Monday, October 26, 2015

‘Supergirl’ the series preview


Okay, here we go.

Anyone who knows me or reads this blog is well aware of my affection for “Supergirl”.




I have read all the various incarnations of the comic book since the late 90s, including the current teen-age angst-ridden version in the New 52. I a huge fan of the underrated and misunderstood 1984 film starring Helen Slater, and its rousing, majestic soundtrack by Jerry Goldsmith.



And as you can tell from the novels I write, I tend to favor strong female leads in action/adventure roles. So the new “Supergirl” series is right in the middle of my entertainment sweet spot.

When the original extended six-minute plus trailer debuted on the internet a few months ago, it set off a storm of controversy in geek fandom everywhere. The presence of a prominently featured Calista Flockhart, (in a role similar to what Merry Streep played in “The Devil Meets Prada”), prompted a fanboy freakout. “It’s too girly”, they cried.



I stayed silent and thought it best to reserve judgement. Like I said, I have actually read the books and seen the 1984 film many times and read the terrific novelization and I understand the character. And guess what? “Supergirl” is not Black Widow, or Black Canary, or Huntress, or Catwoman, or even Batgirl. She is not dark. She really is a “girly girl”.

But still. I admit I did find the whole “Ally McBeal” meets “The Devil Wears Prada” vibe of the trailer a bit troublesome. Workplace humor and girl drama are all well and fine, but I want to see action and adventure—not a romantic comedy. And this is the story of an alien. So I want to see science fiction ideas about other aliens and alternate universes and time travel and all the other super cool stuff that is often in the comics.




Two things I will say already. I love Melissa Benoist. Helen Slater will always be the gold standard for me. Melissa’s take on the character is obviously going to be lot lighter, but I love what I have seen of her so far.

Colleen Atwoood is in my opinion the greatest Hollywood costume designer of all time and I absolutely love her “Supergirl” suit design.


I will have my full review of the “Supergirl” premiere episode posted right here in this blog later this week.



Friday, October 2, 2015

Run Caitlin Run!



The following is an excerpt from the novel "Caitlin Star and the Rise of the Barbarians" Caitlin Star book 3 by James J. Caterino.

Copyright 2014, 2015  James J. Caterino All Rights Reserved



Caitlin felt sick inside hearing the screams and the cries from below as the creatures of the jungle fled in terror from the raging firebombs.

Homes were being destroyed. Life was being extinguished. Entire cultures and maybe even wholesale species could be lost forever; all because a former U.S. Senator fancied himself the conduit of an invisible man in the sky. Cross was not hard to figure out. He wanted subjects to impose his will on. Subjects to worship his perverted version of God, and by default Cross himself, since only he could speak for God. His philosophy was clear and defined; get greedy, take from anyone and everyone and especially from the earth itself, and leave an endless trail of dead bodies, burned lives, charred souls, and toxic waste by the truckload.
       
The former cruise ship turned death ship continued to launch a barrage of fireballs into the jungle as it chugged up the Congo. It had to be stopped now. If that ship crossed through the next channel and continued bombing, they would be on the other side of the rift. With no more natural barriers to contain the raging flames—the entire Triangle could burn into a wasteland and the fires would burn for months from coast to coast. Paradise would be lost. With the rain forest gone and one of the few remaining habitable zones turned into a wasteland. With nothing left to oxygenate the already depleted atmosphere, life itself in post-apocalyptic earth could be over. The planet would become nothing but a barren, inhospitable rock. Earth would become another Mars.
       
Caitlin could not let that happen. This death ship had to be stopped and stopped right now. They had a plan—a long shot that Caitlin had to turn into a sure shot. It was a plan Lori and Lithgow had dubbed, “Operation Deathstar.”
        
She tapped the radio earpiece and microphone Lori had made for her.
        
“I am at the target spot. On the plateau trail, across from the river island, just above the cliff overlooking the rocks where the underground river from the Lost City merges into the Congo,” Caitlin said. “Are you reading me?”
        
“Roger that,” Lori said.
           
“Okay sister,” Caitlin said. “You’re on. This is your moment. Your turn to be the hero. Just tell me what to do?”
          
“What is the exact location of the ship?” Lori asked.
           
Caitlin looked into her binoculars and focused in on the ship of doom.
              
“Coming around the island split via the eastern channel side. The one further away from me,” Caitlin said.
        
“Give me one minute,” Lori said. “The Guardian coming back to life has created an energy bubble. The surge in transmission power if off the charts. I may be able to use this to tap into an old satellite network, bounce a tracking signal off of you and the ship and give you the precise time to go for it.”
              
There was a beat of silence as Caitlin heard her furiously tapping a keyboard. Before she locked into the mission Caitlin had to ask her the nagging anxiety bothering her.
               
“Any sign of Gunner yet?” Caitlin asked.
                
“Not so far,” Lori said. “But no worries. Lithgow says we still have some time. The gateway is stable and has yet to show any power slippage. And you know Gunner. He’ll get here in time. He finds a way. He always does.”
                
“I know,” Caitlin said, more out of an auto response than actually believing it.

Caitlin knew—as Gunner himself had taught her—she had to focus only on what she could control. Her mentor’s fate and the idiosyncrasies of temporal quantum mechanics were out of her hands. But what was in her hands was the fate of this death ship driving up the Congo and spewing out destruction. And what would soon be in her hands—was Cross’s scrawny neck when she snapped it. She really hoped that he was not on board. Going down with that wicked ship was far too easy of a death for such an agent of evil.

“Okay, I have a fix on you and the ship,” Lori said. “Inputting schematics and making calculations….now.”

Another beat of silence passed.

“Come on sister,” Caitlin said. “Don’t leave me hanging. Talk to me.”
                
“Shit,” Lori said. “This will still be doable. But you are going to have to really sprint fast to get enough momentum for the jump. I mean like really, really fast.”
                
“Hey, it’s me,” Caitlin quipped. “How fast?”
                
“Like superhero fast,” Lori said. “Faster than you ever did in the one-hundred meter at Steel Valley or Pitt. Faster than…well…any human has even ran before. Husain Bolt was once clocked at twenty-eight MPH. I need you to do thirty.”
               
 “I got it,” Caitlin said. “Just be my eyes in the sky. You call the plays. I execute them. Just like the old days.
                
“Oracle and the Black Canary,” Lori said.
                
“There you go,” Caitlin said. “How long till the starting gun?”

“In about four minutes and twenty-two seconds,” Lori said.

“Let me know when we hit thirty seconds,” Caitlin said.

“Roger that,” Lori said.

Caitlin took the next four minutes to empty her mind, stretch out muscles, focus every fiber of her being, and engage in the transformative visualization technique she had been mastering since she turned thirteen years-old and was rescued by a vigilante anti-hero named Gunner Star.

“Thirty second countdown begins right…now,” Lori announced in her earpiece.

It was now time for operation Deathstar.

Caitlin secured her very best javelin-style throwing spear, doused the tip in the concentrated explosive goo Lori and Lithgow had conjured up for her. Then she crouched down into a sprinter’s stance, and waited for Lori’s start command.

“Ready…Set…Go!”





Wednesday, June 24, 2015

My top ten James Horner scores

James Horner tribute (1953-2015)

Music is the most mysterious of all art forms to me. I know how to write creatively. I understand the process of creating imagery to tell a story or convey an emotion. The mechanics of directing are something that anyone with enough motivation can learn. But music—how it is created and where it comes from—I have no idea. It is the closest thing to magic that exists in this universe.

It is no exaggeration to say that right alongside John Williams and Jerry Goldsmith, I have spent more time immersed in the music of James Horner than any other musical artist of any genre or format. The profound impact of his music cannot be overstated.  To me, the most vital aspect of any piece of music, is that it must make me feel. It must engage my emotions and take me on a sonic journey, deep within myself. In this regard, James Horner was as good as anybody who ever picked up a baton or sat in front of the keyboard.

Here are ten of my favorite James Horner scores of all time, both epic and intimate, spanning the decades of his amazing (and sadly cut way too short) career. No analysis will be offered. That can come later. Right now, it is just time to listen and enjoy and feel.


The Mask of Zorro








Avatar








To Gillian on Her 37th Birthday








Krull








Brainstorm









The Missing 







The Journey Of Natty Gann







Thunderheart








Deep Impact








Batteries Not Included




Thursday, April 30, 2015

The ‘Caitlin Star’ compatibility test



Are the “Caitlin Star” books something you might like? 

Why take the chance with your hard-earned cash and limited entertainment time when you can take this officially sanctioned “Caitlin Star” compatibility test and know with absolute certainty if “Caitlin Star” is for you.

0 out of 10 yes answers: Do not read a “Caitlin” book (or anything by the author) under any circumstances.

1 out 10 yes answers: There is a possibility you may like certain aspects of the books.

2 out of 10 yes answers: You will probably enjoy the majority of all three books.

3 out of 10 yes answers: You will be transported to another world and find the books an addictive read.

4 out of 10 yes answers: You will be on the edge of your seat, emotionally involved with the characters, and read at least one of the books twice.

5 out 10 yes answers: This will be your new favorite book series.

6 or more yes answers: You will dream of Caitlin and her world non-stop and re-read each book…twice.



You like Quentin Tarantino films.




You like the “Divergent” series books and movies.




You like the “Graceling” book series.





You like the strong female characters in the films of James Cameron such as Ripley in “Aliens”, Lindsey in “The Abyss”, Sarah Conner and Neytiriin “Avatar”.






You like sword and sorcery books.





You are a fan of the “Star Wars” franchise.





You like the women of D.C Comics; Batgirl/Oracle, Black Canary, Huntress, Catwoman, Poison Ivy, and Harley Quinn.





You like the “Hunger Games” book and movie series.





You like “Star Trek” and/or “The Planet of the Apes”.






You like Olivia Wilde in "Tron Legacy".





Sunday, March 15, 2015

Top five books that influenced the 'Caitlin Star' series



Birds of Prey – DC Comics

The resident female characters of Gotham City are among my favorite in all of fiction. No “Batman” book has ever captured the sense of empowerment embodied by the woman of the Dark Knight’s city than the early 2000s run of “Birds of Prey”, written by Gail Simone and penciled by Ed Benes.

The influence on "Caitlin Star"?

There is little bit of all the Gotham girls in "Caitlin Star", especially Black Canary, Catwoman, and Poison Ivy from an anti-hero's perspective.





Before the Dawn: Recovering the Lost History of Our Ancestors

“Before the Dawn” by Nicholas Wade is a furious and fascinating page turner that I could not get enough of. It is a non-fiction science book that attempts to solve the mysteries of human prehistory, especially the lost years between the exodus of modern humans out of Africa 50,000 years ago until the beginnings of recorded human history and urbanized civilization  roughly 5000 years ago.

The influence on "Caitlin Star"?

The scientific discoveries reported on in this book were a major launching pad for the pre-history timeline and Bull Mongoni mythology of the “CaitlinStar” series.





“Shadows of the Empire” by Steve Perry

This book excels at world-building just as much as it does characters. The setting is richly detailed, a vast underworld of the "Star Wars" universe hinted at in the final act of "Empire" and the opening set-piece in "Jedi" and fully explored here in an irresistible fashion by author Steve Perry.

At its core, "Shadows of the Empire" is an epic gangster story that makes fantastic use of the most interesting period in all of the "Star Wars", the time between "Empire" and "Jedi".

The influence on "Caitlin Star"?

The way author Steve Perry uses viewpoint and balances character and action is what I was striving for in the “Caitlin Star” books.







Brak the Barbarian by John Jakes

First published in 1968 at the amid a torrid Frank Frazetta/Robert E. Howard inspired sword and sorcery boom that lasted right up into the early 1980s, this John Jakes “Conan” rip off is a glorious pulp masterwork in its own right.

What sets the “Brak” series apart from other Conan posers is John Jakes himself. He is a fantastic storyteller and a brilliant craftsman who writes visually and has a keen sense of pacing. There is a reason all of those historical novels of his (“The Bastard”, “North and South”, etc.) sold by the tens of millions. The guy can flat out write great fiction.

The influence on "Caitlin Star"?

The vivid, colorful prose, the visceral physicality, and the attitude.





Brave New World by Aldous Huxley

The original dystopian, big brother, social commentary satire novel that often gets overshadowed by "1984" and the rest of the recently re-surging genre. I first read this book in an eighth grade literature class. I was blown by away it then and still love it today.

The influence on "Caitlin Star"?

The idea of a society where the powers to be (be it state, corporate or otherwise), want to impose their own perverted sense of moral superiority on others in order to control them.

Related posts:


Monday, February 16, 2015

Timeline of the ‘Caitlin Star’ series





Here are the some of the key events taking place in the “Caitlin Star” universe.

7880 B.C. — Some of the events in “Caitlin Star and the Rise of the Barbarians”, due for release April 30th 2015.

1983 – A mysterious muscle-bound vigilante makes his first appearance defending a homeless man against a gang of bullies.  It is the first documented appearance of the man known as “Gunner Star”.

1985 – Gunner Star takes on his first protégé, a stock trader genius named Zahn. Gunner teaches him the “Bull Mongoni philosophy”, a credo of beliefs based on the teachings of a mythic race of hominids who vanished long ago.

1985 – 1990 – Gunner and Zahn become the Batman and Robin of Pittsburgh. They operate out of the shadows dispensing social justice and defending those who have no voice or power to fight back.

1990 – Zahn becomes increasingly aggressive and fanatical, wanting to go beyond the mission parameters of enacting vigilante justice. “All humans are evil. This mistake of history must be reversed. Only then can the Bull Mongoni rise again.” Gunner believes there are worthy humans who will have a place in the new world.

1991 - The disagreement between Gunner and Zahn leads to a falling out and a physical showdown. Zahn vanishes from Gunner Star’s Lair of Doom.

1992 – Gunner Star goes dark.



1999 – Gunner Star re-emerges as he takes on a new protégé named Joe Fenton.

2003 – Gunner Star rescues a young thirteen year-old girl from a group of would-be rapists and begins to train her in the ways of the Bull Mongoni. That girl is Caitlin Star.




2004 – Joe Fenton publishes the book, “The Sacred Scrolls of Tarmok”. It is the first time knowledge of the Bull Mongoni has been made public. The book becomes an instant sensation and soon there is world-wide movement of Bull Mongoni disciples.

2005 - Gunner Star begins recruiting and training an elite band of warriors to build an underground army for the dark days of revolution that lay ahead.

2012 – A new recruit arrives at Gunner’s Lair and is to be trained by Caitlin. His name is Tyrone Fulton.

2016 – The escalating culture wars result in the rigged election of a President Perkins and his new Moral Authority. Soon, any talk of an earth older than 6000 years is a felony and the bodies of all women of reproductive age are declared property of the state.



2018 – Perkins dissolves the Supreme Court and declares all of North America under the Moral Authority rule. Led by Caitlin Star and the Bull Mongoni, revolution begins!


2020 -2021 — World War III apocalypse event.