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New fantasy novel release: The Blue Gem

It took nearly four years, but the completion of The Blue Gem, follow-up to 2014's The Dragon Princess, has finally arrived. 
Granted, this is not the over twenty years it took me to complete the first novel. That one took form before I even hit my teens so it can be somewhat excusable the novel took so long to complete.
The Blue Gem, on the other hand, was started a month or so after I self-published The Dragon Princess. The second novel ended up being roughly 40 pages longer, involved more research and I even took some time to draw (possibly unneeded) floor plans. 

Between a busy weekend of NCAA basketball, St. Patrick's Day, and working on other projects, I was able to finally edit (for the 5th time) the final 20 pages of the manuscript. Thus began the process of readying author profiles, updating the manuscript format to fit requirements, and submitting the file to Kindle Direct Publishing. 
We went live late Friday night.
The Blue Gem is now available for download via Kind…

Will they or won't they: An examination of NBC's character pairing in the 1980's, 90's and beyond

NBC ruled the airwaves back in the 1980's, '90's and part of the 2000's, thanks in large part to shows that relied on a good, old-fashioned, "will-they-or-won't-they" trope involving main characters. The characters you'll likely know by first name only. Ross and Rachel from Friends became synonymous with the will-they-or-won't-they question, helping the sitcom become one of the most watched shows ever.
It wasn't the first time, however, that NBC trotted out this trope on one of their television shows.
In fact, for a good stretch, the network paraded out this types of relationships on hit-show, after hit-show. It started back in the 1980's and stretched into the 2000's with a bevy of characters many of us are on a first-name basis with.
Sam and Diane (Ted Danson and Shelley Long) from Cheers. Sam and Rebecca, for that matter (Danson and Kirstie Alley). There was Joe and Helen from Wings. Skippy and Mallory (Marc Price and Justine Batem…

A void where the sports world used to be

Sports, and the leagues and athletes we watch and follow, can be an altogether rewarding and heartbreaking experience. It's a void in entertainment not easily filled. Trace the path of memories, finding the hazy shadow of an image that lingers. Pinpoint that moment when sports entered your life.
Three memories sink their claws in, each forever etched in the soul. There is the tender age of four, grasping a basketball, dad feet away, whistle planted between lips while the high school players run sprints.
A second is years later, a post t-ball game celebration where gumballs are handed out, tiny words corresponding with the best hit collected during the game. It's the first time the yellow gumball with the phrase "home run" landed in tiny, dirty hands.
A third is ripe with disappointment. The 1986 World Series, in which a simple ground ball bouncing through legs whipped up tears in a matter of seconds, not yet realizing there was still one game left to bring even gran…

March Madness movie tourney and 40 years of box office champs: the final 4

The March Madness movie tournament has been whittled down, now only a few days away from selecting a favorite film from the box office champions of the past 40 years. And then there were four.
We started with 64 films, taking the top-16 domestic box office earners from each decade (starting in 1980) and pitting them against one another.
There will be no "One Shining Moment" played at the end of this tournament -- there is no video footage of me typing at the computer or users clicking a button on Twitter -- and yet here we are.
Four films. A representative from each decade spanning the 1980's, 1990's, 2000's and 2010's. There were surprises, upsets, and a couple of close calls. And yet the four films in the final four are all worthy of inclusion.
One half of the match-ups has the 1980's region taking on the 1990's region. The other: the 2000's vs the 2010's.
Take a glance below at the skinny for the final four films (box office totals taken f…

Down to 8 films in box office movie madness tournament

The March Madness movie tournament rolls on as the final eight films lock horns in deciding the favorite of the box-office champions from the last four decades. A dose of "Hakuna Matata" is something we could all use here in the month of March 2020.
And maybe that's why The Lion King is the last animated film standing in the "40 years of box office champions" tournament.
Well, that, and the film is dear and near the hearts for  those of us who grew up in the 1990's.
The Lion King was one of ten animated films to make this tournament. Many were eliminated in the early rounds as only two others reached the round of 16. Shrek 2 was bounced out by The Dark Knight on the other side of the bracket, receiving only 15 percent of the votes.
Beauty and the Beast was the other animated film to make it that far, only to have to face The Lion King. Belle and company, thanks to making more at the domestic box office, held the number two seed. However, The Lion King won sa…

4 decades of box office champions tourney down to 16 films

The March movie madness tournament to crown the best of the all-time domestic box office winners from the last 40 years continues with the round of 16. The film industry is Marvel's world and we're just living in it.
At least that's how it looks when you glance down the list of top-grossing movies at the all-time box office
Four of the top ten are Marvel based, led by the number two film, Avengers: Endgame. Immense popularity follows these films around, so much so that Captain Marvel, which made nearly 427 million dollars at the domestic box office, wasn't even one of the top-16 grossing films since 2010.
This film, starring Brie Larson as Captain Marvel, currently sits in 25th-place and barely missed out on joining this tournament. That's because 17 of the 25 highest-grossing films have all been released since 2010.
All told, there were six films from Marvel -- the Spider-Man movies from the 2000s were released by Sony and still owned by the company -- in this to…

March Madness movie tournament: Star Wars universe and round of 32

The NCAA tournaments are canceled but that doesn't mean the bracket-bustin' has to stop. Onto the round of 32 as we look at the top box office winners of the last four decades. It was inevitable that films from the Star Warsuniverse would be eliminated from this tournament early on.
Losing a number-one seed in the first round, however, was not something I quite predicted as Star Wars: The Force Awakens was eliminated right out of the gate in the 2010-2019 region. The film fell behind early and couldn't quite compete the comeback during the 24-hour voting period, falling to Toy Story 4 by one vote.
All told, four of the eight films in this tournament from the Star Wars universe were eliminated in the opening round. One elimination was always going to be a given as The Last Jedi squared off against The Rise of Skywalker (winner: The Last Jedi, by a comfortable five votes). Another, The Phantom Menace, I assumed would be a first-round upset as the second-seed in the 1990-199…

No shining moment in time

Derrick Coleman's missed free throw opened the door for the Indiana Hoosiers, with plenty of time left to get up a final shot. The offense stalled, then flowed, with the ball finding the hands of Keith Smart. Smart took advantage, hitting a baseline runner with mere seconds remaining to put the Hooisers up 74-73. He sealed the victory by intercepting one last, desperate pass, giving the Hoosiers and head coach Bob Knight the national championship.

To this day, even without the aid of the clip, I have vivid memories of the 1987 title game between the Hoosiers and the Orange.
Clips and even full-length games are available for replay on YouTube. But -- in the words of an old-timer -- back in my day, we relied on the virtual world-changing technology of the VHS cassette. This was something I took advantage of for these national title games, thanks to my dad's love of recording said contests.
Starting in the 1980's and stretching into the early 90's, dad recorded the major…