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Some quick updates.

We got a cat. Her name is Hermione, and she’s incredibly smart and sweet. However, it’s very true when they say that having a cat is one of the worst things a writer can ever do, re: distractions. I’m learning this all over again.

I got through season two of Daredevil and loved it. Was it perfect? No. Case in point: Asian and Asian American representation. Jon Bernthal kills it as the Punisher/Frank Castle (and I don’t watch The Walking Dead, so I really had no prior experience with his work as an actor). Foggy remains my absolute favorite character on the show. I also finally got to see the first season of Agent Carter, which is a delight. Peggy kicks ass across the 1940s, breaking limbs and stereotypes all the way.

I’ve been working on a D&D campaign for next month’s local game convention. It’s eating a lot of my creative energies, making it tricky for me to focus too much on anything else. I’ve also been reading a LOOOOOT. I knocked out V.E. Schwab’s A Gathering of Shadows a few weeks ago, and I’m in the middle of Sam Sykes’ The City Stained Red, which may be one of the best fantasy books I’ve ever read. I swear it’s like he sat in on some of my college D&D sessions and captured characterization from them. I love it. On a more realistic side, I also just finished reading Tess Sharpe’s Far From You. Holy god damn, this one was intense. Illicit love, murder, drugs, and a quest for the truth keep you turning pages non-stop. It’s not something I expected to pick up, but there was a great discussion of it during a Twitter chat about queer YA titles, and it hooked me.

It’s tempting to use some of what I’ve been reading for the D&D campaign. The magic system from Schwab’s work, for example, is one of the most clever presentations of elemental manipulation I’ve seen since Avatar: The Last Airbender. It would be fun to introduce some plot elements from books and then encourage the kids to go check those books out from my library, and would definitely boost the outreach factor. “Hey kids, if you liked my campaign, try these books!” We’ve already seen a boost in checkouts of our 5th edition manuals. Imagine what that could do for our fantasy literature circulation…

The 3D printer at work is awesome. I’m looking into utilizing it for some cosplay props, and I’m really exicted about the prospect of hosting a cosplay-themed program in our Makerspace soon.

Fireside opens for submissions this Friday. I’m going to be writing. More soon!

 

2013 is going to be the best year yet. I say that every year, but that’s because it’s true. Yeah, I’ve had fantastic experiences in the past, but each year that I’m still here, still reading and writing and doing what I love is an even better year than the one before.

What I’m looking forward to:

Books: Halo: Silentium  comes out this year, wrapping up Greg Bear’s Forerunner Saga, a sweeping epic prequel to the Halo franchise that ties in to last November’s Halo 4 release.

Dr. Sleep should hit store shelves this year as well, in late September according to Stephen King’s web page. Shining fans rejoice as we finally get to find out what happened to little Danny Torrance when he grew up.

Movies: Holy shit, have you seen the trailer for Pacific Rim? Guillermo Del Toro is back, and he’s bringing his incredible energy to what seems to be a bit of a love letter to giant Godzilla-esque monsters and massive robots built to take them down.

Iron Man 3 drops in May. I can’t wait to see Marvel’s first follow-up to The Avengers in a few months. Let’s see how Tony Stark handles dealing with one of his oldest comic book foes, The Mandarin.

We get to see J.J. Abrams’ follow-up to Star Trek with Star Trek Into Darkness. Best part about this? Benedict Cumberbatch gets to play a villain again. I can’t wait to see the crew of the Enterprise back in action.

Television: Arrested Development returns at last! Having a Netflix account would be worth it if only for this show. We’ll be seeing an entire season released exclusively via the streaming service sometime this year.

Game of Thrones is back this year as well, with the HBO adaptation of George. R. R. Martin’s epic fantasy series beginning a third season in March.

This is only the tip of the iceberg. It’s going to be a good year, dear readers. What books, movies, etc. are you looking forward to this year?

My name is Philip, and I’m a Sherlock addict.

I’m not going to gloss over facts here. The BBC has given Stephen Moffat (of Doctor Who fame) a big new playground, and he’s brought Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman with him.

For the uninformed, Sherlock is a modern interpretation of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s most famous creation, Sherlock Holmes. A self-proclaimed “high-functioning sociopath,” Holmes is a brilliant (though socially impaired) consulting detective. When John Watson, former combat doctor and veteran of the most recent conflict in Afghanistan (a nice nod to the character’s history), is seeking a new place to live, circumstances lead him to sharing an apartment with Holmes. Hilarity and awesome ensue.

Each episode of the first two seasons (six episodes all together) is roughly ninety minutes long, and is inspired by one or more of Doyle’s original stories. There’s a clear respect for the original stories, despite the obvious changes that need to be made in keeping with the series’ modern setting. Holmes texts Lestrade, though rarely (if ever) from the same phone twice, John publishes his and Sherlock’s exploits on a blog rather than writing them all down (as he was the most frequent narrator of Doyle’s stories), etc. Of particular note is “The Woman” in season two’s opener, but you’ll just have to see for yourself.

The first two seasons are available on DVD and netflix. I need to watch them all again before season three airs, but due in part to Martin Freeman and Benedict Cumberbatch both being involved in The Hobbit, and Cumberbatch’s involvement in Star Trek Into Darkness, it may be some time. Latest reports have tragically hinted that it may be late 2013 or even early 2014  before new episodes are seen, as filming will now not begin until March. *sigh*

The one advantage to this? I now know that I have enough time to break out my complete Sherlock Holmes and read through all of the stories. I like this plan.

With the unfortunate continuation of the rise of “unscripted” reality television shows, it seems like every conceivable topic is getting at least one series dedicated to it. Some things are apparently even big enough to warrant entire cable/satellite networks dedicated to them. What’s that? You collect Beanie Babies and you’ve purchased ten of each one that came out since 1993 and your house is now in danger of collapse because you’ve knocked out supporting walls to make room for your little stuffed friends? Better go on Hoarders. Like tattoos? There’s Miami Ink and L.A. Ink. Friends with someone who loves the bizarre and macabre? Point them toward Oddities or Oddities: San Francisco.

It seems as though there’s something for everyone, right? Well, not quite. What about us? What about the writers? Where’s our series showcasing authors and libraries and bookstores and the pains of staying up all night for a week to try to meet a deadline? Apparently I’m not the first person to think this way. Back in May, Entertainment Weekly’s Stephan Lee (@EWStephanLee) proposed a concept, laying out a manner in which such a thing could be done. It’s sort of like televising your progress through Nanowrimo. I’m now debating running this as some sort of surreal web series. Watch my sanity slowly slip away as I attempt to craft a novel in thirty days! No, on second thought, don’t do that. Webcam will be hidden away. Fear not, dear readers.

In all seriousness, this is reality TV I could stand to watch, and might even actively follow. You’ve gotten everyone else, network execs. Where’s our obsession?

“Leave this to me. I’m British. I know how to queue.” 

One of the best things about my library is the fact that I can put things on hold, and they’ll be delivered promptly for pickup whenever they become available. It’s like Netflix for books. Even new releases can be placed on hold before they physically arrive in the library system. This means that I can track the upcoming books, order them, and get in a queue for things before they’re in stores. Now, granted, everyone in the library system has this ability, but few people utilize it to the fullest. I like to use it to keep up with some of my favorite new manga series. I’m also around fifth in line for a DVD copy of Game of Thrones, and I am thrilled. I didn’t watch any of the episodes when they aired, for two reasons. One, I’m too cheap to pay for HBO, and two, I wanted to finish reading all of the available books before I started the show. Now I can sit down and watch the whole thing.

Speaking of television, has anyone seen the BBC series Sherlock yet? It’s in my instant queue, and as soon as I can dedicate a few hours to it, I’m going to power through. It’s three episodes, each about an hour and a half long, and from all of the reviews I’ve heard/read, it’s absolutely genius. I’ll let you know my verdict, but I can only imagine the power of a show about a modern version of Sherlock Holmes starring Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman. I absolutely love Sherlock Holmes anyway, and I’m quite happy to see that Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s work is getting so much attention right now.

Since getting back from my trip, I have started a new schedule at work. This has several benefits, most notably the fact that I am now earning partial benefits. I have more hours each week, a slight pay raise, and the same awesome people to work with. Yet another advantage: I’ve got the same schedule every week, instead of my old alternating schedule. My girlfriend and I can carpool three out of my five work days, saving both of us a lot of wear and tear on cars, and money on gas. All in all, it’s a very good thing. Things are looking up. I’m still hunting for a second part-time job, but I’m also starting to be brave and send out emails to the big publishers and submitting short stories to various publications. Needless to say, there’s a lot to do in the near future. Good thing I have plenty of new TV and books to read, and things to write. Look forward to a new writing challenge entry, coming soon to a blog near you.