IN MEMORIAM: Vince Flynn (1966 – 2013)

Vince with a Fan During the ‘American Assassin’ Book Tour (2010)

There are few celebrities that I ever get upset about when I hear that they have passed. Jimmy Stewart was one, but, of course, that was to be expected due to his advanced age. Michael Jackson was probably the biggest shock to me and my generation, however, when I heard about the loss of Vince Flynn this morning, I was devastated.

This is the first time I have ever experienced the loss of a favorite author and there is something profoundly different about the emotional connection that we have as human beings with the written word and no one could spin a better yarn of suspense than Vince. Today’s news came as a huge shock and the sense of loss has been a bit more overwhelming than I would have expected for a man I never met, almost as if I had lost a friend. When you think about it, you really truly do get to know someone intimately by their writing and unlike Tom Clancy (who Vince was often compared to), Vince wrote characters, first, and it’s in the characters that we find a greater insight into ourselves.

Vince announced to his fans (us) before anyone via his email newsletter in 2010 that he had stage three metastatic prostate cancer but vowed to fight it and as far as we or anyone else knew, he was winning the battle. That being said, Vince was also a very private man and no one but his closest friends and family knew the extent of the progression of his illness.

Vince Flynn was 47 years-old and leaves behind a loving wife and three children who were with him at the time of his death.

Vince’s biography from his website:

The fifth of seven children, Vince Flynn was born in St. Paul, Minnesota, in 1966. He graduated from the St. Thomas Academy in 1984, and the University of St. Thomas with a degree in economics in 1988. 

After college he went to work for Kraft General Foods where he was an account and sales marketing specialist. 

In 1990 he left Kraft to accept an aviation candidate slot with the United States Marine Corps. One week before leaving for Officers Candidate School, he was medically disqualified from the Marine Aviation Program, due to several concussions and convulsive seizures he suffered growing up. While trying to obtain a medical waiver for his condition, he started thinking about writing a book. This was a very unusual choice for Flynn since he had been diagnosed with dyslexia in grade school and had struggled with reading and writing all his life. 

Having been stymied by the Marine Corps, Flynn returned to the nine-to-five grind and took a job with United Properties, a commercial real estate company in the Twin Cities. During his spare time he worked on an idea he had for a book. After two years with United Properties he decided to take a big gamble. He quit his job, moved to Colorado, and began working full time on what would eventually become Term Limits

Like many struggling artists before him, he bartended at night and wrote during the day. Five years and more than sixty rejection letters later he took the unusual step of self-publishing his first novel. The book went to number one in the Twin Cities, and within a week had a new agent and two-book deal with Pocket Books, a Simon & Schuster imprint. 

Term Limits hit the New York Times bestseller list in paperback and started a trend for all of Flynn’s novels. Since then, his books have become perennial bestsellers in both paperback and hardcover, and he has become known for his research and prescient warnings about the rise of Islamic Radical Fundamentalism and terrorism. Read by current and former presidents, foreign heads of state, and intelligence professionals around the world, Flynn’s novels are taken so seriously one high-ranking CIA official told his people, “I want you to read Flynn’s books and start thinking about how we can more effectively wage this war on terror.” 

October 2007 marked another milestone in Flynn’s career when his ninth political thriller, Protect and Defend, became a #1 New York Times bestseller. A few months later, CBS Films optioned the rights for Flynn’s Mitch Rapp character with the intention of creating a character-based, action-thriller movie franchise. Lorenzo di Bonaventura, who previously launched the Harry Potter and Matrix films as head of production at Warner Bros., and Nick Wechsler (We Own the Night, Reservation Road) will produce the films. Filming on the first film is set to begin in the fall of 2013. Bruce Willis has already signed on to act in the project. 

American Assassin and Kill Shot, published in October 2010 and February 2012 respectively, are prequels in the Mitch Rapp saga and both reached #1 on the New York Times bestseller list. 

His most recent publication, The Last Man, published in October 2012, was also a #1 New York Times bestseller. 

Works by Flynn include American Assassin, Kill Shot, Transfer of Power, The Third Option, Separation of Power, Executive Power, Memorial Day, Consent to Kill, Act of Treason, Extreme Measures, Pursuit of Honor, The Last Man and Term Limits (not part of the Mitch Rapp series). 

Influences: Ernest Hemingway, Robert Ludlum, Tom Clancy, J.R.R. Tolkien, Gore Vidal, and John Irving.

‘Star Trek Into Darkness’ – Do Star Trek Fans Want Star Trek To Be Unsuccessful and Unpopular?

stidIn the wake of my review recently, I had a lot of great responses both here and on Facebook from fans and non-fans alike.  It appears that the piece opened up a good dialogue about the subject of Trek-fandom and their disdain for the Abramsverse.  What I found out, and I really kind of knew this, is that there is a segment of the fandom that really didn’t like the first film for all of the goofiness and, well, f*cking with the established history of the franchise, but don’t necessarily hate the film or the Abramsverse.  They’re skeptical of the new film, but they aren’t the butt-hurt, hater crowd. I just want to make clear that my criticism of the negative attitude by a certain segment of the fanbase is by no means a criticism overall of fans who are skeptical and have issues with a lot of the goofy shit present in both of the Abrams films. After all, there’s seriously a lot of goofy shit in both of these films (more blatantly in the first) and I wouldn’t expect fans to not take issue with them or to dismiss them out-of-hand.

This... is a BIG "no-no"

This… is a BIG “no-no”

I recently noted that that it had just dawned on me that the aft-end of the nacelles (engines) on the Enterprise in Star Trek (2009) glowed (and glowed brighter when the engines were “revving up”) and how as a Trek fan that annoyed the piss out of me because Roddenberry was insistent on the fact that the propulsion methods should not bare any resemblance to contemporary methods of propulsion, i.e., nothing coming out of the tailpipe. This is why the end-caps went from having all of those little round vents on them in the first pilot to just being those round globes during production.

That’s an important detail that the producers just ignored. To make matters worse, what did they do with the engines this time? F*cking CONTRAILS

ron moore bsgThen something very unexpected occurred: I realized those contrails looked bad-ass. Yes, they are in complete contradiction with everything I know about the franchise, but eff me if they don’t look wicked awesome and if I think that (considering I hate the concept in general) you damned-well know that the non-Trek fan in the audience thinks so, too. And that’s kind of where I think a lot of us fans stand. There’s a bit of self-loathing going on and guilt, here. “I shouldn’t like this but I do,” and that’s what kind of made me realize that you have to take these films in from the objective perspective of someone who’s just being introduced to the franchise… or just likes kickass action films. The foundation for the principles of the franchise are certainly there even of they eff up some of (or a lot of) the details of the minutiae but, on that note, Ron D. Moore does make a very good point that it is that minutiae that has contributed to making the franchise inaccessible to new audiences.

What I think has made it difficult for the fanbase in general to not be skeptical was the shock over the destruction of Vulcan in the first film. That hit me like a ton of bricks because of how integral Vulcan is to the mythology and because there wasn’t even any setup to get us prepared for it. It was like, “Pew, pew, pew… BOOM… Vulcan’s gone.”

"And of course, our intention is to completely ass-rape the entire franchise..."

“And of course, our intention is to completely ass-rape the entire franchise…”

That being said, having issues with the goofy shit is normal. Being cautious is normal, but I have to tell you that there really is a certain segment of the fandom that has hated this new vision of Trek since the Vegas Trek Convention of 2008 when Zachary Quinto and Leonard Nimoy were on stage on the last day discussing it and warning the fans that it’s going to be different but they’re going to like it.  This carried on through December of 2008 when more and more details were starting to come out and the chorus of hate was reaching a fever-pitch… even though they had not seen a single frame of the film. That just seemed absurd to me and it especially seems absurd when I see the irrational hate spewed at this new film by the fans who hate it for the sake of hating it at this point. I get skepticism as a reaction to the first film, but the “haters” have the exact same complaints about this film that they did the first one (or they’re just contriving false criticism about the plot) and I don’t even know how one could rationally come to that considering how much better EVERYTHING is about the new film and how it actually felt like Star Trek.


Lens flares… seriously? Spock and Uhura having a relationship? It’s not Star Trek, it’s Star Wars? C’mon… seriously?

They have spoken... and they do not approve.

They have spoken… and they do not approve.

I’ve come to a conclusion about this irrational hatred toward the Abramsverse and I’m not saying that my conclusion is right or wrong, but it is something to consider. I have a feeling that this segment of the fanbase doesn’t want Star Trek to be popular. Whether they realize it or not, their issues have nothing to do with the quantifiable changes to the franchise, just the idea of change itself.  Allow me to explain.

Star Trek, for better or worse, has a justly earned reputation for having a strong appeal for kids who were, shall we say, less than popular. A lot of these kids felt excluded by the more popular and athletic kids because they were different. These “nerdy kids” were smarter, they were more intuitive, they were more curious, they were more creative and they were also socially awkward and they were non-conformists. There’s nothing worse than being a non-conformist during elementary and high school.

Future Scientists? Perhaps. Future All-American Athletes and Prom Kings? Not so much…

Then they found Star Trek which provided an outlet for their personalities and interests as well as an escape but more importantly they found a community of other like-minded folks to belong to, and that’s very important for all human beings. Star Trek is theirs and theirs alone and I can tell you from my own personal experience, the Trek fandom that was excluded socially easily transitioned to becoming the excluders when they found their niche.

I wasn’t always a Star Trek fan, I became one in 1997 because of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine. When I was growing up, I was a casual viewer. I would watch Star Trek and then Star Trek: The Next Generation when it happened to be on but I wasn’t ever scheduling time to watch the franchise. I enjoyed it but my life certainly didn’t revolve around it. I was 18 when Star Trek: Generations came out and I was at a friend’s house on opening night and some of his friends had come over who had just seen the new film. Even if you weren’t a Trek fan, you knew that the big deal in that film was the “rumor” of the death of Kirk. When I casually asked one of these guys whether or not Kirk was killed, I was given a response something along the lines of, “Yeah, but it’s complicated… the Nexus, blah, blah, blah…” with eye-rolling and dismissive short responses pretty much implying, “You’re not a Trek fan, you wouldn’t understand and I’m not explaining it you.” To sum it up, instead of embracing my interest in Trek, they basically rejected me from their clique the same way they had been rejected socially… which was a mistake because I was good at getting girls and booze… which they weren’t good at.

"That bastard Abrams even brought his f*cking Stormtroopers with him to MY Convention! Where is he?!"

“That bastard Abrams even brought his f*cking Stormtroopers with him to MY Convention! Where is he?!”

And this is kind of the attitude that I’m reminded of and I’m seeing, now. These same people who bitched (and still do) relentlessly about what producers Rick Berman and Brannon Braga did to the franchise in the mid-to-late 90’s and into the 00’s want to see Trek in 2013 go back to those days. Not because it was better, but because it was their exclusive domain. They may hate Rick Berman (which is something that Berman alludes to on the Star Trek: Enterprise Season One Blu-ray Special Features and seems very taken back and upset by even to this day about)  for being “the sonofabitch who ruined the franchise” (a sentiment that I believe is unfair, in general… there were many factors involved) but he’s their sonofabitch.

Oh, that's EASY!  What's wring with the picture is that a pretty girl who's not castmember is wearing a Starfleet uniform.

Oh, that’s EASY! What’s wrong with the picture is that a pretty girl who’s not a castmember is wearing a Starfleet uniform.

Trek is their club and it shall not be interfered with by that Star Wars lover and non-fan J.J. Abrams and the legions of other non-fans that now like it.  As I noted, my wife liked the first film and her interest in Star Trek is so beyond limited that when it’s on, she stares at the screen like one of those magic eye pictures waiting for the sailboat to appear and the last thing a Trek fan wants is for pretty women to like it (despite the fact that if they cleaned off the coke-bottle glasses off and opened their flippin’ eyes they’d notice that there are plenty of hot Star Trek fans right at their damned conventions).  They want Trek to be just popular enough that it only gets other Star Trek fans involved.

trek warsWell, unfortunately for them, this is an absurd goal because as I pointed out in the review, there simply aren’t anywhere close to being enough of us to support the franchise and keep it successful. Trek has to make its tent bigger in order to survive and if that means tearing down a lot of the established aspects of the franchise and introducing more ‘splosions and action, well that’s just a reality that has to be accepted or we’ll lose Trek forever.  Sorry, but the best thing for Trek to be successful is that it has to get fans of Star Wars (which is pretty much everyone) to watch it.  Historically, it has been rare to find Star Trek fans that weren’t also fans of Star Wars.  On the other hand, however, it was rarer yet to find Star Wars fans who were also fans of Star Trek.  There’s a reason why that has held true until recently and it comes down to accessibility.

star-trek-warsAt its core, the principles and concepts of Trek have been able to find mass-appeal for more than 46 years regardless of race, creed, age, income level, educational level, sexual orientation… whatever. The issues the franchise has had to overcome have been in regards to execution in production, not theory or principles.  And that’s really, at this point, what the major changes have been about; how Trek goes about telling its stories and from my perspective, if telling Trek’s stories in a manner that appeals to all audiences requires an execution more like that of Star Wars and less like that of Star Trek: The Motion Picture, that’s what needs to be done and it should be embraced by all of us… provided that the finished product isn’t total shit.

Kirk Demotivator

GEEK ALERT! BBC: Matt Smith Leaving ‘Doctor Who,’ The Search For Number Twelve Begins…

Doctor-Who 50 tardis

Via The Official Blog:

The BBC is today announcing that Matt Smith is to leave Doctor Who after four incredible years on the hit BBC One show. Matt first stepped into the TARDIS in 2010 and will leave the role at the end of this year after starring in the unmissable 50th Anniversary in November and regenerating in the Christmas special. During his time as the Doctor, Matt has reached over 30 million unique UK viewers and his incarnation has seen the show go truly global. He was also the first actor to be nominated for a BAFTA in the role.

Matt quickly won over fans to be voted Best Actor by Readers of Doctor Who Magazine for the 2010 season. He also received a nod for his first series at the National Television Awards, before winning the Most Popular Male Drama Performance award in 2012.

Matt has played one of the biggest roles in TV with over 77 million fans in the UK, USA and Australia alone!

Doctor-Who 50Matt Smith says: “Doctor Who has been the most brilliant experience for me as an actor and a bloke, and that largely is down to the cast, crew and fans of the show. I’m incredibly grateful to all the cast and crew who work tirelessly every day, to realise all the elements of the show and deliver Doctor Who to the audience. Many of them have become good friends and I’m incredibly proud of what we have achieved over the last four years.

Having Steven Moffat as show runner write such varied, funny, mind bending and brilliant scripts has been one of the greatest and most rewarding challenges of my career. It’s been a privilege and a treat to work with Steven, he’s a good friend and will continue to shape a brilliant world for the Doctor.

The fans of Doctor Who around the world are unlike any other; they dress up, shout louder, know more about the history of the show (and speculate more about the future of the show) in a way that I’ve never seen before, your dedication is truly remarkable. Thank you so very much for supporting my incarnation of the Time Lord, number Eleven, who I might add is not done yet, I’m back for the 50th anniversary and the Christmas special!

It’s been an honour to play this part, to follow the legacy of brilliant actors, and helm the TARDIS for a spell with ‘the ginger, the nose and the impossible one’. But when ya gotta go, ya gotta go and Trenzalore calls. Thank you guys. Matt.”

Steven Moffat, lead writer and executive producer, says : “Every day, on every episode, in every set of rushes, Matt Smith surprised me: the way he’d turn a line, or spin on his heels, or make something funny, or out of nowhere make me cry, I just never knew what was coming next. The Doctor can be clown and hero, often at the same time, and Matt rose to both challenges magnificently. And even better than that, given the pressures of this extraordinary show, he is one of the nicest and hardest-working people I have ever had the privilege of knowing. Whatever we threw at him – sometimes literally – his behaviour was always worthy of the Doctor.

But great actors always know when it’s time for the curtain call, so this Christmas prepare for your hearts to break, as we say goodbye to number Eleven. Thank you Matt – bow ties were never cooler.

Of course, this isn’t the end of the story, because now the search begins. Somewhere out there right now – all unknowing, just going about their business – is someone who’s about to become the Doctor. A life is going to change, and Doctor Who will be born all over again! After 50 years, that’s still so exciting!”

Having starred alongside three different companions, Amy Pond (Karen Gillan), Rory Williams (Arthur Darvill) and most recently Clara Oswald (Jenna Coleman), Matt’s Doctor has fought Daleks and Cybermen, as well as Weeping Angels in New York. Regularly heard shouting ‘run’ and ‘Geronimo’, through Matt’s Doctor fans have been introduced to a new culinary combination – fish fingers and custard!

Matt’s spectacular exit is yet to be revealed and will be kept tightly under wraps. He will return to BBC One screens in the unmissable 50th anniversary episode on Saturday 23rd November 2013 – TUNE IN!

We’ll have exclusive quotes from Jenna on this site tomorrow and a special video from Matt – coming soon!