Friday, February 19, 2016

'Steve Jobs'

Whenever I read a critique of anything having to do with Apple or Steve Jobs I immediately wonder two things: 1. Does this person hate Apple and/or Steve Jobs or 2. Does this person love Apple and/or Steve Jobs. Most people fall into one of those categories. Those who say they are indifferent are fucking lying. When this movie came out I heard all kinds of chatter. “I hate it, I love it, Steve’s widow hates it, Woz said he never said that, Eddie’s gonna kick somebody’s ass, Steve Jobs ghost will haunt Michael Fassbender until the end days…” It was endless! 

All I wanted to know was “was this movie good?” That’s it, that’s all. You can have your battles in the public forum all you wish, just do me a favor and answer me one simple ass question Mr. Summa Cum Laude of Useless Opinion University,  “Was. This. A. Good. Movie?” Let me answer that for you.

Yes. It. Was. 

And I’m not speaking as an admitted and unapologetic Apple fanatic either. I’m speaking as a person who loves and appreciates writing, acting, and art. And to me, that’s what this film was. As a reader I appreciate how an author crafts their words and uses them to meld me into the story. This movie was written with that level of passion. You could see it as well as feel it. Every film, every book, every album has that moment that is THE moment. That moment that tips you over from really liking it to pure damn infatuation. For me, in this film, it was when Fassbender and Daniels (Jobs and Scully) were having their fight(s) and flashbacks. I literally sat up and leaned into the TV so I wouldn’t miss it. Like somehow my body was going to absorb the power coming from those scenes. I’m telling you, if you haven’t seen this movie then make plans to see it and then watch out for that sequence. 

It was clear that this was a well written movie and THAT’S what I loved about it. Sure you can argue back and forth if everything in the movie was real or not, knock yourselves out. But I appreciated meal, not the ingredients. I guess that sorta makes sense. 

I also wasn’t sure how I would like the format this was filmed, but it’s clear that Sorkin and Boyle knew exactly what they were doing. Because it worked. I was so caught up with this movie that I wasn’t paying attention when it would end. When it did I was pissed. (Not really) but inside I was having a “awwwwwww I want more” temper tantrum. Is this movie worth seeing? Damn right. Is this movie 100% accurate? Who gives a crap? Does Michelangelo’s David having micro-junk make it less of a masterpiece? You and I both know damn well that dogs don’t play poker, but does knowing that make that often copied painting less of a cultural art icon? No. Then neither should this. Sorry for comparing a 2015 film to art that has spanned centuries, but I hope you catch my drift. Granted, Boyle and Sorkin had a magnificent person from which to build a film, but as we’ve seen from other Steve Job films, having an icon isn’t enough. 

It takes something else, and this film definitely had something else. 

Saturday, January 30, 2016

Card Case for iPhone 6s - Trooper Series

I’m not a fan of most wallet/card cases for the iPhone because they all have a flap that covers the screen. Makes perfect sense because that flap also holds your credit cards, driver’s license, and dollar bills. But I’m the type of iPhone user who appreciates having to his iPhone screen without anything blocking it. So when I saw that UAG had a case that allowed me to carry my credit cards AND allowed unfettered access to my iPhone screen, I had to check it out. 

After using this case about a week and some change I have mixed feelings. I like having a credit card case and iPhone case combined as well as the protection this case affords. I do not like how it feels in my hand when I hold it or how bulky it is. 

Pros: It’s UAG so you know you’re getting a quality case, which this one is. My iPhone fits snugly in the case and every port is easily accessible. The compartment that holds the credit cards is built in to the back of this case and is very secure. You can hear and feel the “snap” when you close it. VERY important for when you drop your phone, you won’t have to worry about your cards falling out. 

Cons: The pictures on the website show you what this case looks like, but until you get it in your hand you can’t see or feel how bulky this case is. That is one of my biggest issues. Part of me thinks that they really didn’t have to make the case this bulky, especially since it can ‘only’ hold four credit cards. Now for you users of Mophie or Otterbox, the bulk might not bother you as much. But I used UAG off and on with my old iPhone 5s and exclusively for my iPhone 6/6s so I’m used to their protective minimalist cases. Comparatively, this one is big!

The other part of this case that I don’t like are the hinges and “thumb catch.” Since the wallet is built into this case, you have to have small hinges so that it can open. You also have to have a “thumb catch” to unlatch this case because it is a very secure fit. But the problem is, when you hold this case you can easily feel those three protrusions and it makes for an uncomfortable handle. Because of this, I found myself taking this case off when I didn’t need to have my credit cards. And since this case isn’t meant to be taken off daily, that quickly became an annoyance. 

Middle Ground: I DO like this case, but not for everyday use. I will (and did) use it on family outings where I only needed my credit cards and drivers license along with my iPhone. The grip on this case is good  and the thicker back does offer greater protection in case of a drop. I did take pictures of this case side by side with the regular UAG iPhone 6s case as a comparison. If you would like to see them please send me an eMail.

Thursday, January 28, 2016

'The Absence of Guilt' by Mark Gimenez

Well… after almost two years Mark Gimenez is back. And he jumps feet first into the controversy that is ISIS, islamic militants, and the Constitution. He starts off with his author’s note that is chilling because it is true. He posted it on his website and at the beginning of this book. Read it and see if you don’t get chills. If you haven’t read it I’ll save you the trouble of the search, click here.

In ‘The Absence of Guilt’ we are taken back to the world of Scott Fenney. This is Scott’s third go round and he’s attained a good position in life. He’s moved up in the world, being a Federal Judge in all and all the “perks” that come with that. Job security, working with people HE trusts, a very loving family, and the respect that comes with being a Federal Judge. The only thing he misses is sex. (I say “only” like missing sex isn’t a big deal.) Well sex and the fun he had being a highly paid lawyer with engaging cases.

Being a Federal Judge comes with a lifetime of job security, but it also could (at times) come with a lifetime of BLAND litigation. But little does Scott know that he’s about to be pimped slapped with two of the most highly charged political issues of the day. Illegal immigration and Islamic terrorism. Yeah… and at the same time. And Mark doesn’t tell this story behind the veil of political correctness either. 


He’s all in your face with the hate, the slurs, the apologists, the supporters, Constitutional law, street law, and profiling. And it all winds in and out of this jigsaw of a political-thriller. No matter which side you’re on, you’ll have your moments wondering “what in the clear blue hell is wrong with these people!?!?!” 

ISIS is in America and are plotting to destroy ‘The Superbowl’ on live TV. They have their cowardly jihadist planted and ready to go. Now the government has the so-called leader in jail along with his twenty-plus brain dead lemmings. But are they there legally, and if not, how long can our government keep? This is Judge Fenny’s charge. We all believe in the law of freedom of speech, but what about the practice of it? And what if the jihadist decide to go after you personally? That is also Judge Fenny’s charge.
The other issue in this story that parallels the terrorism, is illegal immigration. And wouldn’t you know that Scott might have found himself someone to help him with his sex drought… but fate has a cruel sense of humor and Scott’s vixen is also in the middle of the illegal immigration fight. And it wasn’t like Scott didn’t have chances… dude was being chased by a sexy yoga pants wearing mama, but he’s a boy scout. Good for him. Not. 

Now… there were a few times where if felt like Mark was standing at a lectern at SMU and I was like “dude move on!” It wasn’t preachy, it was more like teacher-y. Not enough to stop the story, but enough to make you go “OK Professor Mark, you’re tenured so enough with the showing off.” 

In any case… Mark stays true to form and gives us a incredible heart pounding thriller. The downside… now I have to wait about two years for his next one! #firstworldreaderproblems 

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

OtterBox Defender iPad Mini 4 Case

The Otterbox Defender case for the iPad Mini 4 is the latest in this company’s history of making super protective cases for smart devices. The usual protection of this case hasn’t changed from the previous model. The plastic body is snug and fits perfectly. The cutouts for the headphones, lightning cables, camera, microphones, and volume buttons are right where they should be. The rubber casing around it is snug and has very good grip. One would think that I would be 100% happy with this case right?


In my opinion this case has a very big design flaw. I’ve uploaded a picture to show you what I’m talking about. Just under the home button is a small piece of the case that gets loose because it is, unfortunately, just above the covering for the lightning port. Even minimal use will cause this part of the case to loosen up. How do I know? Because this is my second case. I called Otterbox for a replacement case (more on that later) because mine was getting very loose. Loose after six months I could sort of see, loose after two weeks is ridiculous. 

Now, the reason I say this is a design flaw is because when I got my second/replacement case, guess what? Yep. The same thing. I charge my iPad Mini 4 once a day so it’s not like I’m deliberating snapping and unsnapping that flap. Under higher than normal use, and over time, I could possible see how this could happen. But not under normal use and certainly not on a brand new case. And if the case is already showing after a couple weeks, it will only get worse as time goes on.

I also fully recognize that most people won’t care about this, but there are some like me who will. I like having a snug protective case, not a loose (even a little bit) protective case. I would think that reinforcing that small part of the case or even make the grooves on the plastic a little deeper to grab the rubber casing better. Now please make no mistake, this is still a very protective case that has saved many of us from buying another iPad. I’ll continue to use it because it does it’s job, but for $70 a pop something like that shouldn’t be overlooked. 

About my replacement case… The person who took the call at Otterbox was nice but didn’t have the first clue as to what he was doing. He told me that my credit card wasn’t good and was unable to run it. Otterbox offered to replace my case but I had to pay a $2.99 shipping charge, thus they needed my card. After two attempts he just said they would wave the charges. Good… sorta. The next morning I see on my online bank statement that there are two charges for $3.12 from Otterbox. Great. Once I got that straightened out, it took a total of fourteen days… FOURTEEN DAYS for my replacement case to go from Colorado to California. They used FedEx and the USPS to deliver my package and it was a failure. Priority Mail shipping with delivery confirmation would have been faster. Not sure if that was a one-time thing or S.O.P. for them.

So that’s my review and then some. I sincerely hope Otterbox takes a look at this to see if there is a problem or if I’m just being extremely picky. My guess is it’s probably a little of both. 

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

'Feast of Joy and Love' by Laura Sullivan

Sometime before Christmas Laura Sullivan sent me an eMail asking me to listen and review her new CD, ‘Feast of Joy and Love’. Now I get eMails all the time from folks asking me to test this, try this, review this. But I rarely get one from a Grammy winning composer. Interestingly enough, Laura reaching out came at the perfect time because I had just, and I mean JUST, picked up a CD by an icon in the music industry within this same genre. 

So I was in the perfect mood for this.

But the question was, “would this album keep me in the mood?” The answer… Yes. Absolutely. Without a doubt. No question. That was a stupid question. Here’s how good this album was/is… I had Apple Music shuffle her discography as my fall asleep music that night. Then I played her again at my bookstore the next day. ‘Jesu Joy’ starts this CD and that sets the musical ambiance. My absolute favorite-favorite tracks were ‘Waltzing with Beethoven’, ‘Morning in the Meadow’, ‘Ode to Joy’, and ‘Last Kiss.’ But this entire CD has been the soundtrack for my reading, driving, and writing because of how beautiful it is. 

And Laura has a lot of music under her belt, so once you finish with this album you can rest assured that she has a lot more for you to savor. **Thinking**… now that I’ve written this review just before bed I might have to have Laura sing me to sleep tonight… again. Her voice is easy on the ears, she is most certainly easy on the eyes, and her music is easy on the soul. Most of her albums, including this one, are under an hour so you’ll definitely want to put them on repeat and/or string them together. 

Either way you choose to listen you’re in for a treat. A melodic, exquisite treat. 

'Jettisoned' by Sam Barone

It’s been quite a while since I’ve read anything from Sam Barone. I was a huge fan of his ‘Eskkar’ series since book #1 and I eagerly snatched up anything bearing the names Barone and Eskkar. I’ve seen ‘Jettisoned’ online for a while but I never read it because I’m not a big sci-fi fan. Even just a little bit of that stuff and I avoid it like ‘The Walking Dead’ cast does soap. However… I just finished one book and was in a weird place so I decided set aside my misgivings about space stories to give this one a shot. 

I’m glad I did.

I will say that this book was definitely written with the lover of sci-fi genre in mind. Sam was very descriptive in the workings of ‘Lady Drake’, space walks, fuel, and gravities. I’m sure the folks that enjoy reading this sort of stuff would love it, I did not. What I DID love was the story. And oh how did I want to hear more about Captain Camenson! A barbaric, sadistic man who took what he wanted. Women, lives, it didn’t matter. And neither did consent. 

The crew has a mission and they are at the end of that mission, but the caption and his band of ruthless merry-men have a side mission… one of their own. And anyone that gets in the way of that gets… well… dealt with. Thank you Sam by the way in describing what happens when a naked body is shoved into space. Not sure when I’ll get that vision out of my head!

Throughout ‘Jettisoned’ I was rooting for Peter, but I really wanted to see what Captain Mean-as-hell would do next. Rules were in place but… I mean they WERE about 365 million miles from Earth. The cat and mouse chase in space was very entertaining and had good pace for a short-story. I did shake my head a few times at Peter because he made some exceedingly stupid decisions. One in particular made me yell, “GET OFF THE SHIP STUPID!!”, at my eReader

So yeah… even though this sort of read “wasn’t my thing”, I was able to set that aside and enjoy the writing and story telling of Mr. Barone. The fact that I want to read the sequel (whenever you want to put that out SAM!) proves that. 

Monday, January 4, 2016

'The First Hostage' by Joel Rosenberg

‘The First Hostage’ picks up precisely where ‘The Third Target’ leaves off.  And when I say “precisely”, I mean right down to the sentence… ‘the President of the United States… is missing.’ That immediately took me back to ‘Target’ and made me remember the literary adrenaline that it was. I had no doubt ‘Hostage’ would be the same.

I was right. 

The cowards of ISIS have done the impossible, they have captured the POTUS and are holding him hostage. Their operation to capture him was as brutal and blood-soaked as Rome vs. Boudica. Once the leaders of ISIS pull off their so called coup d’├ętat, they immediately inform the world what they plan to do to the POTUS is their demands are not met. In spite of this being a (very good) heavy story, there were a few times that made me chuckle. Reading ISIS’s demands was one of them. Well done there Joel

J.B. Collins, our foreign correspondent, is right in the middle of this chaos trying to decide how best to do what he does. He has been granted unprecedented access to the war room and the planned rescue operation. The question, however, is “who can anybody trust?” A coup of this magnitude takes someone on the inside, someone big. The answer, like every other uncovered secret in these pages, will floor you. 

This is an extremely high level political thriller that is nothing short of sensational. Joel weaves this story and her players like he’s there. And the force of prophecy is strong with this one. ISIS is a clear and present danger to the world, and it’s nice to see one man unafraid of putting it out there. Remember those chuckles that I had that I mentioned earlier? There are some pretty good zingers leveled at ISIS. 

However you read ‘The First Hostage’, as a fictional story, as a look into the not so near future fictional-text, or as a non-fiction text with a few imaginary characters, you will be taken. For me, this was an unbelievable way to start my reading for 2016.