratty scrambling to pick up the pieces. It’s like watching a high-stakes chess match, where you never know who’s going to make the next move.

DiCaprio is a marvel in the lead role, perfectly capturing Frank’s youthful energy, ambition, and vulnerability. He brings this charm and vulnerability to Frank that makes you root for him, even though he’s, well, technically a criminal. Hanks is equally brilliant as the dedicated Hanratty, who never gives up on his pursuit of justice. Their on-screen chemistry is electric, keeping you glued to your seat the entire time.

But “Catch Me If You Can” isn’t just about the chase. It’s also a story about a young man searching for his place in the world. Frank’s yearning for connection and a sense of belonging is what truly drives him, even if his methods are a little, well, unconventional . I think what really resonates with me is this idea of seeking validation and love in all the wrong places. Frank’s journey, at its core, is about wanting to be seen, to be valued. It’s something I think we can all relate to on some level.

I gotta say, the 60s setting is a vibe too. The costumes, the music, the cars – it’s like a window to a different era. And the cinematography? Beautiful. It’s like each frame could be a postcard from the past.

But what really got me was the emotional depth. There’s this scene, right, where Frank calls Carl on Christmas because he’s all alone, and it just hits you in the feels. You realize this whole chase, it’s not just about the cons and the crime; it’s about this deep loneliness, this craving for connection. Spielberg, you genius, you made me feel all the things. 😭

Catch Me If You Can” is more than just a crime film; it’s a coming-of-age story, a thrilling chase, and a reminder that sometimes, the people we least expect can surprise us the most.

Signing off until tomorrow!
Roger

P.S. Fun fact: Now, Did you know that Frank Abagnale Jr.’s story is actually true? Yeah, this wild adventure is based on real-life events. Frank even worked with the FBI after his stint in prison. Life, am I right? Sometimes, it’s stranger than fiction.

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Weekly Roundup – April 23, 2022

Weekly Roundup 2

Welcome to my Weekly Roundup where on Saturday, I post links to things I shared on social media throughout the week that I thought were interesting. I’ll also include book news, cover reveals, and more goodies.

Not a lot of news on the writing front this week as I took a wee vacation to visit family in North Carolina. We spent a good amount of time in Asheville and I must say that I absolutely fell in love with the city! It had a bustling downtown, a super-fun arts district and amazing dining. I’m already looking forward to when I can return.

This week, it’s back to work on editing my hockey novel. I also hope to get some new words written on my Magician novel (more on that in future posts.)

In case you missed it, I recently released my werewolf book, “Norian’s Gamble for wide publication and it is now available at your favorite online publishers (NOT just at Amazon): Apple Books, Kobo, Barnes and Noble, Smashwords, Scribd, Amazon, etc. You can purchase the book using the following universal link: https://books2read.com/u/bQPxNv or do a search for ‘Norian’s Gamble’ at your favorite online bookstore. It is still available in paperback format from Amazon.

Norian Cover

By the way, I also send out a newsletter about once a month where I chat about my upcoming releases, offer discounts, and other related goodies. So if you wish to receive it, you can subscribe HERE.

So on to the roundup.

Some Things I Thought Were Worth Sharing

  1. For folks who like shorter books, here are 20 of the Best Books Under 200 Pages
  2. Interesting article about Amazon: The Amazonification of the American workforce
  3. Chris Guillebeau talks about depending on yourself: Learn to Depend on Yourself
  4. For my writer friends: How to Write About the People in Your Life. Also, here are some Funny Grammar Puns That Might Be Interesting Not Only To English Teachers. There was also this article: How to Fictionalize New Technology Even As It’s Constantly Changing.
  5. Thought-provoking conversation on violence and agency: When Are Men Dangerous? On Agency, Imagination, and What a Teacher Can Do
  6. Article on Shelf-promotion: The art of furnishing rooms with books you haven’t read
  7. I enjoyed this article on Positive solution-focused media: We Need More Solution-Focused Media. Some folks may also find this helpful: How to handle a lopsided friendship
  8. Interesting article about our workforce: Work is broken. Can we fix it?
  9. An author was set to read his unicorn book to students. The school forbade it: “I never in a million years thought I’d have to defend this book.”
  10. For aspiring Sci-Fi writers: What Makes Great Sci-Fi Writing?. Also, here are some Book Writing Strategies: 10 Book Writing Tactics that End in Failure.
  11. Just for fun (and major cringe) — “Corporate Cringe”: 30 Of The Best Workplace Memes And Posts Shared By This Dedicated Instagram Page
  12. Thoughtful article about the future of work: What if the future of work is exactly the same?
  13. Brokeback Mountain fans may find this of interest: Jake Gyllenhaal Reflects on His Relationship With Heath Ledger. Also, Netflix ‘Heartstopper’ review: Alice Oseman does her queer teen webcomic a sweet service.
  14. Just for fun: Comedy Wildlife Photography Awards Launch New 2022 Season With 10 Never-Before-Seen Pics From 2021
  15. Looking for a fun movie to watch? Here are Some Of The Best Movie Plot Twist Endings.

Oh, and in case you missed it, watch Harry Styles Sing New Song “Boyfriends”

Touch of Cedar New Cover

A Touch of Cedar — A ghost in the present….a murder in the past…a time-traveling adventure: Marek puts on an old suit he finds in the attic & is transported back to the year 1870 where he has to solve a 150-year-old murder.

Weekly Roundup – April 23, 2022 Read Post »

10 Great Books I Read in 2021

I was looking through the list of books I read last year and thought I’d share some of my favorites ones. These are the books that jumped out at me when I was perusing the list. Who knows? Maybe you’ll find your next great read.

  1. Last Night at the Telegraph Club
    Malinda Lo
    Last Night at the Telegraph Club

This historical novel takes place in Chinatown in 1954 and follows two young women, Lily and Kath who fall in love with each other.” The Telegraph Club is a Lesbian bar and it’s where a few pivotal events in the novel occur. This is a dangerous time for the young women to fall in love, with Red-Scare paranoia threatening their existence, especially for Lilly who is Chinese-American. I thought this was a delightful story focusing on lesbian culture and the coming of age of a young Chinese-American woman. I enjoyed the discussions of race, culture, immigration and sexuality in the story and this book stayed in my mind weeks after having read it.

  1. Malibu Rising
    Taylor Jenkins Reid
    Malibu Rising Cover
    Four famous Riva siblings throw an epic end of the summer party. This year’s party, however, is unlike those of the previous years, as each of the secrets that the siblings have been hiding comes to light. Additionally, a few unexpected guests manage to further fuel the fire that’s been brewing. As the party gets insanely out of control (kind of like a freight train running off the rails!) due to excessive drugs, copious amounts of alcohol, and disappearing inhibitions, the underlying drama escalates — resulting in quite an explosive conclusion, so much so that none of the Riva’s lives will ever be the same afterward.
  2. The Outsider
    Stephen King
    The Outsider book coverWhen the body of an eleven-year-old boy is found in a town park, eyewitnesses and fingerprints point unmistakably to one of Flint City’s most popular citizens. However, things are not as they seem, especially in this story. I was shocked (in a good way) when this book turned out to be completely different from what I thought it was. It starts out as a murder mystery but ends up being so much more, once doubts and alternative evidence make the police question everything. Another hit for me by Stephen King. It’s also peppered with amazingly quirky secondary characters.
  3. The Echo Wife
    Sarah Gailey
    The Echo Wife
    I’ve read a couple of other books by this author: Magic for Liars and When We Were Magic and enjoyed both of them. But I’d say that this book is my favorite one of the three. I’m not sure if it’s really a thriller…it’s kind of a mixture of sci-fi, suspense and domestic drama. The story takes place in the not-so-distant future and follows a brilliant and driven award-winning scientist named Evelyn Caldwell whose work involves Clone technology, Unbenownst to Evelyn, her husband Nathan has stolen her research and created a genetic clone of her and named it Martine. Things get really crazy when the husband ends up dead in Martine’s kitchen and the two “Mrs. Caldwells” end up having to work together to fix the mess.
  4. We Begin at the End
    Chris Whittaker
    We Begin at the End Book Cover
    I actually won this book in a Goodreads Drawing and boy what a pleasant surprise. This was a gripping character-driven saga of a family in small town America and deals with topics such as loyalty, loss, tragedy and murder. This crime fiction/murder mystery was one of those heart-wrenching books that sticks with you for a long time. The relentless plot kept me guessing until the surprising ending.
  5. Every Last Fear
    Alex Finlay
    Every Last Fear book cover
    “They found the bodies on a Tuesday. Two days after the family had missed their flight home. Six days after all texts and social media had gone dark.” Thus begins Every Last Fear, by Alex Findley, a spine-chilling, tension-packed gripper of a story. The story hurtles along at breakneck speed, never giving you the opportunity to catch your breath, with each scene ratcheting up the tension page by nerve-wracking page. Really, the suspense is pretty much unrelenting, almost to the very end.
  6. One Last Stop
    Casey McQuiston
    One Last Stop book cover
    I fell deeply in love with this story. McQuiston is the same author who wrote “Red, White and Royal Blue,” another favorite of mine. The story follows twenty-three-year-old August who has just moved to New York City. One day, she meets a gorgeous young woman named Jane on the subway and pretty soon falls head over heels for here. There’s only one problem however: Jane has been stuck on the subway since the 1970s and cannot leave it. Unable to resist a mystery, she and her roommates, try to help August and save her from the subway.
  7. Under the Whispering Door
    TJ Klune
    Under the Whispering Door Cover
    This might be my favorite book of the year. This is an endearing tale that follows Wallace Price who has just died. A reaper appears and takes Wallace to a small teashop in a village where he has to learn a few important lessons before being allowed to enter the afterlife. Things get really interesting when the Manager, an enigmatic and and powerful being arrives at the tea shop and gives Wallace only one week before he cross over. Thus, Wallace sets about living an entire lifetime in seven days. A heartwarming, whimsical story about love, life and second chances. This one really wormed its way into my heart.
  1. Razorblade Tears
    S.A. Cosby
    Razorblade Tears Cover
    Though this was a tough book to read, it also was an amazing one. It’s a tragic story that follows two ex cons who gay sons are both murdered so they take it upon themselves to avenge the murders. It’s an action-packed, intense, heartbreaking book that looks at violence, racism, shame, guilt and regret. But it’s also a hopeful one about family, relationships, and friendship. Be warned however: it is a tad brutal in places, given that violence, sadness and grief are major themes in the story. Yet, it is ultimately a hopeful tale with incredible storytelling and larger-than-life characters.
  2. Anxious People
    Fredrick Backman
    Anxious People cover
    I reread this for my bookclub and I enjoyed it even more the second time. This was not only thought-provoking but laugh-out-loud funny. It’s a heartwarming novel populated with zany characters stuck in a ridiculous situation and I thought this was so much fun. If you enjoyed the humor in A Man Called Ove, you should enjoy this.

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