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Friday, December 11, 2015

Superman Will Die In Batman V. Superman #BatmanvSuperman #Superheroes #ComicBookMovie

Superman Will Die In Batman V. Superman #BatmanvSuperman #Superheroes #ComicBookMovie

All pictures courtesy of WB/DC unless otherwise noted. 


Oh! My! God! So, I just heard from a friend that a whopping amount of craziness is going to go down due to the Batman v. Superman film and supposedly some of the real tea behind the scenes at Warner Bros.
For starters, you read that title right, Superman will die in Batman V. Superman (#BatmanvSuperman)... supposedly. Wondering why Warner Bros. hadn't really come out with plans for a second Man of Steel? That's why. So, here's the rundown. Apparently, fans needn't worry about that trailer that came out last week spoiling the whole movie. From my friend, I'm hearing that it only showed footage from the first 90 minutes of the film that is slated to be at least another hour longer than that. Basically, much of what you saw was from the first two acts of the film, with the exception of a few scenes not including the Doomsday thing.


Oh yeah, as for Doomsday, the producers are sticking close to the comic book and will actually have Doomsday kill Superman as they die together. Only after this does Batman fully come to respect him through his sacrifice for the cause. That little team shot you see of all three of them (including Wonder Woman) standing in guard doesn't actually bring them together like everyone thinks it will. In fact, Batman becomes almost more driven to destroy Superman because he blames him for the rise of this new supervillain in Doomsday, hence why Superman makes the sacrifice.


So, what then happens after that? And how does Superman come back? That is when the Flash comes in for his cameo. Were you wondering why they rushed to cast everyone so quick to stuff them into this movie? I was. The flash comes from the future--yes, they're going to use time travel this soon--to try to warn everyone what will happen. That scene that everyone is calling the nightmare is actually a scene from the future where Darkseid is somehow controlling various members of the Justice League which is where we'll see the entire team fighting in a short cameo both against the parademons and Superman.

But now learning that Superman has died, The Flash realizes the time line has been changed and ventures off to go further back in time to change the events leading up to this. Here's the kicker! The Flash's time travel and Superman's death is the whole reason why, skipping Suicide Squad, Wonder Woman is the next DC film release and it is set in the past. The Flash is supposed to make a cameo in that film too, though why is still unclear; but Steve Trevor is somehow supposed to come to this current time by Justice League part two.


Superman is supposed to be dead until the beginning of Justice League is all that the producers and writers know so far and he's supposed to be brought back to help defeat Darkseid. This whole thing blows my little theory earlier on Cullan Mulvey being Martian Manhunter and not KGBeast like initially reported out of the water. Again, the Flash scene is really only like three minutes long where he explains this to Batman and Wonder Woman toward the end of the film. But the film is supposed to both end on a serious cliffhanger while still giving a satisfying end.

What do you think about this new "news" (everything's a rumor until the movie opens)? Did you expect Warner Bros. to actually kill off Superman like they did in the comics? How many times do you think Doomsday will evolve? What do you think of the time travel of the Flash being crucial to the end of the story? Let me know in the comments below (hint: click the no comments button if you see no comments).

Check out my new 5-star comedy novel, Yep, I'm Totally Stalking My Ex-Boyfriend. #AhStalking
If you’re looking for a scare, check #AFuriousWind#DARKER#BrandNewHome or  #ThePowerOfTen. For those interested in something a little more dramatic, check out #TheWriter. The full first season is out now NOW exclusively on Amazon. If you like fast action crime check out #ADangerousLow. The sequel A New Low will be out in a few months. Join us on Goodreads to talk about books and TV, and subscribe to and follow my blog with that Google+ button to the right.

Until next time, "holy cow, Batman! Superman's dead'

P.S. I was surprised when they brought in time travel so quickly to the Flash TV series but maybe that is a testing ground for everything now.

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Week Of December 11th 2015 In Review #Supergirl #ScreamQueens #XMenApocalypse #NewYearCountdown

Week Of December 11th 2015 In Review #Supergirl #ScreamQueens #XMenApocalypse #NewYearCountdown

All Supergirl pictures courtesy of CBS unless otherwise noted.


With my little mini-vacation over for the next week and a half before my big year-end finale vacation which goes from the 21st or 22nd until MLK day in the New Year, I've been biding my time soaking up all the latest news and events going on in the world of entertainment. And even though it's two weeks after Thanksgiving--the time when normally the TV wasteland kicks in--and Star Wars is the movie that will clearly dominate this holiday season, there is still plenty else to talk about on all levels. We'll begin with Supergirl (#Supergirl).

Monday's Supergirl on CBS, while not the winter finale, supplied more than enough wow, shock and awe for fans to light up the internet and Twitterverse with mind-blown reactions. The funniest thing is that much of the episode was rather bland for the titular character. After overexerting herself fighting Red Tornado, Kara experienced her first short circuit, temporarily losing her powers. As she suffered through the throes of being Human For A Day (ha! That was the title of the episode. I snuck that in there. Huh? In hindsight I don't know why I thought that was clever. Moving on), National City suffered through an earthquake.


In her humanity, Kara bleeds for the first time, gets a cold or some other sneezy disease, breaks her arm and needs rescuing by James. Sadly, the one lesson she learns comes when she cannot save a man from dying on the street. Just as the comic book Superman learns, she can't save everyone.

She eventually regains her powers when she is told by the dork that likes her (again, not bothering to shoot an email, private message tweet or phone call her cousin's way) that she can regain her powers more rapidly by having a burst of Kyrptonian adrenaline. She gets this burst when she sees James in deathly trouble in an elevator shaft after having saved some people from the upper levels. Her powers back, she rescues him from falling to his death and the day is saved.

The biggest shock for the fans came in the form of gloriously over-the-top Black guy--that beautiful man of ridiculous looks, perfectly delivered one-liners and overly awkward protectiveness over Supergirl and her sister. While at the DEO headquarters (that's the Department of Extraterrestrial Operations) the earthquake accidentally knocks out the power temporarily while he and Kara's sister are in the middle of moving a villain to a different cell. With the power of mind control, the villain escapes to roam the halls before they can get back-up generators running.

Now in lock down, over-the-top Black guy orders his crew to stay in the one safe place they know he isn't while he and two others go hunting. The alien takes over the brain of the two other soldiers, making them kill each other. Kara's sister disobeys orders and runs after her boss, taking another soldier with her who also falls prey to the mind control. Having learned the previous week that her Black superior not only worked with her father but was around when he died, she distrusts him and handcuffs him to a shelf while she tries to go stop the alien alone.

Bullets not working, her anti-mind-control device about to stop, Black guy swoops in and saves the day, defeating the rock hard alien with his bare hands. Now, she has hella questions. How could he defeat the alien in a game of fisticuffs, and all sorts of craziness. He tells her the story of her father dying and the real original Black guy dying while in pursuit of a perceived hostile alien. The alien turned out to be friendly but in trying to capture him, somehow the two DEO agents died, but not before the alien tried saving the life of Kara's adoptive father played by Dean Cain. Cain told the alien to look after his daughters which Black guy has been doing ever since. The big reveal came at the end of the story when over-the-top Black guy revealed himself to be J'onn J'onzz AKA Martian Manhunter.

Didn't See That Coming 

For those that don't know, in the comics, Martian Manhunter is a big deal. While never the most popular on his own, he is most famous for two things: being the sole survivor of the once thriving Martian race and being one of the founding members of the Justice League. Yes, he routinely fights alongside Batman, Superman, Wonder Woman, The Flash, and Green Lantern. Unlike the other aliens, he is not humanoid looking enough to blend in, but does have the power to shape-shift into anyone. 

KGBeast? Looks more like Martian Manhunter
Why is this a big deal? Recently, an article came out discussing the make-up of the film version of Martian Manhunter and if he would even be part of the Justice League. A few studio insiders said they didn't know if they'd include this iconic character because he may be too difficult to do on screen authentically. Well, if they needed a format, they just got one in a big way. This leads me to the rumor that Callan Mulvey pictured there, is actually going to be playing Martian Manhunter in the new Batman v Superman. I know that there was a very persistent rumor that he was actually going to be playing K.G. Beast, however, that was never fully confirmed and in the spirit of not packing the film with too many Justice Leaguers, it's no wonder why the producers would want to keep him under wraps, but to me he naturally looks like the alien and wouldn't have to have any kind of reveal save for saying his name in the movie since he is a shapeshifter.




Moving on, FOX's Scream Queens (#ScreamQueens) had its season finale this week and boy was it... long. For those that remember my initial three week roundup review on this (click #ScreamQueens up top to read it), I initially gave this a fairly low grade as it was a little too ridiculous. While it toned down some, I did skip three or four episodes at a time only to binge them when I got the chance, as wasting an hour each week on this wasn't to my liking. I almost didn't watch it at all during November and binged at least four episodes on Thanksgiving night, but I digress.

All pictures of Scream Queen courtesy of FOX unless otherwise noted.

Ending the shortened season with a two-hour episode, the first hour moved along nicely with Grace's psuedo-boyfriend confessing to being the 4th killer who joined only after non-gay gay Boone caught him snooping around and was about to kill him. Oh yeah, side note Boone (played by Nick Jonas) was one of the killers just in case you didn't know. Back to the boyfriend, he said he believed in what Boone was trying to do by wiping out the KKT sorority house and only joined because of that, but then he killed Boone and crazy Gigi (the loon that raised Boone and his twin sister in a mental asylum) in order to stop all the killing, but the third killer, Boone's twin sister, remained.


After sending the missive of all missives (which I thought was technically done very well with the writing being on the wall) The Chanel or Chanel #1 or Chanel Oberlin (played by Emma Roberts) became the most hated person in the world when it accidentally went out to everyone on campus. Gag! This whole set-up really did nothing but waste time to me and was a poor lead-in into a ridiculous scene that had my mouth gaping and asking, "did these fools just try to fit in an after-school special message on suicide?" Yes. Yes, they did. Quite possibly the most disingenuous show where everything was a gag, satire, or spoof on the horror genre, and had almost no real emotion explored on any level suddenly stopped about 25 minutes in to give us a PSA on "Suicide is never the answer. You shouldn't even joke about that." Look, I've dealt with the issue in my works before too, but never did it not fit the tone of what I was doing. This whole scene from the missive to the idiotic death attempt to Zayday trying to make a point that young people shouldn't kill themselves all could have been cut without anyone noticing or caring.


In fact, I felt this way about half of the episode which had me questioning why it was two hours long. Listen, outside of the real King (that guy Stephen King. Maybe you've heard of him), I am the king of long-windedness. I just finished writing a book during NaNoWriMo that is 118,000 words long unedited and will probably increase by 2000 words before the final draft. However, I try to make every scene relevant in some way that thrusts along either the character development or the action. On this last episode, there was more exposition and flashback than anything. Little action, little killing and scenes that went on and on.


The big reveal came at the beginning of the second hour which preceded a full half hour accuse-fest to finger each of the remaining Chanels as the killer (don't shake your head at me. I'll ignore it if you will). After the first hour of Zayday and Grace going through the school records of each of the remaining girls--a feat made possible by a sex scene betwixt Jamie Lee Curtis and Oliver "Dad-bod" Hudson--they came back to reveal that Chanel number six AKA neck brace girl played by Lea Michele was the killer. The only reason she was believed not to be the killer was because she had a stiletto heel stuck in her eye supposedly put there by Chanel number five played by Abigail Breslin.

The first half hour became so ridiculous that it was revealed that Chanel five's parents wanted to disown her and took this opportunity to throw her under the bus. But apparently Breslin wasn't alone as Chanel number three played by Billie Lourd (surprise, she's Princess Leia's real life daughter; didn't know it until I saw this picture.) helped her. The most ludicrous and convoluted story of them all, she supposedly had split personality disorder and had been taking killing advice from her father Charles Manson. Her other dark half would use the advice to kill her fellow sisters which she would be completely unaware that she did.

This might have been enough if the show didn't spend another seven minutes putting The Chanel in a similar scenario, fingering her as the mastermind behind it all. Why did she do it? Kind of because she could. All three of them arrested by major sleuthing all-star Chief of police Denise Hemphill (played by Niecy Nash who was literally the best part of this show for me), all was solved and fair.

And then the real killer continued revealing her plan. Yes, the real killer was Lea Michelle's Chanel number six, the "brainy" twin of Boone who, not only jabbed the heel into her own eye making sure not to puncture the actual eye, but methodically planned her entry into the inner-sanctuary of KKT all to get revenge for her dead bathtub-birthing mama. After growing up in the asylum, she was only allowed in because she posed as a handicapped student and Dean Mensch needed more diversity, unlike her brother Boone who just pretended to be a Dickie Dollar scholar while never enrolling in the school in the first place. My god, if you think this review is long you should have watched the episode.


The Chanels all disowned by their parents (Chanel number one's parents disowned her after the world-hating thing), all three of them tried representing themselves in court to which the Black judge determined they were crazy as they had slept through much of the trial. He sentenced them to life in the asylum where they each actually found happiness.


The dean and Grace's father engaged in a real relationship as she wrote a best-selling book on new new feminism which basically says the same as current feminism. While she figured out Lea Michele was the killer she didn't turn the girl in after having killed her husband and the deceptive minx knowing about it.

Now, Grace and Zayday with the help of Chanel six all turned around the KKT house to be inclusive. Those two were spared because they were nice to Chanel 6 on the first pledge day at the beginning of the year, not to mention Grace is her half sister by blood through their father. All was well, save for at the very end when the red devil killer snuck into the asylum as The Chanel slept and lorded over her with a knife. One last scream of horror for everyone and the end. Why the episodes felt so laborious, I don't know. As I said, I think they could have cut out entire scenes and it wouldn't have mattered. They could also have cut some scenes shorter like the goodbye between Denise and Chad which wasted four minutes of screen time on nothing. This honestly felt like they knew they had been commissioned for a certain amount of episodes and needed a ton of filler to make that goal.

Can't move on fast enough from that one. Maybe if they have another season next year as it was originally intended as an anthology like American Horror Story, it will be better but until then, I am left with a bland taste in my brain-mouth.

Finally, the week ended today on the release of the new X-Men Apocalypse trailer. Check it out below if you haven't seen it yet.



Quick caveat, I am not a huge X-Men fan and never was. While I enjoyed the exploits of Wolverine, the group as a whole was too varied, too angsty, too everything for me. Not that I hated any of the movies, books, or cartoons I just always thought, "oh, those are nice." With that said, I have to say I am very unimpressed with this trailer. Just as the music for the Batman v. Superman trailer disappointed me with it's one note-ness, so too did this with its lackluster ominous tone. If this is the end, why doesn't it seem like it? Maybe because we know it isn't from the Days of Future Past? I don't know.

Also, I have to say I never liked the choice of Oscar Isaacs as the villain. In stature, face, and voice, he never seemed foreboding enough to me. Forgetting his height as he can grow or shrink to infinite sizes as shown in the trailer, his voice doesn't instill terror and his face still looks silly to me like it did in the first images from the movie. Will this be good? Maybe, but from the first trailer, I am not impressed nor eager to even see it at this point.

What do you think? Were you watching any TV or film this week or were you too busy with holiday preparations? Did you see the big reveal on Supergirl? Are you excited to see Martian Manhunter? What about Scream Queens? Was this show even on your radar? How did you feel about the finale? And what of the new X-Men trailer? Did it get you excited to see the movie or are you apprehensive about the visuals? Let me know in the comments below (hint: click the no comments button if you see no comments).  


Check out my new 5-star comedy novel, Yep, I'm Totally Stalking My Ex-Boyfriend. #AhStalking
If you’re looking for a scare, check #AFuriousWind#DARKER#BrandNewHome or  #ThePowerOfTen. For those interested in something a little more dramatic, check out #TheWriter. The full first season is out now NOW exclusively on Amazon. If you like fast action crime check out #ADangerousLow. The sequel A New Low will be out in a few months. Join us on Goodreads to talk about books and TV, and subscribe to and follow my blog with that Google+ button to the right.

Until next time, "he calls them the four horsemen."
'He got that one from the Bible.'

P.S. A quote from the trailer, but seriously what is up with all the God and religious references in comic book movies these days, especially when referring to the villain? Can we stop trying to make all religion evil? I'll think of a better sign-off next time.

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Friday, December 4, 2015

This Week In Review #TheWiz #BatmanvSuperman #NewYearCountdown

This Week In Review #TheWiz #BatmanvSuperman #NewYearCountdown

All pictures of Batman V. Superman and The Flash/Arrow are courtesy of DC/Warner Bros.


Wow! A lot happened this week that I didn't blog about. Sorry, I was too fatigued from last month's posting marathon where I put out 30 posts in 30 days for NaBloPoMo (#NaBloPoMo). Not to mention I was writing my future #1 bestselling novel TMOTR (#TMOTR) for #NaNoWriMo, which took up far more time than I anticipated. After 118,000 words, 68 chapters, a ton of mysteries posed and solved, I finally finished that about three or four hours before the midnight deadline before December 1st. Have I edited any of it? No. I will actually move on to another project before circling back and editing that sometime in the new year. So stay tuned for more posts about it throughout all of next year.

Back to this week. Some of the stuff I already covered at the beginning of the week with Kobe announcing his retirement and, uh... well that's about it. So what happened this week in entertainment? Probably the biggest thing to happen this week came from the realm of comic book movies.

What The Heck Are Those Flying Things?

Monday night introduced a minute long clip from the upcoming Batman v. Superman film (#BatmanvSuperman) due out in March 2016. If you haven't seen it, you either have been living under a rock (high Patrick from Spongebob; OK, lame reference. Sorry) or you really don't care, in which case you won't care about what I have to say about it anyway. But just in case you are a little curious, I'll link to it as well as explain my take on it.

First off, for some reason a lot of journalists and bloggers alike felt the scene came from a dream sequence. In it, we see Batman hanging from a chain with others hanging on either side of him. Suddenly, Superman lands at the end of the hallway in a flourish of dust. Soldiers kneel as Kal-el swags his way down the hall toward Batman. Mean, nearly snarling and a puggish face, he reaches to grab the mask and cowl off Batman's head to reveal the man beneath.

Superman Being Mad

As good as some of the theories on why this is a dream sequence are, I can't bring myself to the same conclusion based on the other footage we saw. For one, we've already seen the beginning of this same scene. We've also seen Batman in the same garb in his costume cloaked in a khaki-colored trench coat in what looks like a desert landscape/base of some sort. Adding all the glimpses of what we've seen of this scenario, it looks like it may take up three to four minutes of runtime in the film, which I can't see being wasted on one dream sequence with a huge battle scene in it, even if it is to show the nightmarish predictions of what Bruce thinks might/could happen when encountering an alien being.

Superman Being Contemplative
To move on, two nights later Warner Bros. released an official full third trailer for BvS on Jimmy Kimmel Live which I actually consider very strange. Why? Because Kimmel works on ABC, owned by Disney who also owns Marvel and just the week before released the Captain America: Civil War trailer. I understand DC/WB don't have one specific station they are highly affiliated with like Marvel, however, it seemed a little strange for them to go to the competition's stomping grounds to ask for help with the release. It seemed like it might have served better for one of their other shows like Supergirl or even going to Colbert on CBS where Supergirl has a home or to Fallon, but I digress.

The trailer came and I was so... whelmed. That's right, I definitely wasn't overwhelmed and I don't want to say I was underwhelmed because it did have some good elements to it, however, I didn't like it as much as I hoped I would. In comparison to the Civil War trailer Thanksgiving week, it didn't wow me. Maybe that's because of the music which I felt didn't properly build to anything like the trailer music in Civil War did. I know that seems overly critical, but I only point to that because of the previous WB trailers. For Man of Steel they started to use bits of Hans Zimmer's score in the trailers. If that music is part of the film, I don't know if we're getting the best of Zimmer and Junkie XL (side note: I'm a huge original film soundtrack fan ranging from The Notebook to The Dark Knight Rises so I look forward to good memorable music). The biggest revelation came in the form of Doomsday at the end of the trailer.

Doomsday?

As rumored months ago, Lex uses the dead body of Zod to create the ever-evolving monster for the crew to battle; in fact, it is shown that Wonder Woman steps in the way of Batman and helps block a laser beam from the creation. We also saw a little more of Luthor's personality which still doesn't seem like Luthor but we'll see how it fits into the tone of the film.

Batman's Gun Is Almost As Big As Wonder Woman's Sword

As far as Batman and Superman versus-ing each other? We got a lot of that. They were jumping on each other, shooting at each other (oh yeah, Batman's got guns galore in this thing with guns on his batwing, his batmobile and a big gun at the end; don't worry, I'm sure they shoot something other than bullets) and snarling at each other like crazy. Actually, the biggest controversy has come from the final frame in which Batman holds a gun like a Russian muscle guy mobster.

Superman Being... Mad Again?
And for the way Affleck and Snyder are approaching the character, he looks quite subdued even more than the other movies. I say that because he looks almost as if he's sneaking into the big gala event like a new but humble star not used to the fame. For once, I'd like to see a more confident playboy Bruce who is a strong silent which I don't think we've gotten even in the Nolan movies I enjoyed. The tension between he and Clark is palpable. I'm also fearful we the fans might get yet another dour, mopey Superman as was many fans' chief problem with Man of Steel. In all the trailers I've seen so far, I can't remember him smiling once. He's either pissed, offended or contemplative. Where dat hope at?

All pictures of the Wiz courtesy of NBC 

Speaking of hope, NBC's rendition of The Wiz Live came on this Thursday. Sigh! What can I say about this musical. I'll start by saying that I thought it was far better than the Peter Pan Live that they put out last year, however I thought it tied in quality with the Sound of Music they threw at us the first year they did this about two years back. I'll also say that I thought the casting was quite good, especially Shanice Williams as Dorothy, Ne-yo as the Tin-man and David Alan Grier as the Lion.

Picture courtesy of Universal and Motown Productions

With that said, I'm highly disappointed. Listen, I understand that The Wiz is just the Black (excuse me, African-American) version of The Wizard of Oz but was supposed to be an updated "hipper" version. The once Broadway musical did well for quite a while but people tired of it and it went the way of Cats. Most people, however, remember the film version of the same name from the late 1970s starring such big Black stars of the day as Diana Ross as Dorothy (way too damn old) and Michael Jackson as the scarecrow (best part of the movie) and I believe it was produced by Barry Gordy if I'm not mistaken, though I'd have to fact-check that. However, the movie was probably most memorable for its creative spin on the old classic story.
With Judy Garland and the gang having already done a phenomenal job on the original Wizard of Oz, especially with the walk-through-the-forest and the fantasy realm and the middle-America farmland, The Wiz went a decidedly different direction and placed it smack in the middle of the urban landscape of Brooklyn, NY--where Brooklyn at! Where Brooklyn at! This brought a fresher, more relatable quality to the characters for many people of color and made the use of the slang relevant.


Also, I would have preferred the wicked witch be uglier and the fact that they thought Queen Latifah's Oz was a man when she clearly looked like a woman the whole time really kinda ticked me off. They did that just to fit in a feminism joke? Really?

 Even I Don't Get How They Can't Figure Out I'm A Woman

Again, I know that these are usually meant for the much younger kids and I'm sure my cousins' children may have loved it. I'm also aware that despite how ludicrously bad these live performances sometimes are (Peter Pan was just... gahh!) people still enjoy tuning in for them as The Wiz welcomed 11 million live viewers to ease on down the road with them. But in some ways I felt awkward watching this. You know dese fools had the nerve enough to use the non-word conversate AND the all-too-familiar drug addict phrase "see, what had happened was"--the same phrase addicts use when you let them in your house and suddenly your TV and other electronic equipment goes missing. I know it was supposed to be a comedy but a family comedy.

Tied Carrie Underwood on the left; Wayyy better than Peter Pan on the right!

You know what, I'm being too nit-picky about this. I'll say that it was good for a few laughs, though it finally had me questioning why a good witch would make a young girl wear some magical slippers that everyone in the kingdom knew about and would want to kill her for. Outside of my shock that they weren't Air Jordans circa 1998, did this woman really show no concern about giving this child something so dangerous? In all my years of watching The Wizard of Oz and The Wiz, I never thought of that until now. The whole thing had me yearning for a more urban take on it. If you were going to throw in slang and attitude, go all the way and put her into a strange, urban, yellow bridge road setting that made the movie unique. Otherwise, you could have just down the white version but with Black people because that is precisely how this played to me.
In the end, I do want to still support the Black community and give props for them attempting to do The Wiz, but classic this is not.

Left to Right: Hawkgirl, Picture of Vandal Savage, The Flash, Arrow
Another thing I wanted to talk about had, again, to do with comics. The CW's The Flash/Arrow crossover proved a huge success, albeit more for Arrow than the Flash. With them setting up their newest incarnation/addition to the DC CW-universe, they introduced the characters of Hawkman and Hawkgirl as well as the main villain Vandal Savage who will be bad guy numero uno on DC's Legends of Tomorrow. In the crossover, they included not only the near murder of the new Wells by that cop woman that Barry is dating, but it also included a look at Arrow's long-lost son he never had the chance to know about. He's chosen to keep the child a secret from Felicity while Jay Garrick--earth two's Flash--saved Harrison from dying by removing the bullet. And Flash traveled back in time again to warn his friends of Savage's impending leveling of the city.

Cisco between Hawkgril and Hawkman on the right.
The takeaway was concerning the set-up for the new series, however. We now know the back story of the main villain and two of the heroes to join the already established heroes and villains from Arrow and Flash. What we don't know is how Savage comes back to life after being zapped by the heroes at the end.
There was some other stuff floating about in the ether that was none comic book related but I completely forgot about what it was. Now that I'm going to be going on a brief vacation, the posts will be more sporadic as I work on editing some of my stuff and the holidays take over. Also, I'll probably release a slate sheet of the works I plan to release next year. For now, look for a milk chocolate recipe coming in the next week or so as I unleash a few good holiday recipes for you.

What did you think? Did you obsess over any big entertainment news this week? If so, what was it? Did you watch The Wiz Live!? What did you think? What about Batman v Superman? What are your theories about that Batman hanging scene, those flying monster things in the desert fight scene and Batman's gun? Let me know in the comments below (hint: click the no comments button if you see no comments).

Check out my new 5-star comedy novel, Yep, I'm Totally Stalking My Ex-Boyfriend. #AhStalking
If you’re looking for a scare, check #AFuriousWind#DARKER#BrandNewHome or  #ThePowerOfTen. For those interested in something a little more dramatic, check out #TheWriter. The full first season is out now NOW exclusively on Amazon. If you like fast action crime check out #ADangerousLow. The sequel A New Low will be out in a few months. Join us on Goodreads to talk about books and TV, and subscribe to and follow my blog with that Google+ button to the right.

Until next time, "won't you, ease on down, ease on down the rooo-ad!"

P.S. Did anyone else notice some the notes they changed in the songs? I especially noticed on the Scarecrow's "You Can't Win." I did like the new song they added in when they were going to give up on Dorothy. I think Ne-yo said he wrote it. Anyway, I'll think of a better sign-off next time.

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Monday, November 30, 2015

Things We've Learned From The First Full Month Of The NBA #NBA #Cavs #Basketball

Things We've Learned From The First Full Month Of The NBA #NBA #Cavs #Basketball

All Pictures Courtesy of the NBA and its teams and affiliates unless otherwise noted.





Surprise! Here some of you regular readers probably thought my last post for the month of National Blog Posting would be on blog posting or my NaNoWriMo progress. While I thought about both of those, I couldn't in good conscience do that knowing that I still had work to do on my book, and write my last post about completing the challenge felt too meta and like a cheat (yes, I could write previous post on NaBloPoMo but not the last one. So, I focus on another topic I'd like to discuss, the NBA.


Through to the afternoon of November 30th, the NBA has already given us a few crazy stories to follow, each dominating in their own right. Since we're on the topic of dominating, I'd be remiss if I didn't start with the biggest story the Golden State Warriors.

Having opened their season on a perfect 18-0 run, they stand just 15 games away from matching the '72 Lakers win streak of 33. With a mix of opponents both weak and strong, they still have yet to truly face their toughest tests in San Antonio and Oklahoma City in the West as well as the Cavs in the East (a Christmas Day matchup all NBA fans can't miss). However, that doesn't discount their run which includes more 30, 40 and 50-point games from their star Steph Curry than the Philadelpia 76sers have even won (their win count is at zero, by the way). The crazy trick shots and ease of stroke for Curry has put him squarely in the driver's seat for the debate of best player in the game. Of course there is this other guy in Cleveland that may have something to say about that. 

Leading the Eastern Conference Standings, Cleveland sits atop with 13 wins out of seventeen games. Not bad for the injury-riddled team but not up to Lebron and Lebron's mustache's standards. Though their star point guard as well as their first string defensive stopper Iman Shumpert are both out for at least another few weeks, and players JR Smith as well as Timofey Mozgov have also sat out a few early season games, that hasn't stopped Lebron from riding guys for lack of effort and chip-on-the-shoulder play. Seeing his finals' opponent blowing teams out by as much as 50 hasn't sat well with the king, causing him to take a deeper look at the character of the third most winningest team currently in the NBA.

Speaking of wins, it seemed as if the Houston Rockets couldn't buy one in the first few weeks of the season. Coming off of a conference finals appearance in the '14-15 season, expectations for the also-ran team were high to either duplicate or surpass such heights of success. But with a Kryptonite-ailed Superman and a switch in team chemistry from last year (cough Ty Lawson cough), the team has yet to sniff at a playoff spot in a volatile west where teams clutter at the highest win totals possible. This led to the unceremonious (and wrong in my eyes) firing of Kevin McHale as head coach. A band-aid for a much deeper locker room problem, they won the game without their coach only to resume losing a few games later.

One Of Us Is Leaving By The End Of This Season

Speaking of poor chemistry, DeMarcus Cousins and George Karl have continued their feud from last season with rumors of the owner coming down to the locker room and asking if he should fire Karl, and rumors that they discussed a possible trade with Boston. Unfortunately, every time these rumors surface, Cousins play increases exponentially the next game, making it hard for the owner to pull the lever on any potential trade or firing.

Porzingis About To Take Flight. Kris Humphries Please Remain In The Seated Position

Not the only big man that can beast, questionable (at the time) Knicks' draft pick Porzingis (not going to try spelling that first name) has been such a pleasant surprise to NY faithful that both he and his play have overshadowed the return of the previously injured All-Star Carmelo Anthony. Not only are the Knicks not trying to lose but will finish the month almost at .500 and a trade away from a playoff spot. They're still another superstar or good role player away from grabbing a piece of a championship, however.

Speaking of face-of-the-franchise superstars, many of them around the league have been a little disappointing through the first month. Taking away the stars on Golden State and Cleveland, Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook have not grabbed the headlines nor the wins as most expected they would in Kevin's contract season. While they are in the top 4 in the west, the Warriors domination of the Mississippi that-a way has overshadowed the ho-hum Allstar-level play as the two have proven they can play together to analyst... finally! LaMarcus Aldridge has willingly reduced his role from superstar to cog in the winning machine that is the Spurs, helping to power them to the number two spot behind the Warriors.

In the east, Derrick Rose has all but disappeared behind his plastic mask as the Bulls have taken losses to a few teams they shouldn't have, looking like a playoff team but not a real contender to take down the Cavs. The same can be said for the Miami Heat where D. Wade and Bosh have led their team to a respectable third place while continuing to try sculpting their own identity post-Lebron. Probably the biggest disappointment in the east comes from the nation's capital. Yes, what's happening on Capitol Hill in politics always induces eye rolls, but I'm talking about the Wizards. A team that handily defeated the Raptors last season in the playoffs and looked posed to defeat the Hawks on the way to a conference finals berth, have now slipped well below the playoff line and are struggling to find wins against all opponents.

I Made A Three, One Less Number Than The Amount Of Wins We Have

Probably the angriest fanbase in the NBA right now resides in Louisiana. The playoff-bound Pelicans of last year have floundered so much, that they are in the lower four teams of the NBA and have yet to accumulate five wins in 17 games. To clarify, it's a start slightly better than the Lakers at two wins and the 76ers at zero. The problem? Those two teams are trying to lose games for better draft positioning.

From Draft Day

The biggest breaking story came just yesterday when the completely expected news that Kobe Bryant is retiring after this season came from the man himself. After a month of playing like the Monsters from Space Jam came back and sucked his basketball powers away, he's decided to continue this farewell tour and collect that massive paycheck afforded to him for being the best player for so long. While I may make fun of Kobe, he will be extremely missed in the league. I salute you, black mamba. Five championships! Nobody can argue with that.

To Champion! 

What do you think? Have you been following your favorite NBA team or are you still locked into the NFL season? When do you think the Warriors win-streak will end? Do you think they can beat or match the Bulls 72-10 record? What do you think about Kobe Bryant announcing his retirement? Will you miss seeing him as a competitor or is it good riddance. Let me know in the comments below (hint: click the no comments button if you see no comments).

Check out my new 5-star comedy novel, Yep, I'm Totally Stalking My Ex-Boyfriend. #AhStalking
If you’re looking for a scare, check #AFuriousWind#DARKER#BrandNewHome or  #ThePowerOfTen. For those interested in something a little more dramatic, check out #TheWriter. The full first season is out now NOW exclusively on Amazon. If you like fast action crime check out #ADangerousLow. The sequel A New Low will be out in a few months. Join us on Goodreads to talk about books and TV, and subscribe to and follow my blog with that Google+ button to the right.

Until next time, "I'm announcing that, uh... I'm gonna be retiring from NBA basketball to play professional baseball."
"Uh... Why?"
"Because Nike told me to Just Do It!

P.S. Do I even have to add anything to that? I'll think of a better sign-off next time... maybe.

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Sunday, November 29, 2015

The CBAs Of Life #Positivity #BlogShare #WriterLife

The CBAs Of Life #Positivity #BlogShare #WriterLife


Rainbow!


I will go ahead and admit at this point that I am actually so exhausted from the day of writing I just had that I am finding it insanely difficult to finish these last two posts for National Blog Posting Month (#NaBloPoMo). It's strange how two days ago I had writer's block on my novel and now I'm having writer's block on what to rant and rave about. While I was going to do a post entitled: Why Does The World Love Girls So Much which would have been on the recent Universal Studios acquisition of the film rights to an as-yet not released novel entitled The Girl Before, I decided against it because I didn't know all of what I wanted to say about it as my feelings continue to be mixed. The book doesn't come out until next fall yet Ron Howard is about to make a film out of it and some self-pub writers don't get the time of day? Hmph! That has led me to do this post instead.

Positivity. Everyone tries to maintain a level of positivity in their lives in hopes that it will not only spur on things like good health and good relationships, but success in all areas. Some rare occasions I forget just how important being positive is. Let me give a caveat here and say that I respect and realize the usefulness of all emotions and feelings, but there's just something about positivity which is so addictive and the one thing we must all have if we are going to get through the drudgery of life.

From what I've seen, the world is filled with people who will doubt you and your abilities at every turn. I remember back in college I wanted to start a comedy thing and was immediately told how hard it would be. That is when the idea reinforced in my head that sometimes another person's "negativity" is not meant to be mean or overly critical on purpose. Often they believe the truth behind their words. The great thing is that you don't have to believe it.

Don't get me wrong, we all need to hear the truth from those around us we trust, but we must train ourselves to discern between when someone else may be correct about our reality and when we have the will and/or know-how to prove them wrong. I think it is for this very reason that we sometimes must take on challenges to push our limits and test the boundaries by which others see us and we see ourselves. One of the reasons I took on the National Novel Writing Month (#NaNoWriMo) challenge was not to prove to myself I could do it (I've written a book in a month countless times) but to cheer on others that didn't know if they could or not. In some ways I lost sight of that a little and busied myself with my own novel, but it did reinforce to me the precious feeling you get when you believe in yourself and accomplish what you set out to do.

My standards by which to live have always been summed up in about four or five words. You first have the acronym CBA: Conceive, Believe, Achieve. There is nothing you can do in this world without locking in the first concept of, uh... conception. You have to know what you want to achieve before you can achieve it. Some people don't have much of an idea about that when they start something. It's always too general. Saying that you want to write a novel, even picking the genre is not specific enough to motivate you all the way through to the end sometimes. I know we've all heard it before thousands of times, but writing or picturing clear goals for yourself is paramount to success.

Your Brightest Days May Lay Ahead Of You Yet!

Next, you have to believe. Stay as positive as you can as you start the process of going after what you want. Sure, you may breakdown. That's fine. A breakdown is OK so long as you can recover. Don't be ashamed to fall apart especially if you're trying to do something that others around you know is possible but are too afraid to attempt. Pride can get in the way of you daring to fail, get back up and continue. Don't take this as a continue-at-any-cost thing because when you do fall, make sure you have those honest people around you to tell you if your goal is reasonable. If it is, then keep going after it.

Though it doesn't fit into the neat acronym, the next thing you have to do is work your butt off. The reason I like NaNoWriMo and NaBloPoMo is because it pushes writers to try fitting into a community where everyone is working their tails off to get their art out and onto the page. You have people cheering on your hard work which can make you want to work even harder. But when this ends, we all must find the desire, the burn, the drive to continue the work we started. Rome wasn't built in a day, nor in a month. Your goal for writing that novel, or losing weight, or getting that job promotion or raise or whatever you want to achieve takes time. Keep at it!

And finally, try to achieve what you set before you. Remember the goals, put a time stamp on when you want to have achieved them and try sticking to it. Admittedly, it doesn't always work, but when it does, it's amazing. Even if it doesn't, you always learn something about yourself and the world around you on the way, and that can be uplifting in its own right.

What do you think? For those NaNoers out there are you staying positive as the month closes out? Do you maybe have some other goals you're trying to achieve that you are trying to stay positive on? How has your November 2015 been? Let me know in the comments below (hint: click the no comments button if you see no comments).

Check out my new 5-star comedy novel, Yep, I'm Totally Stalking My Ex-Boyfriend. #AhStalking
If you’re looking for a scare, check #AFuriousWind#DARKER#BrandNewHome or  #ThePowerOfTen. For those interested in something a little more dramatic, check out #TheWriter. The full first season is out now NOW exclusively on Amazon. If you like fast action crime check out #ADangerousLow. The sequel A New Low will be out in a few months. Join us on Goodreads to talk about books and TV, and subscribe to and follow my blog with that Google+ button to the right.

Until next time, "gimme an A! Gimme a B! Gimme a C! What's that spell?"
"ABC is not a word. It doesn't spell anything, it's just the first three letters of the alphabet."
"Wow! You try to do a positive cheerleading exercise and some people just have to be that guy."

P.S. Don't act like you don't know who that guy is. You know. You probably work with him. I'll come up with a better sign-off next time.

P.P.S. Am I tripping or just spelling "positivity" wrong? I used two different word processors and they both underlined it? Guess machines don't like that word.

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Saturday, November 28, 2015

How To Prep Your Vegetable And Ornamental Garden Beds For Winter #Gardening #WinterPrep #Veg

How To Prep Your Vegetable And Ornamental Garden Beds For Winter #Gardening #WinterPrep #Veg

Vegetable Garden 2015


Usually before I write anything I have an exact length of how long I'd like it to be. Same goes for time spent doing something like chores, etc. I say that to say that I have no idea how long this post will be just as I underestimated how long it would take for me to complete my winter garden cleanup.

What were we looking at here? That picture above was at the very beginning of the season. In the back to the far left you can see the container in which I grow corn. To the left of the main garden those colorful green and red leaves are baby lettuce and kale. To the far right against the wall are where I put the broccoli and beans. The white hoops are where the tomatoes grew for support. To give you a rundown of the things I grew and what I'm cleaning up, I will say that it was a lot. And though the success rate varied on each plant, I consider the overall season a success as roughly 65% of the things I planted grew well. So, the list:

Zone 6 (some websites do say 5 but Burpees says 6), Northern Ohio.

Vegetable/Fruit Grown                                                   Success Rate
Tomatoes: Two beefsteak varieties                                 Medium High
Tomatoes: Two Cherry varieties                                     Medium High
Tomatoes: Grape variety                                                High
Peppers: Hot                                                                 High
Peppers: Sweet                                                             Medium High
Pumpkins: Pie and Canning variety                                 High
Watermelons: Oblong shaped                                        Low (1)
Watermelons: Globe-shaped or small                             None
Beans: String                                                                 Low
Beans: Canning and Shelling                                           Medium
Corn: Sweet                                                                  Low (side note: eaten by birds)
Cantaloupe                                                                    None
Honeydew                                                                     Low (1)
Potatoes: White                                                              None
Potatoes: Sweet, Orange                                                Low (4 small edible ones)
Cabbage:                                                                       None (side note: didn't intend on growing)
Strawberries:                                                                 Medium High
Onions: Green (shallots)                                                Medium High (side note: grown in house container)
Onions: Sweet Bulbs                                                    None
Onions: Red                                                                 None
Kale: Normal Green                                                     High
Kale: Red                                                                    Medium Low
Collard Greens:                                                           Medium Low
Salad Greens: Mesclun Mix                                         Medium Low
Salad Greens: Red                                                      Medium Low
Salad Greens: Heirloom Mix                                       Medium Low
Broccoli: Normal                                                        Low (side note: No heads harvested)
Broccoli: Raabi                                                           Low (side note: No heads harvested)
Cauliflower                                                                 Low (side note: One head left to harvest)
Eggplant                                                                     Low

Foo! That was a lot. I think that's all I tried to grow--actually, as I was writing this sentence I remembered the eggplant. I really don't have a lot of space I grow everything in so it is always an achievement for me to have grown nearly any food. Sorry I didn't list the proper names of everything I grew. That would have just made the list even longer as I grew three varieties of corn, two varieties of grape tomatoes, three varieties of hot peppers, both bell and banana sweet peppers, two varieties of broccoli and cauliflower, two varieties of potatoes a slew of different melons and the list goes on. Next spring I hope to be more scientific with everything and properly journal it all for you guys so you know what exactly I'm growing up here.

Also, I should expound upon the side notes. I've been veggie gardening (#gardening) for a few years now. I grow everything from seed with the exception of potatoes. I usually buy those from the store and wait until they start sprouting stems and leaves, then pluck them off and plant. I also start most of my stuff inside my house during the winter months. I start a little late, usually March but this year started even later in late April because I was so busy with finishing my epic serial novel Unrequited. I'll do another post in the spring on why you should grow from seed if you grow at all, but suffice it to say right now that you have more control and it's cheaper.

With that said, having grown from seed plenty before I can tell you that the salad greens are usually the easiest to grow along with the collard greens which absolutely take off each year. I also usually get broccoli pretty early or pretty late in the season but didn't get any this year. It's on the list as a low success rate because I harvested some of the leaves, which are edible and mixed them with the collard greens when we had them boiled for Thanksgiving. They have much of the same taste/nutrient value (they're from a similar genus) and most people can't tell the difference. They're also cold hardy as our the collards and kale so I may get another harvest yet.

That's My Pest/Friend Bunny

The greens, broccoli and cauliflower all suffered I think because I overmulched last winter with leaves. More on leaves later, but suffice it to say that the ground was not happy about the woody covering. As they decompose, woody things suck out the nitrogen needed to make everything green and leaf abundant. I also usually grow my broccoli in a row that the previous year was used for beans. The beans next to them in the same bed also didn't do well as the strings sat low. They, I'm suspecting were eaten by our recent infestation of rabbits across the town. They're literally everywhere and I had one living amongst the bigger vegetation in my garden. I named him Bunny. I don't have to always be creative in life.

I also had a huge problem with birds for the first time this year as they mercilessly tore into my cornstalks. I grow my corn in a container (yes, it's possible for you novices). They only got about four feet tall when the birds came over and ripped the stalks from the container and tore the container's side. Vicious arm-less creatures. They also tore through my salad greens and collards. Everything else was good. Very little insect damage to any of my plants despite the huge mosquito colony that lived within my over-flooded area. Also, while I grew a heck of a lot of strawberries, my neighbor's dog kept eating them, then when I would pick them I would forget I had them and they would sit and rot in the back of the fridge. Luckily, I stayed diligent with the tomatoes and peppers and still have two full plastic bottles of tomato puree to do with what I wish. FYI, those 16.9oz water bottles you get with your favorite brand make great containers for freezing sauces in so long as you don't drink directly from them before hand. Or do it if its only you who is going to use the sauce inside. I don't care.

The white potatoes got flooded and I accidentally cut the top off in the heat which immediately killed them. The sweet potatoes also flooded but I was able to save them by scooping out the water.

Finally, to the actual garden prep. Two things I wanted to save to overwinter for next year were my pepper plants and tomato plants. Due to an early frost way back at the end of September (seriously, 30 degree nighttime dip; in contrast, Thanksgiving was 65 degrees) the tomatoes died off before I could transplant. I did, however get to my pepper plants in time.

Hot Peppers Left to right: Bird pepper, Jalapeno Pepper

Note first that this first step is done after transplanting. To overwinter you cut all the flowers, potential buds and fruit from the plant. Then trim any leaves that point inward or look like they will cross with another branch opposite of it. Finally, you want to top off the plant by picking a leveling spot and cutting off the top most growing branch of all branches at that level. Remove about 80% of the leaves, keeping only the top most leaves, then move it inside. Again, this is after you've already dug it from the ground and re-potted it.

To re-pot it, dig it out of the ground, have a warm bucket of clean, clear water nearby, shake the dirt from the root ball, then dip the entire root ball into the water. Wiggle it around. This cleans the root ball of most unwanted house pests that may live within the soil. Make sure you do it hard enough to create as bare of a root as possible--no soil from outside.

Two Sweet Pepper Plants: Left to right, banana and sweet bell

Next, get a clean, sanitized flower pot. If you have an old one that had something in it before or you just bought a new one, you might want to wash it of any possible bacteria that could have gotten on it. Remember, this will be the plant's home for the next six months or so. It has to be healthy where it is. Finally, fill the pot with a good clean potting mix, bring the pot inside and set it in a very sunny place. If the temperature in-house is drastically hotter or cooler than the outside temps, you may want to acclimate it to the inside over the course of two weeks by bringing it in each day for two more hours than the previous day starting with two hours in the windowsill. Note that as it gets later into winter, you'll need to supplement the sunlight with a good fluorescent or halogen grow light. I usually use the ones in my basement or laundry room and they do just fine. This is the first time I'm doing this with an adult plant, so I don't know if I'll succeed throughout the winter but fingers crossed.

The same steps can be followed for tomatoes. In both cases you'll want to water at least once a week but not nearly as much as you did when they were outside. Think 1/3 to 1/4 of what you gave it then. You'll also need to feed it a nitrogen-heavy food once or twice a month to keep up leaf growth. I'm using a compost tea. When it gets time to plant it outside again, you'll switch to a more potassium and phosphorous-heavy feed to stimulate root and flower growth to prepare it for the season. Finally, you'll want to top it off every few weeks so it doesn't completely cease growing and tries to bush out more.

Practically every other vegetable is a one-time seasonal thing that cannot be saved overwinter. So what do you do with that thick broccoli stalk or the corn stalks that you couldn't eat or the dried pumpkin vines after harvesting the pumpkins? One beautiful word: Compost.

A Mixture of finished compost, coffee grounds and dead leaves

Composting is incredibly difficult and easy. If you're here reading this, I'm sure you've read/asked about compost and know of the varying ratios of browns to greens and reds and blues and all that! Look, there are two things you need in abundance for good compost: dead leaves and coffee grounds/kitchen scraps. The best way to get coffee grounds is to call your local Starbucks or other coffeehouse about an hour before they close and ask them if they have any used ones from the day for your garden. Most (not all) will gladly give them to you because it's their waste and they'd rather you put it to good use than just throw it out.

Collect leaves either from the leaf litter of your own property in the fall or that of your surrounding neighbors. Note that you will need ten times more leaves than you will coffee grounds. Since I was thinking about putting in a small orchard next year, I needed leaves not just for my compost but also for mulch for all of my garden beds. So, instead of collecting leaves week after week which I did last year and it took two and a half weeks to collect all the leaves I needed, I called my local service department and asked for them to dump some leaves on my property during their free leaf pick-up rounds.

Seriously It Took Up A Third Of The Lawn. LEAVES!

It took some massaging and getting on people to properly do their job, but I ended up with a lot of leaves; in fact, probably too much. You see, the deal originally was for me to get one of the smaller truckloads about half the size of the pile you see. That pile by the way may look small perspective-wise, however, it stood no less than six feet tall and was as wide as a pick-up truck and longer than two mid-sized cars parked back to back. It was literally tons of leaves. So, stuck with the task of moving them, I had to take three full days off last week from writing just to get them around the property to where they needed to go, eating up all my free time.

A few before and after pictures, this is what the berm of small trees covering the back edge of my property used to look like.
You can't even see the trees from the weeds and it doesn't look tall either.



And this is it with the leaf mulch. It should be noted that it stands roughly two and a half feet high.
The picture is from farther away, however you can clearly see the difference in definition and height. 


These are the two front gardens filled with leaves as their mulch.

Makes a great looking mulch! 

I should note two things here. First is that the leaves will eventually breakdown all on their own. Many people get chopped-up trees to mulch their gardens. While that works, it means that a tree has been cut down or has naturally died and was shredded to get what you see. Leaves, however, are not only almost as nutrient dense as the tree bark, but readily fall each year. The nutrients the tree's roots pull from the ground go directly to the leaves. It is only right that it should go back into the ground. Also, I am of the opinion that the bigger the tree, the deeper or wider the roots, thusly the more nutrients they've pulled. So get as many leaves from tall healthy trees as possible.

That bush in the lower left may be infected from the leaves or has lost too much nitrogen too fast. 

That leads to the second note which is the cautious danger I am taking with the leaf delivery. With the entire truck filled with different leaves from many different trees throughout the surrounding neighborhood, I have no idea from where over half of these leaves came. Sure, I walk the neighborhood everyday, however, some of the trees could have been diseased or dying and have yet to show signs of such distress, but contain their sickness within the leaves. So, while this is also a problem inherent but not often thought of when it concerns wood chips or regular bark mulch, it is an even bigger problem with leaves as they get everywhere and break down much faster into the soil.

Because of this potential problem, what I did was make a one-layer compost bed for the established ornamental gardens. The leaves do not lay directly on the soil preventing them from not only causing soil-borne pathogens from spreading but also from them robbing the soil of more nitrogen than they put out. However, beneath them is a mixed layer of dead grass and coffee grounds. Experienced gardeners know that those pull nitrogen from the soil too during their breakdown and come spring I do expect for my plants not to be as green; however, they are also rich sources of nitrogen and organic food matter for the worms and other beneficial soil organisms. With it remaining warm for the next few days and wet, many of those organisms will get to work on breaking that food down before the ground freezes. The wet leaves will act as an insulating barrier to keep them closer to the surface soil. I expect the leaves to be here for the next two seasons to create a golden to brown mulch and keep weeds down. I tried this last year on a side bed with nothing but a bush growing in it and it worked.

Also, some things can survive the winter but may need mulching. Kale and collard greens and many beets can survive through the winter so long as you cut off all their leaves. They do not need to be mulched and I found that if you mulch them with leaves, it can suck out more nitrogen than it has time to break down. Leave them bare and they'll do fine. Strawberries, however, should be mulched over with a small layer of chopped up leaves. The leaves will allow them to get some carbon dioxide during the winter while protecting them from the harshness of the wind and frost. Do Not Bring Them Inside!

Not only do you need leaves but chopped-up micro leaves are the best which is where the truck came in nicely. See, the smaller the leaf, the better it looks as a mulch, the more water it allows through a layer, and the quicker it breaks down. This is very important for compost as you want your compost pile to break down as quickly as possible before the spring planting season. The vacuum on the leaf collector trucks suck the leaves so fast that many of the crispier ones break into a fine grain perfect for compost. If you collect the leaves yourself you can mulch them smaller by mowing over a row of them a few times with your lawn mower, or dumping them into a cleaned-out garbage pale and whacking them with your weed whacker. I've been told this works well. Here I used the lawn mower.

Make a pile about two widths of the lawn mower and go around twice the same direction with your side blower attachment. It should be noted that you have to use a mulching mower or you'll have a tougher time getting across the leaves. The third time go down the opposite side, blowing all the mulched leaves back into the original row. This not only chops the leaves but mixes them well with some grass. Next, put the collection bag attachment on and go through as many times as needed to collect all of the leaves. Whatever's left embedded in the soil you can let sit and it will break down within nine months without help.

Branches at the bottom allow better air circulation, needed for bacteria.
To construct the pile, I start with a good base of leaves. I like to start over top of a hole with branches strewn across it like a drawbridge. You can see them a little if you look closely in the picture. Using a large snow shovel is easiest to measure out the perfect ratio. I do twenty shovelfuls of leaves to one shovel of coffee grounds and grass clippings/food scraps. Go leaves, coffee grounds, lawn clippings, leaves, coffee grounds, food scraps, leaves, coffee grounds, grass clippings, leaves, food scraps, coffee grounds, leaves. Those hesitant to put old food in because it may attract animals should know that most animals (outside of domesticated cats and dogs occasionally) don't like the smell of the coffee grounds. Putting the scraps toward the middle of the pile and making sure they are covered with ample leaves and a second layer of coffee grounds ensures they will not attract furry critters.

Putting the Coffee Grounds into the Shovel make them easier to spread evenly.

You are trying for no less than three feet by three feet by three feet (wide, length and height) and it is best to build directly on the dirt you plan to plant on the next year. Between each layer you want to wet the medium with water or leftover alcohol and pop (soda) work well too. The bacteria set to do the work live within water so they need it to start the breakdown. However, too much will make the pile soppy and not enough will not help the process.

It might not look it but that is about 3.5 feet tall. 

Once big and wide enough make sure that you spray it down once more to seal it with a liquid, poke air pockets in it with a sharp stick or whatever you can get to poke holes through it. The bacteria also need to breathe. Then you can cover it and do one of two things. Either wait until next spring to deal with it again and it'll slowly breakdown but it won't be completely ready the day you want to plant. Or, you can tend to it for the next three weeks, turning and churning it to put the outside stuff not yet composting into the inside over and over. This will help the pile heat quicker and leave you with less work in the spring. Come spring time you'll just need to rake it out and put it in the places it needs to go. I choose to cover mine and will look at it again in December when I get some time and a vacation. By that time it will be colder which can tell me if it's heated up or not. When you dig into the center of your pile you want it to be hot and near black as that is a sure sign the microbes are working. If it is cold enough outside, the pile may smoke. If it is smoking, congrats, you have a hot compost pile. Sit back and let it cook or turn it to keep it from burning.

Covering it will keep it from becoming too wet during the winter, halting the composting process.

Well, that's about all I have to share on my winter garden clean-up for now. I literally moved four tons of leaves and have everything set for a kick-butt spring. We'll see if everything is still alive or composted come April.
A clean, clear lawn. No more leaf pile.


What do you think? Was this article helpful to you and your winter garden clean-up? Do you garden at all? If so, do you ever compost or use any mulch in any of your gardens? If you veggie garden, which veg is your favorite to grow and why? Let me know in the comments below (hint: click the no comments button if you see no comments).

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Until next time, "it's all home-on-the-range and stuff around here. This is nature."


P.S. That was a quote said by a friend of mine. I am now occasionally known as farmer and the amount of food I can grow in the small bit of land I utilize for my veg garden is becoming famous... sort of. I'll think of something better next time.


P.P.S. Now that I remember it, I also grew zucchini with no success. It was a late season add so I really didn't expect it to succeed after planting it in 80 degree weather.

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