Michaeldgriffiths's Blog
One's man Chaos is another person's Entertainment

Jan
16

Alligator by Lisa Moore is a literary masterpiece. I bought this book at the downtown Powells in Portland about 15 years ago when my daughter was going to college there. I guess it stayed on one of my, oh so many shelves, for a while, mostly because I like to focus on the books people send me to review. But there is an exception to most rules, so I gave this novel a go and I am glad I did for it is a vibrant look into several people’s lives who twist together.

Alligator by Lisa Moore

Genre:  Thriller

Publisher:  Ananis

Released:  2005

Stars:  4.5 Stars

Reviewer: Michael D. Griffiths

Although the story covers the arc of many lives, I found the journey of Frank the most intense. Frank has never had a fair life. His mother dying when he was five left him an orphan. After a hard as steel childhood, he somehow finds the strength to work three jobs so he can afford a hot dog cart. Life is going better, but he is still angry, quiet, and alone.

He meets Colleen and wants to ask her out but has a hard time working up the courage. Things get tense when a dangerous Russian moves in above him. The Russian is a sociopath and cannot see anything he does not seek to ruin and Frank falls into Valitin’s circle of awareness.

Soon just working hard will not be enough to save Frank and series of betrayals could soon cost him everything including his life.

This novel looks deeply into the life and motivations of the characters. The author touches on issues and feelings we usually refuse to admit to ourselves. This is perhaps more of a literary novel and less action oriented, but it remains an exciting insightful read.

I enjoyed exploring all the characters but sometimes the reader was sent down a side story when I might have liked to get back to the other characters faster. Also, this author can write circles around me but still did one of my pet peeves and that was changing the POV without warning. She also changed the time, but in an arty way, like doing things such as recent experience, one paragraph, something from two years ago next paragraph. I did not have a problem with this, but it could annoy some.

A great book, but again more introspective than action oriented, but I think most of the people reading this review will be impressed by this novel.

Learn More Here

Grab a little of my fiction here

Dec
29

Author’s Note:

Hi folks. I was interviewed this week in regards to my experience being an author. It will later be published @Two Blue Stockings, but I figured I’d also throw it on here, just for fun. It is a little gloomy in regards to giving a spark of inspiration to new authors, but if you want un-realism watch a Disney Special or listen to a Trump Speech.

Enjoy

Author Interview

Do you try more to be original or to deliver to readers what they want?  

Doing what readers want is for authors with large audiences. I have been reviewing other author’s novels for over ten years now and there are perhaps writing trends such as dialog over description, but human taste varies and trying to find a key which would open the interest of the swirling masses of people seems a fool’s quest.

I use an approach to writing which Robert E Howard spoke of. I write like the characters are standing over my shoulders and telling me their story. In a sense writing the novel is similar to reading a book to me.

What’s your favorite under-appreciated novel?

This is harder for me to answer for I have read dozens of indie books which have impressed me, but no one has even heard a hint of. If pressed I would pick Escapology by, Ren Waron. This is an amazing novel. Waron’s writing style is beyond compare. She paints a vibrate world that both compels you and wants you to flee screaming. Her prose is colorful and yet dark. The characters are strong and move together to interact in a cyberpunk setting of malice and cynicism

What advice do you have for writers?

Volunteer and get involved with other writers and publishers. In life, you get what you put in. If you support other authors, they might end up supporting you. Being involved in a writing community makes it more fun and people will also be more open to publishing a person they know. In this world of the infinitive internet quality is better than quantity. If you think your twitter account with 3000 followers will get you more sales than being in a book club, in most cases I would say you are very wrong. Going at the publishing business cold is rough and the author will just find themselves another of the millions of people with a laptop who thinks everyone’s heads need to snap to attention because they wrote a book.

Do you view writing as a kind of spiritual practice?

In the sense it relaxes me and helps my mental health, yes. I focus on the Jungian archetypes which appear throughout most cultures and religions. Figures like the grey-haired leader, the trickster, the young adult in danger, and the wise woman appear throughout history. I feel these images and ideas strike a chord with people. Then the idea is to turn the concepts on their head and deal out a few surprises to the reader. However, I do have a blog where I have several hundred spiritual/motivational poems. You can get to that here. Mystic Archetypes

What is your favorite childhood book? 

I enjoyed fairy tales and legends as a child. My grandmother read most of the Grimm Fairy Tales to me. My favorite book was D’Aulaires’ Book of Greek Myths.

Where do you get your ideas? 

I am a storyteller. If I am not writing fiction, I am keeping the oral tradition alive by recounting the adventures of myself, and friends both known and unknown. For me, the ideas are already there. Some of my novels share complex magical systems I have used through multiple series. I also have novels which veer in a totally different direction. I never experience writer’s block, the only thing which blocks me is lack of time.

What does literary success look like to you?

I have published novels and at one time this was much more than I imagined I would ever get. I have some comedy vids on YouTube I wrote. I have a blog, WildernessPunk, which explores environmental and psychological issues from a fact-based perspective which is mixed into wilderness exploration and survival. I think enjoying myself and making a few people happy is great with me.

Have you read anything that made you think differently about fiction?

James Silke wrote the Gath of Baal, Death Dealer books. I found it a powerful series of novels. He wrote, “The night was as dark as a buried stick.” I like the image.

A few links;

Dalsala Den  https://amzn.to/2KVUf7H

Skinjumpers https://amzn.to/3hwr47y

WildernessPunk:  https://wildernesspunk.wordpress.com/

Williams Ghost Investigation:

Thanks for making it this far.

MDG

Dec
22

I’m not sure if I ever posted this on here. This is an old one which stayed in the can after I tumbled into my Hardcore WildernessPunk Days and everyone involved with Search Truth Quest began to flee the poverty with a view, which is Flagstaff Arizona.

This was shot on location in Sedona AZ. I’m not sure if we had much of script, just a few ideas. Sightings of an Invisible Porcupine have really been reported in this area. Who knows, perhaps we’ll be the ones to get the Invisible Porcupine on film. If anyone could do it, it’d be us.

So please take a few minutes to follow the Search Truth Quest team as it goes in search of the Invisible Porcupine!

Grab some more of our Videos here

And we work pretty hard on these so please consider liking, subscribing, etc, so perhaps one grand day we can each make 50 cents from YouTube.

Yes, everyone has a dream.

Dec
17

The Made Up Man by Karen Heular is an odd novel I put off reading for a long while. However, I am honestly attempting to read every book I have ever been sent to review, so here goes.  Alyson’s life is all but destroyed when her longtime lover leaves her for her best friend. She is also underappreciated at her place of employment and she feels like there is little reason to go on.

Genre: Dark Fantasy

Publisher: Livingston Press

Released:  2011

Stars:  2.5 Stars

Reviewer: Michael D. Griffiths

Then she meets up with the Devil who is living in Manhattan under the guise of being a cigar smoking gypsy. Together they decide men have a huge advantage over women in life and if Alyson became a man everything would be much better. So Alyson sells her soul and becomes Bob.

After some awkward adjustments and a difficult learning curve, Bob’s life takes off. He gets two lovers, premotions at work, and begins his plot of revenge against Bob’s former lover and best friend. There are some devilish plot twists and Bob’s heart melts when his former male lover wishes to return to Alyson. However, like most fiction involving the devil archetype, selling your soul for benefit never really works out.

The author is a woman, and I found her interpretation of what it must be like to live as a man interesting. I also found much of the novel to be a bit preachy. The gender roles are unfair. Once Bob was a man, he was as mean and thoughtless as all men are supposed to be. Women are just as bad in the novel and so is the Devil. So there are really no winners or real hope, but I suppose if you are a man your ride through this toxic waste of time toward Hell is a bit better. Then this is topped off with the ‘We will all be happiest when we just be what we were born to be.’

As stated, some of a female’s insight into her understanding of the realm of men was eye opening, but this is not a novel a reader should rush out to grab.

Learn More Here

Grab a little of my fiction here

Dec
15

Some things are better seen than heard. This might not be one of them.

We find the Southern Branch of Search Truth Quest desperately trying to get their bar tabbed comped. Zano might be willing but only if they agree to investigate… SKUNK GATOR APE BOY

You can check out our Re-remastered Town Survivor here!!

.

Dec
13

Before you and I start down this road, let me state I am certainly not the most qualified or popular guy working with a team to shoot comedy videos for the web. However, if you aren’t either, this discussion could be more useful to you than to some internet celeb who has already quit his day job.  Also, a lot of the technics my team and I will discuss would help in any sort of smaller video project such as a book promotion video or a ‘How To’ piece.

7. Focus more on Ideas than Dialog

Face it, we aren’t working with Brad Pitt and Meryl Streep here. Most of your crew might have a hard time remembering a long series of lines, and even if they can, they could have a hard time saying them naturally. Sure if you found some good one liners keep those in your head, but if you focus on the outline of the joke and go through it with your own words and voice it will come out better than forcing yourself through 6 takes to get some cardboard line out which might not have fit your character anyway.

6. Let your Props Create a Joke Instead of the Other Way Around.

We may need to acquire and make props, but instead of thinking about what you don’t have and then using time and money to bring it to a shoot, look around at your house, the local area, and your team’s homes. Most of us have odd items laying around. How can they be used to spark your creativity and make their way into a video? Can a Viking drinking horn become an 1830s hearing aid? Perhaps the hair you just brushed off your dog could be a fake mustache.

5. Be Creative with Scenery

Instead of filming a bunch of scenes in your living room try to never shoot in the same place twice. The world is full of chaotic and interesting places and most of them are free. Don’t worry about getting the A+ places into your videos either, since they are more likely places some people may have seen. I also say a B- place no one has found beats an A+ place everyone knows about which is full of people when you arrive.

4. Give Your Friends and Allies Small Roles

People will either want to be part of your team or be camera shy, but we are shooting for something in the middle. Get a pal or two to fill in a brief role. Maybe a non-speaking part works for some folks. Others might like the idea of speaking off camera better. They don’t need to have a reoccurring character, but an extra…er, extra in every video is going to help more than many would think. Also, you could use our trick and put them behind a mask or in a costume and just run after you growling.

3. Keep the Same Characters

Of course, you can always do what you wish, but this isn’t Saturday Night Live and many of us don’t have a wide span of acting skills. Also, with the glut of millions of videos and people competing with you, it might be better to focus on a certain theme or thread. Since getting well known is beyond difficult, in my opinion, you increase the chance to have a following by having running characters and some sort concept. With the pure chaos of the internet already in effect, creating more yourself could just get you completely lost in the entropy.

2. Use Voice Overs

Voice overs are a lot easier to get right than remembering a paragraph of dialog and nailing it. They can be great for adding extra jokes or connecting the plot to the footage. Voice overs also tie in odd ideas and help them make sense within your tale.

1. Write to People’s Strengths

Face it, if ‘acting’, and I use the term loosely, is someone’s 5th most important project, they probably have more on screen weaknesses than strengths. Common issues could include not remembering lines, stiff acting, not talking loud enough, and the list continues.

Focusing on their weaknesses isn’t going to help things, so focus on what they can do whenever possible. Could the guy who can’t remember lines be good with expressions? Is the soft talker great with voice overs? What about the guy who falls down a lot but can’t pronounce things? Use what you have going for you and try to ignore the rest. If this isn’t someone’s career or life passion, they aren’t going to be good at everything.

The Takeaway

We find ourselves living in a time where more people than ever can be in videos, bands, write novels, and other creative pursuits. This means there is more competition than ever before. If you are going into making comedies or really any other creative project, it might be better to look at it as a hobby with perks more than a profession or a revenue earner. If you are just going at it to have fun, then you will be happy when you achieve such a goal. If you are trying to compete against the endless masses, become famous, or turn a buck, well, good luck, but don’t come around me to spill your sour grapes, because my friends and I just made some wine.

Here are a couple of our Videos.  Like, Subscribe, and Share but only if your love Freedom!

We just re-released this one. Please help it get some love.

Dec
07

ACID by Emma Pass is set in a dark Orwellian future where a rich minority forces their believes and rule on a dispossessed and abused majority. The tale focused on Jenna Strong but it is hard for me to remember her name since it changes so many times throughout the novel. Jenna is a seventeen-year-old girl whose story begins with her being locked up in a maximum-security prison full of men.  Seems dangerous, but it is Jenna who gets thrown into solitary because the jail doctor taught her some martial arts moves and she injures anyone who tries to hurt her.

Genre: Dystopian Science Fiction, Young Adult

Publisher: Delacorte Press

Released: 2014

Stars:  3 Stars

Reviewer: Michael D. Griffiths

Soon a group of freedom fighters decides to bust her out of this maximum-security jail. This group she has never met also alters her face and gives her a new life and identity. This falls apart when he meets the son of one of the people she is accused of killing. They go on the run and get involved with a terrorist cell which seems just as bad as the fascist ACID (Agency for Crime Investigation and Defense) she is fleeing. The leader of the cell also strangely does on his own, what a whole prison of males could not, and beats her silly.

Soon she is captured and is given her third identity by the evil rulers of ACID. This falls apart as some of the mysteries in her own life as well as ACID begin to be uncovered. While Jenna hopes she will one day receive her first kiss.

This novel seemed full of contradictions. A teenaged girl is somehow so buff she can fight off a whole prison of sex starved villains, but this fails to get into any real fight until the last twenty pages of the novel. She also seems a little too passive to be a positive role model. She makes some humane choices but is also like an abused leaf in the wind. Jenna seems more like a sad kid who would see a counselor than a hero leading a rebellion.

For an action novel there was no action. Nothing other than her being tied up comes close to a real fight in the first 300 pages of the novel. If you are looking for a morose tale of a girl set in a depressing future, you might like to check this out. If you want a little action in your reads keep in mind Jenna is the toughest character who never uses her strength to protect her 95% of the time.

Learn More Here

.

Grab a little of my fiction here

.

Nov
23

The Last Kids on Earth and the Zombie Parade by Max Brallier is a young adult book geared for middle school kids and perhaps more for boys than girls. Some might call this a little horror novel or even dystopian, but I am going to go with Dark Fantasy with this one. Those who have read some of my past reviews might remember for me Dark Fantasy novels are those where the heroes fight monsters and usually win, where horror are the tales where loads of people die.

Genre: Dark Fantasy

Publisher: Viking

Released: 2016

Stars:  4 Stars

Reviewer: Michael D. Griffiths

The story centers around Jack and his small group of friends who struggle to survive in a world full of monsters and zombies, but absent of other humans. Some of the monsters they discover can be befriended and they meet a bipedal creature named Thrull. Thrull helps them in battle and becomes an ally. He also gives them a book be used as a bestiary to collect samples of the monsters which have moved onto Earth.

The teens collect samples and fill up the bestiary, but as they do, they become aware of the strange absence of zombies which used to cover the town. As they explore this mystery, they uncover a new plot to destroy their planet by bringing another wave of monsters to Earth and the Bestiary might be the lynch pin of this dastardly plan.

.

.

This is a fun book and written well. A good book for kids which a fantasy loving parent will get a little something out of while they read it to them. There is also a Netflix series available but try to read them the book before you let them see it.

As far as appropriateness for children, I think this ranks well. There are fights, but not any deaths. The heroes realize fighting first is often the wrong answer. There is also no cursing or even vague sexual content. I do not even think there was a fart joke.

.

.

I think this book delivers what it sets out to do. Downsides include the idea the whole human race is gone except these four kids and those kids must save the world which happens to be in danger a few blocks away. Kind of silly, but what the heck, it is a kid book. Also, some of the creatures they battle are things like insane giant floating eyeballs which fire javelins, but nothing worse happens to them than spilling ice cream on their heads.

.

.

Again, this is fun books for the kids which maybe a parent can enjoy more than some of the Young Adult literature out there. Also, this is for younger children so you could roll this out before Harry Potter.

.

Learn More Here

.

.

Grab a little of my fiction here

.

Nov
12

Sherlock Holmes Vs Cthulhu by Lois H. Gresh is an entertaining mix of classic Holmes deduction meeting the dark horror of the Cthulhu mythos. This novel did not dawdle and got right into the action as well as the mysteries right away. Watson’s first-person voice documents their exciting ride into danger and struggles with the insanity they uncover.

Genre: Mystery/Horror

Publisher: Titan

Released: 2017

Stars:  4.5 Stars

Reviewer: Michael D. Griffiths

This odd case begins with their exposure to a machine which is somehow growing and had already claimed several lives. When even Holmes can not figure how to turn off this machine without getting more people killed, the pair decides to dig deeper. As the danger mounts, Watson is torn between pleasing his new wife and continuing his investigation with Holmes.

.

.

Things grow more ominous when the detectives leave London and find more clues which lead them to the mysterious cult of Dagon. Points of view shift to include some of the followers of Dagon and other individuals. Dread builds and sanity slips as they are drawn deeper into things which should not be.

The mood is grim and the danger real enough to keep the reader coming back to find out if there is any way this famous team can persevere over these unstoppable foes.  I am much more of a Lovecraft fan than Sherlock Holmes, so I can say the novels hits the right Cthulhu feel and joins the mythos as a strong addition. I am not as sure on the mystery side since, again, I am not as versed in Holmes novels. In my opinion, I think it would scratch that inch too. But standard mystery readers should know what they are getting into here. Heads will be getting torn from shoulders by tentacles.

.

.

Drawbacks might include how it was difficult to balance these stalwart heroes with seeing the impossible. Holmes is so logical, being faced with the illogical is a hard leap for them and the writer. Despite any small issues, this novel really delivers. I read it faster than most. It started well, had a great middle and a satisfying climax. Grab this one for sure.

.

.

Learn More Here

.

Grab a little of my fiction here

.

Nov
10

Hey hey, Please Reward Yourself after this damn Election by Watching our BRAND NEW Video The Skim Milk Walker!!

.

.

So take a deep breath, relax, and take a few minutes to endulge yourself with…

.

.

Please Like, Comment, Share and Subscribe if you love Freedom.

Catch more comedy here with the Daily Discord

.

https://www.youtube.com/user/dailydiscord/videos?view_as=subscriber

.