Moving On

As of August, So Freaking Neat! will fold its tent and become a part of WesleyRMullen.com. It's been a great run here at this site, but as with all things, sometimes “better” means “change.” And we're hoping that the move to author Wesley R. Mullen's site, along with a similar move on the part of our sister site, Travel's Bitch, will allow us to cover a wider range of topics for our readers.

So join us starting on August 1 at www.WesleyRMullen.com – we're starting the move with a sale of City Sketches (eBook versions) at $.99 at the new site. See you there.

(NOTE: This site will remain up and running until August 15, to ensure that all of our readers will get this message.)

Tuesday Short Takes

Classic Monsters – Here's great news for everyone who loves the old Universal horror movies of the 1930s, '40s and '50s: for the first time, all 30 of the Universal Classic Monsters movies will be gathered on DVD (not on Blu-Ray) in one stunning collection! In addition to all of Universal's Frankenstein, Dracula, Wolf Man, Mummy, Creature from the Black Lagoon and Invisible Man features, the collection will include Werewolf of London, She-Wolf of London and the Abbott and Costello Meet… films (the latter marking the death-knell for all of the studios great monsters save one – the Creature). This staggering boxed set will be released on September 2, 2014. The list price is $199.99, but CreepyClassics.com promises to have it at a lower price.

Narrative Clip – Want to be a walking photo-taking machine? Just clip this tiny device (about the size of Apple's smallest iPod Nano) on your shirt and start taking pictures at about 2 per minute. It's only a 5 MP camera, but it holds up to 6000 images; there are smartphone apps that will synch to it as well. Prices start from $229. Expensive and impractical, but hey! – it's wearable (and isn't that the way everything seems to be going today?).

 

“CITY SKETCHES” E-BOOK IS NOW $2.99!!!

Marketing my book is more of a joy and a nightmare than I ever anticipated as I wrote it. The joy comes from the fun of connecting with so many other travelers and writers; the nightmare is in coming up with and using so many ways to get my book in front of people so that they know it exists.

Pricing is the hardest nut to crack. What is the right price? Who knows? We simply have to use a trial-and-error method that hopefully will strike the right chord. The bottom line is that, as of today, the e-book versions of City Sketches will cost only $2.99; a bargain, if I do say so myself (but then, I'm incredibly biased).

Update Review – 24: Live Another Day

Spoiler Alert! This post may contain plot points that may ruin the show for those who have yet to view it. You've been warned!

I humbly stand corrected: after what I considered an ambivalent if exciting start, 24 and Jack Bauer have made a triumphant return to the small screen. In a masterful stroke of writing and direction, the plot has propelled us through nine hours of almost non-stop action and suspense. There has been no fat on this thrill ride – the lean-and-mean plot has kept us rapt on the edge of our seats, and the recent death of the main antagonist had barely given us a chance to catch our breath before the show zigged and zagged into another plotline that flowed naturally out of the proceeding hours.

Kudos to Kiefer Sutherland for bringing us a familiar Jack who still manages to surprise and thrill us (who could foresee Jack's window-throw of Margot? A Jack Bauer moment right up there with season 2's “I'm gonna need a hacksaw” line!). Every actor in this roller-coaster ride of a story has been at the top of their game; and even when some twists are predictable (really, you didn't see Bratt/Navarro going bad from a mile away?), we believed them because the actors made it all work. Special call-out to Michelle Fairley as Margot Al-Harazi, the ultimate self-righteous terrorist and mother-from-hell; hopefully the remaining villains can fill the enormous gap that her character's departure leaves.

This show is a definite buy when it comes out on DVD. JACK IS BACK!!! Say it again! JACK IS BACK!!!!!

 

Tuesday Short Takes

Blue Lounge (bluelounge.com) – Check out this website for some very cool products that can accessorize your desk and your electronic equipment. In particular, look at their Cable Drop sets, which feature small adhesive dots that can stylishly and discreetly keep your cables untangled and ready for use. Also check out the following items:

  • Kii - a compact USB/Micro-USB charger that attaches to a keychain.
  • Postal Bag - this is a satchel that resembles a mail pouch when fully open, but which folds into a size and shape that cries “messenger bag.” Rather expensive at $128, but if you have the cash, it’s a neat bag.

Push – This is a Kickstarter project that has been fully funded, but is still available for the start-up price of $39. The slim iPhone protective case hides an even slimmer pop-up back compartment that will hold up to three credit cards or a combination of cash and one or two cards. In effect, it’s an iPhone wallet. The pop-up is controlled by a small button that lies flush with the case’s back. We’ve ordered one (they roll off the assembly line in July or August), and when it arrives we’ll give you a hands-on review.

Re-Enter The Saint

If you wait long enough, all of your favorite fictional characters will eventually rise from obscurity. In the past few years alone, I've seen Fu Manchu and Matt Helm rise from the ashes as Titan Books started to reprint the original novels in their respective series. Author Helen MacInnes has also made a resurgence, as her prodigious output has again been made available in trade paperback.

Now another giant stirs. Amazon.com's Thomas & Mercer imprint (crime novels and thrillers) is bringing back The Saint, a Bulldog Drummond-esque post-WWI adventurer created by Leslie Charteris and made internationally famous in the 1960s by the TV series starring a pre-007 Roger Moore. The Saint, aka Simon Templar, debuted in the late 1920s as one of several British men-of-action who abhorred the boredom of peacetime and went out looking for thrills and adventure. In Templar's case, he turned to crime – but only against other criminals he deemed morally debased: drug dealers, white slavers, gangsters and the like. He became the modern Robin Hood, fleecing the guilty and giving most of his ill-gotten gains to charity.

As with most rough-and-tumble heroes of the era, The Saint dealt out his own brand of justice, and wasn't above thuggery and even murder when he felt a villain deserved such punishment. Charteris' books may shock readers familiar with the later TV versions of Templar, but they are very much in keeping with the prevailing attitudes of the times in which they were written.

The Saint books are premiering over the next few months, and are selling at $11.99 for paperback editions. They are also going to be available for Kindle, making this the first time that Charteris' works will arrive in digital form. Be warned, though: Charteris wrote his books between 1928 and 1963; Saint books after that were novelizations of the TV shows or “originals” written by hacks that were then “edited” by Charteris and had his name slapped on them. Check out Wikipedia's “Simon Templar” entry for a list of books that will help you to avoid the post-1963 hack works.