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New fantasy novel release: The Blue Gem

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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…

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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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…

March Madness Movie Tournament: 4 decades of box office winners

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The NCAA tournament is canceled but that doesn't mean we can't still have an old-fashioned, bracket-busting good time, where the winner is selected by you, the loyal reader. The most wonderful time of the year has been put on hold in 2020.
Both the men's and women's college basketball tournaments are only a few of the many events canceled in 2020 thanks to the COVID-19 (coronavirus) pandemic. The NBA and NHL have both suspended play, as has Major League Baseball. Soccer, golf, and the XFL have all suspended their seasons as well, along with schools in some states taking a hiatus or moving to online studies.
Sports has gone silent and, as we prepare for the worst but certainly hope for the best, we turn to other forms of entertainment to keep our minds from going completely crazy. Hence, a little fun by taking a look at 40 years of the top box office films.
By holding a tournament, of course.
We've looked at the summer films from 1998 and the greatest holiday films…

Upside down, inside out as March Madness approaches

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The precipice of March Madness is here, with conference tournaments soon tipping off amid what has been a wide-open year in men's college basketball. There's an identity crisis happening in the 2019-20 NCAA men's college basketball season.
Up is down, down is up, and no team seems to really care about hanging onto the nation's top ranking in the polls.
A team from the Mountain West Conference could end up with one of the top-four seeds. The Pac-12 is barely a blip on the national radar, outside of the Oregon Ducks and Colorado Buffaloes. And the Big Ten could not only see the Penn State Nittany Lions dancing but the Rutgers Scarlet Knights as well. All while the likes of the North Carolina Tar Heels and the defending champion Virginia Cavaliers have suffered at the hands of a mediocre season.
This has all happened in the short span of the last four months and doesn't even touch on the fact the resurgence of the Big East, which has three teams in the top-15.
March …