Sunday, July 26, 2015

A Good Old Fashioned Mystery

I love a good mystery. My first thoughts come back to Agatha Christie.  She had a simple formula that as stood the test of time. Still today the basic plan still works.

Someone is murdered. The detective assembles the clues and a cast of potential murders. Motive. Means. Opportunity.  But the clues don't make sense. Everyone has reason and alibis. Suddenly it all makes sense. There is rhyme and reason. Of course, the reader is still in the dark as is everyone else. The suspects are gathered; the clues laid out. Then the detective explain everything. Finally the accusation is made. The murderer fesses up and is arrested. Another mystery solved and bad guy is brought to justice.

Naturally twists abound. In Agatha's Ten Little Indians, one by one suspects are picked off until there are only two. And each suspects the other. Murder on the Orient Express has twelve suspects or was it a stranger? In all she wrote 91 books under her own name and pen names.

I wrote my first novel Penelope and The Birthday Curse in the spirit of a Agatha Christie mystery. A guest at Penelope's birthday is murdered, a snow storm isolates everyone and the adults are clueless who did it. Penelope steps in finding clues and sleuthing.  In the end she puts it together and....well, read the book.

A favorite show of mine is Death in Paradise. The murders take place on the island of St. Marie.  As always there are suspects and clues, but who did. A Detective Inspector from the UK and local police must discover who did it?

Saturday, June 13, 2015

Movie Review: Project Almanac

This is your basic time travel movie. High school friends build a time machine based on one of their father's plans which are found in a secret hiding place. The entire flick is shot from a video camera that someone conveniently has with them at all times.  Scenes sway, shift abruptly, go in and out of focus, and take on on strange angles.  I'm amazed we don't get any video of someone in the bathroom going potty but that'd make it an R rated flick.

Of course, they think of novel ways to use their new found toy such as winning the lottery. I wish I'd thought of that. They also come up with some rules like don't change things in the past that can alter the present. But rules are made to be broken and obviously these kids didn't see the movie The Butterfly Effect. Hey, they got a time machine so things can be fixed. Not! Situations go from bad to worse to wish I had never opened the secret door where the plans were hidden.

You should be able to figure out the ending to this one unless you are totally new to time travel flicks. I'm not going to spoil it here.  Sorry to say, I did figure it out.

Two things I liked about the movie is how the father kept the plans hidden.  Trap door in the floor had electromagnets that kicked on when the basement lights were turned on. Of course, the unusual thunking sound of the magnets turning is what first tipped the kids off. Interestingly no one discovered this in the ten years that the father had disappeared. But maybe they don't go in the basement a lot.

The second is...hmmmm! I guess there is only one thing.

I give this a sad two star review.  Here is trailer.

Sunday, June 7, 2015

Mysteries of the Internet, or Advertising with a Surprise

Here are some advertising ploys that irk me.

Magically Opening Ad
CNN had this issue for a while when they updated their format recently, though they seem for the most part have changed things but other sites are using this tactic.  Basically the website opens and there is something interesting to click on.  In the case of CNN it's a headline news article. Just as you click, an ad opens at the top of the page. Yep, the click coincides perfectly with the ad's appearance and instead you're on your way to some webpage that promises to improve your retirement portfolio or take you to your dream vacation.

Jumping Web Page
This one works the same but is more devious.  Typically it is some bizarre news item such as Sea Monster Washes Ashore or Man Finds One Million Dollars in Basement.  Going to this website puts the promised article out there, but just as you read a few lines, some advertisement link is added causing the article to jump to a new location. You scroll down to get to back to what you were reading and another ad opens.  This usually occurs two or three times.  The timing is perfect and keeps the ad in the forefront.

Top Ten Things...
I like these but there is a challenge. To maneuver through the ten items requires clicking a right arrow.  Scattered in the neighbor hood are other click buttons that deceptively look like they could work too, But no!  Click the wrong arrow and off you go to new and interesting place. Added into these sites is the slow-go factor.  Click the correct arrow button and a lifetime passes before you get to the next picture which gives you plenty of time to peruse the sidebar ads.

Can't Close It
You find something that sounds interesting and click the button.  It takes you to the site that obviously is selling something. You click the back button or try to close it. And a box pops up: "Are you sure you want to leave this site?" Of course, I understand fully the the function of the back arrow, but savvy web surfers know to click some type of acknowledgement can download malware. Task Manager can in most cases close the browser, but what a pain.

The Deceptive News Article
This one is popular on AOL.  Buried in the legitimate news articles is an ad link.  This Can Get Rid of Wrinkles or Plan Your Dream Vacation.  Now in all fairness AOL sometimes adds in small print somewhere "advertisement". But no guarantee.

What irks you?