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Monday, December 31, 2012

Music with a Message VI: Girl on Fire, Alicia Keys

By J.R. Wagner

This is the Sixth song in my Music with a Message series. Music for teens that was released within the past five years and has a positive, uplifting, self-esteem boosting theme.

 Song: Girl On Fire

Album:  Girl on Fire

She's just a girl and she's on fire
Hotter than a fantasy, lonely like a highway
She's living in a world and it's on fire
Feeling with catastrophe, but she knows she can fly away

Ohhhh oh oh oh oh
She got both feet on the ground
And she's burning it down
Ohhhh oh oh oh oh
She got her head in the clouds
And she's not backing down

This girl is on fire...
This girl is on fire...
She's walking on fire...
This girl is on fire...

Looks like a girl, but she's a flame
So bright, she can burn your eyes
Better look the other way
You can try but you'll never forget her name
She's on top of the world
Hottest of the hottest girls say

Ohhhh oh oh oh
We got our feet on the ground
And we're burning it down
Ohhhh oh oh oh oh
Got our head in the clouds
And we're not coming down

This girl is on fire...
This girl is on fire...
She's walking on fire...
This girl is on fire...

Everybody stands, as she goes by
Cause they can see the flame that's in her eyes
Watch her when she's lighting up the night
Nobody knows that she's a lonely girl
And it's a lonely world
But she gon' let it burn, baby, burn, baby

This girl is on fire...
This girl is on fire...
She's walking on fire...
This girl is on fire...

Oh, oh, oh, oh ohhhhh oh oh oh ohhh oh oh oh ohhhh...

She's just a girl and she's on fire

Don't forget to check out the other music with a message posts.
Part 1
Part 2
Part 3
Part 4
Part 5

Have a suggestion?  Post a comment!!

To purchase Exiled, bid on the movie rights, hire me as a writer for the next Blade Runner film, the next Star Wars film...for updates on the soon-to-be-released novella, book 2 updates, for videos, fan art, contests and more, visit my website!

In bookstores now

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Panacea -chapter 7

By J.R. Wagner

As promised, I have come up with a title for my Nanotechnology story.  Panacea.

I strongly recommend reading chapters 1-6 before continuing.

Chapter 1
Chapter 2
Chapter 3
Chapter 4
Chapter 5
Chapter 6

I was walking as quickly as  I could (but not so quick as to attract attention) along the sidewalk back toward the building.  Toward the building where Tessa's father's lab was located. Where she had run off, shotgun in hand in an attempt to rescue him from whoever it was that so desperately wanted his memory-altering nanotechnology discovery.

I could have walked away.  I should have walked away. I've no idea why I didn't decide to do just that -I mean, Wendy's was right down the block and I'm pretty sure I had enough for a Dave's Hot 'N Juicy 3/4lb Triple, large fries and a Coke four times the size of my bladder.

As I entered the courtyard outside the main entrance folks were still chowing down on their lunches or chatting it up.  My stomach growled when I spotted what looked like a Tupperware container full of home made baked ziti yet I willed myself to turn and step through the revolving door.

The lobby was your typical corporate office building lobby.  Marble tile floors, open two-story design, a reception desk with an insanely hot blonde woman talking to someone on her headset.  Several people walked past the desk and through one of a dozen turnstyles while waving their FOB keys at the sensor mounted on the front of the turnstyle.  A little green light would flash and they would pass through.

Yes, kind of like this -minus the Gamorrean guard

Problem number one; getting past the desk and to the elevators (no way I was taking the stairs). I strolled up to the desk exuding sexiness and leaned casually on the counter.

"Can I help you?" the blonde asked.

"Yes," I said, giving my best Brad Pitt smile.

"Are you okay? Do you need to use the bathroom or something?"

Crap. I relaxed my face and repositioned myself against the counter.  This time, I decided to go for the authoritarian approach.  I stood as straight as possible and looked down my nose at the receptionist.

"I'm here to see Dr. Sorin," I said.

She quickly typed into her keyboard, looked at the screen for a moment and then lifted her head.

"I'm sorry, Dr. Sorin is not available today."

"I have an appointment," I said, confidence wavering.

"The Dr. marked his calendar as do not disturb all day.  Perhaps you have the wrong appointment time?"

Perhaps?  Who says that? Seriously.

"No. I am certain the appointment is for today. Perhaps you could get him on the phone for me. It was a very important appointment and I've traveled several hours to be here."

She looked at me through her long, perfect eyelashes for a moment (probably thinking I was a bad liar) before punching a number on her keypad.  We waited in silence for about a minute. She played with her fingernails and I tried as hard as I could not to look at her cleavage. Finally, she tapped a key and looked up at me.

"His receptionist isn't picking up.  Strange," she said.

"Is that out of the ordinary?" I asked.

"Yes, they're supposed to always have someone to take calls."

Not good.

"Do you have his direct office line?"

I'm pretty sure she was about to tell me to piss off when a loud boom followed by a building wide power failure sent everyone into a panic.  The emergency lighting kicked on for a few seconds then flickered off leaving only daylight to illuminate the lobby.

Two more boom's sent everyone in the lobby running for the door. In the distance, I could hear a fire engine.  That was fast.  I contemplated joining the hordes and bolting for the door but decided I needed to at least make sure Tessa was okay.

The story continues...

Chapter 8
Chapter 9
To purchase Exiled, bid on the movie rights, hire me as a writer for the next Blade Runner film, the next Star Wars film...for updates on the soon-to-be-released novella, book 2 updates, for videos, fan art, contests and more, visit my website!

In bookstores now

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Doing good -the best holiday gift

The other day I received the below message. It made me feel so good I thought I would share it. My intent is not to wave my own flag -anyone could have done what I did. My intent is to share a nice story about an incredible cause in hopes that it will allow others to see that despite all the crazy things happening around the world, there are great people doing great things all the time and this organization is certainly one of them.

Monday, December 24, 2012

'Twas the Night Before Christmas -Star Wars style

 By J. R. Wagner

Twas the night before Christmas on a big metal star,
The Emperor just finished swinging well over par;
On a golf course inside the Death Star, you see,
Unexpected I'm sure to know there are three;

Stormtroopers were nestled all snug in their racks,
With visions of rebels running scared like rats;
Captain Needa in his onesie and I in my C-PAP,
Had just settled in for a brief cozy nap;

When out beyond the perimeter came a crash and a boom,
And I knew that Admiral Ozzel had showed up too soon;
Off to the bridge I strode in a mood,
To show that fool Ozzel he's about to be chewed;

The force round his throat made him sputter and cough,
Oops, too tight, oh well, time to invade Hoth;
When out of the darkened cargo bay came,
The coolest ground assault vehicle I'd name;

AT-AT I called it, General Veers, I let drive despite being mine,
Did you know he's the bad guy in Indiana Jones 1989?
Onward we trod shooting rebels left and right,
Until finally reaching the rebel base where I got to fight;

But away ran those rebels like Jawas from men,
Including that pansy Luke who I never thought I'd see again;
The Emperor was pissed at my failure that day,
I joke not when I tell you he took my dessert privileges away;

Like an empty-skulled Tusken Raider, Han Solo flew,
Into an asteroid field, that prat, so I commanded my crew;
Pursuit course of course what other course could I take,
For I knew more than my dessert privileges were at stake;

And then out of nowhere the Falcon did fly,
So I lit up his ass while sipping some chai;
Solo disappeared out of nowhere like a thin wisp of smoke,
And I knew it was time to give Needa the choke;

Bounty hunters I called, sick of being made a fool,
I accepted the price and besides they're quite cool;
There's Boba Fett whose the son of a clone,
Bossk the lizard makes everyone groan; (he smells really bad)

4-Lom the droid looks more like a stick,
But his partner Zukuss makes everyone sick; (part man, part fly)
IG88 is formidable all decked out in black,
And Dengar the turban guy seems to hold something back;

Now go, you lot, and find me that ship,
Or I'll end your lives with my killer force grip;
They went and it wasn't long until I got word,
From Boba Fett of all people -I'd always thought him a turd; 

To Cloud City, I barked in another foul mood,
Try wearing this bloody mask all the time and not being rude;
We beat Solo there, how I don't know,
Regardless I was pleased to steal the show;

I got me a Wookie, some droids and a princess, 
Han Solo got hot-dipped in Carbonite and now never minces;
Words and I'm glad because he'd never stop talking,
And I've got to get ready for Luke to start clocking;

My men in the face as he came looking for Vader,
Yes, me, but I'm ready with my pimped out light saber;
He swung and he jumped, it was cute when you think,
Then I lit him up good force-tossing a sink;

Over an insanely deep pit our fight would conclude,
I loped off his hand and then ruined his mood;
I'm Daddy, I said and he cried and I attempted to factor,
Why George Lucas couldn't find a better actor;

Oh well, done is done, Luke falls to his death, (I wished)
Back to the Star Destroyer to work on my breath;
Luke, your back, still whining, I see,
I suppose I'll see you in episode three;

Which is really episode six if that makes any sense,
I don't get it -just nod when George speaks in defense;
Of this crazy idea about three other fil-ums,
Recounting my childhood -ugh, the notion makes me want to kill 'em;

I digress, we are done, that's a wrap, it's the end,
I'm off to my ceramics class with my partner Sven;
So to all of you peons I'll say this just once,
The dark side's the best so don't be a dunce;

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Music with a message V: Little Things, One Direction

by J.R. Wagner

yeah...I can't believe it either.. BUT the song fits the parameters I set and...despite being a 'boy band', the song isn't half-bad.

This is the fifth song in my Music with a Message series. Music for teens that was released within the past five years and has a positive, uplifting, self-esteem boosting theme. 

 Song: Little Things

Artist: One Direction

Album: Take me home (yearbook edition)

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Panacea -Chapter 6 (Formerly: Enhancing and destroying memories with Nanotechnology really)

By J.R. Wagner

Click for image credit

A quick side note.  Due to the popularity of this story, I'll come up with a title for next week's post. Stay tuned!

I strongly recommend reading chapters 1-5 before continuing
Chapter 1
Chapter 2
Chapter 3
Chapter 4
Chapter 5

Careening. It sounds like a great word to describe how we were traveling but it isn't.  Turns out Careening is a nautical term and we were most assuredly not over water.  The dirt bike was now at top speed moving along a walking trail sending inattentive exercisers diving for the grass that bordered the path.

For my part, I was squeezing Tessa's waist (not entirely a bad thing) while praying to every god I could think of as we weaved around dogs, strollers, rollerbladers, cyclists and all other forms of pedestrian ambulation.

I was quite certain our pursuers had given up the chase once we exited Tessa's property but still, she had the accelerator rolled all the way back and gave no indication that we would slow anytime soon. I wasn't familiar with the trail (I told you, I'm a slob) nor where it ended but was hoping the end was near as the vibration from the bike had gotten both my bladder and bowels in an uproar and I'm pretty sure this type of bike wasn't meant for a fat guy like me let alone two passengers.

We passed under a bridge over which cars went zipping past and nobody seemed the wiser to our plight.  I still couldn't get over the fact that we had managed to go from DEFCON 5 to DEFCON 1 in a matter of seconds.  Dr. Nano-Man wasn't kidding when he said people would kill to get their hands on his discovery.

We slowed as we reached the trail head and for the first time, I realized where we were. Tessa's father's lab was two blocks away.  I could see the McDonald's, Burger King, Wendy's trifecta (the only one in town) across the street. Ironic that the walking trail ended at three fast-food joints.

A wave of fear swept over me as she turned onto the street and headed toward her father's lab.

"Are you insane?" I yelled.

Between the helmet and the buzz of the motor (dirt bikes buzz, road bikes wail, Harley's roar) I couldn't hear my own cries and was sure she couldn't either. I started frantically tapping her mid-section with my fingers (yes I was too afraid to completely remove my hand) but she must have thought it was a nervous tick or something because she completely ignored me.

I could see the building ahead on the left side of the road. No police cars surrounded the building.  No flames erupted from the upper floors. No men in black body armor scurried around the perimeter.  Several people were eating their lunches at the tables that surrounded the fountain in front of the main entrance -all oblivious to the precariousness of their current situation.

I tapped harder with both sets of fingers as we slowed but Tessa merely elbowed me in the ribs and rolled the accelerator back.  Much to my relief we passed the building, continued two more blocks, then took a left and pulled into a three-story parking garage.  She parked on the roof and I awkwardly hopped off nearly falling to the ground under the weight of the backpack she had given me to wear.

We removed our helmets and Tessa slid the backpack off my shoulder.

"What are you doing?" I asked.

"Getting my father," she said.

"You do realize there is no way they aren't watching his building, right?"


"And you're still going to get him? You're still going to TRY to get him, I should say."


Her expression was completely unreadable but I couldn't believe that a high-school-aged-girl would fearlessly run into danger to rescue her father. I wasn't buying it.

"Do you understand why they were at your house? They were waiting for YOU.  They were going to kidnap you and use you as leverage to get what they wanted from your father," I said, surprisingly concise about it.

"And if they take him and he doesn't give them what they want, they will try to leverage his life against me just the same. The only way out of this is if we're together," she replied.

Tessa ran her fingers through her hair a few times before tying it up in a pony tail with the band around her wrist.  Her jaw was set. It was clear she was preparing to go find her father and there was nothing I could say to change her mind.

"I'm coming with you," I said. (quite possibly the stupidest thing ever to escape my lips)

She rolled her eyes in that bitchy teenage way all girls do and began moving toward the stairs at the corner of the garage roof.

"Go home Rol-and," she said without looking back.

I jogged to her side.

"I can't let you do this alone," I said, slightly out of breath.

"Cant you?" she said turning to face me, "Look at yourself.  Do you really think you'd be anything other than a hindrance? I've already had to rescue you once, you can't run more than ten feet without falling into a state of respiratory distress and I bet you've never shot a gun in your life."

"I can shoot a gun," I said. (I play Black Ops all the time)

"Really?" she asked, her words dripping with doubt.

She slid the backpack off her shoulder and set it on the ground.  Tessa unzipped the top of the bag and removed, to my surprise, a shotgun. She thrust it into my hands and reached back into the bag.  It was heavy -surprisingly heavy. It didn't look anything like the guns from Black Ops and certainly weighed more than my X-Box controller.

"Load it," she said tossing two shells at me.

I went to catch the shells and managed to drop the gun.  On my foot. It hurt. I cursed and quickly picked up the gun and both shells.  Keeping my eyes on the gun (because I knew Tessa was rolling hers) I looked for some indication of where to put the red shells. In Black Ops, all you have to do is press the green re-load button.

Friday, December 21, 2012

Christmas Special: Actors who look like Santa

 by J.R. Wagner
George Lucas

What better time of year to take a moment and compare a few actors who look like Santa. There are many out there who bear resemblance to the jolly old elf otherwise known as St. Nick.

Peter Jackson
In a few more years, Peter Jackson will be a shoe-in if that graying continues!

Guillermo del Toro

 Guillermo del Toro, like Peter Jackson, needs a bit of gray in the hair to complete the package but I daresay he'd best Jackson at the role since PJ has lost all that weight.

Scott Wilson

Scott Wilson plays Hershel Greene on that amazing show, The Walking Dead.  No he looks like Santa! (except for the gun and the missing lower leg)

Sir Ian McKellen

With all the obesity problems in America perhaps it's time Slimmed down in which case Sir Ian McKellen would be a perfect match.

Richard Harris

 The late Richard Harris known by most of us for his role as Albus Dumbledore in the first two Potter films is a rather good match.  And, just because I can mention it, he was the best Dumbledore by leaps and bounds.

Denzel Washington
If Denzel Washington let his beard grow in and didn't dye his hair, I bet he'd get very, very close.

Robin Williams
He's funny, he's good with kids, he plays a creepy psycho (scratch that last one) Robin Williams is a great candidate.

Joaquin Phoenix
While Joaquin Phoenix may look like a younger Santa, his bi-polar behavior of late probably wouldn't put him in serious contention.

Zach Galifianakis
Certainly on the real Santa's naughty list (but well below Joaquin Phoenix), Zach Galifianakis could surely pull of the role in a decade or so.

Patrick Stewart
Captain Picard (Star Trek next generation for you non-geeks) actor Patrick Stewart?  Why not? 

Hugh Jackman
Perhaps a bit of a stretch for the Aussie actor Hugh Jackman simply because unless Santa decided to take performance enhancing drugs to bulk up, he's just not going to work.

Harrison Ford
Han Solo? Sure. Why not? Harrison Ford turned...70 this year (yes, 70!) and his waistline is heading in Santa's direction.

Sean Connery

Thursday, December 20, 2012

With the apocalypse looming...

by J.R. Wagner

 I had another dream about the end of the world the other night. I thought it would be ironic to share it today since, according to the Mayans, the end of the world is coming tomorrow.  Unlike my last apocalyptic dream, which included a nuclear holocaust, this dream was all about water. Lots of water.

-thank you very much, Al Gore!

Al Gore, Mr. Global Warming

Tower Crane
 I was standing on the top part of a tower crane, the rest of which extended down into the deep blue abyss, up to my knees in water.  There was water everywhere so I'm assuming there was a major flood of some sort.  Anyway, my family was there and I was attempting to rescue them when the sharks came (the water wasn't enough, there had to be sharks).  I remember dipping my head into the water and looking at the shark and saying, "It's okay, it isn't a great white shark!" (because there aren't other man-eating sharks in the ocean)


Not long after flailing around in the water as the sharks continued to circle us, I woke up.

I went on my run later that morning and about two miles in, about six Chinook-looking helicopters flew overhead.  I became slightly paranoid and my pace quickened.

Never a good sign
As I continued something else out of the ordinary happened. An unusual sound pierced the otherwise typically quiet area.  Fire engine sirens -lots of them.  I understand that the odds of seeing military helicopters in flight where I live aren't great because it is a rather quiet area.  Now, add in the blaring of several fire engine sirens and I became even more paranoid.

Here is the strange part (as if this all isn't strange) the siren's didn't stop.  Usually, when I do hear them at all, they blare for a minute or two and are gone.  This day, they continued for the duration of my run -a good 45 minutes. When I got home, I was expecting to find my house a smoldering pile of rubble surrounded by zombies but fortunately, this wasn't the case.

It turns out I managed to discover what was up with the fire engine nonsense. 

yep, blame it on the big guy

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Movie thoughts: The Hobbit

By J.R. Wagner

I've been dreading writing this post since I watched The Hobbit on opening day (at 12:01 am).  I have such a love for the three Lord of the Rings films and it pains me to think that Peter Jackson has fallen down the same well as George Lucas. I will try to avoid including any spoilers but I make no guarantees. I'm assuming that you've read the book.

Before I begin my rant you must know that I'm an early riser so a midnight showing isn't an easy thing for me to sit through.  I actually felt myself falling asleep in parts not because the pacing was slow or boring but because I'd been awake since 4:30.  With that in mind, even I question my clarity when it comes to discussing this film and I hope that when it comes out on Blu-Ray and I am able to view it during normal waking hours, I may come to a different conclusion.  It isn't likely but there is always a chance.

Onward. If I were asked to say one word about The Hobbit, it would be disappointment.  Perhaps the expectations were simply too high for Peter Jackson and company but if you step up to the plate, you're going to play ball.

I was disappointed almost immediately simply because Jackson felt the need to tie in characters from LOTR (*cough* Frodo) when they weren't needed.  It did nothing for plot progression, and came across as filler material to get that nearly 3 hour run time that Jackson is famous for.

So, almost out of the gate, I was annoyed.  The scene with the Dwarves was very true to the book and I have to give Jackson credit for not rushing through this part -although, when has Peter Jackson rushed through anything?
Martin Freeman

On a positive note, Martin Freeman did a phenomenal job as Bilbo Baggins.  Perfect.

As the film progressed, it quickly became apparent that more and more irrelevant characters and scenes were sprinkled throughout the film.

For instance (spoiler alert, sorry I can't help myself) Jackson created a new character (he may not be new to the books but he sure as hell didn't play this much of a part), I can't recall if he is a goblin or an orc, regardless this fella (It may be Azog) apparently fought in the battle with Thorin, leader of the Dwarves and killed his father.  (And, as I said, this may have been mentioned in one of Tolkien's books, appendices or some other Tolkien work.) Anyway, throughout the film he and his army are hunting down the company of Dwarves (plus Bilbo and Gandalf) adding a completely unnecessary and irritating plot point.

This is akin to George Lucas' General Grievous (Star Wars episode II) Totally unnecessary. Every time he shows up on screen, I felt myself rolling my eyes. there are more than enough bad guys in the original story, which isn't slow whatsoever.

I watched the movie in 3D, which I really don't like.  I'm hoping this is just a fad and goes back to the 70's from whence it came as soon as possible. Don't get me wrong, the 3D was cool, I just find it irritating to watch. Beggars can't be choosers when it comes to midnight showings.

So the story moves onward, other obscure and pointless characters are introduced until finally we wind up in the caves where Bilbo meets Gollum. This part was great -everybody loves Gollum from LOTR and he didn't disappoint (all while staying true to the book). There were some inconsistencies between how Bilbo from LOTR picked up the ring and how Bilbo from The Hobbit picked up the ring but, in PJ's defense, I'm sure he didn't think he'd be going back and shooting this scene in its entirety and you can't go back and change that scene with Martin Freeman...can you?  God, please don't let PJ start messing with the LOTR films like George Lucas did to Star Wars (like when he completely cut out the actor who played the Emperor in The Empire Strikes Back and digitally inserted the actor who played him in the prequels. Train. Wreck.)

Yup, he just cut the poor guy out

 No, Peter, Don't do it!!!