Sponsor A Foster Child This Christmas with J.E.F.F.

Over the last few weeks, I illustrated and designed a flyer for an event the Murrieta Chamber of Commerce is putting on in association with Rancho Domacitas Family and Children’s Services Center and Senator Jeff Stone. Rancho Damacitas is a foster care facility located in Temecula, California that provides care for children who were abused and neglected, nurturing and empowering them through life-enriching programs to become self-sufficient, well-educated, healthy young adults.

The event kicked off this past week with the erection of a Christmas tree at the Chamber office with several ornaments listing gifts the kids at Rancho Damacitas have asked for this Christmas. Businesses and individuals alike are encouraged to choose one of the ornaments from the tree at the Murrieta Chamber office (located at 25125 Madison Ave., Suite 108, Murrieta, Ca 92562) and return the unwrapped gift to the office by December 16th, 2015. In addition, there will be an appreciation luncheon with Senator Jeff Stone on December 17th for all of the tremendous sponsors. Check Out the Flyer

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Memoirs of Keladrayia NOW AVAILABLE

Official Book Cover for Memoirs of Keladrayia: Jaxxa Rakala (Release Date: June 23, 2015)

Memoirs of Keladrayia: Jaxxa Rakala has arrived!

Book 2 in the riveting Jaxxa Rakala Saga (check out book 1) takes you on an emotional ride of self-discovery, as all of your favorite characters look deep within themselves to discover who they truly are while continuing their quest to find answers about Stacey’s abduction. Learn More

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Movie Mayhem – The Good Dinosaur

Over the years, I’ve learned never to underestimate John Lasseter and his team at Pixar. Before the fledgling studio became the phenomenon it is, I remember seeing the trailer for a movie like Finding Nemo, Monsters Inc. or Cars and beeing underwhelmed, only to have my mind blown upon seeing the film. Has every Pixar outing been excellent? I’m afraid not; have they all been high-quality pieces of art that raise the bar for everyone else? Yes, and I respect Pixar much more for that, as even their poorest work far exceeds the majority of films churned out by other studios. The reason for this quality-infused renaissance stems from the the integrity of Pixar as a company; they won’t simply release a movie because it’s on the schedule, or because they need to get something out to help their bottom line. The men and women at Pixar (most notably Lasseter, who was also integral in bringing Disney Animation back from the brink of death) take pride in their work and won’t let mediocre slip by because of some arbitrary deadline. No more prevalent is this than with The Good Dinosaur, a film originally scheduled for the summer of 2014, but held back because they knew it wasn’t ready. How much this delay affected the film’s overall story, production and idea, I’m not sure, but if the film benefited from this postponement, I have to say, they may have wanted to keep the film in the oven just a wee bit longer. Read Full Review

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Star Wars: The Anticipation Awakens

At one point in my 2012 film, Secrets of the Desert Nymph, one of the characters encourages his best friend to go after the girl of his dreams before it’s too late. When his friend finally agrees, he’s boggled by the idea that he do it right that minute.

The exchange:

“You mean now?”

“No. When episode seven hits theaters.”

Of course, this was when it was a well-known fact that George Lucas wasn’t ever going to release another Star Wars film. The joke was meant to mean if he didn’t do it right that minute, he never would.

Cut to one year later and the announcement that Disney bought Lucasfilm and its entire film library for $4 billion dollars. Disney’s second announcement — Episode 7 was coming, and it was coming fast. And even though it makes the joke in a three-year-old movie seem as dated as the fight over Beta and VHS, I couldn’t be more excited. Find Out More

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Movie Mayhem – The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 2

In my review of The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1, I postulated that the movie was a set up for what would “more than likely… be a killer finale.” Knowing what I knew from the novels, Part 2 of this final chapter to the Hunger Games series would follow the girl on fire, Katniss Everdeen (Jennifer Lawrence), as she led her band of merry followers into the Capitol to take down President Snow (Donald Sutherland) and end his tyrannical reign once and for all. The set-up would have you believe we were in for an explosion of excitement, heartbreak and rousing fanfare. What we end up getting with The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 2, though, seemed much too cold, calculated and unemotional. Read Full Review

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Movie Mayhem – Love the Coopers

I’m a sucker for Christmas movies. I’m not sure why, but broken families coming together and putting away their differences to help one another work through their issues during a time of love and wonder just hits me the right way. Hans Gruber once said, “It’s Christmas, Theo. It’s a time of miracles.” But the season itself isn’t always necessary for the plot — a lot of the time, the holiday is simply used as a plot device to bring together several characters who would normally have no other reason to get together and showcases each one in varied storylines that coalesce nicely by the end. There are many elements that go into cooking up a familiar, yet inspirational Christmas tale, and it’s obvious when one is missing. With Love the Coopers, what gets ignored is one of the most necessary ingredients for keeping the movie from becoming a stale fruitcake — love. Read Full Review

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Have Yourself A Merry Sci-Fi Christmas

That’s right, Christmas is once again peering its red and green eyes around the corner, and everyone’s gearing up to blow the doors off of Black Friday, Cyber Monday and the three weeks between Thanksgiving and the giving holiday (well, those who celebrate it, at least). The question now is, what do you get that sci-fi lover in your life? I mean, it’s so hard to find anything in the realm of science fict… oh, who am I kidding. Let’s be real. It’s not hard to find a gift for the nerdy geek — what’s hard is choosing from the plethora of plethora of science fiction items out there.

Well, rest assured, I am here to help. As a science fiction fan (and sometimes nerd, sometimes geek and all out Star Wars fanatic), I scrounged the Internet to compile a list of five terrific gifts any true sci-fi nerd would love. I should know. I want all of these. Check Out My Gift Ideas

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Movie Mayhem – The Peanuts Movie / Spectre

Two long-running franchises released new chapters to their repertoires this weekend to varying degrees of success. And I’m not talking box office dollars (both did quite well for themselves); I’m talking creative ingenuity. With franchises that have spanned the course of several decades, it’s sometimes hard to find new and exciting ways to produce what amounts to basically the same thing. On occasion, a well-done facelift is in order to help make the old feel new again. But this type of change can be a slippery slope — if you don’t go far enough, people will look at it with a high degree of boredom; go to far and people will reject it because it doesn’t feel the same, or it goes against what they remember. Both The Peanuts Movie and Spectre understand this well enough and stay relatively true to their source material while at the same time, updating their characters for the newer generations. But how well do these new iterations actually work? Read Full Review

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Improv To Improve: How to Fix Saturday Night Live

Last night’s Saturday Night Live episode with host Donald Trump was the nail in the coffin of an NBC staple. For an episode that was clearly being used as nothing more than a grab for ratings, it did a piss-poor job of attempting to secure those fresh, new eyeballs for future episodes. The show as a whole was stale, boring and insipid — even the pre-taped bits felt labored and uninspired. When the only genuine laughs of the night come from Drunk Uncle, there’s clearly something wrong. And I’m not blaming Trump for this fiasco either; the show has been on life-support for several years now, without showing any signs of returning to what made it great in the first place.

But there’s hope. If Lorne Michaels truly wants to bring people back to Saturday Night Live without looking like some corporate shill who’s lost touch with anything that doesn’t highlight the dollar signs in his eyes, he needs to throw the political correctness rulebook out the window and follow these three simple steps that will go a long way in fixing the show’s current problems. Fix SNL!

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Movie Mayhem – Burnt

There’s a scene in Bradley Cooper’s new film, Burnt, when it felt I was watching Gordon Ramsey filet his team of chefs with a bevy of expletives as part of Hell’s Kitchen. On his first night in his new restaurant, Adam Jones (Cooper) spews anger like it was water from a hose. When dinner service is over, the chiding continues and nobody is safe, though his tirade is focused, of course, on the most prominent characters (you know, the main cast) for mistakes they made during dinner. But in the high intensity world of fine dining, the best chefs (like Ramsey, or Wolfgang Puck) are the most aggressive. Not because they think their underlings are out to hurt them, or because they think they aren’t up to the task; quite the opposite. Master chefs hate to see great talent wasted, so when they see someone they know is capable of being a rock star in the kitchen fail to live up to their potential (and their own standards), they lash out — not to hurt, but to motivate. It doesn’t just happen in the kitchen, either. To achieve greatness, sometimes you have to be pushed; sometimes you have to be torn down; sometimes you have to get burnt. Read Full Review

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Creating Your Writing Ritual – How To Get Your Creative Juices Flowing

Life is full of rituals. It can be a simple morning routine — a shower, a cup of coffee and a half hour of exercise — to get you going after you wake up, or a very specific act that has to happen before you can accomplishing something, like double-checking all the doors are locked before going to bed at night. Whatever it is, you can’t help it; it’s ingrained in your subconscious to help you feel happier, healthier or more secure. I’m sure, as writers, we all have certain rituals we must adhere to in order to find that creative groove and churn out that next great American novel. It doesn’t matter what that ritual might be; everyone has a different personality, so no one ritual will ever be the same. However, if you’re finding it hard to find the time to write, or when you do, you just don’t have the energy to put any words to paper (which most would call writer’s block), here are some things you might add to your current rituals to help get the juices flowing before sitting down to write. Create Your Ritual

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