Dan Shamble, Zombie P.I.: High Midnight Review

Originally published in the Straight Outta Tombstone supernatural western short story collection from Baen Books, The Chambeaux & Deyer Investigations crew are back and heading for a shootout in the Unnatural Quarter at High Midnight.
Does this story deserve to hang its hat next to the rest of the Shamble canon?
Let’s find out!

Consider this your official ***SPOILER ALERT***, gang.

Knowing how much I love this series, this character, and this world, it would take a lot for me to say it doesn’t deserve its place in the overall tapestry.
At this point, Shamble is like Scooby for me, KJA would have to really go off the rails and go in a ridiculous Get A Clue-esque direction to lose my interest.

As the story goes Robin (Deyer, Dan’s business partner) has helped work out the contracts to bring an old west show to the UQ, the main attraction being the ghost of a gunslinger named Deadeye One-Eye.
I’m pretty sure I’ve mentioned before that one of the things that makes this series so much fun is figuring out the rules and just how this world works and, once again, he adds another spoke or two to the wheel.
In Book 2, Unnatural Acts, we find out that there are ways to destroy ghosts.
In this story we find out a whole new way that they can get hurt and die…again!

After a display of his gunslinging abilities, Deadeye One-Eye gives Dan a vague threat about his Great-Great-Umpty-Ump Grandpappy, Dirk Chambeaux.
Says he’ll see Dan at High Midnight and pimps away…only to have gunfire ring out!
The promoter of the event, Mild Bill (the alleged ghost of Wild Bill), gets caught in the crossfire and is fatally shot with ghost bullets, which I know sounds hokey as shit but trust me, it works.
As he dies and fades away, he clues Dan & Co in on ol Dirk in a pretty cool way.
There is another cool world rule for ghosts that I don’t want to spoil, but it was so unexpected and I loved it.

KJA’s style is still colorful, but not overly detailed which makes it easy to devour.
You can tell he loves these characters, the warmth between the mains makes that obvious.
My way to sell this series for quite a while now has been to say that it’s like The Rockford Files meets the Universal Monsters, but the more accurate description would be The Rockford Files meets The Munsters with a pinch of The Addams Family.
It also helps scratch a long lasting itch I’ve had for some solid supernatural Western action.
It’s full of so much wacky fun, it’s punny, it’s clever, and there’s just not enough Dan Shamble in the world to satisfy my insatiable hunger.

I’m damn skippy this will be in the new Dan Shamble short story collection KJA has said is coming this fall.
If this is any indication of the quality of the other DSZPI shorts he’s written lately, we are in for some great shit when it drops.


Star Wars: Kenobi Review

Since it was published, this book was proclaimed to be one of the best books of the EU.
Written by one of my favorite Star Wars authors, focusing on one of my favorite Star Wars characters, can it live up to that hype and my own personal expectations?
Patience, my very young Apprentice.
We’re about to find out.

As per usual, this is your official ***SPOILER WARNING***

I didn’t know too much about this going in, just that it was set almost immediately after Ep III and showed Obi-Wan settling into his new reality as a guardian of the future, of hope.
And that is definitely here, Obi-Wan has the weight of the entire galaxy on his shoulders, and at times it’s pitiable.
The moments of torment as he laments his former life make him even more sympathetic.
The working in of the alien accountant that was *Jabba* in the 1977 Marvel adaptation of the movie is perfect.
But there are 2 things I didn’t expect.
1. I didn’t expect Obi-Wan to almost be a background character.
2. I didn’t expect the arc of A’Yark (I’ll have more on this in a bit, hang tight).

Concerning the 1st point, I have read John Jackson Miller and others talk about why we really only see Obi-Wan from everybody else’s perspective, and I have to say it really annoyed me at 1st.
But the longer it goes, the better it works.
Seeing everybody else try to crack this nut is far more effective in maintaining mystery and looking at an iconic character than just jumping into his head.
It makes things more challenging for the writer and the audience, which in the end I dug.
I do love the 1 sided meditation conversations with Qui-Gon as an insight into Kenobi’s thought process, but more importantly I just love seeing the training Yoda set out for him in the closing moments of Revenge Of The Sith.

As for the 2nd unexpected point, A’Yark is a Tusken leader that we spend a surprising amount of time with.
Probably like most people, I went into this thinking that Tuskens were animalistic savages driven by rage and some unknown destructive need.
We go into the head of A’Yark and see something far more fascinating, a deep seeded superstition based on Tatooine’s twin suns.
We see some actual critical thinking, instead of base urge.
We learn about the history of the wrappings and look of Tuskens.
It’s great seeing how they’re treated vs how they really are, and learning how them and their attacks have effected and molded this community.

The worst part of this book is that it was a victim of the great EU Purge.
As seen above, JJM was walking between worlds, he was clearly tying all of his Star Wars works together.
But mentions of Duchess Satine and their relationship, which is official Canon, are examples of great moments of connectivity the Canon is currently missing.
Maybe if they do a Obi-Wan movie they’ll retread this territory (why would you do that!?), but stories like this, that could fit so well into the tapestry of the singular cohesive story, are now slightly depressing to read.

Overall, I love this book.
Maybe I’m easy to please, but there is so much to love.
If you want more insight into this legend of Lucas, read this book and hold out hope something like this comes around again and Miller gets to work on it.

Star Wars: Ahsoka Review

She started as one of the most hated characters in Star Wars history.
After 5 and a half seasons of superb animation, she had become one of the most beloved characters in the entire franchise.
This untold tale of Ahsoka Tano in the fallout of Order 66 feels like it probably would have been a key part in the final Season of The Clone Wars, but the main questions are does this book do that spectacular series and character justice?

Heads up gang this is your official ***SPOILER WARNING***

No need for suspense, hell yeah it does!
The worst thing I can say about this book is the same thing we constantly said during Series 1 of The NerdBlitz Book Club, “Fuck, I wish this was animated!”.
Yes, it’s that damn good.

The plot is fairly simple, a year after Order 66, Ahsoka has abandoned her lightsabers and gone on the run from the Empire.
Moonlighting on an Outer Rim planet as a mechanic, she’s gotten pretty comfortable…until the Empire comes acallin’!
She steals a ship from the family that embraced her and heads for a moon so she doesn’t get discovered and cause even more havoc for innocents.

Tonally, this story really represents where it falls in the canon.
It’s somewhere between The Clone Wars and Rebels.
By that I mean it has darkness like the former, but not to the extent of the Maul arcs, and it is lighthearted like the latter, but not nearly as light as some of the chipper moments from Season 1.
E.K. has one hell of a balancing act here, too far one way or the other and you risk alienating a group of potential readership, but she hits the sweet spot.

Some of the things I truly love about this book are ties to the series that gave us Ahsoka and the series that brought her back to us.
One of the interstitial scenes actually takes us inside of Anakin’s mind on Christophsis, moments before Ahsoka entered his life.
A bit more light is shed on the process of bleeding lightsaber crystals to turn them red for Sith and their underlings.
We find out the fate of a planet from TCW, Ilum, that hundreds of generations of Jedi travel to to retrieve the kyber crystals for their lightsabers.
We meet another Inquisitor, The Sixth Brother.
We find out how she gets involved with the Rebellion, how and why she takes up the name Fulcrum, and most importantly we see her grow and gain her footing for the 1st time in her post-Jedi life.
All the moments we need to know about in her life are covered for sure.

Seeing the Empire come in and squash a moon under their collective boot, completely take over, and knowingly drain a planet of it’s resources to the point that the people who live there are better off just leaving helps paint the picture of how oppressive the Empire has become in such a short period as well.
That there is probably the thing I like best overall about this book, seeing those early days after Sidious took power.
It’s a time period that is sadly unexplored, and I fear it will be some time before we get more set in this era.

It really is a well written book that makes me hope E.K. gets another shot to play in the Star Wars sandbox, she hits the feeling of every era.
She plays well with all of the characters, including a cameo of a certain Prequel Jedi that I want more canon stories about.
If you like either of the big animated shows, read this.
If you want more Ahsoka stories, read this!
If you just want a good Star Wars story, read this damn book!

Dan Shamble, Zombie P.I.: Tastes Like Chicken Review

The Unnatural Quarter was changing, that was certain.
But the more it changed, the more it stayed the same.
I don’t think I’d have it any other way.

Those are the last 3 sentences of this book, and they ring true for this universe in a big bad way.

Let’s get this out of the way at the top, this is gonna be a suckfest.
I’m not quite sure if I mean in the Vampire sense or…anywhooo…uh, where was I?
Oh yeah!
My love for this series, these characters, and this world has been made crystal clear over the last 13 months and 4 days (yes, I keep track and looked) that it has taken me to read all 6 books and the comic.
I have not hated a single installment in the tales of Dan, Robin, Sheyenne, and McGoo that I’ve gotten my hands on.
I’ll even go a step further and say that at this point I’m damn skippy this is my favorite book series I have read.
It is that damn GOOD!

This is your official ***SPOILER WARNING*** as we dive in deep on this newest chapter in the adventures of Dan and Co.

The action starts early as Dan and McGoo are chasing down a murderous demon from the 5th pit of hell, and though that sounds like a world ending plot, this book reigns it in after the cataclysmic story that was Slimy Underbelly.
This is a more personal outing, a true buddy cop story, of 2 friends forced into fatherhood.

Sheyenne swoops in with a demon busting spell from a flyer and all seems well in the UQ…except for those damn feral chickens and Vamps starting to go apeshit after drinking overpriced, high sugar, extra foam, triple shot, hoity toity blood lattes and the like.
Not long after busting the demon, the plot thread I was hoping in my Slimy Underbelly review would be picked up in this book is reintroduced.
McGoo’s ex-wife, Rhonda, calls and tells him to get to the bus stop just as Spooky calls and tells Dan the same woman called the Chambeaux & Deyer offices with a similar message.

And this is when we start unburying the heart of this particular book.
Dan throughout the series has shown how much he loves and cares for Robin and Spooky, but this little Vampire girl, Alvina, that is forced on him and McGoo by Rhonda (who Dan had a short affair with after the split), is different.
The love we see Dan, McGoo, Spooky, and Robin shower this poor little girl with is something new for the series.
It adds a whole new dimension that I never would have thought to ask for, but I’m glad we got.
And she isn’t the pain in the ass little brat that a once great TV show brings in to try and rebound after the ratings have dipped a bit too low.
She comes off cutesy, but confident.
Smart, but not in a way that suddenly diminishes everybody else to drooling idiots that can’t do anything without her.
And it’s not out of the blue, as I said, the groundwork was laid last book for this to happen.

Alvina is a social media/blog/brand obsessed girl sharing her experiences as a young Vampire stuck in puberty who may be Dan or McGoo’s daughter.
They aren’t sure whose kid she biologically is and, since she was turned DNA tests are now unreliable, they probably never will.
This is another one of the things I love about this series, learning and trying to figure out the rules of it.
I wonder how well KJA has thought this series and its rules out?
To use a TV term, if he has a series bible for it?
Either way, it is damn impressive.

When a nefarious and bloody plot against Unnaturals puts Alvina in a coma, shit gets real for Dan and co.
From that point on, Robin and Spooky sort of take a back seat to these 2 Dads trying to save their girl.
It works so well.

Sadly, the one thing all of KJA’s books seem to have in common is that they go by far too quickly.
Like Hair Raising (book 3 in the DSZPI Series, for those keeping track) I finished this in 4 days.
In my experience, he writes short, easy to read, potato chip like chapters that make you think “well, maybe just one more” until you’re sitting there with an empty bag (or a finished book) hating yourself for being a hog and not making the goodness last.

Trust me, gang, there is far more to this book that I haven’t even touched on yet, but I feel like I’ve rambled and slobbered enough, and I don’t want to spoil it all for you.
I can’t say for certain if this is my favorite book in the series or not, but it is battling hard and holding its own in the fight.
I implore you all to give this series a chance, buy one or more of the books, because money talks and I want many many more full length stories with these characters.
Until next time, thanks for reading.

The Last Jedi: Harsh Critic Rebuttals – Pt. 3

luke-skywalker-the-last-jedi-919965Welcome back gang. This will be the 3rd and thankfully final part of my rebuttal to Mr. Flick Flack Film’s especially harsh criticism of The Last Jedi.

As always we pick up where we left off last time, and here is a link to the original video https://youtu.be/C6fDPKNPqGM





Does Luke turn evil? No.

Of course not. If Luke turned evil it would completely negate the original trilogy. It would’ve rendered his hero’s journey meaningless. The entire point of his story arc in the OT was to learn from his father’s mistakes. He faced the greatest test he could EVER face when he stood toe to toe with the Emperor. And he passed that test. He refused not only to turn to the dark side but to fight at all, effectively forfeiting his life until Anakin’s turn back to the light saved him.

To make up some scenario in which Luke could ever be truly tempted to go dark after that is not only a betrayal of his character’s history but way more insulting to fans of the saga than anything that actually made it to the screen this film.]

Does Luke show how awesome and powerful of a Jedi legend he is? No.

Ok, now you’re just fucking with me.

I’m sorry, tell me again which Jedi before Luke was able to not only astral project himself via the Force all the way across the galaxy but do so for the sole purpose of punking his enemy while literally holding off an entire army?

His final act was the greatest feat of Force ability ever displayed in any Star Wars ANYTHING.

Do we get an awesome epic battle between Luke and Kylo at the end? No. It was just a hallucination of Luke.

Not a hallucination. Force. Projection. Varsity level Jedi power on display.

That ending duel was absolutely brilliant. The tension between the two, Mark Hamill’s  delivery, Adam Driver’s unhinged boiling rage. The whole time I expected Luke to pull the Obi-Wan Kenobi move. When Kylo seemingly delivers the fatal Vader-esque blow and we see Luke still standing, I was confused but relieved. When we get the reveal that Luke never left the island, and the realization dawning on Kylo that he was utterly played, I almost sobbed.

THAT is how to defeat an enemy. Luke stoked Kylo’s rage and managed to secure a victory (albeit hollow) for the Resistance all without ever lifting an actual finger.

Luke has the stupidest death….ever. Why wouldn’t he have actually been there and been killed like Ben Kenobi in  A New Hope

How was he supposed to get there? Carrie Poppins himself all the way from Ach-To to Crait?  He intentionally crashed his X-wing. Not only ditching it but stripping it for components over the years (like for the metal door to his hut). Rey and the Falcon left him behind.

He literally had no way to get there EVEN IF HE WANTED TO. Which he early didn’t.

He says it early and often. I came here to die. I will never go back. Nothing will change my mind.

And nothing does. In a stroke of brilliance, Rian Johnson makes it so Luke can stay true to his pledge of self imposed exile and yet still somehow be the hero of legend that the Resistance needs.

Again the complaints about The Force Awakens all centered on its supposed rehashing of A New Hope. How well would that Ben Kenobi style gone over had the Last Jedi literally recreated it exactly on those salt flats?

Instead Rian Johnson gives a something faintly familiar but delivers it with a completely unexpected twist.

We don’t find out about the crystal around Luke’s neck.

Oh you mean the tiny costume detail that nobody on earth but the hardest core hardcore fans who live on leaked internet spoilers before the movie comes out would notice?

No we didn’t. Big deal.

Sorry it didn’t turn out to be the crystal from Vader’s lightsaber like the internet chatter thought. Which by the way would have been pretty retarded given his lightsaber blew up with the Death Star II.

I still don’t care about Rose or anything about her. Her sister was WAY cooler. Thanks for the useless token Asian character Disney.

Useless token Asian character. I mean she only figured out how to outsmart the First Order’s tracking system, sowed a seed of hope in the hearts of the next generation of rebels, and  destroyed an entire casino city on horseback before going unflinchingly into a losing battle against a foe that had them out-manned and out equipped. But yeah, you’re right, completely useless character. Not sure what purpose she served in the movie at all.

What was with that stupid kiss Rose gave Finn? It was awkward and I didn’t see any romance, it came out of nowhere for me. It was a worse love story than Anakin and Padme.


The scene where Leia used the force after being blasted out of the ship was the stupidest thing I’ve seen in a Star Wars film or any other film for that matter

Hyperbole much?

That scene to me was so powerful. Such a satisfying reveal of Leia’s Force abilities. We’ve spent literally decades wondering if Luke ever got to pass on any of his knowledge to his sister and if she would become as strong in the Force as all the other Skywalkers. This film gives us the answer in a big way without belaboring it.

When that bridge window is blown and she’s sucked out into the vacuum of space, my heart sank and for a minute I thought they had pulled off a huge swerve after having said all along that they weren’t changing anything after Carrie’s death. I thought wow, they’re actually going to shock us all by writing her out of the trilogy right here at the top.

Instead they shocked me is a much better way.

Now, I concede that the way she was filmed, something about the position of her body or the weightless movement or even maybe the lighting itself made the sequence look a little “off” to me, but at no point did I think it was dumb or pointless.

Rose saying, we don’t will by fighting the things we hate but by saving the things we love is total crap and hypocritical of her

By stopping Finn’s sacrifice, she risks killing everyone Finn loved in that fort. 

Sigh. I actually have no real explanation for this one. I truly thought this was the end of Finn’s story. While I would’ve been disappointed at not seeing more of him, it would’ve been a good death.

But at the same time, I was fine with the way it played out. The kiss was a little much though.

Rose is a dick.

That’s a bit harsh. Rose did not want to lose a friend like she just lost her sister. Maybe she realized that winning a single battle any cost is sometimes not worth it, or won’t actually accomplish much in the long run. That maybe there’s a better way. Maybe she decided to trust the Force and let fate decide?

The whole plot of Finn and Rose is useless and could’ve saved a lot of time in the film by cutting it out and not putting in an out of place message about war profiteering and animal abuse 

While at first blush it did feel a little extraneous, after i thought it over and saw the movie a couple more times I realized this little side quest was a lot more important than it seems.

First off, obviously, it’s important because they need the master code breaker in order to get onto Snoke’s ship to defeat their tracking system.

But, more importantly, it’s a necessary part of Finn’s character arc.

Finn starts of this film in a very selfish place. He’s not a coward exactly, but he’s very much into his own survival. He feels an obligation to protect Rey, the one person who he considers a real friend, but aside from that he takes care of one person, himself.

He makes the choice early on when faced with long odds to just run. To save his own ass and make sure Rey doesn’t return to the soon to be massacred fleet.  At this point he’s perfectly fine running from the First Order and pretending they don’t exist. A lot like he was in The Force Awakens until Rey needed rescuing.

Rose stops him from abandoning the fleet and together they come up with a plan to save the day. But it’s not until Finn sees the denizens of Canto Bight, fat and rich off the spoils of this destructive war he’s experienced first hand, and the squalid conditions of everyone else’s lives on a such an applicant world that he begins to see how the war and the First Order especially, is ruining people’s lives.

The animal abuse is tossed in not as a heavy handed PSA like a lot of people are complaining about but as part of a metaphor for the current state of the galaxy. These war profiteers are able to live a life of extravagance built on the backs of a suffering galactic populace. They treat the galaxy no different than they treat the fathiers. They beat and abuse it for their own entertainment.

Then they meet DJ, whose entire purpose in this film is to offer Finn a Ghost of Christmas Future mirror to look in. DJ tells him there’s no difference between the good guys and the bad guys it’s all just machine for making money. Don’t pick a side, just live for yourself and don’t get involved, it’s not worth it.

But Finn is unconvinced, and when DJ betrays them in the end it’s the final straw and right then he knows this guy is full of shit and this is no way to live your life. He goes from self preservationist to a hero who knows there is a right side and a wrong side to the war. And he can’t live the rest of his life not choosing a side or else he’ll be no better than the shitbag that just turned on them.

That is the true point of the Canto Bight subplot. It solidifies Finn’s status as a hero.

Whenever Finn and Rose appear on screen it’s pretty much a free pass to go to the bathroom.

I wouldn’t call it a free pass, but, when ya gotta go ya gotta go.

That scene with Yoda was a little weird and out of place to be completely honest.

Only weird in your mind.

At first it did feel strange, but mostly it was seeing the ESB era Yoda puppet again, and how they made him more solid looking and able to physically interact with the real world environment.

But I got over that pretty quickly and it became one of my favorite scenes in the film.

It was surprising and interesting to realize this was the first time they’d spoken in decades perhaps. It makes sense once you see that Luke has cut himself off from the Force all this time.

And the final lesson that Yoda imparts his a heavy, deep lesson for Luke. It’s necessary guidance for him, in a way Yoda is telling him the same thing that Kylo tells Rey, let the past die. You messed up, but that is part of the game. Students grow beyond their masters and you can teach them only so much before they choose what they will ultimately become. That part you have no control over.

It’s then that Luke realizes he must face this guilt and put it to rest so that he can become what the galaxy needs him to be, what he was always meant to be. The legendary figure he was at the end of Return Of the Jedi.

I was looking forward to seeing what Rey would find out in the hole on the island. But what she found was just weird and didn’t add anything. Or show us anything interesting or dark like it did in the Empire strikes back

It was weird. The first time I saw the movie I didn’t get it first either. But after a little thinking, it was obvious what it meant. She wants more than anything to be shown her parents. It’s why she foolishly allows herself to be baited into the Dark Side’s trap and falls into the hole on the island.  The Dark Side energy under the island calls to her just like it called to Luke from the cave on Dagobah.

And just like in the cave on Dagobah, the Dark Side gives our hero the information they least want to hear. For Luke it was that he would become like Vader (later it also foreshadowed their biological connection)

For Rey it confirmed her worst fear.  She’s alone. The only one she has is herself. There’s no family, there are no parents. She’s on her own.

How can that not be considered dark?  Alone in the galaxy? The hope you’ve held onto your whole life that somewhere out there was a family searching for you, trying to find you, that hope is snuffed out just like that and you’re left with nothing.  That is dark.

Now, whether what the vision showed her or what Kylo convinced her to admit is actually true or just a cruel trick being played by the Dark Side remains to be seen.

The movie makes you feel like a jerk for thinking Holdo, the pink haired lady is evil even though that’s what the film was telling us

You’ve never been misled by a movie before? Where you’re sure someone is up to no good but turns out they were doing the right thing all along?

As an audience we were being shown Holdo’s actions from Poe’s perspective. We didn’t get any more information than he got. So of course, just as Poe was suspicious of her we as the audience were too. And that’s ok, that’s part of the storytelling journey. We’re supposed to feel what the heroes feel. And in this case we did.

The lesson was for Poe, not the audience. We were just along for the ride. This was all part of Poe’s arc in the movie. He began as the brash pilot who thinks the only solution is to blow something up all costs, that running from a fight and living to fight another day is the coward’s way out. But Holdo finally teaches him a lesson that Leia could not. Brains and guile are sometimes more valuable than blaster or an X-wing. Sometimes ensuring survival is the goal of the mission, not victory.

We see that he has learned this lesson at the end of the movie when instead of rushing out to make a last stand next to Luke (who as it turns out didn’t need any help) he can see the bigger picture that there’s more at play than what he sees on the battlefield. He realizes this is a diversion and they’re not supposed to fight to the last man, but escape instead.

He had become a leader.

The film took place over 48 hours when the empire strikes back took place over years.

Empire Strikes Back took place over weeks maybe a month at the absolute max. Not years. Not even close.

It felt like I was stuck in one moment for hours when the ships were chasing each other.

I felt the same the first time I watched the movie. The next time it flew by. I encourage you to give it another look.

The trailers and everything told us this would be dark and a great big new change for the franchise but it wasn’t.

Again with the trailer promises. The trailers promised nothing. They promised Rey and Lule on the island. They promised Snoke in the flesh. That was about. Everything else was a fabrication of fans’ eyes and unrealistic expectations.

This movie’s themes of guilt and loss and failure were all hella dark. Again, just no dark the way you thought it would be.

It ruined everything that made Star wars great.

Like what? That’s a pretty sweeping statement.

It had all the elements that make Star Wars great and added a few more!

I don’t understand this claim at all so I don’t even know how to counter it other than to say nuh-uuuhhh!

Oh and where’s the Knights of Ren? Who cares, they’re not acknowledged.

So what? I’m so sick of hearing people bitch about the Knights of Ren. A totally throwaway line in one movie. Who cares? They’ll get to it. Or not. It doesn’t matter at all to this story and really doesn’t matter to Kylo’s story ultimately either.

Personally I feel like they morphed into Snoke’s guards but if not, meh.

Why did Holdo have to sacrifice herself when it literally could have been anyone else and’ve been more meaningful.

Now THIS is a real conundrum for the filmmakers.

Holdo was clearly created to fill Leia’s place because they knew she would be incapacitated for much of the movie, and also because their plan all along was to make Episode 9 very Leia-centric. (7 was Han’s sendoff, 8 was Luke’s, presumably 9 would be Leia’s). It’s entirely possible that before that was the real plan that they were going to have Leia split Snoke’s ship but then it became oh shit we need Leia for 9, and had to create someone else to do it.

Of course we all know now that Leia will NOT be in 9 so Holdo feels like a complete waste, since they could’ve shifted her into Leia’s position as Resistance Leader full-time following Carrie’s untimely death. Instead they’re kind of left in a lurch.

That is my theory anyway as to why it was Holdo instead of someone else.

As to why she had to do it, again, it goes back to Poe’s journey. He sees what she sacrifices so that they can live. It’s why at the end he calls off the suicide mission against the battering canon. It’s why he looks again for a back way out. These people’s lives now have incredible value to him (not that they didn’t before but…) he’s not willing to throw them away so easily.

Again it helped him mature into a leader. Which the Resistance will need now more than ever going into Episode 9.

Let’s talk about the things I did like.

Wait, there were things you liked?

To be honest, I really struggled to find things I liked at all about this movie.

That’s what I thought.

Mark Hamill was great. In one of his best performance ever. And I liked the relationship between Luke and Ray it was cool to see. Even though Luke is now completely wasted as a character.

Agreed. Mark Hamill gives a fantastic performance, and I found many of his lines utterly heartbreaking. The way he is able to convey Luke’s grief and psychological damage is subtle yet powerful.

Of course I disagree completely that he was wasted as a character, not sure how anyone could make that argument. He basically save the Resistance single handed, but whatevs.

Also, he’ll be back in episode 9 (spoilers)

I liked the flashbacks with Luke almost killing Kylo.

Me too. But I thought this movie wasn’t dark? How does this not qualify? Luke, noble Jedi, literally going to murder a child because he’s afraid he will become a monster. He doesn’t do it, but then by not doing it ends up creating the monster he feared? That’s fucking BIBLICAL DUDE! Come on. Dark AF.

I liked how Rey and Kylo fought the guards. 

I even liked the Porgs even though they’re only there to sell merch.

The gag with Chewie roasting one was worth the blatant cash grab.

The part where Holdo sends the ship into hyperdrive and splits Snoke’s ship, is the coolest and best visual thing I’ve ever seen in a film. The visuals were all just amazing.

In conclusion, I don’t ever want to see this movie again.

That’s a shame. I really seriously do want to encourage people who didn’t like this movie the first time to go back and watch it again, knowing the secrets and twists and more importantly what is NOT in the movie and I think many of you will enjoy it much more the second time.

I don’t think I even want to see Star Wars 9 when it comes out.

Why? Don’t you want to see where it goes now?

This movie….broke me.

Ha ha ha ha ha ha. Oh. Sorry. You were serious.

Well then I’ll be serious. It really bums me out to hear longtime fans toss their fandom in the garbage because they disliked one movie. And not even and entire movie but parts of movie.

I implore people not to be so reactionary. Give The Last Jedi another look. Open your mind, unlearn what you have learned. You might be surprised to find you do actually like it.

And if you don’t, oh well. But don’t give up on the movies that came before, that’s just childish.

And that’s why I hate it.

Now, there’s a lot more that I disliked about this movie

Like what the credits were too long?

And a few more things I did like.

That it was eventually over?

But I want to hear from you guys. Did you hate this movie and if you did why. If you liked this movie please tell me why and please try to counteract some of my points I made in this video. I would love to hear what you think in the comments. 

Thanks for watching, and may the force be with you.

And May the Force continue to be with you. Hopefully someday you’ll come to terms with The Last Jedi and start to appreciate it for the film that it is and not hate it for what it didn’t give you.


Well, thanks for indulging me guys, that’s going to wrap up the first (and probably last, this was exhausting) series of rebuttals to overly harsh critics of The Last Jedi.  Hope you enjoyed, and I’d like to think maybe this will make a few people reconsider their initial reactions to this movie.

Dan Shamble, Zombie P.I.: Working Stiff Review

I hope Kevin J. Anderson won’t be upset about this since he regularly tweets it to 12K+ people (but if he has an issue, I will gladly pull this part out).
But just to start off, you can get a free E copy of this book by signing up for his reading group right here.
It’s a great 1st taste of this series.
On to the review!

Dan Chambeaux is back from the dead and back on the case…all 7 of them.
But how do all of these short stories stack up against the full length novels?
Surprisingly, pretty damn well actually.

We’re about to go balls deep on this, so consider this your official ***SPOILER WARNING***, Gang.
And consider this your ***long winded warning*** as well.

The stories included are Stakeout At The Vampire Circus, Road Kill, Naughty & Nice, Locked Room, The Writing On The Wall, Role Model, Beware Of Dog, in that order.
Since I’ve already reviewed Naughty & Nice (read that right here), so I won’t be talking about that story in this piece.

Stakeout At The Vampire Circus is a pretty fun story that involves a band of klepto goblins ripping off everybody from a cross-dressing fortune teller to a neurotic vampire trapeze artist.
This one feels a lot like an ep of Scooby-Doo, and that alone makes it fun for me.

As I have said before, Road Kill didn’t do much for me because it wasn’t doing what I thought Shamble stories do best, which is balancing storylines.
After reading all of these, I’m not so sure that’s the case as a few of these have single threads and are great slices of Shamble.
In fact, one of my 2 favorite stories in here is, upon reflection, a razor thin story that mostly takes place in 1 room.

Locked Room reminds me a lot of Family Guy’s 150th Episode Brian & Stewie where 2 characters are locked in a vault.
In this story, Dan & Spooky are hired by a Harpy named Esther to test a cemetery vault she is having built to entomb her near death, pain in the ass sister…and make sure she can never escape!
Much like the Family Guy Ep, this story feels ballsy as hell.
Unlike that Ep, KJA does throw to scenes outside of the vault, but mostly just to fully explain why and how they got into this mess.
After a little bit of time locked in, Spooky really starts to panic which gives a tiny peek into her death and afterlife.
Once dead, you’d think fear would be a thing of the past, but obviously not for Sheyenne.
In a longer form this could be a real deep look at these characters…which maybe wouldn’t be great for a comedy book, but would help you better understand them.
The way they break out is rather ingenious too, playing on the vanity of some artists.

I did end up liking Road Kill a bit better the 2nd time around, but it’s still probably the weakest story in this book and of the Shamble series overall.
I’m not sure what it is about that story, but it just doesn’t click with me.
It’s a lot like Guardians Of The Galaxy, I’m really struggling to understand why I don’t love it and it’s bugging me.

The Writing On The Wall is where things get very deliberately popculture heavy, and it’s at this point that the collection really kicks into high gear.
Imagine Elvira gets tired of the public eye and wants folks to just remember her show from back in the day so she goes into seclusion.
Now imagine she died and came back as a ghost with poltergeist powers that were so weak that she had to try to control/possess some dullard Zombies to get a message to the outside world, that’s this story.
By the 3rd page of this story, I had a good idea what was going on.
Zombies all around the Unnatural Quarter have been writing letters in graffiti: “HE”, “LP”, “I’VE”, & “FA”.
Anybody that has watched late night TV knows that’s easy to put together.
Watching Dan’s business partner Robin Deyer fan girl over “Angina, Mistress Of Fright” and again having Spooky confront the meaning of afterlife, but in a different way than in Locked Room, are both highlights here.
More like she did in a bigger way in book 4, as I recall.
If something bigger comes from these books, Sheyenne is gonna be the character to watch.
She’ll definitely be the grounding dramatic force.

Role Model is hands down the best story here, so don’t be surprised if you hear an ep or 2 of The Nerd Blitz Book Club with this as the focus.
I was having flashbacks to Episode 39 the entire time as Dan and McGoo head to a Cosplay Convention to work security.
When a vampiric member of the 501st is staked, they have to chase down the killer and the journey is off and running.
If The Writing On The Wall started the pop culture lovefest, this is the moneyshot.
I know Google is the easy route to go, but I’m damn skippy KJA has a near encyclopedic knowledge of old TV Shows, Movies, and media.
There was an Episode of MONK called “Mr. Monk And The Actor” that was flashing through my mind when reading this that made me love this more than all of the nonstop references.
I’m almost convinced KJA has seen it, but if not…damn!
In the course of the investigation, Dan meets a dude cosplaying as him who is just as great a detective as Dan is…or is he?
KJA’s insight into nerddom and our squabbles about petty shit (canon, superior franchse debates, dumbass minor details) again leads me believe he is one of us, not just been dealing with us for 30+ years.
The ending is exactly how I felt at the end of Archon 41 too.
Going in I was thinking “what a bunch of weirdos” but at the end of the night I was ready for next year, same as Dan.

And finally Beware Of Dog.
This story centers on legendary UQPD Werewolf cop Hairy Harry, a damaged former officer, whose hellhound has been seemingly kidnapped.
At the same time, a giant, ferocious, furry Beast has been damaging property around the Quarter.
Are they connected?
Of course!
Yet another special interest group is introduced in this story, GETA (Gremlins for the Ethical Treatment of Animals), adding another layer of depth and comparison to the real world.
They’ve been breaking in and letting dogs loose from the animal shelter, staging protests outside of the pet clinic, and causing other incidents of havok/annoyance in town.
The obvious comparisons to Clint Eastwood and his assortment of grizzled characters are made, sometimes in subtle ways.
And Hairy Harry hunting down the GETA (not so) Secret Headquarters is kind of thrilling.
The idea that a Shamble series may be in the works makes me desperately want to see this story and that chase on screen!

So, in conclusion, this book/collection is the perfect way to introduce yourself to this universe.
I know now that KJA isn’t obsessive about chronology or continuity with these short stories, they are designed solely to catch your interest and pull you into the books.
And they do just that.
The variety of different types of stories in here flex all of the muscles of this series, and show you just what it can do.
The hints at what could be, the potential for other deeper stories makes it all the more intriguing for me.

Use the link above or (even better) show even greater support by buying it wherever you can, get in on this now, gang.
5 books in less than a year, and I’m still loving it.

Dan Shamble, Zombie P.I.: Slimy Underbelly Review

Including this one, I have read 4 of the 5 novels in this series and 3 of the numerous short stories.
So I feel that I can say without a shadow of a doubt that this is the most batshit crazy story of the franchise thus far, and I mean that in the best possible way.

Just to be safe, consider this your official ***SPOILER WARNING***

As I said in my Naughty & Nice review (read it here), I think Shamble stories work best when multiple storylines are being juggled and, holy hell, does this have a bunch of stories being kept in the air.
This go round, Chambeaux’s cases involve an Ogre whose voice is stolen, a gang of Garden Gnomes getting greedy, an aspiring Supervillain/Junior Mad Scientist (with many patents pending) who gets booted from his sewer based lab space, a Weather Wizard in the middle of a campaign for President of his order, and an Aussie Accented half Elder God making a big splash under the Unnatural Quarter.
Another of my favorite threads is Sheyenne trying to culture Dan up a bit.
McGoo has a story that I have a feeling may pay off in the recently released 5th novel, Tastes Like Chicken, about his Ex-wife and a potential kid.
Lots of plates spinning and I loved every minute of it.

My 1 and only complaint about this book is less of a gripe specific to this story and more a bit of whining about the chronology of the entire series.
Maybe this would be better kept to my upcoming review of Working Stiff, but I really wish Kevin J. Anderson would have a list somewhere that shows specifically where these stories take place.
Because, at one point, Dan references 3 of the 7 Short Stories from Working Stiff, one of which is actually published in the back of my copy…but I didn’t read it before because I wasn’t sure where it fell.
It’s not super important and doesn’t hurt this reading experience a single bit, but it would be nice to know what to read and in which order.
So, if you read this book, and you care about continuity, be sure to read Stakeout At The Vampire Circus, Road Kill, and Naughty & Nice before this.

As I said above, this story is crazy!
The stakes have never been higher in this series, the ending specifically is a weird H.P. Lovecraft plot, mixed with an over the top Doctor Doom world domination story, sprinkled with Shrek, and a dash of Monk.
It’s ballsy as hell!
The way that EVERY SINGLE STORY converges in the sewer for a cultish blood sacrifice is masterful.
I feel I repeat myself a lot when I talk about this series, but KJA’s style is so easy to read.
Most authors, even ones I love, would have made this so fucking convoluted and hard to keep up with that you would almost feel it wasn’t worth it and give up.
But it’s written with just the right about of detail and humor to make it all work perfectly.
Every major character seems to have their moment to shine as well.

More so than the other books in the series, I feel like this one leaves the world in a different place than it started.
Not in a major way, but there are certain side characters that have been around since book 1 that have their worlds ended…but thanks to The Big Uneasy, death isn’t the end anymore.
Again, continuity is important, and I dig that.
Dan also seems to have figured out for sure just what his purpose in the afterlife is.

The more I read of this series the more I desperately want it to be turned into an animated series, man.
I say animated because the make-up budget alone would probably kill the series.
Just the 4 books and 3 Short Stories I’ve read would make for a great 4 Seasons of 10-15 Episodes.
It’s just so damn good, I need to see more from this universe.

That’s that, gang.
I’m struggling to come up with a ranking for all of the stories in this series.
It’s a lot like the MCU in that I really only know which is my least favorite and the rest are battling it out for 1st.
I truly love this series for it’s fun quirkiness.
Please check out this story or any of the others, it’s so worth it.