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Hear the first 28 minutes of my second horror anthology audiobook!

11 June, 2018

The first story is recorded! See audio player below!

Good afternoon citizens,

I’m sitting in a Starbucks enjoying an iced coffee and wearing my new glasses as I write.

picture of me

(Shirt from Grunt Style)

When I booted up my laptop, I was happy to see that the amazing Kim Noyes had uploaded the first 15 minutes of my second horror anthology audiobook, Paranoia: More Dark Tales from the Mind of G.R. Wilson.

In fact, she went above and beyond to the ~28 minute mark, to finish her reading of my werewolf story, The Full Moon’s Hunt, which follows the treacherous path of a 19th century London writer all the way to the Scottish Highlands, at the behest of a mysterious and beautiful noble Scotswoman with an especially dangerous father. It’s got suspense, it’s got horror, it’s got action! It’s a good time, I hope you check it out.

You may also recall that this story got an audio treatment a couple years ago on the Satanic Storytime podcast, to which I’ve been a contributor both in writing and in acting.

Here is Kim’s recording of the book’s first story:

The full audiobook, with all its other stories, will be available through Amazon Audible late this summer! In the meantime, the paperback and Kindle versions of Paranoia are available on Amazon through the link below (click the picture):

Thank you again Kim, and thank you as always, my readers!

My life would be far less compelling without people to share my stories with.




Movie Review: “Hereditary”

09 June, 2018

Hereditary movie poster

Movie Review: Hereditary

Good afternoon y’all,

Today, I’m going to tell you about the movie I saw Thursday night, Hereditary. (I wrote another pre-watching post about it a couple days ago, here.) In short: it was deeply unsettling, it was original, and I absolutely loved it.

Hereditary Facts and Major Credits:

Premiere: 21 January 2018 at Sundance / 8 June 2018 in theatres nationwide.

Director: Ari Aster

Producers: Kevin Frakes, Lars Knudsen, Buddy Patrick

Written by: Ari Aster

Starring: Toni Collette, Alex Wolf, Milly Shapiro, Ann Dowd, Gabriel Byrne

Music by: Colin Stetson

Cinematography: Pawel Pogorzelski

Edited by: Jennifer Lame, Lucian Johnston

Production Companies: PalmStar Media, Finch Entertainment, Windy Hill Pictures

Distributed by: A24

Running time: 127 minutes

Budget: $10 million

Hereditary family picture

(This will be a spoiler-free review.)

“Evil runs in the family …”


The film follows the Graham family, consisting of mother Annie, (Toni Collette,) her husband Steve, (Gabriel Byrne,) and their two teenage kids, Peter (Alex Wolf) and Charlie (Milly Shapiro.)

Annie is a professional miniaturist with a deeply troubled childhood and young-adulthood, Steve is maybe retired (? It’s not clear what his profession is, but he seems learned,) Peter is a somewhat uneasy but generally norma weed-smoking high-schooler, and Charlie is a lonely and generally “troubled” 13-year old who draws and makes sculptures out of random junk and animal parts.

The story begins when Annie’s mother, Ellen, dies after a devastating bout with dementia. (The film opens with her obituary and funeral.) We learn immediately that Annie and her mom were on-and-off estranged, and this has something to do with Ellen’s eccentric behaviors and controlling attitude. Of course, we gradually get some disturbing elaboration on this as the film progresses.

So, Annie isn’t particularly broken up about her mother’s passing. Nor are the rest of her family…except, that is, for Charlie, in whom Ellen took an especially keen interest when the teen was growing up.

The family matriarch’s death is the spark that ignites a slow-burning, but constantly dreadful and ultimately, satisfyingly horrific inferno of family secrets, buried memories, twisted compulsions, and paranormal catastrophes.

picture of Peter freaking out

Why it’s one of the scariest movies in years:

It’s hard to talk about this movie in much depth without spoilers! But allow me to elaborate on why Hereditary had me on the edge of my seat and has haunted me for the past three days.

This movie does not rely on jump scares. Does it have jump scares? Well, it is a horror movie. But me saying for sure would be spoilers, so draw your own conclusions. This is a movie of dread, of suspense, of disturbing revelations, psychic and physical.  And yes, also, horrific imagery, and the prudent use of special effects. Aster’s film teases the viewer with hints of boiler-plate horror movie scares, motifs, and plot points, but then flips those expectations on their heads: as a result, the viewer is constantly on edge, creeping and feeling slowly their way across a dark room of hidden perils and creaking floorboards. The disturbing implications and played-with expectations, plus gruesome scenes (never gore just for the sake of gore) and frightening supernatural occurrences, are what make Hereditary so genuinely staggering and haunting.

The story itself is scary. That may sound simplistic and obvious, but contrast it with a more mainstream horror movie you’ve seen, where the dread and surprise the audience experiences is derived 90% from special effects and jump scares, and only 10% from the actual motivations, emotions, and obstacles the characters experience, all knocking against each other and weaving themselves into a plot. In Hereditary, that plot is genuinely unsettling: it keeps you uneasy with the uncertainty of what’s going to happen next, and with the sheer horror of what has already happened. In the film’s beginning, we share Annie’s dread, when she’s so haunted by the feeling that her dead mother is “still around” that she insists on keeping the door to Mom’s room locked at all times, especially after it’s mysteriously opened by itself. Later, as the strands of this family’s rotten web of inherited secrets are untangled and brought to shocking light at an accelerating pace, we constantly want to look away, but we cannot: the plot has its hooks in us, and our emotions and curiosity compel us to keep watching, just as Annie must uncover the truth of her late mother’s strange behaviors and social circle, and what these mean for Annie and her own daughter, Charlie …

picture of Toni Collette as Annie

The cinematography is also top-notch. The camera in Hereditary is dynamic in the truest sense. It is practical. It doesn’t default to shaking about as a cheap method of adding jitters to a scary scene, but rather, it moves or stands still, gives us a wide shot or a close-up, as appropriate for what the director needs to convey. We get objectively lovely establishing shots of the mountains and forests of Utah that surround the Grahm family home, (and treehouse,) but these repeated landscape images almost immediately feel ominous and grow more so as time creeps on. The camera tortures us with uncomfortable close-ups of a character’s horrified face, before we inevitably, we know, must see what they are seeing. The camera swings from side to side nervously, both in emotionally torturous familial outbursts and in nervously surveying a room where supernatural events are afoot.

One of the most creepily charming camera-uses is the frequent focus on Annie’s miniature dioramas, which depict detailed and realistic scenes of the family’s home, the hospital where Annie’s mother died, and other tiny representations of the family’s past, present…and perhaps more. There are some technically awesome shots where the camera zooms slowly into one of these miniatures, and then graces us with a seamless transition into a real-life set with the actors.

The acting in Hereditary is stellar and brings director Ari Aster’s dark vision to life with heart-wrenching, spine-tingling, and heart-pounding authenticity. Toni Collette, to my mind, handily steals the show– no, steal isn’t the right word, she earns every second of our attention, empathy, and investment: she beautifully portrays  a complex mother and daughter character, with the best of intentions but the least capacity to deal with what both her loss, and the peculiar “inheritance” of her mother are going to inflict on herself, her husband, and her children. Her range of emotion is staggering, from protective and loving, to heart-broken, to sarcastic, to manic and enraged. Collete’s Annie is very scared, and very scary …

Milly Shapiro, who plays young teen daughter Charlie, stands out for her newness and for her at-once creepy and charmingly awkward and sympathetic demeanor as the most emphasized character from the trailers. This emphasis is for good reason. That’s all I’ll say on that.

picture of Charlie

It’s tough to even talk about Ann Dowd’s character without spoilers, but she’s good. She’s convincing, she’s real. (In the trailer, she’s the woman who talks to Annie in her car; “I recognized you from your mother.”)

The fellas, Alex Wolf and Gabriel Byrne, also exhibit great emotional range and authenticity, as their respective characters, each with their own distinct attitudes and goals, are sucked into the story of maternal-bloodline disintegration and corruption.

Hereditary movie poster 2


The writing and directing of director Ari Aster, combined with the technically skilled and emotionally interesting cinematography of Pawel Pogorzelski, plus the torturously authentic acting of the stars, especially Toni Collette, altogether make Hereditary already one of my favorite horror movies, and the best movie I’ve seen yet this year.

I give it a 10/10.

It’s intriguing. It’s painfully suspenseful. It’s emotionally genuine. And most importantly, but also properly developed from all those other traits: Hereditary is horrifying. It says something about parenthood (especially motherhood,) about the ties that bind family bloodlines, and about the ways that we as mothers and fathers, daughters and sons, react to the disruption, loss, and poisoning of those bloodlines.

The scariest stories, Hereditary proves, are those with one foot firmly planted in the reality we all inhabit.



Let’s Watch Me Be Really Totally Good at Let’s Playing

8 June, 2018

Good afternoon aliens and alloys,

I have an announcement.

*deep breath*


I played a video game and posted a video of it on the Internet.

I also used the free version of software (Flashback Pro, which is actually pretty versatile easy to use, check it out,) so I got that adorably amateurish watermark there.

Plus, I did something wrong where my webcam display didn’t make it into the video.

STILL! It’s there.

Time to let those PewDiePie dollars roll on in. >:)

If you guys wanna see more, subscribe to my YouTube channel, I’ll do some non-horror games too.



Meet DeadJosey, the narrator of my “The Devil & The Doctor” audiobook!

7 June, 2018

DeadJosey cover photo and logo


Good morning fellow humans,

Yesterday, I introduced Kim Noyes, who is producing the Audible audiobook edition of my second horror anthology, Paranoia: More Dark Tales from the Mind of G.R. Wilson

Today, I want to you all to know about DeadJosey, aka Josselynn Monserrate, of YouTube fame! She’ll be producing the audio version of my first novel, The Devil and The Doctor (Malcolm Leeds Chronicles) (Volume 1). Ms. Josey has a beautiful voice, a great sense of humor, and has good tastes in comics and video games, in my humble opinion. (Which is, of course, always correct.) She has a lot of Overwatch and Doki Doki Literature Club comic voice-overs on her YT channel. Plus, she’s got a Discord, a Twitter, a Facebook, and another YT for ASMR.

I asked her for a blurb for this blog post, and here it be:

I have been a horror fan for years watching “Tales From the Darkside” and “Are You Afraid of the Dark?” and reading scary stories when I was a kid. I started doing horror narrations on youtube in 2013, here in 2018 I’ve expanded what I do from horror narrations to comics and ASMR videos. I’m really excited to be doing one of G.R Wilsons pieces and taking my narrating to a professional level.

Thanks Josey! Don’t worry, you’re good at blurbs. Also, your avatar is adorable in chibi form.


a chibi-style picture of DeadJosey


And here are a few neato VA (voice-acting) examples:

(The DDLC one reminds me I gotta do a proper post or three about that game!!)

Once again, check out Josey’s stuff, she’s great. We’re aiming for a late July, early August release of the audiobook, which will be announced in my newsletter.

dead josey picture / twitter link

Twitter Link

DeadJosey picture / YouTube link

YouTube link

DeadJosey picture / Facebook link

Facebook link







stay spoopy,


P.S. – I came out with my first audiobook a couple years ago, narrated by Mr.CreepyPasta:




Introducing “The (Mildly) Mad Scientists of Turingsburg County!” It’s the YA Comedy Sci-Fi series I’ve been contributing to!

7 June, 2018

concept art of various characters

Excellent art by Jonathan Herzog.

Good morning readers,

Do you like science fiction?

Do you like funny science fiction?

Do you like funny, cartoonish, edutainmental science fiction, starring two rival mad scientists duking out their inventive competitions in a small Midwestern town, with the help (and hindrance!) of a colorful cast of minions, villains, and bumbling detectives?!

Welcome to the world of Turingsbug County, USA, the setting for perhaps my most fun fictional co-project!

Concept Art - Farmer Green

Dr. Radcliff Green is a studious man. Art by Erin Williams.

This is “The Farmer Project,” which I’ve been working for the past year with several other contributors, under the leadership of J. Farmer. I was hired over UpWork to write and revise these short, humorous, older-children-to-young-adult science fiction stories.

This collection of stories runs under the series name The (Mildly) Mad Scientists of Turingsburg County, or, Mildly Mad, for short, and in fact are available in Kindle, paperback, and Audible form over on Amazon right now.

The series follows the adventures and misadventures of two rival mad scientists: Dr. Henry White, and Dr. Radcliff Green. (Both Ph.D.) They’re both supposedly retired from the whole mad scientist career after some serious run-ins with the government back in the day, so they’re hiding in plain sight on their neighboring farms, in the tiny, out-of-the-way, Midwestern town of Turingsburg, located logically within Turingsburg County, USA.

Farmer White

White with one of his camera-equipped flybots. Art by Gabriellle Platt.

Both scientists/farmers take different approaches to their work. White, whose career was originally in mechanical, computer, and electrical engineering, prefers to create robotic minions and technological solutions that run like clockwork: predictable, programmable, and doing exactly what they are designed for and told to do.

Green, whose specialties are biology and chemistry, prefers a more organic, free-flowing approach: his genetically engineered animal hybrids and super-plants often react to challenges in unexpected ways, as they mutate and evolve with new forms and new ideas of their own.

Both approaches have their strengths and their drawbacks, of course, with White’s creations requiring crystal clear instructions, and Green’s inventions sometimes needing a strong hand on the reigns to stop them from blooming into a chaotic, unforeseen mess.

White and Green love to compete with each other in various challenges, such as creating the most helpful minions for the town, growing the best cabbages, or collecting the biggest pile of trash. Other times, they join forces to save the town from dangers such as an illegal street racing gang, cyborg rats, or a mysterious force which is causing every object in town to get increasingly stuck together at an exponentially accelerating rate. (The latter two problems, they, uh, may have sorta accidentally created themselves … >_>)

Assisting each scientist are their equally rivalrous “not-so-super” supercomputers: MIRA for White, and C64 for Green. Both scientists compete in continually upgrading and reaching new, impactful uses for their respective computers and their ultra-advanced artificial intelligences, including the design of entirely new security robots (like the infamous “Summer Snowmen”) and the hacking of shadowy mega-corporation servers.

green and bodo concept art

Concept art of Green and Bodo, by Reese Taylor

MIRA has an interesting backstory connected to one of White’s old computer engineering co-workers, Dr. Valerie Schnoover. Schnoover and her daughter Vivian do play a direct role in an upcoming story with an especially cyberpunk theme. MIRA often helps White with his experiments and inventions, and runs the security on his farm and secret underground lab, including, at times, the direct control of his various “robo-toy” minions. She’s a free-spirit at heart, and as much as she enjoys the acquisition of new knowledge and of helping “Henry” on his latest experiments, she also does get a kick out of pushing his buttons once in a while, or later, helping to protect and mentor Dr. Schnoover’s daughter, Vivian.

Dr. Green’s supercomputer, C64, is made of a hybrid of conventional silicon chips, plus carefully designed and grown bio-organic circuitry. He often helps Green with experiments the same way MIRA does for White, and he runs the various greenhouses where Green’s latest genetic creations are nurtured. C64, similar to MIRA, also enjoys occasionally teasing “Radcliff,” and like MIRA, has his own adventures ina virtual, cyber-punk world. Plus, he has a classy English accent, and Green often calls him “Commodore,” so that’s neat.

For other helpers, White has his aforementioned robo-toys, which range in size from several centimeters to about a meter tall, plus his bigger robots such as Tractor Bot. And, at least temporarily, he had control of the solar-powered, ice-cream slinging, highly aggressive Summer Snowmen…but he doesn’t like to talk about those.

concept art of a robo-toy

There are many designs of robo-toys: some are bipedal like this, others look like spiders or crabs, and others look like toy fire trucks or army tanks. They’re all designed with different tools for different jobs.

robo-toy collored

Robo-toy art, and Bodo art below by Aaron Ballish

Green has his right-hand rabbit, Bodo! Bodo is a highly intelligent and bipedal hybrid of a bunny and genetically-modified fungus, so he has these cool mushroom ears. He’s essentially Green’s apprentice and learns quickly from the scientist in the ways of biology and chemistry. Bodo is also a major fan of Japanese history and culture and enjoys practicing his ninja skills. Also with Green are his various animal and plant hybrids, especially the kung-fu fighting “rhino-chickens.”

baby bodo

Bodo as a lil baby. He grows to nearly the size of an adult human!

Then there are the cyber-rats, who escaped from Green’s control sometime after he and White almost burned down Turingsburg, and appear to be evolving a society and upgrading themselves in the woods that neighbor the farms …

For other recurring characters, there is most importantly, Detective J.R. (James Roosevelt) Grey, Turingsburg PD’s best (only) investigator. He’s got a good heart and an iron determination to see justice served, but, he can be a bit of a bumbleking at times. He also, at first, thinks that ol’ farmers White and Green are up to no good out on those mysterious farms, and he’s determined to get to the bottom of their purportedly supervillainous activities.

Then we have various visitors to town, (such as bigfoot hunters,) recurring townsfolk, sidekicks, (like Grey’s trusty deputy, Polonski,) and villains such as the wealthy and alluring widow, Raven Black, and the uncatchable street racing gang known as the Speed Demons.

Each story includes a concise and educational “State of the Science” article, elaborating on the reality of the science and technology featured in that tale. Mr. J. Farmer, the creator and editor-in-chief of the Mildly Mad series, is an engineer himself, and a descendant of Midwestern American farmers. He conceived of the stories as a way to entertain and inspire young readers, including his own kids, on the wonders of scientific and technological possibilities.

I tremendously dig the stories, and I’m happy to be contributing to them!

I hope you’ll check them out! Personally, I think a lot of adults with a sense of humor and an interest in this sort of whimsical science fiction will enjoy them just as much as kids do.

Here again is the link to the official website, and you can click the images below for links to Amazon for several of the individual stories:

Adios, amigos!

G.R. Wilson

Introducing Kim Noyes, the narrator of the upcoming audio-book edition of “Paranoia!”

6June, 2018

Good evening errybody,

I officially have an Audible version of my second anthology, Paranoia: More Dark Tales from the Mind of G.R. Wilson in the works! Our lovely narrator is Ms. Kim Noyes, an experienced broadcaster and storyteller. As someone who loves radio, podcasts, and Audible audiobooks, and listens to them frequently in the car, at the gym, or on walks,  I’m excited to get more of my stories published in that format! You may recall that Mr.CreepyPasta of YouTube fame narrated the Audible version of my first anthology, Right Behind You:  Tales of the Spooky and Strange, a couple years ago.

Picture of Kim Noyes

Click for the link to Kim’s Audible producer’s page!

Kim is also excited to work on this project, and I asked her to share some of her experience with and thoughts on the horror genre:

I have been a horror/suspense fan since, well, forever. When I was 5, I remember being greatly disappointed because my mother wouldn’t buy me the book of scary stories that I wanted. While in college, I worked in a video store & watched EVERY horror movie we had – including “Basket Case’ & “Attack of the Killer Tomatoes”. I am a huge fan of, Stephen King, Anne Rice, Edgar Allen Poe, Dean Koontz…..In the movie “The Ring”, I laughed with glee when Aidan said “No Mom! You weren’t supposed to help her”. On Halloween, I have dressed up in Vampire attire without the teeth and had to keep explaining how I had only been bitten once, so, I had not ‘turned’ yet. Some people just don’t get it. I have been in Radio for most of my adult life & currently work at a classic rock station. I LOVE to tell stories….I am SO excited to start this new chapter of my existence….

And, her favorite Stephen King book is The ShiningSalem’s Lot, or The Stand.

Thank you Kim!!

I will also have more news soon about the upcoming audio production of my novel The Devil & The Doctor!

As always, I appreciate those who purchase or otherwise read (Kindle Unlimited, Audible subscription,) my books through Amazon!


Happy Trails,



Movie Hype Alert: HEREDITARY!

4 June 2018,

Good evening friendos!

I began the day with a dental appointment, (green across the board on the check-up and x-ray!), and then I’ve been writing my next novel and some freelance work for clients. Hella productive, feels great!

In this post, I want to talk about Hereditary, the Sundance horror film directed and written by Ari Aster. I first saw the trailer for it when I saw Deadpool 2 a couple weeks ago, and it immediately got my attention.

First, in case you haven’t seen it, check out the trailer:

Woof. I felt my skin crawl just watching that peek! I was introduced to A24 by The Witch, which shares a producer (Lars Knudsen)  with Hereditary and is another great, artistic, low budget, original, horror film. A24 seems to be pumping out great films (horror and otherwise) left and right, and I’m always happy to see a new one get a nationwide release!

So what do we see in the trailer? I like the way it gives us a taste of the type of scares we’ll experience, and enough of a character and plot introduction to tempt us with investment, without giving away too much plot information. You know, like a good trailer should!

We have a mother and a daughter as the main character. According to the IMDB, this is Annie Grahm, played by Toni Collette. (The mom in Little Miss Sunshine, one of my favorite comedies!!) I’m already intrigued by her character. She’s just lost a mother, who was apparently quite…eccentric, and clearly creepy. The whole vibe suggests that she was a witch. Who…also apparently insisted on exclusively breastfeeding Collete’s/Grahm’s own daughter. Oh, it also looks like Annie is a miniaturist (the little house and figures are hers) and I love the cinematography and horror possibilities that opens up! (She also looks cool wearing the magnifying glass headset thing!)

And then Annie’s daughter is Charlie. She’s played by Milly Shapiro, who according to Wikipedia, had great success, including a Tony Honor and a Grammy nomination, in the Matilda Broadway musical in 2013/14. With earning that level of achievement so young, I’m excited to see how Shapiro does as the unfortunately off-putting Charlie! I don’t know if Charlie has autism or what, but that blank stare and click tick, coupled with her apparent interest in making random trash and animal parts (poor bird!!) into art pieces are all delightfully creepy and interesting. She seems to take after her mother…and, if the heavy “witch” connotations are any indication, after her grandmother, in more ways than one …

We get tantalizing glimpses of ghostly grandmas, spontaneously-combusting dudes, eerily levitating dudes, ominous strings, and lots of Charlie going click. (And asking all-too-knowing questions about the aftermath of her mom’s apparently impending death.)

I love it. I’m going to see it this weekend and review it. I’m going to avoid reading more plot information, but the A24 webpage has some good, basic, non-spoiler info.

So, what are critics saying so far?

Rotten Tomatoes:



Adam Epstein has some good words about the topic of it being the “scariest movie in years:”

…Hereditary, though, feels different from the rest. The blurbs calling it “the scariest movie in years” read less like a pre-packaged marketing gimmick and more like earnest assessments by those who have seen it …

Sooo my hype meter is rising through the roof!

Besides that, I’ve looked around for other non-spoilery information:

Milly Shapiro comes across as charming and genuine in this pre-screening interview:

Awesome for her! 🙂


I enjoyed this interview with Toni Collete, too:

(Interview begins at :45. No spoilers, don’t worry.)

That’s encouraging to hear that the movie isn’t just scary, but is also as she says, about grief and how family dynamics change in the face of tragedy. I think the best horror movies are those that speak to real, human themes like that. I always appreciate seeing evidence of horror movies, like The Witch, or IT, being not only terrifying but also legitimately GOOD movies. Anyway in the interview: I also didn’t realize Collette was Australian, very cool. (And how she says the name of the country “‘strarya!” 😉 ) That’s legit that she meditates, too. You go, Toni.


Plus, this Mr. H interview with writer/director Ari Aster:

Aaaand based on that excellent interview, now I’m seeing this Friday, no matter what:

  • “Old school suspense but without relying on cheap scares.” (paraphrase)
  • Rosemary’s Baby is an inspiration
  • Aster seems genuine and humble. (e.g. giving all credit to A24 for the well-edited trailer.)
  • Horror has become “comfort food” and often simply rewards audiences for already knowing the formulas and tropes.
  • This film honors, but at the same time upends genre traditions.
  • The movie is character-centric, it satisfies the “genre stuff” but all the compelling horror of the film grows from the themes and the characters, and the film is at once a scary movie and a meditation on family suffering and sorrow.

For those who have a greater tolerance for spoilers than I do, here is Mr. H’s review, which I did not watch:


In conclusion, Hereditary looks incredible from the trailer, critics love it, and I’m excited to see it. I look forward to talking about it with you all this weekend.

I’m going to take care of some ROTC paperwork now, hit the gym, then sleep.

Goodnight, and sweet dreams.



Movie Review: A Quiet Place


25 April 2018

It’s almost finals week! So many projects. So many tests. It’s been a good semester, lots of learning, but damn has it been tough. I’ll keep pushing through strong to the end! I have a networking event tonight with Network After Work at the Dailly Refresher, one of my favorite bars, so that should be fun and productive.

Image result for a quiet place pictures

Anyway, even in these busy days, I’ve made time for movies. Most recently, on Saturday, I saw A Quiet Place, starring John Krasinsky and his wife, Emily Blunt.

Overall Impression:

I loved it. This movie exemplifies that Horror movies can be good movies, with skillful cinematography, deeply human characters and themes, and smart writing. The sound design, of course, is one of the stars of the show, and it warms my heart to see a nearly-silent film earn such box office results as well as critical praise. A Quiet Place put me on the edge of my seat and kept me there for a delightful, suspenseful, heartfelt, heartwrenching, and thoughtful, 1.5 hours,

Basic Spoiler Free Concept:

A Quiet Place is a science fiction thriller/drama/horror movie. It follows a young, rural, family struggling to stay safe and maintain some sort of normalcy in a post-apocalyptic America. This America has been almost entirely depopulated by a mysterious race of monsters which one glimpsed newspaper headline describes as “Death Angels.” These monsters, who serve as the film’s collective antagonist, are entirely blind, and navigate their world and hunt for prey entirely through a system of exceptionally strong hearing and echolocation. They’re strong, they’re incredibly fast, and they are essentially impervious to seemingly any type of physical weapon.

In this world, making any sound rising above the low background decibels of wind, falling leaves, or babbling brooks summons the attention of the nearest Death Angels, who will arrive and destroy/possibly devour the source of the disturbance in an astonishingly short time.

Our intrepid survivors, who include father (Krasinsky,) mother (Blunt) and their three kids (Millicent Simmonds, Noah Jupe, and Cade Woodward,) have stayed alive by adapting every facet of behavior to the alien threat: they eschew shoes entirely, walking everywhere with carefully placed bare feet; they manipulate objects (such as when cooking, cleaning, or fixing objects on their farmstead) with great precision and gentelness; they go so far as using paint to denote the non-creaky floorboards of their home; and most importantly, they communicate with each other 99% of the time through American Sign Language. (ASL.)

There are other people still alive out there, but communicating with them is tough, even using morse code on Krasinsky’s character’s HAM radio. The family is essentially alone in what has become a wilderness, and despite their handy adaptations and ability in procuring food, they remain continuously vulnerable to a single shattering of a plate, cluttering of a cupboard, or instinctive exclamation.

And with the couple expecting a new family member on the way, their vulnerability gets that much more real …

Image result for a quiet place pictures

Characters and Acting:

Like most people, I know Krasinsky best for his comedic role as Jim on The Office. He showed his chops as a more mature dramatic role here, displaying great range as a likable, struggling, and loving father and husband. The fact that his acting, like everyone’s in this movie, is mostly non-verbal makes the performance even more impressive.

Emily Blunt and Jon Krasinsky together portray a deeply romantic couple, coming together for each other and their children in some of the most horrifying situationss imaginable. Blunt’s performance, on reflection, is my favorite in the film: her tender love for Krasinsky and their children adds such humanity to this apocalyptic world, as does her indomitable determination and resiliency, which is ever haunted by loss and the fear of further loss.

The kids are great too, especially eldest child Regan Abbots, played by Millicent Simmonds; one of the few deaf actors I’ve seen in a movie. Her performance feels refreshingly honest, real, in her conflict over her past actions, and her strained relationship with her father. It’s a joy, as someone who attends a college with a major deaf population, to see a deaf character, portrayed by a deaf actor, being so expressive through face, gesture, and natively-fluent ASL. I also loved seeing cochlear implants (functional, broken, or somewhere inbetween …) being a major artifact of her character, and of the film’s plot.

Sound Design:

The most memorable Horror and Thriller movies use their soundtracks to enhance the danger their characters face, build the viewer’s suspense, and act as an auditory embodiment of the visual terror on screen. Think of the ominously escalating Jaws theme, or the screeching, manic violins of Psycho, or the heart-pounding theme of serial killer Michael Myers.

In A Quiet Place, the soundtrack emphatically does more by doing, and being less. Krasinsky uses silence the way Spielberg or Hitchcock use music. Knowing the “rules” of the movie’s monsters, we as the audience share the characters’ tip-toeing, anxiety-inducing exploration of abandoned drug stores and woodland paths. The movie quickly trains us to dread any sudden sound rising above a soft rustle. There is background noise, of course: the wind blows through the leaves and the crops, woodland critters occasionally skitter here and there, rivers run somewhere in the distance.

But the Silence is the defining force of the film’s world, brutally enforced by the dreaad-creatures the characters scarcely understand the origin of, much less can identify an exploitable weakness in. Silence is the characters’ open air prison. Silence is the final fate of a world depopulated of human civilization in less than a single year.

Whenever the Silence stops, we as the audience freeze, perk up our ears, and grip our seats, wondering how, or if, our admirable survivors will get out of this one.

There is music, don’t worry. It’s simple, and it creeps in, here and there, complementing some of the genuinely pretty rural scenes, and pumping up the intensity of scenes when the Death Angels lurk. But music is always the junior partner to the silence in A Quiet Place, and that junior role is where it plays best.

-G.R. Wilson

Quick Look at Wall Street Journal, 19 April 2018

NOTE: I took longer to finish writing this one than I intended, which is why it’s up today and not the 19th.

19 April 2018

My Wall Street Journal subscription is resumed! I’d let it expire for about 3 months for financial reasons, but with their excellent student deal, I have my treasured 6-day a week, hard copy newspaper again. <3 I just finished reading several of the most stand-out articles from today’s issue, which I’ll discuss below.

Before that: about half an hour ago I got back from RIT, where I enjoyed an optional question and answer session with some of our ROTC program’s MSIV’s (seniors) about their experiences at Advanced Camp last year. Among the protips:

  • Build your credibility by being a subject matter expert on the radio, combat life saving, setting up OE-245 radio antennas, etc.
  • Be sociable, learn names, learn colleges, learn majors: know your fellow Cadets. Don’t be fake about it, but building that rapport will pay off when it’s your turn to be Platoon Leader, everyone’s tired and cranky after rucking around the boonies in wet socks all day, and you need support.
  • Always be making decisions. Even if your decision turns out to have a bad outcome, the Cadre grading you want to see that you’re at least always assessing, thinking, and acting, and have reasons for what you do. You should never be at a loss for what you’re currently doing, Be a leader. Lead. You’re not going to have perfect information or someone to confirm your decision in the real Army either.

There were many smaller, but important tips, and funny anecdotes. I’ll talk more about my preparation for camp later.

Today, I’m focusing on what I read in the good ol’ Journal. Here, I’ll give brief summaries of what I saw as three of the most interesting or important stories, and my thoughts on them.

  1. Yet another Islamist group is rising in Syria. (Original article by Sune Engel Rasmussen.) They call themselves Hayat Tahrir al-Sham, meaning “Organization for the Liberation of the Lavant.” They’re an offshoot of the al-Nusra Front, the former al-Qaeda franchise in Syria. Their main area of operations is the northwestern Syrian province of Idlib, right on the Turkish border. They boast “thousands” of fighters, and are fortifying their position in the province, after overrunning (by their claims) 25 villages and capturing tanks and other armored vehicles. Like any other Islamist terror group, they’re enforcing stricter forms of Sharia than the locals want, including shutting down mixed-sex university classes, and prohibiting salons from using makeup. According to the article, there’s pushback from the locals on all that, who are understandably more concerned about having food, water, and electricity than on strict religious observance. Addressing those material concerns, al-Sham has a “civil affairs” type organization called the Salvation Government, that charges people to provide them electricity and water and win over hearts and minds.

My take: I am not shocked by the appearance of yet another new Jihadist group in Syria. With the collapse of ISIS (which the group has also fought against,) it was inevitable that someone else would fill the void. The strength of Good Guys for the U.S. to support in Syria is smaller than ever. Syrian Democratic Forces are squeezed by both Islamists on the one side and “Animal Assad’s” (what a fun Trump-ism!) regime on the other. The further displacement of refugees from Damascan suburbs surely isn’t helping, as unemployed, hungry, pissed off young men tend to be more likely to join radical groups, especially if they have family dependent on them earning some sort of living.

And all this at the same time as the U.S. is winding down from Syria as quickly as possible, concerned chiefly with ISIS being gone, and Assad not using chemical weapons. At this point, and I’m no expert, but I think most likely that Assad, with Russian and Iranian help, is going to retake most of Syria, and we’ll see Jihadist groups, Kurds, and moderate rebels all pushed to the fringes and unable to openly control territory. In this scenario, there’s less risk to the U.S. and other targeted countries from ISIS-type groups, but, Iran’s and Russia’s influence grows, and a horrific tyrant stays on the throne. Basically, we’d get Lawful Evil instead of Chaotic Evil.

Otherwise, especially if we do intervene more to keep the rebels going, we’ll get more of what we’ve had in Syria, Iraq, and Libya, which is a power vacuum with endless bloodshed among dozens of sectarian groups all backed by different regional powers, with millions of hapless civilians caught in the crossfire. It’s hard to see the ideal U.S. outcome (Assad steps down and is replaced with a U.S.-friendly, fairly democratic, inclusive, and competent government) occurring without a massive American invasion and occupation of the country, and between Russia, Iran, and our experience trying that in Iraq, it ain’t happening.

And so, the never-ending game of whack-a-mole continues.

2. European trade debates. (Original Germany/Russia article by Andrea Thomas and William Boston, Europe/U.S. article by Valentina Pop and Bojan Pancevski.) Germany is trying to get the U.S. to exempt some major German corporations, including Siemens, Daimler, and Volkswagen, from America’s latest Russia sanctions. While the U.S. Congress implemented sanctions on Russian individuals as punishment for Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential elections, many German companies do a lot of business in Russia, and don’t want to be punished by American law for continuing existing relationships.

Meanwhile, the E.U., apparently spooked by Trump’s tough talk on trade and tariffs, is looking to quickly complete an agreement that would be a smaller and simpler version of the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership. Obama negotiated that deal, but never concluded it or got it ratified. Issues on the table include tariffs on cars, agriculture, and industrial machinery. Essentially, Angela Merkel is trying to use the E.U. and U.S. shared concerns about Chinese trade practices as a common cause to get the Transatlantic deal through. France is more hesitant about any such deal, wanting to see Trump give more in exchange, such as the U.S. re-entering the Paris Climate Accord.

If Trump’s proposed steel and aluminum tariffs are allowed to take effect in two weeks, it appears that the E.U. has retaliation plans in the works.

My take: The Germany/Russia thing is no surprise. I’d like Germany to take a stronger stand on solidarity with the U.S. on the whole Russian meddling issue, but I completely understand that their largest corporations have big business in Russia, and can’t easily give that up. So, yup, there’s going to be a conflict there. I expect the U.S. will quietly grant exemptions, since so many Americans are invested in German companies and Germany is a good ally, but we’ll see. I don’t expect it to get much time on cable news or social media either way.

On the Transatlantic deal, I take this as further evidence in support of the theory that Trump’s hardball negotiation tactics are working in furtherance of his strategy of a trade balance that favors U.S. exports. We see President Xi in China similarly taking a more conciliatory tone towards foreign investment and trade after Trump raises the tariff threats. (More on that next.) While Trump’s borderline mercantilist policies on trade may hurt international relationships long term, for now, they appear to be gaining him leverage.

It’s early to give a conclusion, however. I’m going to reserve judgement until we see what trade policies are implemented, and how they’re affecting the American GDP and unemployment numbers, several months to a year from now.

3. Tesla successfully bucks Chinese rules for its new factory. (Original article by Tim Higgins)

The Chinese government announced that they’ll let Tesla Inc build electric cars in Shanghai without doing the usual 50-50 joint venture with a local company. This is part of China phasing out that requirement by 2022. By being able to build in China, Tesla will benefit by not having Chinese tariffs slapped on its cars as imports. The plan is to churn out 200,000 vehicles a year from the new Chinese factory.

My take: Awesome. I hope that Trump’s tariff threats helped bring this about. I love Tesla, I admire Elon Musk, and I’m excited to see how this can help them grow and beat the naysayers.

Other interesting news: U.S. shale oil growth is slowing, the U.S. conducted evacuation drlls for American citizens living in South Korea, and American banks have excellent earnings reports and diversified portfolios lately.

Overall thoughts from today’s news:

Mostly good. The American economy is continuing to grow, and, as far as I can tell, it’s based on real sustained production and consumption, rather than price bubbles. Trump’s…unconventional tactics on trade may be helping American companies, but we’ll still need more times to see the long-term results.


What I’ll be studying this Fall semester

16 April, 2018

Good evening readers!

I hope you’re all having a stupendous Spring! Ideally it’s warmer and more “springy” wherever you are than it is here in Rochester. We had bucketloads of freezing rain Saturday night: I had to chip my way through this half-inch layer of ice on my car before I could drive to the gym. It was great. And, with the garbage weather, the bulk of RIT Tiger Battalion’s joint FTX (field training exercise) got canceled, and we came home early after some M-16 shooting, and then did a few platoon operations lanes (tactical practice exercises) on Saturday closer to RIT, instead. So I was still wading knee-deep through nearly freezing water, but at least it was closer to home!

On the platoon lanes, I also got my first crack at being Platoon Leader! I really felt the pressure of the command responsibility, but, I had a great support team of my PSG (platoon sergeant,) RTO (radio telephone operator,) and squad leaders, and overall I conducted a pretty good OPORD (operation order) briefing, and ambush. I have room for improvement in handling myself and my unit better under pressure when the pretend bullets start flying, but, that will come with experience and more mental rehearsal. My grasp on the level of small unit infantry tactics required of me is generally good. So bottom line, I’m feeling a lot more confident for ROTC Advanced Camp this Summer!

Now, the main thing I wanted to write about today is what I’ll be studying at RIT in the Fall. For those who are new to my blog or don’t recall me saying this before, I’m an MBA student at the Rochester Institute of Technology’s Saunders College of Business. In just a few short weeks, I’ll be done with my second of four semesters of my two-year degree program!

This Spring 2018 semester, i’ve been studying Finance, Operations & Supply Chain Management, Strategic Marketing Management, and Organizational Behavior and Leadership, in addition to my ROTC Military Science studies. Overall, I’m enjoying the studies, even if the Finance and Supply Chain can require a large time commitment to master their more technical and math-heavy aspects. But my command of the three major business functions (Operations, Finance, and Marketing) is steadily growing with all the studying and projects I’m doing, and my confidence in my ability to be an effective marketing manager has grown tremendously.

Here are the classes I’ll be taking this coming Fall:

  1. Introduction to Data Analytics and Business Intelligence: Stats heavy class, learning how to analyze “the numbers” of a business and its environment to facilitate good decisions.
  2. Internet Marketing: Strategy & Tactics: Fairly self-explanatory name. This will build on my current marketing course experience, by zooming in the application of marketing concepts to Internet marketing and learning the specific tools of the trade in promoting products, services, and brands online. I’m definitely looking forward to this one!
  3. Design and Information Systems: Basically, this class is about understanding a company’s I.T. situation, and how to design an efficient and effective I.T. system for the company’s needs.
  4. Lean Six Sigma Fundamentals: Six Sigma is a methodology for improving the efficiency of business operations by reducing the number of product or service defects throughout the company’s processes. Lean Six Sigma combines that focus on defect-fixing, with the “lean operations” concept of eliminating the waste from a process. I’d heard the term “Six Sigma” for years in a kinda buzzwordy sense, but from reading more about it, it actually sounds pretty cool and useful for an aspiring manager like myself. This is also an online class, which I dig for my own efficient time management.
  5. Military Science: For Army ROTC, I take various levels of Military Science each semester. As an MSIV (Military Science IV) Cadet, (normally a college senior, but, I’m doing a 2-year grad degree,) I’ll be in the final year of this classroom military education. Also, this year my class will be taught by Lieutenant Colonel Otero, the boss of our glorious Tiger Batallion. In my experience so far, these classes aren’t too tough, but they are greatly informative of military methodology and terminology, relating to the Army’s organization, tactics, and models of good leadership.
  6. Beers of the World: Aw yeah! This and Wines of the World are greatly coveted classes, usually taken as electives, for RIT students. They fill up wicked fast, so you essentially can’t get in unless you’re a senior. I oddly never took a beer or wine class in my undergrad years, but, here I am! I get to drink beer and learn about it every Wednesday afternoon. Plus, three fellow Cadets are in there with me. (We’ll set up a little snobish Cadet corner for ourselves. Aw yeah. Elitism.)

It’s a heavy course load, and I expect to be challenged. But, on the bright side for my studies, I’ll be done with the infamously hard MSIII year and the rigors of Advanced Camp by this Fall, which will leave me more time and mental energy to focus on my studies. I could still have a lot of ROTC work to do depending what leadership position I get assigned, but I’ll find that out this Friday and cross the bridge when I come to it.

Ever upward!