Jeff Norton, author of Alienated

Recently, I got to interview Jeff Norton, author of such books as Alienated, Looking Glass, and MetaWars.

Jeff Norton is an author, writer-producer, and founder of AWESOME. He creates compelling characters, amazing stories, and immersive worlds for all ages, in all media. He is the author of the high-tech thriller MetaWars series from Hachette, Memoirs Of A Neurotic Zombie from Faber, and the upcoming Stomp School picture book series from Little Tiger Press.  He also creates and co-writes with other talented authors, such as the best-selling Princess Ponies series with Julie Sykes (under the name Chloe Ryder) for Bloomsbury and the young adult novel Drummer Girl with Bridget Tyler.

Jeff is an Executive Producer of the pre-school television show Trucktown based on Jon Scieszka’s best-selling books.  Through his production company, AWESOME, Jeff is developing a slate of high-concept television shows for kids and adults.

More about Jeff can be found on his website and on his Wattpad profile.

Why did you start writing? How long have you been writing?

I always enjoyed creative writing in high school, but I came very late to it as a profession. I never gave myself permission to pursue it seriously, and there was no Wattpad when I was a teenager. I worked for years helping other people with their creativity across film, TV, and books and finally I decided I wanted to flex my own creative muscles. That was in 2010 and I wrote a book called MetaWars, which was published by Hachette and spurred three sequels. And I haven’t stopped since!

What type of genre do you write?

I have a special fondness for elevated genre, that is, taking a genre you think you know and putting a twist on it. Alienated for example, which you can read on Wattpad ahead of its paperback publication, is a mash-up for science fiction and high school comedy. Looking Glass, which is my first adult novel, combines a Victorian era mystery with the origin story of Lewis Carroll’s Alice In Wonderland.

Is there anyone you’d like to thank or acknowledge?

Wow, how long do you have? But the person I need to thank the most is my awesome wife, Sidonie. She’s been amazingly supportive in encouraging me to pursue writing as both a passion and a profession.

Do you consider yourself a writer or an author? Why?

I consider myself a creator. Sometimes I write books, sometimes I write screenplays (I have two spec screenplays that are in development for TV), and sometimes I come up with an idea and look for a collaborator. For example, I created a book series called Princess Ponies, which despite the pink & sparkly covers are ass-kicking swashbuckling tales for school-aged girls (and boys!). Those books I work with a partner called Julie Sykes, and we publish under the pen-name Chloe Ryder. So long as I’m creating, and moving creative projects forward to readers and audiences, I’m happy.

Who’s your favorite author? What’s your favorite genre? What’s your favorite story/book?

My favourite author is Margaret Atwood. I’ve been a life-long fan, well before her recent bump in fame with Handmaid’s Tale. She’s Canadian, and I’ve met her a number of times, and what I love about her work is that she writes genre fiction that is so elevated and literary you get the best of all worlds. I also have a fondness for the storytelling of Stephen King. My favourite book, however, is The Great Gatsby. When I cooked up Keeping The Beat with Marie Powell, Gatsby was very much an inspiration for that story.

How did you get people to know about your stories/books? (i.e. promotion methods)

I don’t know that I do a great job of that, to be honest. I spend so much time writing & creating that I probably neglect the marketing/promotion side of things to my detriment. When my books are published by big publishers, they do have talented marketing and PR people. I try to stay active on Twitter, which is mostly for fun, and I joined Wattpad to share stories before they were published.

How do you judge if you are successful?

That’s an existential question if ever I heard one! For me, my goal is to craft someone’s favourite story. Ideally, I’d have lots and lots of people think that something I create is their favourite.

How did you find Wattpad? Why Wattpad over other sites? Are you on other writing sites?

Margaret Atwood told me to join! She’s an investor in it and I met her at an event and we were talking about how long it takes to get a book published and she told me about this incredible sounding platform where you can share stories and get feedback instantly. It sounded like fun, so I joined. I’ve had a blast sharing work on Wattpad and meeting great people, like you!

Have you been published, such as self-published or through a publishing house? If so where can people find you books?

I haven’t self-published any books, mostly because I don’t really know how. My books are published by major publishers like Bloomsbury, Hachette, and Faber, and I’m on Barnes & Noble and on Amazon at: amazon.com/author/jeffnorton

How do you overcome writer’s block?

I just write through it. I don’t believe in writer’s block. I just believe in working the problem and keeping going.

What is your proudest moment as a writer?

My proudest moment by far was meeting a young teenager who told me that MetaWars was his favourite book.

Where do you get your inspiration from?

I’m inspired by so many things, and often it’s a logical leap of something that’s happening in the world. MetaWars came from an observation about people spending more time online than in the real world. Alienated is a throw-back to my own high school life. Keeping The Beat is inspired by my time in Hollywood. Looking Glass comes from a desire to understand the creative process. Star Pressed, which is also on Wattpad, was inspired by a sense of wanting to tell a story about a different type of family.

What book/story has been the most fun to write? Which was the least fun to write?

The most fun I’ve had writing is Memoris Of A Neurotic Zombie because the book is so much about Adam Meltzer’s voice, and he is such a real character to me.

What character would you want to be and/or what world would you want to live in?

The great thing is that I don’t have to choose! Being a writer means I inhabit these characters and live in their worlds. The world of MetaWars is dystopian and terrifying, but a heck of a lot of fun to inhabit for a few years.

Imagine you could do anything you wanted—“in the real world” (you had enough money, time, etc), what would you do?

I wouldn’t do too much differently, but I suppose if I had more finance I would work to adapt my stories to the screen in a faster way. I am very lucky that several of them are with amazing producers and we’re working very hard on raising the finances necessary to make the leap from page to screen. But that’s a long process and I’d love to short cut it somehow.

What advice do you have for other (or new) writers?

Just write. And start early. I wish I’d started putting pen to paper much earlier in my life. I always tell folks to just get a page or two done a day. It adds up very quickly!

What advice do you have for other (or new) writers on Wattpad?

I feel like I’m still figuring out how to best use the platform, so I’m open to tips in fact! But, with all social media, I’d ask people to be nice and be themselves. Most people are fundamentally good and sadly there’s a few bad apples out there who use social media to troll. Writing is so personal and exposing, that we need to be kind to each other and encourage one another to share our stories.

Is there anything you’d like to add?

Just to thank you so much, Joe for the thoughtful questions and for your support and comments on Wattpad. And to wish you well with your own writing!!

Thank you Jeff for taking the time for this interview. It was nice learning more about you. Good luck in your future endeavors.

Jeff Norton can also be found on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, and PopJam under @thejeffnorton.

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Seb Jenkins, author of Life After Death

Recently I had a chance to interview Seb Jenkins, author of Life After Death–a story about a man in his late 30s who is “plunged into an apocalyptic world of the undead” (quote taken from Life After Death description).

Let’s start with a little background.

(Photo courtesy of Seb Jenkins)

Seb Jenkins is a 20 year old student from Bedfordshire, England. His recent works are described as dark, gritty, and atmospheric which he attributes to a lifetime of immersing himself in endless horror books and gore-fuelled tv shows/films. When he isn’t writing, you can find him banging his head slowly against a brick wall, or desperately trying to think of that best-selling idea he came up with at 3am last night.

As of 2015, Seb is currently attending the University of Kent to study journalism and hopes to carve a career out of his passion for writing.

Why did you start writing?

It kind of just happened after time. I grew up reading series like The Maze Runner, Cherub, Darren Shan, and young teen books like these. I’d always wanted to have a go myself. After reading/watching a load of zombie type stuff, I just made some random notes and ideas, kept adding to them over a few months and eventually had this really detailed idea for a book.

Do you consider yourself a writer or an author? Why?

I consider myself a writer rather than an author as most of my work is unpublished. I think you make that step between the two once someone picks you up and/or you start making some money off your work. At the moment I just do it because I thoroughly enjoy it.

Who’s your favourite author? What’s your favourite genre? What’s your favourite story/book?

It’s impossible to choose one favourite author or book, but studying Brighton Rock by Graham Greene is something that leaps to mind. Usually picking a book apart and writing essays on it kind of kills the enjoyment side of things, but I loved that book from start to finish. My favourite genres are horror/thriller, so obviously anything by Stephen King is always a good shout. At the moment I’m reading Frankenstein by Mary Shelley.

I’m not a big fan of “picking a book apart” either. I like to keep the enjoyment alive too.

How did you get people to know about your stories/books?

I pretty much just upload my work to Wattpad and talk to other authors on there. Eventually you find people who want to read your work, or they just stumble across it.

How do you judge if you are successful?

Personally, I would consider myself successful writing-wise if I could ever make a career out of it, but different people have different goals.

How did you find Wattpad? Why Wattpad over other sites? Are you on other writing sites?

Wattpad is the only writing site I use really, after a friend recommended it to me. I love it just because there are so many similar writers, in similar positions, with similar problems, all in one place. It’s a great tool to swap tips, improve your writing and read some other great work.

Have you been published, such as self-published or through a publishing house? If so where can people find you books?

I have self-published my first book Life After Death, however it is currently going through an extra stage of editing before I re-launch it. People can find all my work by following the links on my website, or checking out my Wattpad account.

How do you overcome writer’s block?

Sometimes I have to just put my laptop away and go do something else for a few hours. I find that torturing yourself over details that just aren’t coming to your mind in that moment is extremely annoying. Usually I’ll just go watch some Netflix, or hang out with some mates and often the idea I was looking for kind of pops into my head eventually. Forcing writing never works.

What is your proudest moment as a writer?

I would say finishing Life After Death was probably my proudest moment. After a couple of years of writing and editing, finally finishing the final chapter was so satisfying. Then once started getting amazing feedback on Wattpad, it just amplified this even further.

What book/story has been the most fun to write? Which was the least fun to write?

So far, Death After Death (book two of Life After Death) has been the most fun to write. I’ve kind of found my groove with the story now, and added some really cool, fun characters to the second book. I’m really happy with where it’s going so far, and there’s so much less stress after the first book in a series is done. My least favourite would probably be There’s Been Another One, purely because sticking to a maximum word limit was so incredibly difficult.

What character would you want to be and/or what world would you want to live in?

I’d love to have a crack at the apocalyptic world in Life After Death, and I’d probably choose JJ from book two as the character I’d most like to be. I think he’s the one I modelled on myself most.

Imagine you could do anything you wanted—“in the real world” (you had enough money, time, etc), what would you do?

Unlimited food would be nice. If I had enough time and money I would love to create a huge immersive world like George R R Martin has done so beautifully with Game of Thrones.

What advice do you have for other (or new) writers?

Don’t be put off by negative comments, or bad reviews. Just take what they say on board, go back and edit your work, often they will be making good and honest points. Your writing is always going to be a bit crap to start with, you just have to improve as you go to be honest.

What advice do you have for other (or new) writers on Wattpad?

Join some kind of group or book club to get you started. You’ll meet new people straight away, and find readers for your work. It’s the best way to get involved in a variety of circles on there. Don’t be afraid to message someone and say hi, or ask for help, or whatever. Most of the time they will be friendly and helpful.

Thank you for your time Seb Jenkins. Good luck in your future endeavors.

You can learn more about Seb on his website or contact him here.

You can purchase the Joe Rover ebooks at Barnes & Noble or Amazon

Life is Once Again a Hurricane

All reviews are my personal opinion and do not reflect the views of any person or organization.

Here be Spoilers. Enter at your own risk.

Scrooge McDuck and the rest of the DuckTales crew are back with a new series. To celebrate Disney had a day long viewing of the first episode "Woo-oo!" on Aug. 12, 2017.

At first I was a little worried. I enjoyed the original DuckTales and was concerned that the new series would be too…modern. I've seen a lot of reboots and remakes of old series that just did not work out.

My concerns seemed to be confirmed after seeing the art style for the series. It looked too stylized and modern. The characters looked a little weird and Scrooge was wearing red instead of blue. The heads of some of the characters also seemed oversized. But then I remembered the DuckTales comics and realized the style and look was similar. I then understood what they [cast and crew] were trying to do and my fears were somewhat laid to rest.

And as always I try to reserve complete judgement until I actually see the show. Trailers and screenshots and such are promotional objects and the companies want to show the "exciting" or "new" or "best" stuff about the product. A trailer can make a product, like a video game, look awesome but once you play it, it is garbage. Or the trailer can make you cringe but the actual show is great. I found this latter to be true with the new DuckTales. I'd gone in worried about how they would "mess up" the characters and theme song (and other things) but found it pretty enjoyable.

I did find the "crazy, stalker, fangirl" Webby to be a little…uncomfortable. The new Webby was a bit intense for my taste at first. But I am glad they "aged her up" and she is no longer the "annoying tag along little sister" that they portrayed her in the original. She still seems to retain her "innocent girl" character while still making her more "mature." She believes in Scrooge and Donald. She still has her sense of wonder but isn't naive.

I''m glad they developed Huey, Dewy, and Louie's characters. In the original series, they had some differentiating characteristics but for the most part were carbon copies. Unless they were alone or the plot involved one over the others they seemed almost interchangeable at times. In the new series, each one has very defined characteristics and goals.

Mrs. Beakley's tough, almost military, personality was a bit hard to get use to, but I am glad she is no longer the "screaming and fainting at a pin drop" character she was in the original. It was nice to see that she could and was willing to stand up to Scrooge at times. This version of Beakley has obviously been in Scrooge's employ for awhile and knows the ins and outs.

The one character problem I had is that so far we haven't seen Duckworth, the butler.

The new theme song did an excellent job of combining the old version with a newer one. While I still prefer the older one, I was glad to see that the new one is still enjoyable and matches the tone of the series quite well. It had a very comic book feel to it which matched the rest of the style and tone of the series.

I did, however, miss the huge dollar sign on the Money Bin but was glad to see that Scrooge still knew how to swim through the money.

The part that really won me over were the Easter Eggs. In Scrooge's "relic room" (aka the garage) you can see objects from the original series as well as the movie. They also mentioned other Disney Afternoon cities, such as Saint Canard, Cape Suzette, and Spoonerville. Personally, I wouldn't mind seeing some crossover episodes.

While the original still holds a special place in my heart; in the end, all I can say about the start to this new series is: DuckTales…Woo-oo! I give it a 4.8/5. And I hope it continues.

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Where’s the riot?

All reviews are my personal opinion and do not reflect the views of any person or organization.

Here be Spoilers. Enter at your own risk.

Guardians of the Galaxy: Space Riot by Pat Shand has our spacefaring heroes taking a shipment of medicine to a plant people planet (try saying that three times fast) who are suffering from a plague. Once the Guardians arrive at the star system, they find it to be blocked by a force field. They need to get permission to pass. After some creepy feelings and subtle threats, they are allowed to leave. Once on the plant planet, they soon find that the plague was not a plague but an invasion. The Guardians are soon on the run from an at least two planet strong army.

The use of having each chapter told by a different character is nothing new, but what I enjoyed is that they sounded like that character. The Star-Lord chapters sounded as if Star-Lord was speaking, that he’d written that chapter.

I found the Drax chapters a little harder to find his voice. The Drax chapters sounded more like the author speaking than Drax. But to be fair, Drax has a different short of character. He doesn’t really have the internal dialogue like the others and he’s more literal. I did notice that once Drax began to have a personal conflict, involving a crush on someone (and I mean a love-crush not a smash-crush like Drax thought “having a crush” meant), the Drax chapters did seem to change.

When I saw that each chapter would be “narrated” by a different Guardian, I hoped that there would be a Groot chapter. I wondered how Shand would do that. Would it be six pages of “I am Groot”? I was surprised to see that not only was there a Groot chapter but it delve into the mind of Groot. You get to see how he feels about not being able to communicate with anyone other than Rocket. You get to see a version of Groot that is quite smart. Some stories show Groot as being stupid or naïve; this Groot is wiser and observant.

I also enjoyed how the individual chapters allowed the reader to see more of the characters’ motives and backgrounds. You learn a lot about why the characters act the way they do.

Shand’s description of the Thandrid was excellent. I got a clear image of what they looked like. Maybe too clear. I kept getting an image of a insect that looked similar to a xenomorph from the Alien movies. But this might’ve been on purpose because of how the Thandrid invade. Much like the xenomorphs, the Thandrid burst out from their host’s body (except it’s the head instead of the chest).

I was surprised and not surprised when the first head-bursting happened. Since I had the xenomorph image in my head (no pun intended), I was not surprised to see it happen. In other words, the clues had been there since the beginning. I didn’t feel like this was some cheap scare that came out of nowhere. Nonetheless, it still shocked me because I wasn’t waiting for it, and the description of the baby Thandrid crawling around creeped me out. It wasn’t like a mystery book where you solve the murder in the first chapter and then are waiting till the end to have your guess confirmed.

My main problem with the book is I kept asking, “Where’s the riot?” The book was called Space Riot and yet there was no riot. There was war and fighting and explosions, but not much of a riot. I guess you could call it a riot because the Incarnadinians, the other planet marked for invasion, and the Guardians rebelled against the Thandrid. Also, all the people of the system were held prisoner by the force field, so it was more like the rebel “prisoners” were rioting against the Thandrid “guards.” The war was very one sided. The Thandrid had the numbers and the technology, so it was more of a riot. But the riot idea really came into play when the Guardians and rebels crashed into the Thandrid prison allowing all the prisoners to escape. It then turned into a literal riot and they attacked the Thandrid.

I have to give Space Riot a 4.6 out of 5. The writing was excellent, the book was short enough that I could finish it in a timely manner but still long enough that I felt like I got my money’s worth, and the book kept making me want to continue. It wasn’t boring at all. It seemed like we were always moving forward. Sometimes the forward motion was a little slower but we were still moving forward. But, it didn’t have the same…silliness of the Guardians of the Galaxy movies. It seemed like these Guardians were ones that had more experience or were more mature. They still had the same characteristics, but just different.

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I am Groot Vol. 2

All reviews are my personal opinion and do not reflect the views of any person or organization.

Here be Spoilers. Enter at your own risk.

Peter and gang return for more cosmic comedy in Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2.

In this sequel, the Guardians discover who Peter’s father is while on the run from gold-skinned aliens.

I found the make-up and character designs to be better than the first. But in some close ups of Gamora, I could see places where they missed a spot. However, in the comics (and the Telltale Games Guardians series), Gamora is seen with flesh colored circles around her eyes, so I could give this a pass…though it got weird that in one scene the rings were there and in others they weren’t.

I did find the make-up work for the golden aliens to be amazing: gold skin, gold hair, and gold eyes. It didn’t look like they just slapped in some gold colored contact lens, even the whites of their eyes had a golden tint.

I found the swearing, crude humor, and sexual innuendos to be a big much for a comic book superhero movie. All the killing scenes were also a bit much: the bodies floating in space, people being sucked out airlocks, and bodies falling in slow motion. But, they weren’t out of place. It wasn’t like it was Batman going around killing people. It made sense to have villains shoving people into space or Yondu killing people with his arrow; he’d done it in the first movie so there was no big surprise.

Guardians still had plenty of sarcasm, jokes, and “they’re all idiots” moments. For instance, Yondu uses his arrow to lower himself to the ground. Peter tells him he looks like Mary Poppins. Yondu asks if she is cool and Peter replies, “Yes.” At this point, Yondu then boasts, “I’m Mary Poppins, yo!” Only Guardians characters could deliver a line like this seriously.

The delivery of the line showed the skill of the actors. The person playing Yondu knew who Mary Poppins was and understood the joke, but he delivered it as if he didn’t. It wasn’t done with a twinge of “I really know what’s going on because I’m an actor.” He sounded like he really believed it.

The cosmic craziness that is the Guardians of the Galaxy continues with a giant 8-bit Pac-Man appearing during the final battle. I won’t tell you how or why it happened (you’ll just have to watch the movie).

During the battle with the golden aliens, the Guardians discover that the ships coming after them are drones. The scene than shows the pilots controlling the drones while video arcade sound effects play; they even include the death sound effect.  Once a pilot was defeated, they would rage quit. At one point there is only one pilot left and the others have gathered around him cheering him on to get a high score. Who knew advanced alien races like video games?

I found the graphics to be great but for the most part the same as the original, except for Yondu’s arrow. The blur trail effect was much better. The coloring and glow made it stand out and added some flair to the movie. It seemed to match Yondu’s personality too. This effect made the arrow seem more high-tech and more like an object you’d see in a sci-fi or comic book movie instead of being completely realistic.

I enjoyed the character development moments. I enjoyed the fact that we got to see more of Rocket’s character. He wasn’t just an angry, greedy, thieving genetically modified raccoon. You could see that he had feelings and cared about other people. Also, it was awesome to watch Rocket take out squads of Ravagers on his own.

I missed Rocket’s orange outfit from the first movie. The outfit for this movie made him look like he was naked. It made him look more like a wild animal, but to be fair, he acted like one for most of the movie.

I had a problem with Nebula’s character change because in the last movie she was portrayed as this crazy, murdering, sadist (and she still was to a point), but then she’s like “I just want a sister.” It seemed like a strange switch, but her “mellowing” out doesn’t come till near the end of the movie. It wasn’t like one second she was a psychopath and the next doling out hugs. It was still believable that she could change. It was nice to see that she could be more than just stab, stab, kill and we got a peak into why she is the way she is.

The characters seemed to be more mature in this movie. They still made jokes and teased each other, like when Peter calls Rocket a “trash panda,” but it seems like their personalities were more flushed out. They had become more than just jokes, eye rolls, and sarcasm.

Like from Peter. I got the sense that he’s been the leader of the Guardians for awhile. He has grown into the role and is a bit more responsible. He even tells Rocket not to play music during a battle, while in the first movie Peter constantly played music whenever he did anything.

This maturity could be said about the rest of the Guardians. Though they continued to bicker, they still seemed to acknowledge Peter as the leader. They also seemed to function more as a team.

My biggest problem with the movie was Peter’s father being a Celestial. It seemed over the top or out of place. It made Peter seem too important. I felt like the movie would have the same theme and plot even if Peter was still the prince of Spartax instead of a god. It made it seem like Marvel was trying too hard to make the movie like other movies; they fell into a trope instead of breaking tropes.

What I mean by breaking tropes can be seen at the beginning of the movie. The Guardians are getting ready for a battle with a cosmic beast. This amazing and frightening monster alien shows up and you’re expecting to see this epic battle, but instead you watch Baby Groot dance while the Guardians battle in the background.

Another example of trope-breaking is during the final battle. The Guardians strike a pose and epic hero music plays as there are explosions and such behind them…and then one character gets hit in the head.

They also make fun of the “characters walking slowly towards the camera” trope.

But having Peter be the son of a god seemed like they were giving in or they thought, “We need some kind of twist that’s going to shock all the comic fans.”

But all in all, I still say Guardians of the Galaxy is one of Marvel’s best series. Mainly because of the credits. Every now and then the credits read “I am Groot” and then switch to the English translation. Not to mention seeing the various character dance. And finally, the during and after credit scenes; you get multiple ones. You also get to see teenage Groot who stays in his room all day playing video games and leaves his vines all over the floor.

I have to give Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 a 4 out of 5 Groots. I enjoyed it and most issues were forgettable annoyances. But it was the fact that they made Peter’s father a god when they really didn’t need to really lowered the score. Also, they should have had more Cosmo the Dog and Howard the Duck.

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Doctor Who—Geek History Lesson Tells You

All reviews are my personal opinion and do not reflect the views of any person or organization.

Hosts Jason Inman and Ashley V. Robinson do it again with another Geek History Lesson.

Each week Inman and Robinson take one construct from pop culture and clue you in.

Inman and Robinson are excellent at explaining, sometimes complex, issues in a clear manner; I don’t feel like I need a road map afterwards to understand what they just said.

This week (April 17) they focused on the Time Lords from Doctor Who.

I really liked the idea of them focusing in on the Time Lords.

First, it was creative. The obvious choice for a Whovian lesson would be The Doctor or a history of his traveling companions. Doing a lesson on the Time Lords seems like something near the middle of the list, like maybe below a lesson on the TARDIS.

Second, the Time Lords are kind of mysterious. There isn’t much said about them on an episodic basis. You get clues here and there, but quite frankly, I can’t remember snippets from one episode to the next. It was great to have the history all in one place.

This lesson followed the usual format with the Meet Cute, 10 Cent Origin, main history, and Recommended Reading…but the episode didn’t seem to have as many jokes, puns, or general silliness as other episodes, such as the Pride of Illegitimate Skunk-Bears from the Wolverine podcast. The episode was still funny and enjoyable but different.

I also missed Inman doing some kind of impression.

I also enjoyed that they got the “sponsored by” part done near the beginning. It was nice to “get it over with” and enjoy the rest of the podcast. Variety is also nice.

I did notice some audio glitches during the guest interview like voices sounding weird or cutting out. But, I’m glad that they were able to get a guest. It adds variety to the show and gives a sense of community.

This sense of community is another part of what makes these podcasts so interesting. It’s wonderful to know that there are other geeks out there. Growing up in my hometown, if you knew something about video games, comics, or other “geeky” things, you could expect a wedgie or a special “trip” down the hall, so geeks didn’t advertise.

Finally, the episode’s time of one hour…ish is great. It’s short enough that you aren’t getting bored or wondering how you are going to find the time to listen to it. But, it is also long enough to feel intellectually feed—things aren’t thrown at you at high speed and you are struggling to figure out what was just said.

In short, Inman and Robinson’s even, but not mono, vocal tones make the podcast great to listen to while working or doing chores…and sometimes while exercising. So, I’m thankful that they do these podcasts; otherwise, I would never do the dishes.

I have to give them a 4.5 out of 5.

You can find out more about Geek History Lesson (such as where to find it) at geekhistorylesson.com.

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Thor will Ragnarok you

All reviews are my personal opinion and do not reflect the views of any person or organization.

Thor: Ragnarok from Marvel Studios is set to release Nov. 3. In the meantime, I got to watch the trailer, thanks to the iTunes Trailers app.

The trailer starts out with Thor chained in a pit or cave. This seems pretty standard for superhero trailers anymore: the hero is chained or tortured or is climbing out of some dungeon. But I have to say the graphics and set design were impressive. I really felt like I was in some other world.

Speaking of other worlds, it was nice to see a Thor movie (or even show) with Thor on a more high-tech planet. Usually the places you see Thor are very…Norse (obviously). It was nice to see futuristic vehicles and weapons instead of dwarves and elves. It really showed that in this movie Thor is out of his element; he isn’t just visiting the 9 realms where he can beat up anything in his way. It’s going to be a challenge.

I also enjoyed the look of the aliens and other creatures. They looked alien. The makeup and costume work was amazing. They looked like they were alien creatures and not just some person in a suit or CGI. Just like with the sets, I felt like I was in another place. I really felt like I was there and not just watching.

I did get a very Guardians of the Galaxy vibe to the trailer. The soundtrack, the 70s/80s psychedelic/rainbow title transition, and the pacing of jokes and shots seemed a lot like trailers for the Guardians movies. If I hadn’t known better, I would have thought it was a trailer for Guardians. But I can see why it was done like this. Thor: Ragnarok is a space adventure. It needs the craziness and wow of space. You should feel like it is this epic thing. And maybe this trailer format hints at the Guardians making a cameo or there is a reference to them.

My real big problem with the trailer was that when they showed the villain, it wasn’t clear who it was. I probably missed them saying her name, but I kind of felt like the trailer was saying, “If you were a true fan, you’d know who this was.” If they did mention Hela by name, I didn’t hear it over the loud music and action.

I have to admit that when Thor showed up in the gladiator ring with short hair, I did a double take. I liked that they cut his hair; it shows that he’s in trouble. He’s not a prince of Asgard—he’s a slave/gladiator. He’s also been there for a while, at least long enough for a haircut. This was no pit stop for Thor.

And of course, I loved the moment when Hulk arrives and Thor laughs and says that they’re friends from work.

This trailer made me want to see the movie. I was kind of iffy; I’m starting to get tired of all the superhero movies, and when I saw the opening with Thor in the cave, I thought, “Here we go again. It’s just like all the rest.” But by the end of the trailer, I was getting more and more interested. The ones who edited the trailer sure knew which scenes to stick at the end.

I have to say the trailer was well done. The movie, on the other hand…we’ll just have to wait till November.

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