Friday, October 18, 2013

Anatomy of an Eimertoon - Jay's Big Bad 70th Birthday

So, a couple of weeks ago, my father-in-law turned 70 years old.

He had a big soiree on a Saturday night. Unfortunately, I couldn't make it because I had the awesome opportunity of going to see Nine Inch Nails in Cleveland at the Wolstein Center on the same, exact night as the party. Hey, tickets were already bought back in June. Friends were already coming in.

There was nothing I could do.

But, there was something I could do to help celebrate his birthday (and not feel guilty for making it to the party). I would draw my father-in-law a cartoon.

My father in law is an organized hoarder, especially in his garage. From tennis balls, hooks and racks to cases of Diet Coke and Lipton Iced Tea, his garage is a veritable Home Depot with tons and tons of unopened packages of cool shit.

So, I had this idea of my father-in-law sitting on a throne in the garage surrounded by his riches 'a la the ending of the first Conan the Barbarian movie.

But, it just didn't feel right...it felt more like Silence of the Lambs, than Conan the Barbarian:

Then, I pictured him as the 'main character' and his 'the things he does around his home' as the secondary/supporting character. Using the Heat Miser as inspiration for his body and face, I drew up a quick sketch to see if it would work:


Then, I went to my trusty light table, sketched it further and added some ink:
Then fine-tuned the line drawing,, added some color and VOILA!...

Happy 70th Birthday Jay!

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Eimertoon - Miley Cyrus

So, I created this last week during all the hubbub. It made it's way around my social media networks. However, the fool that I am, I forgot to post it here. Damn me to hell!

(click image to enlarge)


Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Breaking Bad - Mr. Lambert Flash Forwards

Mr. Lambert from New Hampshire flash-forward
(Episode 1, Season 5 of Breaking Bad)
Getting the Gun...

Mr. Lambert from New Hampshire flash-forward
(Episode 1, Season 6 of Breaking Bad)
Getting the Ricin...

Clothes look pretty similar to me.
Getting ready for the big showdown with who?

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Raiders of the Lost Ark circa Atari 2600

You know, besides Adventure, Raiders of the Lost Ark was one of the most impressive action-adventure role-playing games to come out of Atari 2600's long-standing video game dynasty.

At the time, it was The Legend of Zelda, the Doom, the Grand Theft Auto, of this particular game console.

I spent days and days (more like months and months) trying to solve this damn game. Then, after six months of ownership, I received a little piece of advice from a kid at school. I believe it was in the bathroom. Aren't all great business conversations completed in the bathroom?

I don't remember the exact dialogue, but the key words 'Parachute', 'Secret Lair' and 'Ankh' came up a lot. I'm also pretty sure 'Beware the Tsetse Flies' was brought up, but that was something I knew about already. Duh.

So, on my run today. I was thinking about Atari 2600 and the various games I played on that particular game system as well as Intellivision, Colecovision, Odyssey2 and my precious Commodore 64.

Then, my mind reverted back to Raiders. That's when I thought to to myself, "I wonder if there is an Atari 2600 Raiders of the Lost Ark walk-through on YouTube?"

Well, thanks to azzarox661, guess what?

Here's Part 1:



And here's Part 2:



So, the endless, endless hours of blood, sweat and tears, in reality, took only 12 minutes to complete - from start to finish. I could have been writing a book or something!!! Sigh.

Mother Fucking Ark of the Covenant!!!

By the way, I love YouTube.


Friday, July 26, 2013

A Night at the Races

So, last weekend, I took my kids down to my parents house in the small river town of Martins Ferry, Ohio.

To them, it's a Shangri-La land of milk and honey where they can swim in an above-ground pool, eat sweets to their hearts content and watch endless reruns of SpongeBob Squarepants--with little or no nagging on my part. Hey, it's a vacation.

To me, my parent's house is a place where I grew up for 18 years before leaving for college. It's a place where I've made many memories - both good and bad - around every corner in almost every nook and cranny of the valley. It's a place I love to visit for nostalgia and leave due to the nostalgia.

So, what do I do when all of this nefarious gluttony is going on at my parent's house? Well, I visit my only little island of decadence, the Wheeling Downs Race Track.

I wrote about my Mother's Day visit to the track a long long time ago. One of the only other times I've visited the track was when my brother and I took my then 4-year old niece to the track to see the cute dogs (and of course gamble and drink beer on our end).

Of course, I've been to the casino, which is connected to the race track, numerous times and lost plenty of money. But never the dog track. For some strange reason, I stayed away. I'm not really sure why.

But, like the sirens to the dizzy, horny seafarers in Homer's Odyssey, the track has beckoned me time and time again .. to my demise. In fact, I've visited the race track on my last three visits to the Valley. And I've proceeded to lose money every single time as well ... including this last visit.

But, I'm learning. Oh, am I learning.

Upon entering the Downs, I bought an evening program from the cordial lady at the entrance for a small sum of $1.50. I then proceeded to the bar area and purchased a draft beer of Bud Light for $3.25.

Two minutes in and I was already $4.75 in the hole.

I glanced out to the Wheeling Downs 'scoreboard' in the middle of the track (see above picture for reference) and noticed only 9 minutes remained until the first race.

I best be getting busy.

I opened up program to Race #1 and scanned the dogs. For each race, the program has the name of each of the dog which corresponds to their official number, or placing, in the race. The #1 dog is closest to the inside of the track, while the #7 is farthest way.

Additionally, you can view details of the dogs' last six races including where they placed at each turn as well as final finish with time.

Next to those particular numbers, you can read a small recap of how the dog performed in each race (e.g. No Threat, Clipped 2nd Turn, Steady Gain, No Contender, etc).

You can also read a little bit about the owner, the kennel and what level of race said dog has raced (e.g. Grade A is a pretty good race with lots of great dogs while Grade D is not so great. At least this is what I've gleaned from watching said races. I'm probably wrong).

Whew!

I won't bore you on the details of betting, but on this first race, I surmised that dogs 1, 3 and 8 were going to finish somewhere in the top.

So, I bet the 3-6 Quinella (which means if the dogs finish 1st and 2nd in any order, I win), #3 to Win and a 1, 3, 8 boxed Trifecta (which means that I'm betting 1, 3 and 8 will finish first, second or third in any order).

Total price for first race: $10

I made my bets, and with five minutes left before the race, I walked outside to get a good view of the dogs and enjoy my beer around my fellow gamblers...all eight of them.

You see, most of the gamblers were hanging out inside, smoking, drinking and jotting down endless amounts of numbers on notepads. And pretty much no one looked exactly happy because, well, this is probably their job.

And, the rest of the people? Well, they were blowing their money at the Casino.

“Racing is 10 percent of our business, and the casino is 90 percent," said Mike Meastle, Vice President of Operations at the Wheeling Casino in an article I found on Observer-Reporter.com, which is a sad, sad state of affairs for the track.

So, the dogs were placed in their respective bins. If you've ever seen a horse race, the bins are similar, but smaller, dog-size.

Then, the announcer shouted "Here comes spunky!"

Spunky is a white clump that's attached to metal bar that moves around the track. It's supposed to mimic a rabbit, which serves as the stimulus for the dogs to run, like Pavlov's experiments.

Back in the day when I was in high school, Spunky was actually a stuffed animal rabbit (see image above) tied onto the bar. Now it's more weather-proof and doesn't really resemble a rabbit at all ... it's shaped more like a bone than anything else. But, alas, the name still remains

In any event, as spunky comes around the metal track on the bar, you can hear the dogs barking crazily in their boxes. Then, as the rabbit rounds the final turn and gets closer to the bin, the dogs get silent. It's showtime. Time for the dogs' to earn their paycheck.

Then, they're off!

In a flash, the sleek greyhounds whizz by the grandstand. Another ten or so seconds, and they round the final turn - running approximately 548 yards (the equivalent of running around a high school track once plus an 100 extra yards) and finishing in an astonishing 30 seconds or less (depending on the conditions).

During the race, people were yelling and screaming. "C'mon, you sunnuvabitch," one older gentleman yelled. "Get in there, get in there," another lady yelled behind me. Myself? Well, I was looking at my tickets, trying to remember my bets and concentrating on which dogs were in the lead.

In the first race, the winner was #8 (Treasure Island) followed by #2 (Braska Cam) and #7 (Mulberry Adam). If you remember I picked 1, 3, 8 and 3-6 and 3 to win.

Sigh. Out 10 bucks. Plus, I spent another $3.50 on a fresh Bud Light.

I tried to look at the stats of the winning dogs and find some sort of 'tip-off' to why they won and placed the way they did. I couldn't find a rhyme or reason.

For instance the winning dog, Treasure Island (#8 dog) finished fourth, eighth, seventh, seventh, fifth and first place, respectively, in her past six races. However it's lowest grade race was an A and it's hi-grade race was a AA - which was the highest of all dogs, with the exception of the #1 dog. Food for thought as I made my next bet.

The second race, I didn't fare much better. I spent $4 on a quinella and a dog to win. And came up short. Completely missing the boat on all dogs.

The third race I blew another $10 on a quinella, a win and a trifecta box and didn't win a goddamn thing.

Finally in the fourth race, I hit paydirt. I spent $2 on a quinella, $2 for the #3 dog to win and a $2 super (which is you pick four dogs to finish in the order you picked them, high risk vs. great reward). I won on the #3 dog who finished first. He took the lead and never looked back.

I won a whopping $25. Time for another $3.50 beer.

In race five, I lost another another $8 on two separate quinellas and a $4 win ticket. "One more race," I cursed to myself.

But I wasn't really angry.

I was energized. Even though I was losing more money than winning...this was fun. More fun than sitting at a bar and watching sports, pushing a button on a slot machine or tossing some money down on a roulette table. But not more fun than hunting for Bigfoot. This was something tangible. Sure, there were odds, but it felt different. It felt like it was possible that you could win big at any time. If you did your research, anything was possible.

That said, I placed my final bet on the sixth race. I chose a $2 super, a $2 quinella and a $2 bet for the #6 dog to win. I also bought another, final Bud Light for another $3.50.

As I was waiting for the dogs to commence their race, an african-american family walked down the racing area--a husband and wife and their two older children, I would say late teens, early 20's. The lady, who looked to be in her 50's, said a nice hello to me as she stood next to me. She proceeded to pull out her schedule as her husband walked up to her.

"What do you think, honey?" he asked looking over her should and scanning the race schedule.

"I think 1,8,4,2," she said quickly and matter-of-factly.

"Mmm, hmmm," the husband nodded in agreement. "Looks good."

They took their seats in front of me on a picnic table. Just for shits and giggles, part of me wanted to run up and make her bet immediately. The other part of me scoffed. "Pfffft," I said to myself. "Wishful thinking."

Then, I glanced at my tickets and daydreamed about what I was going to do with all my winnings.

So, the race commenced. People were yelling and screaming even louder during this race. Even I yelled a couple "C'mons" and "Go's" before it was over. I believe the liquid courage was finally settling into my bones.

After the race finished, my mouth dropped at the results. The winning dogs, in order, were #1, #8, #2 and #4. If she, or myself, would have bet the boxed super at $24, we/she would have won almost $6,000.

"Damn," she cackled to her husband. "I should've played that."

"You should've honey," the husband said to her shaking his head.

I was dumbfounded. I glanced at the schedule. I glanced at the dogs. But nothing, nothing popped out that these four dogs were going to win this race as evident by my picks of 2,6,5,7, #6 to win and a 2,5 quinella.

I sighed, guzzled down my beer and shuffled over to the casino where I tried my luck on video poker--
which according to some crappy websites is noted as the third-best odds of winning behind blackjack and baccarat.

Must not be true, because I lost $10 in less than five minutes.

So, my night's GRAND TOTAL: 

4 Beers:             -$14
Program:           -$1.25
Bets:                  -$44
Video Poker:     -$10
Winnings:          +$25

TOTAL:             -$44.25

But, you know what? I didn't care. Just like hiking, going to the movies, eating a great dinner or going to an Ohio State football game ... the experience was worth every penny.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Eimertoons - Wide Range of Customers

Creating an animation for a work project and put this together ... each of the images are supposed to pop up in succession as the VO says: "...Appeal to a wide range of customers..."

This will only take up approximately four seconds in the video, but it took me about three hours from start to finish ... and that's not counting post-production animation.

(click image to enlarge)

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Eimer's Best Netflix Reviews: V/H/S/2

After reading all the reviews about how much better V/H/S/2 was over the original V/H/S, I was pretty pumped to see it.

"How pumped?" you ask?

So pumped that I ponied up $10 to watch it on Pay Per View last night. That's right mother fuckers!

Well, all in all, V/H/S/2 was good ... not great. It definitely wasn't the most mind-blowing horror movie I've ever seen in my entire life. In my opinion, CREEPSHOW and TWILIGHT ZONE: THE MOVIE are by far, two of the best vignette movies I've ever seen. Can you think of any others that are better?

Maybe as I grow older I'm a little jaded on horror movies because I've basically seen most it ...with the exception of SALO and A SERBIAN FILM. Eek. (Just a note: A SERBIAN FILM is so disturbing, I can't pull the IMDB page up on my work computer).

That said, V/H/S/2 definitely worth a viewing. If anything, go get a ticket to inspire these young indie filmmakers to get out there and do some cool horror shit.

But I digress...

CLINICAL TRIALS is a good twist on the found footage camera idea - through the lens of an eye. Not as creepy as I would have hoped, though.

A RIDE IN THE PARK, uses a man on a bike with a Go-Pro camera during a zombie apocalypse ... another good idea with disgusting special effects.

SAFE HAVEN is the best of the best. Interesting freaky idea concerning a cult during the end of times. Very bloody as well.

SLUMBER PARTY is another good idea with the found footage via a Go-Pro and a dog. It seemed a little rushed though. Like the producers ran out of money, or time.

The most disappointing part was TAPE 49, the vignette in between the vignettes, which highlights a videographer who videotapes couples cheating on their spouses and a woman who venture into this old house (which I'm a little fuzzy on why they decided to go there) and uncover rooms full of videotapes and TVs. Just a little boring, predictable and blah - like the beginning of THE ILLUSTRATED MAN movie. It's there only to serve as a portal to the other horror vignettes.

But don't let it sway your from not seeing the film. Again, very interesting ideas with very creative ways to get around the tired, overdone 'found footage' blitz that started waaaayy back in the 90's with BLAIR WITCH PROJECT. Extra kudos should definitely be handed out to the cinematographers and the special effects teams involved on the project.

Like I said, worth a viewing--especially for the special effects--but don't expect:

Monday, April 15, 2013

Sketchbook - The Power of the Light Table

So, I'm putting together some drawings for some brochures here at work.

The original artist, a freelancer we hired for a pricey amount of money, pretty much, used a light table to trace pictures and then added her own panache.

My walking orders from the Art Director: "Emulate the original drawings and create something that could be observed as a 'series' of brochures rather than 'new ones."

All in all, I think they turned out okay. I'm not a fan of tracing, but due to time constraints and impending deadlines, there's no way in hell I could make these vehicles look like the originals without the help of my trusty, portable LightTracer (by Artograph) light table and a PaperMate Sharpwriter #2 and...SHAZAM!

ORIGINALS (FROM FREELANCE ILLUSTRATOR):


EIMER DRAWINGS:


Thursday, April 11, 2013

The Harry Potter Movie Electric Kool-Aid Acid Pepsi Challenge Test


As I’ve stated it before, I’m a very liberal guy when it comes to movies.

I saw Conan and Ghost Story at the drive-in when I was very young, and, on more than one occasion, my mom took me to many films that I was probably too young to view (thanks Mom!).

Also, my family would gather round the TV like it was a fireplace, and watch original television premieres of Halloween, Exorcist and Amityville Horror way back in the early 80’s. I'll admit, I had my share of nightmares and night terrors. But, damn if I didn't want to see more and more and more of the bloody stuff.

One thing, that I've noticed is that my liberalness of film is wearing off on my two son and daughter who are now 5 and 6.

In addition to Jaws, they’ve seen a good many classics such as Pee Wee’s Big Adventure (Large Marge scared the crap out of my son), Labyrinth (didn’t like the dancing birds), Jurassic Park, The Secret of NIMH, Ghostbusters (didn’t really like the Dog Creatures), Star Wars, The Wizard of OZ and other films that escape me at this moment.

In any event, since school started in August, my kids have expressed an interest in watching the Harry Potter films. After mulling it over for about four seconds, I thought, “Why the hell not?”

But I had a plan.

I would show them the first film (under my viewing supervision to answer any questions, of course),  and if there were no problems (e.g. blood curdling screaming, night terrors, crying), we would continue on to the next film and the next and the next.

Truth be told, I thought I would cut the line at film #3 (Prisoner of Azkaban). I felt that particular film signified the end of the children’s fare and transferred into more adult content. But, as you'll see below, my kids had other ideas.

That said, this experiment was far more interesting than I thought it would be, which is why I wanted to share it with you – my viewing public. Enjoy.

Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone
My reaction: Directed by Christopher Columbus, this movie is, by far, the most children-friendly of the eight films. I saw this at the movies during a midnight showing way back in 2001. It was enjoyable. However, I fell asleep in the theater, because I got too drunk – and, well, the movie is pretty long ... and a bit slow.

Kids reaction: As soon as the movie started, the kids, in particular my daughter, asked tons of questions. “Who’s that?” “What are they doing?” “Is that Harry’s parents?” “Why is that hat talking?” “Is Snape mean?” and on, and on, and on. They were entranced by the special effects. My daughter was immediately drawn into Hermione. “She’s the smartest of the three,” she proclaimed.

Ending: Both kids were a little taken aback when Professor Quirrell removes his turban to reveal Voldemort growing on the back of his head.

Night Terror Watch: No night terrors – onto the next film.


Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets
My reaction: Also directed by Christopher Columbus, this movie is probably my least favorite of the eight. It just didn’t wow me as much as the others did. I found the diary macguffin to be a bit boring. The petrified students and the basilisk were all ‘meh’ for me. In my opinion, with the exception of finding out the big secret of Tom Riddle, this is the least exciting of the seven books.

Kids reaction: Again, the questions started immediately “Where’s Harry?” “Why is he still living with those people?” “What’s Dobby?” “Why is Dobby all dirty?” “What happened to the guy with head on the back of his head from the last movie?” “Where’s the owl?” They enjoyed the Womping Willow and the car escapades in the beginning. I thought they would be scared of the petrified people as well as Moaning Myrtle – but they were unfazed. Truth be told, they seemed a bit unimpressed with this film as well.

Ending: My son was a little leery of the basilisk (i.e. giant dragon snake) at the end. When Harry jams the Gryffindor Sword into the snake’s head wasn’t really that shocking to them. When Harry passed out after killing the basilisk, they thought he was dead.

Night Terror Watch: No night terrors. 2-for-2. On to the next film.


Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban
My reaction: One of the best films of the series. Loved the entire look and feel that Director Alfonso Cuaron (Children of Men, Y Tu Mama Tambien, A Little Princess) brought to the film. Dark overtones, sepia-skylines and the dementors are all fantastic touches that I was impressed with. Light-hearted with a dark tinge that subtly hints to the violence and dread that’s soon to come. Curious how Cuaron would have handled the rest of the series. However, I feel David Yates handled them just fine.

Kids reaction: They both had a bit of trepidation with the dementors, as well as the giant dead spider and the werewolf transformation scene. They were asking a lot of questions when Buckbeak was ‘supposedly’ executed, but were delighted to find out what really happened. They  enjoyed the time travel aspect of the film. “I want to do that,” my son screamed. (Me too, son. Me too.) They also loved the Patronus scene in the forest with the dementors and were curious as to whether or not they died. (To be honest, I'm not sure).

Ending: This is the 'lightest' ending of the entire franchise. And I say light with a certain bit of sarcasm. Rather than an ‘official’ face-off with someone or creature, Hermione uses her time turner to recreate the events and transform everything back to normal. Also, when Harry received the Firebolt in the mail at the end, both of my kids wanted one for Christmas.

Night Terror Watch: No night terrors. 3-for-3. I thought I was going to stop at this one (my wife wanted me to), but ... next!


Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire
My reaction: It's the previous Harry Potter movies mixed with a challenging tournament, plus villains and heroes galore. Ralph Fiennes does a great job with the limited screen time he has as the reborn Lord Voldemort. Kids, fans of the book and lovers of supernatural, science fiction movies can’t go wrong with this flick. For the record, I was a little hesitant to show this to the kids due to death at the end as well as the increased violence throughout. Read on to see if I was correct in my assumption.

Kids reaction: They definitely enjoyed the Dragon contest and the underwater contest, which I myself thought was pretty damn cool as well. My daughter finally noticed a bit of love brewing between Harmione and Ron. “They like each other, a lot,” she said. “They just don’t want each other to know.” They were a bit freaked out by Mad Eye Moody’s eye, which resulted in many questions. “Did a dragon knock it out?” “Did he get in a fight with Voldemort?” (Again, I'm not sure on this either.)

Ending: A very dark and disturbing ending. The kids understood what happened to Cedric, but weren't really too happy about it  This was the first time we, the audience, also see Voldemort in his true form. “He’s evil,” my son said. “Why did he kill that guy?” my daughter asked. I think the fact that a younger boy was killed by Voldemort left them with a bit of unease. 

Night Terror Watch: No night terrors. 4-for-4. PARENTAL NOTE: I had intended to stop the series here ... and wait a couple years to watch the other four films. But, after a week or two of demands from my kids, I relented. Next!


Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix
My reaction: If you enjoyed the previous Potter films, and Director David Yates vision, this will not disappoint. The wizard battle scenes are worth the rental alone. HOWEVER, BE FOREWARNED: I believe this is the first movie in the series that you actually have to know the backstory to completely understand what's going on.

Kids reaction: Kids somewhat enjoyed this film. I think, overall, this is a very dialogue-heavy film with the big action finale at the end. My kids definitely did not like the new Defense Against the Dark Arts Teacher Dolores Umbridge. During detention, when Umbridge forces Harry to use the cursed quill – it cemented their detest of her. Their mood perked up a bit when the Weasley twins exited the school in style.

Ending: A dark ending. Not as disturbing as Goblet of Fire. But still dark nonetheless. Kids enjoyed the special effects and the all-out wizard battle at the Ministry of Magic. They really enjoyed the duel between Dumbledore and Voldemort. And were curious about the death that happened prior. “Why did [Person] die?"“Is he in Heaven?”

Night Terror Watch: That night, my son walked into our room and woke me up. He wasn’t screaming. But he was a little shook up. He mentioned that he dreamt of a big snake. The next day, however, when I asked him about the dream he said it was a fun dream and that a big snake was in the dream but not scaring him in any way. Hmmmm? Not really a ‘night terror’ per se, but worth noting. 

Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince
My reaction: This was, in my opinion, one of the better of the eight films. If you’re comparing movies, this one is like The Empire Strikes Back of the series. Begins dark, maintains it’s darkness throughout the film all the way to the end. In fact, I was very surprised to not see Leia, C3PO, RD-D2 and Luke (with a new robotic hand) wishing Harry Potter good luck from afar as he ventures forth with Ron and Hermione to find and destroy the remaining horcruxes.

Kids reaction: As I stated above, this is a very dark film. From the multiple deaths, to the ominous tones, sounds and creepy special effects, there is plenty of visual fodder to keep children of all ages awake for nights to come. So far, the least kid-friendly of the eight. One of the craziest parts - that I totally forgot about - was when Harry ventured with Dumbledore into the enchanted underwater lair to blow up the horcrux. The infer, the creepy skeleton creatures that climbed out of the water, really got under his skin. He hid his eyes a couple times  My wife, who was in the room, gave me a very dark look from the couch as he covered his eyes in sheer terror. "Sorry," I said as I shrugged my shoulder. "I forgot about that one."


Ending: The ‘big death’ at the end really hit my daughter more so than my son, who suffered post traumatic stress disorder from the Inferi scene. She had very many questions. “Is Dumbledore in Heaven?” “Will he be back?” "Are the moving pictures Heaven?" “What’s going to happen with Harry and Hermione?” "Are they going to die?" I guess she wasn’t really too worried about Ron.


Night Terror Watch: Although I was expecting some screams and yelps from my son’s room, the house was as quiet as a church on Monday morning.


Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 1
My reaction: I thought this first installment of the final chapter in the tale of Harry Potter was one of the director’s finest. The actors. The cinematography. The action. I particularly loved the 3:00 animated short in the middle of the film. The scene where Hermione and Harry are dancing in the tent while everything around them is crumbling is also very cool. It’s just these little nuances that Yate’s added in this film that lifts you while you’re surrounded by the somberness and sadness of the film. Everything came together to make a great experience. Hell, even my wife, who is anti-Harry Potter, even acquiesced and said she was mildly entertained.

Kids reaction: Like, the Order of the Phoenix, I think they were bored. This was a very heady movie. Add to that the fast-talking actors with their British accents and you create the perfect concoction for confused kids. However, a couple parts that piqued their interest were the beginning scene with the ‘multiple Harry Potters’, the scene when Hermione, Harry and Ron infiltrate the Ministry; and the scene when Hermione and Harry’s encounter with Nagini, Voldemort’s snake. “That’s scary,” my son said. Uh-oh.

Ending: This ending was a little more ambiguous and darker than the other endings. Definitely another 'Empire Strikes Back-ending' feel that all is lost in the world – especially when Voldemort pulls the Elder Wand from Dumbledore’s tomb. I don’t think the kids exactly realized what was going on here. There were many questions about Dumbledore’s death, about the wand and about why Voldemort cast the spell into the sky at the end.  "Why is he doing that?" my son asked. "I'm not too sure," I said, "Maybe announcing to the world that he's back."

Night Terror Watch: No night terrors of note. Color me impressed.  Either these kids are heavy sleepers or they have a hide like a rhino when it comes to scary movies.


Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 2
My reaction: Unlike Christopher Columbus' direction of the first two films, Director David Yates gets it. He gets the look and, most importantly, tone and feel of the Harry Potter universe. This movie serves as a great finale of the series. All of the actors take their roles seriously from Daniel Radcliffe and Helena Bonham Carter to John Hurt and Ralph Fiennes (as Voldemort). Fantastic cinematography and special effects meshed with a great storyline, pulls this film out of the three-star dumpster and tosses it into, possibly, one of the 10 best movies of 2011.

Kids reaction: They loved the scenes when the trio enters the bank, travel underground into Bellatrix’s vault--which is hexed-and, of course, face off with the old, angry dragon. (As a matter of fact, so did I). And, when Harry ‘dies’, they were really caught off-guard by the tiny, bloody Voldemort fetus at the Purgatory train station. Personally, I thought it was disgusting and thought they were going to be freaked out. But, they just glanced at each other started to laugh. "That's so weird," they both said. True, it did seem out of place. They seemed toget a kick out of Harry’s reaction.

Ending: They loved the final battle between good and evil. In fact, they couldn’t peel their eyes from the screen. My son loved the big Trolls. They were both put off a bit by Snape getting the bitten over and over again. After Voldemort is finally vanquished, the movie flash forwards a number of years ahead. I think they were entertained by the older, aged trio. It added some closure to the entire series – much like the book. Which, eventually, led to this conversation:
“Is there another one?” my daughter asked me.
"No," I said. "That's it."
"No more?"
“Well, in about 10 years, they may remake all of them over again,” I said.
“Why?” she asked.
“Well, because that’s what Hollywood does,” I said. “They remake movies over and over again.” 
“That’s boring,” she said. True, so true.

Night Terrors: None to be seen. Although, I should add that my daughter recently had a dream that Voldemort cut Harry Potter’s head off with a wand. This was, just a couple days ago, a month or so after we watched the films. I don’t think that counts, though.


So, there you have it. You may think I'm a bad parent. You may call children's services. You may applaud me. You may think I'm leading my kids down a path of sin. I don't really care. (Well, maybe a little).

Personally, I thought this little experiment showed that, when it comes to movies, my kids can handle a lot more than I imagined. Heck, more than this night terror freak could handle at their age.

Does that mean I'll entertain them with exclusive showings of Evil Dead 2, Fright Night, The Exorcist, Creepshow and The Descent? Why, of course not. Don't be absurd!

That's, at the very least, two years away.

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Car Burgers & My Expanding Waistline

At a previous job, I had a co-worker who ate car burgers.

"What's a car burger?" you ask.

Well, my boy, come over here and sit down (as I pat on a chair) and let me tell you a story.

Back in the late 90's, I had a co-worker who, on a number of occasions, would toss his hat into the ring to get lunch at [insert hamburger joint of choice here] for he and his co-workers.

What a guy!

Then, out of the goodness of his heart, he'd take our orders, collect our money and proceed to hop into his car and head out to [insert hamburger joint of choice here].

Very nice guy, right? Yes. Yes. A very kind and generous person indeed. 

But wait, there's more!

For any other co-worker, a normal trip to Wendy's or McDonald's - which was only about a mile or two away - would take everyone around 10-15 minutes to complete. This particular co-worker, however, would take close to an hour.

"Where the hell is he??!!" my co-workers would scream as they impatiently glanced out the window with grumbling tummies. "Jesus Fucking Christ!" they would shout. And, about the time we would reach our breaking point, our rotund friend would swing open the office door with bags of food in hand and a giant smile on his face.

"Sorry, I'm late," he'd say nonchalantly. "There was a big line."

And, like a mom who had just given birth to a newborn baby, instead of getting pissed of and berating him, our subconscious minds would erase the entire pain process that we entailed in this past hour. Instead, we would focus on the task at hand, which was gobbling down our hamburgers and chicken sandwiches like a bunch of hungry raptors - and getting back to work.

That is, until...

One fine day in the spring, all of the above steps were repeated by our co-worker. He would fall on his proverbial sword, announce he was going to [insert hamburger joint of choice here], take orders, head out onto the road and then disappear for approximately one hour.

However, during this particular occasion, we asked another co-worker go on a little reconnaissance mission. After our little Hamburgler left on his one-hour journey, our spy exited the office and hid out in the parking lot behind a tree anxiously awaiting his return.

Time passed and he was almost going to through in the towel. When, out of the corner of his eye, he noticed the Hamburgler's Lincoln Continental roll into the parking lot, where he proceeded to park it really, really far away - out of eyeshot of our office window.

That's when it happened.

While sitting in the car, the dude rummaged through the various bags of food, pulled out his hamburger of choice and started to chomp away to his heart's content - all the while shoving fries into his mouth like Kobayashi. After about 20 minutes passed, he exited his car and walked up the steps.

"Sorry, I'm late," he said like clockwork. "There was a big line."

He handed out the sandwiches, then sat down, pulled out yet another hamburger. "Man, am I hungry," he said looking around the room going toe-to-toe for Daniel Day Lewis in the Best Actor Category.

"No you weren't," our co-worker operative screamed behind, as he slammed the door and pointed at his face. "You were eating a Car Burger!!!"

And that, my friends, was how the term "Car Burger" was born.

So, I bring up this story not to make fun of my former co-worker. Well, not entirely. However, I bring up this story, more so, because (and I'm ashamed to say this) I myself have been pulling the 'Car Burger' caper.

For the past couple months on my way home from work, I occasionally careen into a local Wendy's near Twinsburg, Ohio, and take advantage of their $1.29 Junior Cheeseburger Deluxe.

"It's got lettuce, tomato and onion," I always say to myself totally ignoring the calorie-ridden beef patty, cheese and mayonnaise. "So, it's got to be good for me, right?"

Wrong!

Then, like a husband who just cheated on his wife with a dime-store hooker, I drive home in a shameful funk. With my belly full and my hunger pangs a thing of the past, I trudge into my house with my head hung low, say hi to the kids and eat my 'real' dinner - all the while thinking about the tasty burger I sexually assaulted with my teeth a mere hours ago.

Simply pathetic.

Look, I'm a pretty fit guy. I try to run 2-3 miles a day. I try to eat right. I drink fruit and veggie smoothies every other day. And I force a V8 down my gullet almost every day - even though I still can't stomach the taste. Oh, and I eat salads. Lots, and lots of salads.

But, just like my little portly co-worker way, way back - not to mention my puffy friends - those car burgers can really put on the pounds - especially during the winter.

Two months ago, I visited the doctor and weighed in at a stealthy 189.5. Two months later, during Car Burger Gate, I hopped on our scale at work and am now looking at 197 pounds. The scale at home has also corroborated my bulging waistline.

I'M THREE POUNDS SHY OF 200! GULP! HOW CAN I STOP THIS NONSENSE?

Well, reader, there is a way to stop this. And it's not going to be easy on my end.

The Car Burgers Must Stop. The after-work trips to McDonalds, Burger King, Taco Bell, Dairy Queen, Arby's and Wendy's dollar-menu, drive-thrus must come to an end.

Sigh! Goodbye Car Burgers. It was a fun ride. And, I can totally see why my co-worker way, way back used to partake.

But, I need to lose these five pounds. I can feel my pants tightening and my shirt bulging. I can feel myself turning into Fat Axl Rose.


And, let's be honest, I'm not Fat Albert, The Nutty Professor or The Fat Guy from The Meaning of Life.

I think when the cold spell starts to break and I'm outside moving around in the warm sun mowing the lawn, doing yard work and chasing the kids around - it's not going to be a problem to lose those extra five+ pounds.

But, if there is anything to learn from this story it's BEWARE THE CAR BURGER! As tasty as they seem, they're going to bite you in the end - or in this case, they're going to bite you in the gut.

Also, while I'm at it, I guess I should probably cut back on some of the high-calorie beer I've been drinking.

And the pudding. Yes, the pudding needs to stop.

Oh, and the Double Stuf Oreos that my wife buys for the kids. I must stop eating those at night as well.

And the Hebrew Nation hot dogs. And bologna sandwiches. And the cookie dough from the refrigerator.

And the M&M's at my in-law's house...

Monday, February 25, 2013

2013 Academy Awards Recap - 11-13 (Sad!)

First my personal favorite Oscar moment:


So, once again, I crapped out in the Academy Awards selection

To make it easier, let me list the categories I did win:

  • Best Picture (Argo)
  • Best Actor (Daniel-Day Lewis)
  • Supporting Actress (Anne Hathaway)
  • Foreign Language Film (Amour)
  • Cinematography (Life of Pi)
  • Original Screenplay (Quentin Tarantino)
  • Animated Short Film (Paperman)
  • Visual Effects (Life of Pi)
  • Sound Editing (Zero Dark Thirty - which tied with Skyfall)
  • Orignal Score (Life of Pi)
  • Original Song (Skyfall)
And that was about it. Had I not went out to watch Life of Pi, I'd probably be looking at a 9-15 record.

Biggest surprises of the night:
  • Ang Lee winning his second Best Director Academy Award (his first being Brokeback Mountain)
  • Animated Film (Brave). I was sure Tim Burton was going to win for Frankenweenie. 
  • Supporting Actor (Christoph Waltz) - A no-brainer that I failed to even think about and instead picked Hoffman.
  • What's up with Lincoln? Man, that movie couldn't win anything. I wonder if people are sick of Steven Speilberg. I'm not. I think the man is still knocking movies out the park. Maybe he's so good, they can't even compare him to regular directors. Oh well. I thought Lincoln was superb and would have been happy had either Argo, Lincoln or Life of Pi won for Best Picture.
  • Still can't wait to see Zero Dark Thirty and Silver Linings Playbook.
That's really about it.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Eimer's 2013 Academy Awards Picks



So, last Thursday, the Academy announced their lineup for the 85th Academy Awards. 

Not a lot of surprises here with the exception of Best Director snubs for Tarantino, Kathryn Bigelow and Ben Affleck as well as SupportingActress nominations (see below). 


Everything else, in my opinion, was, pretty expected – which sort of sucks. But what are you going to do?

In any event, below are my picks for each category:

Performance by an actor in a leading role

Bradley Cooper in “Silver Linings Playbook”

Daniel Day-Lewis in “LINCOLN”

Hugh Jackman in “Les Misérables”

Joaquin Phoenix in “The Master”

Denzel Washington in “Flight”
Eimer note: A couple years ago when it was announced that Day-Lewis was going to portray Lincoln, I posted the article and a small blurb: ‘And the Oscar for best actor in a leading role goes to…’ I’m still convinced.

Performance by an actor in a supporting role

Alan Arkin in “Argo”

Robert De Niro in “Silver Linings Playbook”

Philip Seymour Hoffman in “The Master”

Tommy Lee Jones in “Lincoln”
Christoph Waltz in “Django Unchained”
Eimer note: This one was a tough choice. All five actors have previously won Academy Awards. Waltz just picked up a supporting actor Golden Globe for Django. However, I’m going with Hoffman for The Master. It just feels like the right decision.

Performance by an actress in a leading role

Jessica Chastain in “Zero Dark Thirty”

Jennifer Lawrence in “Silver Linings Playbook”
Emmanuelle Riva in “Amour”
Quvenzhané Wallis in “Beasts of the Southern Wild”
Naomi Watts in “The Impossible”
Eimer note: I’m going to take Riva over Lawrence, Chastain and Watts. Just a gut feeling. I haven’t seen Amour yet, but everything seems to be pointing to her performance as key. Probably regret this when one of the other actresses are announced. But who cares?

Performance by an actress in a supporting role
Amy Adams in “The Master”
Sally Field in “Lincoln”
Anne Hathaway in “Les Misérables”
Helen Hunt in “The Sessions”
Jacki Weaver in “Silver Linings Playbook”
Eimer note: It’s Hathaway’s to lose. Haven’t seen the movie yet. But I hear she’s the cat’s meow!  (Dark Knight Rises pun intended)

Best animated feature film of the year
“Brave” Mark Andrews and Brenda Chapman
“Frankenweenie” Tim Burton
“ParaNorman” Sam Fell and Chris Butler
“The Pirates! Band of Misfits” Peter Lord
“Wreck-It Ralph” Rich Moore
Eimer Note: I’ve been hearing good things about Wreck-It-Ralph and ParaNorman. Didn’t think too much about The Pirates. And, even though, BRAVE won a Golden Globe, I’m going to stick with my write-up a couple weeks ago and go with Tim Burton and his refreshingly dark Frankenweenie.

Achievement in cinematography
“Anna Karenina” Seamus McGarvey
“Django Unchained” Robert Richardson
“Life of Pi” Claudio Miranda
“Lincoln” Janusz Kaminski

“Skyfall” Roger Deakins
Eimer Note: Although Deakins has been nominated 10 times (Fargo, Jesse James, O’ Brother) – and has not yet won (yet), I was going to go with Lincoln. It had to be hell to create that ‘natural light’ look throughout the film - especially the night scenes. Reminds me of Kubrick’s Barry Lyndon which won Barry Alcott the big award back in 1976. Janusz has photographed most of Speilberg’s works including Saving Private Ryan, Shindler’s List and War of the Worlds. However, after seeing Life of Pi, I'm convinced Claudio Miranda is going to win. Just fantastic work.

Achievement in costume design
“Anna Karenina” Jacqueline Durran
“Les Misérables” Paco Delgado
“Lincoln” Joanna Johnston
“Mirror Mirror” Eiko Ishioka
“Snow White and the Huntsman” Colleen Atwood
Eimer note: Seems like Les Miserables will win here. Dunno. Any of the other four may sneak in, but I think everyone love’s Les Mis and will want to reward it anyway possible.

Achievement in directing
“Amour” Michael Haneke

“Beasts of the Southern Wild” Benh Zeitlin
“Life of Pi” Ang Lee

“Lincoln” Steven Spielberg
“Silver Linings Playbook” David O. Russell

Eimer note: very odd that Bigelow, Tarantino and Affleck aren’t in this category especially since Affleck has since won a Golden Globe Directing and Best Picture award including the Director's Guild Award, which, pretty much would have been a landslide. That said, I’ll have to go with Speilberg in this one. And, let’s face it, he did a good job. Lincoln is an actor’s movie as is Beasts, Amour and Silver Linings. That said, I wouldn’t be surprised if Haneke also won this award as well. But, think about it: Speilberg made a three-hour movie about a bunch of people talking engrossing, interesting and utterly fantastic.

Best documentary feature

“5 Broken Cameras”
Emad Burnat and Guy Davidi

“The Gatekeepers”
Nominees to be determined

“How to Survive a Plague”
Nominees to be determined

“The Invisible War”
Nominees to be determined

“Searching for Sugar Man”
Nominees to be determined
Eimer note: I haven’t seen any of these movies (yet) although I’ve been hearing great things about The Invisible War as well as 5 Broken Cameras. But, for whatever reason, Plague is just resonating with me.

Best documentary short subject
“Inocente”
Sean Fine and Andrea Nix Fine

“Kings Point”
Sari Gilman and Jedd Wider
“Mondays at Racine”
Cynthia Wade and Robin Honan
“Open Heart”
Kief Davidson and Cori Shepherd Stern
“Redemption”
Jon Alpert and Matthew O’Neill
Eimer note: I’m going with Open Heart because it has to do with a young kid growing who needs open heart surgery in Rwanda and Sudan but is facing obstacles along the way. Viewed all of the trailers and this one looks the most profound.

Achievement in film editing

“Argo” William Goldenberg

“Life of Pi” Tim Squyres

“Lincoln” Michael Kahn

“Silver Linings Playbook” Jay Cassidy and Crispin Struthers
“Zero Dark Thirty” Dylan Tichenor and William Goldenberg
Eimer note: Going with Zero Dark Thirty on this one. Could also make an argument for Life of Pi considering all of the green screen and water scenes. Movies with great battle scenes usually win this award (e.g. The Hurt Locker, LOTR: Return of the King, Black Hawk Down, Schindler’s List, Born on the Fourth of July, Platoon, Raider of the Lost Ark, you get the drift).

Best foreign language film of the year

“Amour” Austria

“Kon-Tiki” Norway

“No” Chile

“A Royal Affair” Denmark

“War Witch” Canada
Eimer note: Going with Amour on this. Don’t really care about the other films in this category.

Achievement in makeup and hairstyling

“Hitchcock”
Howard Berger, Peter Montagna and Martin Samuel
“The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey”
Peter Swords King, Rick Findlater and Tami Lane
“Les Misérables”
Lisa Westcott and Julie Dartnell
Eimer note: I’m going with The Hobbit on this one. It just seems like a no brainer to me. Middle Earth compared to real life? C’mon!

Achievement in music written for motion pictures (Original score)

“Anna Karenina” Dario Marianelli

“Argo” Alexandre Desplat

“Life of Pi” Mychael Danna

“Lincoln” John Williams

“Skyfall” Thomas Newman

Achievement in music written for motion pictures (Original song)

“Before My Time” from “Chasing Ice”
Music and Lyric by J. Ralph

“Everybody Needs A Best Friend” from “Ted”
Music by Walter Murphy; Lyric by Seth MacFarlane

“Pi’s Lullaby” from “Life of Pi”
Music by Mychael Danna; Lyric by Bombay Jayashri

“Skyfall” from “Skyfall”
Music and Lyric by Adele Adkins and Paul Epworth

“Suddenly” from “Les Misérables”
Music by Claude-Michel Schönberg; Lyric by Herbert Kretzmer and Alain Boublil
Eimer note: Adele, congratulations. Although would be nice to see Seth McFarlane pick up an award for his comedy TED.

Achievement in production design

“Anna Karenina”
Production Design: Sarah Greenwood; Set Decoration: Katie Spencer
“The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey”
Production Design: Dan Hennah; Set Decoration: Ra Vincent and Simon Bright
“Les Misérables”
Production Design: Eve Stewart; Set Decoration: Anna Lynch-Robinson
“Life of Pi”
Production Design: David Gropman; Set Decoration: Anna Pinnock
“Lincoln”
Production Design: Rick Carter; Set Decoration: Jim Erickson
Eimer note: It’s a two-way tie between The Hobbit and Les Mis. I’m going with Les Mis because it seems all of the musicals win this category (i.e. Moulin Rouge, Chicago) but let’s not forget the fantasy either (LOTR, Pan’s Labyrinth, Benjamin Button, Avatar). Les Mis seems more flashy and fanciful. Whereas LOTR already won. That’s the best I can come up with.

Best animated short film
“Adam and Dog” Minkyu Lee
“Fresh Guacamole” PES
“Head over Heels” Timothy Reckart and Fodhla Cronin O’Reilly
“Maggie Simpson in “The Longest Daycare”" David Silverman
“Paperman” John Kahrs
Eimer note: I watched these shorts in succession (i.e. Adam and Dog first) and each one was very interesting and creative. However, I’m going with Paperman. The flawless combination of 2d and 3d animation is spectacular. Also you can visit some additional insight here.

Best live action short film

“Asad” Bryan Buckley and Mino Jarjoura
“Buzkashi Boys” Sam French and Ariel Nasr
“Curfew” Shawn Christensen

“Death of a Shadow (Dood van een Schaduw)” Tom Van Avermaet and Ellen De Waele

“Henry” Yan England
Eimer note: After viewing all of the trailers (sorry the movies are unavailable online), I’m going to go with Death of a Shadow. It’s got great editing, a sci-fi slant with a head nod to Terry Gilliam’s classics. This movie looks so polished, that Avermaet should be getting a full-length movie contract very quickly after the Oscars.

Achievement in sound editing

“Argo” Erik Aadahl and Ethan Van der Ryn

“Django Unchained” Wylie Stateman

“Life of Pi” Eugene Gearty and Philip Stockton

“Skyfall” Per Hallberg and Karen Baker Landers

“Zero Dark Thirty” Paul N.J. Ottosson

Achievement in sound mixing
“Argo”
John Reitz, Gregg Rudloff and Jose Antonio Garcia
“Les Misérables”
Andy Nelson, Mark Paterson and Simon Hayes
“Life of Pi”
 Ron Bartlett, D.M. Hemphill and Drew Kuni
“Lincoln”
Andy Nelson, Gary Rydstrom and Ronald Judkins
“Skyfall”
Scott Millan, Greg P. Russell and Stuart Wilson

Achievement in visual effects
“The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey”
Joe Letteri, Eric Saindon, David Clayton and R. Christopher White

“Life of Pi”
Bill Westenhofer, Guillaume Rocheron, Erik-Jan De Boer and Donald R. Elliott

“Marvel’s The Avengers”
Janek Sirrs, Jeff White, Guy Williams and Dan Sudick

“Prometheus”
Richard Stammers, Trevor Wood, Charley Henley and Martin Hill

“Snow White and the Huntsman”
Cedric Nicolas-Troyan, Philip Brennan, Neil Corbould and Michael Dawson
Eimer note: Go ahead, I dare you to make a CG Lion, put it on a CG boat in a CG ocean background and try not to make it look fake.

Adapted screenplay

“Argo” Screenplay by Chris Terrio

“Beasts of the Southern Wild” Screenplay by Lucy Alibar & Benh Zeitlin

“Life of Pi” Screenplay by David Magee

“Lincoln” Screenplay by Tony Kushner

“Silver Linings Playbook” Screenplay by David O. Russell
Eimer note: All should be commended (especially Life of Pi considering it was an unfilmable book), but I’ll give this one to David O. Russell who has been writing great movies for years dating all the way back to ‘Spanking the Monkey’.

Original screenplay

“Amour” Written by Michael Haneke

“Django Unchained” Written by Quentin Tarantino

“Flight” Written by John Gatins

“Moonrise Kingdom” Written by Wes Anderson & Roman Coppola
“Zero Dark Thirty” Written by Mark Boal
Eimer note: Despite (or in defiance of) the 99 references of the n-word in the movie, I’m still going with Quentin on this one…for the simple fact of Freedom of Speech and I loved the dialogue.

Best motion picture of the year

“Amour” Nominees to be determined

“Argo” Grant Heslov, Ben Affleck and George Clooney, Producers

“Beasts of the Southern Wild” Dan Janvey, Josh Penn and Michael Gottwald, Producers

“Django Unchained” Stacey Sher, Reginald Hudlin and Pilar Savone, Producers

“Les Misérables” Tim Bevan, Eric Fellner, Debra Hayward and Cameron Mackintosh, Producers

“Life of Pi” Gil Netter, Ang Lee and David Womark, Producers

“Lincoln” Steven Spielberg and Kathleen Kennedy, Producers
“Silver Linings Playbook” Donna Gigliotti, Bruce Cohen and Jonathan Gordon, Producers
“Zero Dark Thirty” Mark Boal, Kathryn Bigelow and Megan Ellison, Producers
Eimer note: I was going to go with Lincoln here, but with all of the hubbub over Argo, I'm going to have to switch my vote to ARGO. My next pick would be Lincoln followed by Zero Dark Thirty. Would love to see Django Unchained, but it won’t happen.

Well, there you have it. Agree? Disagree? Feel free to post your thoughts below or on Facebook.

Later,

See how I fared in years past:



Friday, January 4, 2013

Eimer's Top 10 Reads of 2012


Well, this was an interesting year of reading for me.

Very cool stuff that seeped through the woodwork and into my brain forever. Truth be told, this was probably one of the best years of reading for me in terms of content. 

From vampires and zombies to Charles Dickens and Jeffrey Dahmer – this was a great year. All of these books are highly recommended and you can easily pick them up at your local library (minus Wool) or at Amazon.com for a rather cheap price.

That said, please enjoy my Top Ten Books of 2012:

A very creative science fiction 'collection' of post-apocalyptic stories by Hugh Howey. Take the word 'collection' with a grain of salt, because - put together - the six stories complete a dream novel come true for this up-and-coming writer who gained a cult following on Amazon.com. Kudos to Howey for taking the science-fiction genre in a new, interesting direction. Without giving too much away, he's created a thriller, a murder mystery, a horror story all merged with fantastic dialogue and character development. Highly recommended. This collection, yet again, gives all budding novelists hope that there are other avenues to achieve success then simply receiving a pile of 'rejected' letters from well-known publishers. And, quite frankly, if your work is good enough, self-publishing just may be the way to go. Looking forward to reading more of Hugh Howey's work.

Stephen King rated Simmons' The Terror one of his favorite books of the year back in 2008. I picked it up and, after a couple months, finished it and was flattened by the extensive story line, great characters and fantastic dialogue. Fast-forward to 2012. I heard about this funny book called Drood. Well, again, after a couple months, I've finished what I believe has been the best book that I've read in a handful of years. Fantastic book. Fantastic writing. Great eerie storyline. And Simmons, the bastard. This guy had to have sold his soul to the devil. To be able to write this well, keep the storyline arcs intact, add to that such inter-weaving storylines as well keeping the exact dates and times of the original Charles Dicken's life while spinning an original boogie-man story. And to have the narration of from the narcissistic Wilkie Collins instead of Dickens is pure creative genius (a word I do not toss around very easily when referencing any medium be it film, illustration, literature and painting). The fact that this book kept me enthralled through its 750+ pages is inconceivable. But it did. And it's a damn fine book. It makes me want to revisit and read for the first time some of Dicken's works including THE BLEAK HOUSE and OUR MUTUAL FRIEND. And let's not forget about the title character the book is all about...DROOD. An interesting creation. A great idea for a book. And an overall genius novel that isn't getting nearly enough press. Bravo, Simmons. Bravo. I thought no writer could top THE TERROR. And, lo and behold, you've topped yourself.

What a cool book that harks back to the days of film-noir and 'interesting' detective stories. With dabs of SIN CITY mixed in with NO COUNTRY FOR OLD MEN, THE DA VINCI CODE and a little EYES WIDE SHUT, Brian Evenson creates a stunning, shocking, bloody read that's packed with twists and turns a plenty not to mention a little ambiguousness to keep you on your toes. The plot follows the lead character, Kline, an undercover cop who lost his hand to a crazed maniac, as he slowly gets entangled into a cult of people who cut off their arms to get closer to God. It's weird in all the good ways. And the dialogue, the dialogue is fantastic. Worth picking the book up alone. Very reminiscent of the old detective movies and, as a friend reminded me, Quentin Tarantino. I can't seeing this being made into a movie due to the violence and bloodshed. So, check it out in print form because it's a very fantastic read. Come to think of it, this is more of a horror novel than a detective book. Not for the squeamish. Check er out!

Fantastic book about a group of guys in Bath, Ohio, who happened to be buddies with Jeffrey Dahmer. Illustrated and written by Derf, this is a very cool, interesting fly on the wall story about Dahmer's teenage life as well as his first murder, which occurred in Bath. Being a (former) Bath, Ohio, resident and living about 1/4 mile away from the former Dahmer residence, it's interesting to see Derf mention and draw and refer to some of the popular landmarks including the school, the restaurants, the mall and the roads and highways of Bath. Like I said, it's a well-written, very well drawn book. Read the footnotes section at the back for even more jaw-dropping information.

Very good book. Right from the first chapter, you're wondering 'Where in the Hell is this going?'. Pollock takes you on a fun, entertaining, dare I say disgusting ride into the filth and underworld of Southeastern Ohio. If you've read KNOCKEMSTIFF, you know exactly what you're in for. The characters, the locales and the interesting situations they're put in come together to create a fantastic story 'Natural Born Killers meets Gummo'. Pollock has a knack for dialogue. He can write for dimwits like no other, but he also has a knack to get inside the mind of each character and converse in a way that makes them 100% believable. Great book. Be warned though, it's a bit squeamish in places. This ain't Highlights For Children. But, it's worth the ride. Check ‘er out. Also, if you don't know about Pollock, check out his inspiring back-story. He gives me hope for my personal publishing future every time I think about him.

Good book. Great read. Again, McCarthy is a delicate master of the English language. He really gets inside the main character's sick and twisted mind. But, is Lester Ballard really a serial killer or is he just a screwed up, perverted, sadistic individual? And, I guess, is there a difference? In any event, a nice quick read. The chapters move along at a fast pace. Like THE ROAD, ALL THE PRETTY HORSES, BLOOD MERIDIAN and, of course, NO COUNTRY FOR OLD MEN, McCarthy can write great dialogue and he pulls it off fantastically with this little story - especially Lester's remarks and thought process as he relates to the townsfolk.

Great book. Martin is very honest in his representation of his rise to fame. It didn't happen overnight. It took time. In fact, it took lots of time. Maybe half of his life. It also took a lot of failures. In fact, lots and lots of failures. If there's anything to be learned from Martin is that when you get knocked down, you stand back up and continue to strive for your dreams no matter what they may be. Martin offers up an intimate portrait of his childhood, his dreams and his constant internal strife with his father, which - as it appears - fueled his fire for success even more. In addition, this book can be a great self-help book for people who fear presenting in public. Everyone fails in life at some point. The most important thing is what you do after that happens. Martin's story can serve as a motivating lesson to everyone out there about tenacity, creativity, dedication to your craft and never giving up on your dreams. What a great, quick, entertaining and - most importantly - motivating read

Robo-fantastic. Prior to reading this novel, I read a couple reviews from literary snobs who thumbed their nose at this book. My question was 'Why?' This is pure Robot Pulp. And it's freaking awesome. Daniel H. Wilson has done his homework and has intricately played out a potential robot apocalypse on mankind. After reading WORLD WAR Z and then this book (both sort of 'found footage/interview type' books, I can honestly say that Roboapocalypse stands on a higher pedestal. Why? Well, the character development is there, the dialogue is there and the action and thought processes of all characters isn't one-dimensional. A definite page turner a' la works of Koontz, Grisham and James Patterson - Wilson writes action sequences extremely well - and there are plenty. I really don't want to give too much away. However, I would say snag this book up and read it before Steven Spielberg begins production of the film version later this year - for a 2013 release. Highly enjoyable, action packed, thought-provoking and - simply put - ROBOTASTIC! Check er out.

Kudos to Max Brooks for his very, very deep thinking on the eternal question, "What would happen if the entire world were overrun with zombies?" Seriously though, my hat goes off to Brooks for ruminating on the subject for days and days. Very thorough thought process indeed. What would the army do? Where would people go? How would they survive? What happens when it freezes? Does the army get involved? What about zombies that end up in the water? Brooks creative minds answers these thought-provoking questions, and much more, through faux one-on-one sit-down interviews with a number of heros and witnesses to the zombie war. Which brings me to the one fault I have for this book. I thought the narrative, or rather the storytelling process (first-hand accounts) that Brooks thought up to tell his story was a bit weak. I'm not sure if having a regular, straight-forward fiction novel would have done it justice, either. However, having read Justin Cronin's vampire apocalypse fantasy THE PASSAGE as well as Brook's WORLD WAR Z side by side, I can honestly say Cronin's work - a straight-forward fiction novel - rises to the top. That said, I'm looking forward to the film. If they toss half the imagery and ideas that Brooks thinks up in this book, it's sure to be a cool flick.

Wow, what a monster of a book, but well worth the one month of reading in the end. A new, unique take on the Vampire mystique, Cronin's book covers a present day America followed by an apocalyptic America 100 years later. The cast of characters he creates talk, speak and feel lifelike, the decisions they make speaks to the characters themselves and the journey all of these characters travel is also enjoyable and creepy. Keep in mind, this is a graphic book with plenty of bloodshed and murder. Cronin also attacks the action sequences in the book with fervor and passion. He paints a very comprehensive picture of landscapes and scenery. Some beautiful writing thoughout the more than 700 pages made me a bit jealous, which is always a compliment to the author. Comparisons to WATERSHIP DOWN came to mind often as I was reading this book. I'm not sure how much more there is to say besides the creatures and the overall storyline do, in fact, bring some comparisons to films such I AM LEGEND (and the book), THE DESCENT as well as Guillermo Del Toro's BLADE 2. That said, the book stands on its own as a great piece of fiction. I understand there are two more yet-be-released books in the Passage series, which makes sense considering the open-ended finale. Looking forward to the second book of the trilogy, THE TWELVE.

Interested in more great reads from Eimer's past? Check out these posts: