The Rise of Cobra

snakePerspective: This ain’t your daddy’s G.I. Joe.  For that matter, this probably ain’t your G.I. Joe.  Come to think of it, I’m not sure whose G.I. Joe this is, exactly.  I am an avid G.I. Joe fan; I followed the comics and played with the toys all through the 80’s, never missed an episode of the cartoon, and jumped feet first into the nostalgic revival in 2001.

I’ve been waiting for this movie a long time.

Background: The Hasbro property enjoyed the bulk of its popularity in the 80’s, beginning as a highly successful and still wildly collectible toy line.  The Marvel comic book series soon followed, mostly under the pen of Larry Hama; a half-hour tv series little more than an extended toy advertisement eventually produced an animated film that only fueled the Joe-mania sweeping the country at that time.  After that particular version of the franchise petered out in the early 90’s, Hasbro attempted to revive the property several times with varying degrees of success.

In 2001, Hasbro anticipated a wave of nostalgia and licensed Devil’s Due to produce a new line of comics that would build from the existing Marvel continuity.  Issue #1 hit the stands the week before 9/11.

Although military fiction did not experience quite the revival it might have otherwise expected, the Hasbro property has been in more or less continuous circulation since then.  Devil’s Due lost the license in 2008 and IDW picked it up.  IDW then launched a complete reboot of the property, ignoring the Marvel/Devil’s Due continuity and beginning from the ground up.

The Rise of Cobra isn’t their movie either.

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Continue reading The Rise of Cobra

The God Conspiracy

gc_frontcover_250One e-mail. Five lines. 4,000 dead.  And it is only just beginning…

When a small boy in Iowa forwards a mysterious email from ‘God’ to a small group of friends, he unwittingly releases a trigger that sends blood pouring throughout his farming community.  Thousands more are dead across the country in dozens of simultaneous terror attacks and the government blames fundamentalists who want to trigger the Apocalypse.  FBI Agent Joe Unes reluctantly teams with reclusive Internet radio host Barney Ison (from Sharon K. Gilbert’s The Armageddon Strain) to expose the plot — and discovers that the enemy is not of flesh and blood.

Media Junkie rates it:quill-tinyquill-tinyquill-tiny

The time is near. The great and terrible day of the Lord has come. You are one of the Chosen. Tell no one.
-GOD

Yeah, I’m freaking out too.  Move over Joel Rosenberg, there’s a new quill in the inkwell; The God Conspiracy is Derek Gilbert’s second novel, and first modern day thriller.  Derek and his wife Sharon host P.I.D. Radio, a podcast bringing us news and analysis on demand where they examine political and social headlines and hidden stories from a Biblical perspective.  Gilbert’s knack for bouncing the radar off otherwise overlooked or intentionally concealed agendas really shines through as he cants the landscape we know to a new and terrifying angle that remains far too familiar for comfort.

In the tradition of novelists like Joel Rosenberg and Tom Clancy, Derek Gilbert casts us into an America on lockdown.  Without warning or pattern, ordinary God-fearing people across the nation suddenly erupt into uniform psychosis in a weekend of terror that sends the nation into Threat Level Red.  Abruptly, civil rights become a thing of the past as citizens are seized and silenced with neither probable cause nor due process.  The Shadow Government begins its power play against the most dangerous and diabolical threat our nation has yet faced – conservative, right-wing, middle-America.  Gilbert serves us a threat that hits close to home and a cast that echoes the people we know in a situation beyond their scope of understanding and utterly out of their control.  From the small-town shopkeeper, to the stubborn FBI agent, to the former NFL star, to the Four Nerdsmen of the Apocalypse, the characters of The God Conspiracy rely on their wits, their training, and ultimately their faith to pierce the veil of lies hiding the truth and see beyond the threat against their lives and families to the real supernatural menace hiding just beyond our perceptions.

Gilbert gives us detailed characters and breakneck pacing wrapped up in a tangled plot and dripping with paranoia.  Despite the wealth of characterization, The God Conspiracy is little more than a vehicle for jumpstarting the reader’s own determination to find out the truth about the world in which he lives.  Drawing heavily from the research and information that flows through his news and opinion blog – Weapon of Mass Distraction – Gilbert taps the shoulder of several dozen popular conspiracy theories and drags them screaming into the public arena.  Even as a regular listener to his podcast and irregular participant on the Peering Into Darkness forums, I bookmarked several pages for further research, deleted all the cookies from my internet history, checked my rearview for tails, and put a fresh coat of Brasso ™ on my tin-foil hat.  The reader who does not come away from this novel with more than a few questions about his nation’s direction and the spiritual forces behind the world order has missed the thrust of the novel entirely.

The God Conspiracy is available directly from Gilbert’s blog – Weapon of Mass Distraction – as both a downloadable PDF or as a traditional dead-tree edition.  Both editions are published in partnership with Lulu.com.  Also, readers may purchase a Kindle edtion through Critical Press Amazon for use with the Kindle and many compatible e-book readers, including the iPhone and iPod Touch.  The volume weighs in at a hefty 400 pages, which prices the perfect-bound edition at $24.95, but makes the PDF a steal at only $5.00.  The Kindle version is priced at $7.96, and the dynamic formatting capabilities of the format mean this one is the best value of the bunch.  Whatever your preferred format, the pages fly by with frightening speed.  The God Conspiracy is sure to have you looking over your shoulder and evaluating the durability of your own faith.

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Meatball Chili

Well that didn’t take long.  Here’s to the requests for my almost famous meatball chili:  all things are measured according to how much my slow-cooker holds.

Ingredients – serves 4

  • frozen meatballs – 24
  • healthy slice of red onion
  • 1 can of chili beans
  • 1 can of chopped, stewed tomatoes
  • favorite chili seasonings; I use a combination of paprika, chili powder, and Habanero Seasoning from Hell (TM), occasionally with garlic or jalapenos.
  • the novel you’ve been meaning to read

This really is a no-brainer.  Slice the onion like you’re cutting a pizza and layer the ingredients into your slow-cooker.  Tomatoes first, followed by meatballs, onion, seasonings, and chili beans.   Turn the setting on high, relocate to your favorite easy chair and start reading that novel.

Once you’re about four hours in, just when the mustachioed villain finally takes the heroine captive, take a break.  Dig a wooden spoon out of the big flatware drawer and stir the chili.  At this point, the meatballs should be completely thawed but not quite hot through.  The chili sauce from the beans will have worked it’s way through the seasonings, over the meatballs and into the tomatoes and juice, creating your sauce base.  Is it too thick?  Add water by the 1/4 cup until thin enough.  Too thin?  Add a tablespoon of flour to 1/4 cup of cold water and stir until blended.  Add this to your chili to thicken the sauce.  Stir gently so as not to break apart the meatballs.  Go back to your book.

Just before the hero escapes the villain’s deathtrap, or in another four hours, go back to the kitchen and turn on the oven.  Chili is properly served with cornbread.  No, I’m not going to give you the recipe, it’s right on the back of the box of Jiffy brand corn muffin mix.  If you use anything else, that’s your own fault.  Sometimes I make muffins, sometimes I make a whole cake, and sometimes I just turn on the griddle and fry em up into johnny cakes.  Can’t bear not to tinker with perfect cornbread?  Add a 1/4 cup of shredded cheese, whole kernel cut corn, or sliced jalapenos.  Feel better?  Everything should be hot through by now, serve in crockery, bread boule, or pumpkin tureen.

Don’t fall for the lies some people tell about chili: that it should cover noodles, or be topped with cheese or sour cream.  At the very most some chopped green onions would add a bit of color, as would those jalapenos if you haven’t put them in already.  If you’re out of cornbread I suppose you coud get away with Fritos, tortilla chips, or crackers of some kind, I won’t report you.

Ladle yourself some chili, pour a glass of milk, set some cornbread on your plate and go finish reading that book!