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Friday, December 2, 2016

CW’S Heroes Vs. FAILiens- How NOT To Do a TV EVENT




The  4-night crossover event between CW’s Superhero shows Supergirl, The Flash, Arrow, and Legends of Tomorrow could have been something epic. Unfortunately, it just turned into an EPIC FAIL due to the inept writers at Berlanti productions who were just out of their league when it came to writing a story on this scale.


Heroes Vs. Aliens as supposed to be an adaptation of 1988’s Invasion! where the alien Dominators fear that Earth will be a spawning ground for a race of metahumans that will be an unbeatable super-race. And to stop the super race they and other alien planets insist that Earth surrender its super heroes. Earth tells the aliens to drop dead and recruits Captain Atom to lead a force to defend the earth.

This would have been an interesting story if Berlanti decided to do something like Oh, introduce Captain Atom…But Berlanti productions ain’t got that kind of budget to give us Nathaniel Adam and his origin with Miss Martian’s CGI and Mon-El eating up the budget over on Supergirl, and the cast of the new Outsiders-I mean Team Arrow on Arrow. So instead of giving us a good heaping helping of story based on DC’s classic source material, they gave us some artificially flavored slop on a plate loosely based on Invasion! And called it Heroes Vs. Aliens. Extra light on the aliens.


After watching the first three episodes of this so-called crossover event I felt like Clara Peller in those old Wendy’s Commercials.


Hey CW, WHERE’S THE ALIENS?


Seriously, I feel ripped off by the CW’s advertising. The ads and promos for Heroes Vs. Aliens promised us lots of heroes and even a Deathstroke return. From those ads and promos I got hyped up expecting to see DC’s heroes busting up bad guys. But all I got was a big bag of NOTHING. After I watched Heroes Vs. Aliens I reminisced about the first and last time I ate Kaboom! cereal as a kid. Kaboom! cereal looks like a taste treat on the box, but tastes like shit when you get it in a bowl with some milk. That’s how disappointed I was with this so-called crossover.



Plain and simple CW just didn’t have the foundation laid to implement this kind of event even with four TV shows. Due to the misstep of putting Supergirl on another earth, the crossover doesn’t have a solid foundation to establish a structure for storytelling. That makes any form a writer wraps around it awkward and uneven. If Supergirl and Flash and Arrow and the Legends had been all on the same earth they might have been able to pull this kind of event off next year with Arrow and the Outsiders, Deathstroke and Superman and J’onn in the mix to give the story the gravity it would need and the Dominators would be seen as a credible threat.

Unfortunately, due to the poor story structure Heroes Vs. Aliens falls apart right from the first episode. Supergirl was just another Supergirl episode with a Flash cameo tacked on the end of it. The Flash episode was just a jumbled hot mess filled with exposition. Heroes meet, spend 20 minutes discussing who will be the leader, train, then get possessed by the dominator mind control and fight…EACH OTHER. Barry and Ollie break the mind control and then Oliver and the non-powered heroes gets teleported to the Dominator ship where I expected to see Ollie and Team Arrow fighting some aliens.


Nope.


Instead of giving us that story, the writers of Arrow stole most of their script from a Batman: The Animated Series episode, and then tacked on an escape after the dream sequence for the Waverider Ex Machina to save them from being annihilated by a fleet of Dominator fighters. 


If that’s not BAD writing I don’t know what is.


And the cherry on top of this shit sundae with extra diharrea sauce is the Legends of Tomorrow episode. In an effort to stop the Dominators the team goes back to the 50’s to kidnap a Dominator. Finally we get some aliens! For about two seconds. But after Steel, heat wave and Vixen take down the alien then the Area 51 guys come and take down the heroes. Then in 2016 we get told the reason for the Dominator invasion is…Barry Allen’s fault.


WTF?


Yeah, I know Barry Allen’s Simp levels are beyond space and time but this plot point is so DUMB it’s beyond logic. So Barry Allen creating Flashpoint ruined the earth’s timelines and now it’s ruined the entire Universe of Berlanti Earth 1. But how would people from the 1950’s find this out from the Dominators when Barry Allen only went back in time about oh, 10 years? If it’s because the legends team went back to the 50’s and Cisco saved the Dominator that’s Seriously a WTF? Moment.


Aware of Barry Allen from a time anomaly that would have Picard on Yesterday’s Enterprise Scratching his head, the G-men want Barry Allen to surrender so they can give him up to the Dominators. Simp Lord of the Universe Barry is about to give himself up until he’s stopped by…Oliver. Then after another big speech, we finally get a big fight between the heroes and some of the aliens in the last couple of minutes of Legends of Tomorrow. Then Firestorm transmutates the Gene bomb, Felicity turns on a device to give the Dominators pain and the aliens flee Independence Day style. Everything ends with a speech from the Earth 1 president and Supergirl able to come back and forth between Berlanti Earth 1 and Berlanti Earth Super and hints of Barry and Ollie in a bar talking about forming up a Justice Leage or a Superfriends.


Good Gravy, what a mess. If Heroes Vs. Aliens could have kept the tone, pace, and action of the last ten minutes of the fight inLegends of Tomorrow throughout the first four hours it could have been a classic. Instead the writing just was a jumbled mess for the first three hours and fifty minutes. I’m just astonished at how shittacularly bad the writing on this so-called crossover is. Heroes Vs. Aliens is like a manual on how NOT to do a time travel storyline. And all the reasons why most Time Travel storylines SUCK.


Seriously, the writing on this so-called crossover event was shit on a plate. From the horrific mishandling of the Cyborg Superman on Supergirl to J’onn’s Cure Ex Machina, to Wild Dog’s opinions of Metas changing in less than five minutes, to Ollie not trusting Kara for no reason, Heroes Vs. Aliens is literally like a compendium of all the crap writing featured in Arrow Season 2.5-4. All four episodes of Heroes Vs. Aliens look, sound and feel like a first draft of a script, not a polished well thought out story arc with fast pacing. Heroes Vs. Aliens just feels slapped together with no sense of story or even a direction. We get told there’s an alien threat by Barry Allen, but we never got any frames of the Dominators to tell us who they are and why they want to invade earth until second half hour of the Legends of Tomorrow episode. On seeing Dominators, Barry just jumps over to Supergirl’s Earth and asks for her help, even though Superman was just introduced a few episodes ago. This would have been a prime event to feature Tyler Hochelin being a total BOSS, but…that’s what a GOOD writer like myself would have done. But instead of giving us Superman and an actual appearance by Deathstroke to show us the severity of the crisis on this earth we get Deathstroke in an Arrow dream sequence.


Damn. Just Damn.


I won’t even go into how Diggle got totally emasculated in a frame of that big epic fight between the Heroes and the Aliens. Even in the face of an epic Battle they find a way to make the Black man look like a bitch.


Fuck You Berlanti. Fuck You.


What makes the Heroes Vs. Aliens Crossover event an EPIC FAIL is that it hyped itself up to be some kind of event and then didn’t deliver on the payoff. Viewers like myself were anticipating a big epic battle between heroes and Aliens that took us to different places in every episode based on what we saw in the promos and in early episodes of Supergirl. But all we got was some of the worst writing to ever grace a Superhero TV series. I had to wonder if Tyler Perry and Akiva Goldsman were writng some of the scripts under a pen name with all the bad dialogue and inconsistent characterizations. Heroes Vs. Aliens should have flowed seamlessly from episode to epsisode moving the story forward with each episode. Instead it stumbled over its own feet to a clumsy finish. The biggest problem with Heroes Vs. Aliens is that the writers tried to write the story around the characters and their storylines instead of just writing a story with the characters in it.


Heroes Vs. Aliens had the potential to be a TV classic. Instead it became a classic example of how NOT to write a crossover event. Heroes vs. Aliens had a nice concept unfortunately the writers just couldn’t execute it. Yeah, Greg Berlanti has the production team to bring DC Characters to life visually, but it’s clear to me that his writing team is just not ready to push the envelope and take the Berlantiverse to the next level. What should have been the TV Version of Marvel Studios’ Avengers wound up as bad as an old Superfriends episode.

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Why Black People Need to Read Spellbound

Monday, November 28, 2016

Brainstorming a new John Haynes Series



Vampires
Demons.
Monsters.
Just another day at the office.

That’s the premise for the new John Haynes series I’m proposing.

Back in The Temptationof John Haynes, John started working for Morris Phillips. And he became the CEO of a corporate Hell filled with demons, vampires, monsters and other assorted creatures of the night. Working stiffs. Dead weight. A company filled with miserable lost souls waiting for the clock to reach five o’clock.


While I’ve spent quite a bit of time focusing on the rivalry between Lucifer and John in stories like TheTemptation of John Haynes and The ManWho Rules The World, I’d love to explore the world of Morris Phillips and all those working stiffs working in that corporate Hell in those nine-to-five jobs in Lucifer’s Legion. We got to meet a few of them like Lilith Graves in Isis: Night of the Vampires and Claudius Johnson and D’lilah Williams in E’steem: Demons Anonymous. But I’d love to expand the cast in John’s world. Rather than make the demons straight bad guys like they are in Isis and E’steem books, I’d love to show some of those lost souls as people who desperately need to be shown an example of Christ. 


John’s a good man trying to make the best of a really bad job. He’s 1.5 years into a three-year contract and while he’s had an impact on the lives of Black people, he needs to start having an impact on the Demon community. Yes he’s helped E’steem and Lilith, but it’s time for him to do more of God’s work among the masses of the night. In spite of all he’s faced John believes that God brought him in to Morris Phillips to do a work, then he’ll leave Morris Phillips in one piece when his work is finished.


As a comic fan John is indifferent by the world of monsters, demons and vampires. And the nonchalant way he sees them intrigues some like E’steem, and scares others like Lilith and Isis. Isis sees demons as monsters, but John sees them as people. And I think it’s time he got to know more of them. Some are scared of John, but others….are drawn to him and want to know what makes him great.

When I was writing Isis: Bride of Dracula I thought about the larger demon community roaming the realms. (Yes, I DEFINITELY want to bring Dracula back!) and I wanted to further explore demon culture in Lucifer’s Legion. Do demons and Vampires coexist? Do they watch TV? What kinds of shows do they watch? What are their favorite foods? What kinds of schools do they go to? Where do they live? Among us? Or in another realm?

So far we’ve seen a lot of the SJS DIRECT Universe through the eyes of the female leads like Isis and E’steem. I believe it’s time we got a look at some of the experiences from a male perspective to balance things out. I’ve been paitient and deliberate in utilizing John’s appearances in Isis and E’steem stories, and I want to make sure he continues to represent a strong, positive example of Black masculinity in media.

The character transformation arc for John hasn’t even started. The John character who readers met in The Temptation of John Haynes is an introvert and a loner. His character progression has moved forward in his appearances in the Isis series and E’steem series and The Man Who Rules TheWorld, but it’s time to begin it in earnest. At the end of John’s character transformation arc he was supposed to be more less of a loner and become a leader connected to people to the people who work at Morris Phillips. Yeah, they’re vampires, demons and monsters, but a Christian is supposed to be a light that everyone sees and salt that changes all those around them with their presence.


A John Haynes series would be another part of my Monster High grown up concept. In between the action and adventure, there would be the humor that made the E’steem series and The Temptation of John Haynes fun reading. The model for the stories I’d use would be to make them short, quick, reads similar to The Man Who Rules The World.


I’ve been roughing out a couple of ideas for John Haynes stories, including expanding Lilith’s backstory, his past relationship with Colleen, and his growing relationships with Isis and E’steem as we get to know more of the staff at Morris Phillips. I have a few new bad guys planned such as succubus inspired by actress Persia White, and continuing the feud between John and Dracula. Vampires are a billion dollar business. Which is one of the reasons why Drac wanted to go after John in Isis: Bride of Dracula. He’s costing him customers!



Yeah, I’ve got a lot on my plate with the Isis series and the E’steem series, but I figure if I do one book a year featuring each character and ship em’ quarterly readers can get an adventure featuring everybody and the SJS DIRECT Universe could expand. Slowly. Very slowly.

Friday, November 25, 2016

STOP SIMPIN IN THE WORKPLACE NOW AVAILABLE ON KINDLE & SMASHWORDS!




What is a Workplace Simp? A Workplace Simp is a man who puts his career at risk trying to win the favor of a female co-worker on the job. In this eBook men will learn why Simpin in the workplace has them working against themselves and prevents them from achieving their personal and professional goals on the job.


Having worked in Job readiness years ago and running into my own obstacles at jobs I had, I wrote STOP SIMPIN in the Workplace so men all over the world could learn what mistakes NOT to make in the workplace when they interacted with women on the job! Readers will learn how to identify female predators in the workplace, what boundaries to set with women on the job, what sexual harassment policy really is, and what workplace Simps to avoid on the job. STOP SIMPIN In The Workplace is essential for any man who is in the workforce or a teenage boy about to enter the workforce!

Get STOP SIMPIN In the Workplace on Kindle or Read for FREE on Smashwords

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Celebrating Four Years of The Isis series in Print!



First book in the Isis series!
This month marks the fourth year the Isis series has been ongoing in print. I can’t believe I’ve written over thirteen books about the goddess next door. And the crazy part is I’m not done yet.  

I originally planned to take Isis in a different direction when I originally started her adventures four years ago. Back in 2012 I planned on following an outline I proposed for a Wonder Woman run of comics I posted on my blog. And that plan was supposed to be just three years or 36 issues of comics. In the last four years I’ve gone far past my plans for revamping Diana Prince for the 21st Century and turned the goddess next door into her own character with her own unique stories.


Isis’ character transformation arc hasn’t even gotten started. While Isis has taken on demons, vampires, stalkers, and Cybergodesses, she’s connected with people all throughout the SJS DIRECT Universe. And with each relationship she’s formed, she’s learned a lot more about the modern world and the problems in it. As she’s gone where she’s needed she’s come to realize that if she wants to help people in the 21st Century has to change her approach from the one she used in the 20th. In the modern Isis series the former college professor is now learning a lessons about life and the people she serves as a goddess.


Four years in I’m just starting to establish the foundation for Isis’ part of the SJS DIRECT Universe. I haven’t even started establishing the world of Isis’ supporting cast or her rogues’ gallery. There’s a lot more people for her to get to know and places for her to explore as she goes where she’s needed. Anyone interested in a Spinsterella guest spot where Isis becomes a Goth Goddess?  


I’ve got a lot of ideas running in my head for Isis series stories. For Isis’ fifth year in print. I’ve got lot of new rogues planned with adventures that take her from Harlem to Translyvania. And I’ve got plans to return existing ones like Raheema Sanders and Dracula in new storylines. And I’ll be expanding her relationships with supporting characters like E’steem, John Haynes, and Colleen Anderson from The Thetas. 


Story model wise I’m still doing things where every book is an entry point and the complete story is told in one volume. However, for one villain I’m planning a build to a larger storyline featuring a big bad in Isis and E’steem series books. That storyline starts in next years’ Isis: Samurai Goddess and continues E’steem: Ascenscion. 


Four years writing Isis I’ve struggled but I’ve made a lot of progress. And there’s a lot I’m proud of. Bill Walko’s awesome covers. A consistent run of solid stories. A continuity that a child could follow easily, and readers all over the world have no problem acccessing. While the publishing schedule for Isis hasn’t been as prolific as I originally wanted it to be, the Isis series has run longer and more regularly than most comics at the Big Two comic publishers the indies, and even some trade publishers. Five years into the characters’ existence I haven’t had to reboot the adventures of the goddess next door.  


I’ve come a long way in four years working on the Isis series. I’ve gone from hand drawn covers to not so great editing to professional covers by Bill Walko and books that are almost error free. I’m hoping to keep raising the bar on the Isis’ so readers who have enjoyed her adventures can feel confident about picking up her adventures and sharing them with new readers.


Thursday, November 17, 2016

Ranting About The 2016 Macbook Pro



Twenty years ago Steve Jobs revolutionized the home computer market with the original Apple iMac and the original iBook. Jobs original desktop and laptop were easy to use computers with a distinct look all their own. Unfortunately after Steve Jobs’ passing a few years ago Apple has become a company without a direction.


Shawn's 2011 Macbook Pro
The 2016 MacBook Pro is so far away from Steve Jobs original vision it’s not funny. The Macbook Pro line was supposed to be a line of laptops for professionals like filmmakers, musicians, video editors, and writers. But the 2016 Macbook Pros don’t even look like Apple computers. Heck, they don’t even look like computers. The new Macbook Pros don’t have SD Ports, USB ports, or things distinct to Macbook Pros like Mag Safe adaptors and light up keyboards. And Instead of industry standard things like function keys ports we get a light up Touch bar and a bunch of Thunderbolt 3 ports you have to buy $79 adaptors just to hook up a digital camera or a USB Printer or Scanner.


I’m sorry that’s just too complicated. Even for an A+ Certified IT Technician like me who knows PCs and Macs like the back of his hand.


Apple computers used to be EASY to use with all the things you need to start working with them right out of the box. The Macbook Pro I’ve been working with since 2011 had SD card slots so I could take my SD Card right out of my digital camera and upload pictures. USB ports so I could use my PC’s printer and scanner. And a Superdrive so I could watch my DVD movies right on my laptop.


Compared to their predecessors, this new series of Macbook Pro Laptops are almost impossible to understand on the website. Apple talks about connecting laptops to 5K TVs and pushes their new bar, but that’s all jargon to the average customer. If seasoned Mac users like myself are frustrated by all these new features, then a new user would just be overwhelmed by them.


I just find it crazy that I get a headphone jack on a MacBook Pro, but no USB ports to sync an iPhone to or charge it up. Tim Cook is so busy focusing on upselling adapters and secondary market products at Apple stores that he’s killing the market for the actual 2016 Macbook Pro. If a product is TOO HARD TO USE, people simply stop using it. And right now Apple Macbook Pro laptops they look like they’re the biggest pain in the ass to use since Windows ME sixteen years ago.  


When I look at the new 2016 Macbooks and MacBook Pros, they’re trying too hard to be hip and cool. Overthinking form, they’ve sacrificed all the functions most PC and Mac users like myself need in a working laptop. A working writer like myself doesn’t want a laptop with a bunch of fancy gimmicks, I want a computer that’s easy to use right out of the box. Steve Jobs gave us that computer 20 years ago with the iMac and the iBook and it revolutionized the PC marketplace. Tim Cook took that product off the marketplace with the 20l6 Macbook and Macbook Pro and has likely started the decline of Apple as a company.


I don’t know about other Apple users, but I need my function keys. I regularly use my escape key to close out of bros
wer pop ups and I need my function keys to deal with programs and websites stuck in a spinning pinwheel of death.


As a writer I need a laptop that I can use for WORK. And Apple’s new Macbooks are designed for PLAY. Looking like children’s toys these glorified iPads just can’t get the job done for me. As a publisher I need full USB ports, SD card slots and an optical drive to do my work.  


Moreover, as an A+ Certified IT Technichian, I need full USB ports and an optical drive if I need to repair the computer. If If the software crashes on a new 2016 MacBook Pro, there’s no way for me to reinstall it because there’s no optical drive or a USB port to plug one in without that pricey adapter. And with all the parts soldered onto the motherboard there’s no way to replace a part that’s not functioning like bad memory or even replace a bad hard drive. Plain and simple if you don’t have AppleCare, you’re looking at a bill that could cost as much as a new computer.



If Apple made a Macbook Pro with a series of full USB ports, a MagSafe adaptor port an SD Card Slot, and a Blu-Ray drive, so I can watch movies between chapters I’d actually consider picking up another Macbook Pro in the future. I'd defintiely consider one if it had an HDMI Port so I can hook my laptop up to my TV to watch DVDs and Blu-Rays on the big screen. But looking at the 2016 Macbook and Macbook Pro laptops I’m going to have to stop buying Apple products here on in. After Steve Jobs passed away Apple doesn’t make real computers anymore. They make children’s toys posing as computers. 

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Is Donald Trump’s New Deal for the Black Community A RAW DEAL?




During his campaign for the 2016 Presidential Election Donald Trump promised to give the Black community a new deal. Jobs, safe streets, and an alleged new beginning for the blighted urban centers where they’ll finally be cleaned up once and for all. However, this New Deal could just be a raw deal that screws black people over the same way the Welfare state did back in the 1970s and so-called Gentrification did in the 1990s.

Donald Trump is a businessman. And what most Black people don’t understand about business is that no one does anything for free. If someone has to do something for you, they’re going to expect something in return for it. Unfortunately, most Black people are so Spellbound by the attention they’re getting from a rich White man they aren’t asking what price they’ll have to pay for his New Deal.

Every time Black folks make a deal with White people to “fix” their communities they alter the deal and Black folks wind up with a Raw Deal years later. After Democrats established a welfare state that brought crime and drugs turned Black comminities into urban war zones in the 1970s, many Black folks didn’t ask what the price was when Democratic politicians, many of them Black started their so-called Gentrification plans for inner city areas like Harlem and the South Bronx in the 1990s. And that deal cost many residents their homes and their neighborhoods. Yeah, a lot of corporations and wealthy landlords got tax breaks and tax credits at Black people’s expense, but most poor residents got forced out of their homes when those same business owners and landlords started raising their rents to appeal to middle class Whites and nonblacks to turn those blighted urban areas into trendy spots for hipsters and their ilk.

And eighteen years after those business owners got their tax breaks and tax credits from things like Bill Clinton’s Empowerment Zones, businesses like PathMark, Rite Aid, The Body Shop, Krispy Kreme, Hue-Man bookstore and the Chevrolet/Cadillac/Saturn of Harlem that were supposed to improve the quality of life for Black people are now shuttered and the areas are back on their way back to being blighted. At the end of 18 years, they created huge holes in the economic infrastructure of inner city neighborhoods when small businesses were forced out for big chains stores. Big chain stores that left the neighborhood when they went bankrupt, the tax credit money ran out, or when they proved to underperform when compared to other locations in the region.  

The Clinton era Empowerment Zones proved to be nothing more tham tax shelters for White liberals and big business. Yeah, they created low-wage jobs for a handful of residents (If big business could get a tax credit on their salaries) but didn’t improve the quality of life for most inner-city residents long term. Blacks became poorer as nonblack and foreign businesses built wealth with Black dollars and the last vestiges of Black-owned businesses left the community. And outside of most of those foreign-owned businesses in those so-called Gentrified areas of Harlem the same criminal elements such as junkies, prostitutes and drug addicts remained stand outside of those businesses getting high or begging for change.

Is Trump’s New Deal going to be a tax credit haven for big business? Or an actual fresh start for poor Black people in Black communites? And do we really need Donald Trump to give Black people a New deal? When it comes to this New Deal with Trump, are Black people gonna go out like Lando Calrissian on after he made the deal with Darth Vader and the Empire to protect Cloud City?


The way I see it, the power was always there for Black people to do what Trump is promising to do. So was the money. Brownstones in places like Harlem’s Sugar Hill and 125th Street were going for under $20 in the early 1970s and 1980s. I always found it funny how Black folks like bus drivers and postal workers who lived in the projects could find money to pay for brand-new Mercury Cougars, Cadillacs Eldorados, Jeep Cherokees, and Air Jordan sneakers, but could never find the money to invest in Black business or buying up old abandoned brownstones into affordable housing for other Black people. Even with all the money flowing from the Rap game, Pro athletes and even the illegal money from crack cocaine. Why do we need a White man like Donald Trump to give Black people a new deal for the Black community when the Black man could have made his own deal on his own terms?

The resources and tools were always there to rebuild a strong Black community. Unfortunately most Black folks were too busy chasing social currency to create social change in their communities.

Most Black folks don’t understand that when it comes to this New Deal they’re not coming from a position of strength, but a position of weakness. Trump’s new Deal like Bill Clinton’s Empowerment Zones won’t be a deal on our terms, it’ll be a deal on his terms. And when a deal is on Donald Trump and the Government’s terms it’s not going to be a deal to benefit the average Black layperson. Those streets aren’t going to be cleaned up without a cost. Sadly most Spellbound Black folks aren’t asking how much the price is.

When it comes to Trump’s New Deal it’s just the same game with a new political party. Black Pastors, Black politicians and other social and political parasites and scavengers are going to help turn that deal into a Raw deal. And once they alter the deal, most Black folks will be praying they don’t alter the deal any further.

Most Black folks still don’t understand when someone does something for you, they aren’t doing it for your benefit, but their own. And when you ask someone to do something for you that you won’t do for yourself, you are giving away your personal, economic and political power and putting them in control over your life. Black folks need to stop asking the government to do things for them and start doing things for themselves. A lot of this stuff is easier to do than we think.