The LEGO Ninjago Movie

The_Lego_Ninjago_Movie.jpgAs we all know, I’m a self-professed Lego fanboy. I’m also involved with an RLUG (an official club recognized by Lego, with some access to certain perks), and got an invite to see all three Lego franchise films before they were open to the general public. I reviewed The LEGO Movie and The LEGO Batman Movie over on my other site, Novel Ninja. I’m sticking this one up here because, well, I can’t exactly ignore the CG fanbase, now can I?

Unlike the others, though, it’s pretty short and to the point. The LEGO Movie was an excellent film about Lego figures in a Lego world that worked according to Lego rules (unlike pretty much every bit of Lego-brand films I’d seen before then, where it didn’t really matter if the characters were Lego or not). It was a great, well-constructed film that blended reality and fantasy to the point where you effectively had a parallel world going on.

If you find that confusing, you didn’t watch the movie. Go fix that. This review will be here. You have more important things to do.

Next, The LEGO Batman Movie. I was almost as skeptical about that one as I had been about The LEGO Movie, but for a more prosaic reason: historically, films centered on a humorous secondary character tend to flop; if not in the box office, then in reviews. But Batman was great. Not as good as the first, but still great. Still also in the mode of a world of Lego with Lego characters and Lego rules.

Now we have The LEGO Ninjago Movie. Now, I’ve never actually paid attention to the Ninjago franchise. I have a grand total of one set from that line, the Temple of Airjitzu. It’s an excellent set, and I have it on display in my house.

Lego Temple of Airjitsu.jpg

And that’s the extent of my knowledge, at least prior to watching this movie. I don’t know if it follows the same storyline or if it is something on its own. I might fix that sometime, but Ninjago as a theme still doesn’t interest me. Mechs and ninjas are a weird combination to me.

The film itself wasn’t nearly as strong in terms of the formula of Lego characters in a Lego world with Lego rules. There was plenty of that (and a heavy amount of real-world-wall-breaking), but the characters themselves didn’t build to solve problems like in the other two films, except with one notable exception. So it was a Lego movie, but it wasn’t much of a Lego story.

That said, it was a fun movie. It’s hilarious, in fact, if you go into it with at least a passing familiarity with martial arts films and their associated tropes. In fact, I immediately started referring to it (in loving terms, I assure you) as The LEGO Weebo Movie.

This next part contains SPOILERS. Mild, but still there.

Other than the lack of a truly Lego-focused storyline, there’s one major flaw that I didn’t like, and it’s a stylistic one. There was a lot of debate with the first movie about whether or not it was taking place in a kid’s imagination. In this movie, there is no question. Sadly, to me, that ruins a lot of it. Like Tolkien, I have a bit of distaste for stories where the main character wakes up at the end and sees it was all a dream.

But while it’s far from a true successor to the first two films (especially that first one), it’s still a great show. Take your kids to it, whether they be adults or children. Have fun, and enjoy the genre jokes.

And remember, Lego is good for you!

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Dragon Award Bundle

The Dragon Awards are still open.

To vote now, go to the Dragon Awards website, register to vote, and your ballot will end up in your email. Feel free to vote for me, while I’m there.


To celebrate the Dragon Award nominations, a group of friends and I have put together deals, most of them running the length of August.

These Deals include

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Writing for Astounding Frontiers #1

At least one review of Astounding Frontiers #1: Give Us Ten Minutes, And We’ll Give You a World, has noticed that I stole elements of my short, “According to Culture,” from a historical incident. This shouldn’t surprise anyone, I’m a historian.

As Jeffro Johnson, leader of the Pulp Revolution, noted, there are elements of the film Taken in there. It should shock no one, but the Taken element was the #1 thing I thought of when I sat down to write my short story. After all, how do you do Pulp, aside from action, and insane goodness? Kidnapping is an easy way to do it. The very nature of the crimes comes with an automatic clock, and if there’s one thing I learned growing up with Jack Bauer, is that a ticking clock makes everything better. Though I guess I could have killed someone’s puppy.

One of the first characters I had created in my writing career was Sean Patrick Ryan. For the lack of a better term, he is a space ranger. There’s a lot of background to my Rangers, but the short version is that they are much like those of Texas: their jurisdiction is wherever they are.

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The Catholic Geek Radio Show: War of the Dragons 08/13

The Catholic Geek: War of the Dragons 08/13 by We Built That Network | Books Podcasts:



The August 13th podcast will be live at 7:00PM Eastern and include eight Dragon Award nominated authors for 2017, including
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Why Vatican Ninjas?


I think the first time I came up with the concept of Vatican ninjas was as a joke during a Dan Brown review. The protagonist stated that he, personally, knew the current pope, and therefore he was certain that the Catholic church couldn’t be behind the plot of The Da Vinci Code, because “the Church didn’t do such things anymore.”

My response was: “Anymore? You mean, the church used to have Ninjas? I WANT MY VATICAN NINJAS.”

And thus, a running joke was born, and, like everything else in my writing worlds, it quickly spiraled out of control.

When I bounced the concept of Vatican Ninjas off of a Catholic Facebook group as a force for fighting the legions of darkness, the first, almost reflex question by a lot of the group was: “Why does the Vatican have to fight the forces of darkness?”

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Bricktonshire at BrickFair

I just got through with BrickFair VA 2017, which was fun as always. I didn’t have much time to go enjoy other displays, though, so I didn’t get a lot of picture-taking done. The last time I had all the photos I wanted to get was in 2015, and even then I was at the convention until the doors closed at 2am Sunday morning. I was very tired when I came back for the last day only a few hours later!

What’s BrickFair? I described it in my article on why Lego is awesome, but here’s the gist. It’s an art convention built around one medium, namely the same plastic bricks you find in the toy aisle at your local department store. The creativity, ingenuity, artistry, and storytelling capabilities of both that humble brick and the people who build with it are staggering. I’m one of the volunteers who run one of the largest Lego conventions in the world, namely BrickFair Virginia, which just finished its 10th anniversary show yesterday. My section is Castle, which includes medieval and fantasy displays.

Lego Bricktonshire 2015  1

This was my display two years ago, and I put a picture of it in the above-linked article, promising further looks at it in the future as I expanded the display. Well, Catholic Geeks fans, I keep my promises.

Bricktonshire 2017 (1)

This is Brickton in Bricktonshire, a small town in a medieval England that never was. This town has the occasional monster, ghost, assassin, wizard, anachronistic playwright, and time-traveling police box.

This display was a rush. I had pretty much the same thing last year; the only true difference is the terrain. Even that was below what I wanted, and the only reason I got it done in time for the show was through the kind assistance of two young ladies named Annika and Kat. Additional assistance posing minifigures came from Cat, also known as Intern #1 over at Novel Ninja.

But last year was even more of a rush, and I never got detailed photos for the CG audience, so here I am and here you go. In fact, I’ve got video for you (if you don’t mind the occasional autofocus issue). And for all of you who haven’t seen it in person or looked at my Facebook feed, there’s a surprise at the end!

Yes, that last bit is a small detail that took a lot of effort. But someone came along who appreciated it in a rather gratifying manner (and appropriately dressed, as well!).

Bricktonshire 2017 TARDIS dress

Rather than subject you to a long article with inane and potentially self-aggrandizing commentary on each and every photo, here’s a slideshow of the display.

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Hopefully, next year I’ll be up to what I had planned for this year. I immediately started drawing up a new plan based on ideas I’d had this year as well as problems I’d encountered. Here’s a sneak peek . . . and yes, it’s on the back of an IHOP placemat. Hey, we got peckish after it was all over!

Bricktonshire 2018 plan 1

What’s that? You can’t read my handwriting? That’s because you can’t read Brickian runes. 😉

Eventually, I want this display to expand to show the countryside, and actually show the “shire” part of Bricktonshire. My upper limit will likely be based less on cost and more on how long it takes me to construct it at the con, and how much room I have in my car.

I hope you enjoyed that look, and perhaps I’ll have an update or two before BrickFair 2018!

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The Epic Conclusion to the Dragon Award Nominated series

Live and Let Bite is the second book of the Love at First Bite Series to be nominated for a Dragon Award.

Yes, when half of my quartet is nominated for an award, it’s “the award nominated series.”

So what does this Dragon Award nomination mean?

It means business as usual.

Book four, Good to the Last Drop, is almost here.

Yes, it’s the last book. Marco and Amanda are going to have one last ride, and when I say that the armies of darkness are coming for them, I’m not exaggerating.

Of course, you know what it means when it’s the end of a series, don’t you?

That’s right! It’s time to up the body count!

For the Whedon fans out there, let’s just say that it’s time to …. Wash the cast.

The final war is about to begin, in this conclusion to the Dragon Award Nominated series

Merle Kraft, Marco Catalano and Amanda Colt have battled against the mythical Council, a supernatural conspiracy that monsters fear. This war has brought them up against vampires, minions, and demons from Hell.. Along the way, they have accumulated allies among the police, the military, the mafia, college students, lowly street gangs, and even other vampires.

Marco and Amanda have overcome their biggest terror — their passion for each other.

But now, they face the final threat, one that is the culmination of every threat before them. This creature from Hell has powers beyond anything they’ve ever seen before, and has allies of his own: including SpecOps minions, an army of vampires, and packs of werewolves.

And that was before Marco got bit.


This ending is going to be epic.

Pre order TODAY

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