Josh Liam Patrick-Riley

I used to write songs, now I'm trying my hand at writing books.


Today was going to be the day I had my right front tooth extracted. My root had been fractured since 2nd or 3rd grade and I was finally going to get it taken out so I could get an implant.

After the x-rays it came time for the procedure. When I got the shot of novocaine into the back of my gums I started singing to deal with the pain. Not any song in particular, but more like humming with my mouth open. Afterward I asked the hygienist if she enjoyed my singing and she said sometimes they sing to deal with the pain like that too.

Right before the procedure they talked about how since the root was fractured it would be harder to get the second part out. This was different than what I had hoped it would be, since when I got teeth pulled as a kid it was easy.

The first part was easy, a little bit of pressure but no big deal. The tooth had come apart from the root though, and that’s when the real fun began. At this point I heard the sound of a drill, and when I felt little bits of flood fly up onto my face…it was the definition of fun, without question.

Still though the two assistants to the doctor were impressed at how well the tooth looked when it came out, I kept both the main part of tooth and the root. After more than twenty years of the root being broken I finally had the tooth extracted, end of an era and something that had been with me for so many parts of my life. Next, in a few more months I would be getting the implant. For now I would be wearing this prosthetic called a flipper, feeling glad that the procedure went so well.


Top Movies of 2016

Hey everyone, with the Oscars tonight I thought it was time for another top ten list.

As a disclaimer I haven’t seen all of the movies from 2016 that I want to, and the movies that could make it onto here somewhere include:

Hell or High Water, Elle, Fences, Toni Erdmann, O.J.: Made in America, Nocturnal Animals, Hacksaw Ridge, Kubo and the Two Strings, Silence, The Red Turtle, Loving, I Am Not Your Negro, American Honey, and The Handmaiden.

Next up are the honorable mentions. Some of these were closer to making the top ten than others, especially the first two:

Doctor Strange, Jackie, Captain America: Civil War, Moana, Deepwater Horizon, 10 Cloverfield Lane, Southside With You, and Rogue One.

Then we have the runner up, almost made my top ten but just missed it:

Nice Guys – This movie is awesome. A classic buddy cop type movie but done in a way you haven’t seen before. It zigs when you think it will zag, and I especially loved not being able to predict what would happen next. Great, great writing and I wish more comedies were like this.

10. The Lobster – It’s very weird and definitely not for everyone (when I saw it in the theater multiple people walked out), but also very smart as it explores the depths that people will change themselves in order to win over others. Also, while it may be hard to believe but Colin Farrell is capable of being a good actor, this movie is proof.

9. Zootopia – More than just a great animated film, there’s a real element standing against prejudice and stereotypes. I’m hopeful the movie can influence the younger people who see it for the better.

8. Eye In The Sky – The best depiction of moral ambiguity I’ve seen, and a brutal reminder of the peripheral consequences when drone strikes are used to fight terrorism. A war movie for the 21st century.

7. 20th Century Women – As always I love Greta Gerwig, but this film has tha “Years later they would realize” type of narration that I haven’t seen done this well since Y Tu Mama Tambien. An instant classic about feminism, punk rock, and with characters that feel very real.

6. Arrival – Science fiction as it should be. I loved this and am hopeful we can have more movies like it going forward. Amy Adams is incredible.

5. Lion – I don’t want to spoil this movie even though it’s based on a true story, but if you can watch it without feeling anything then you are a robot. Pure and simple.

4. Hidden Figures – Loved everything about this, inspiring and a hard reminder that what we learn about history is only what those creating the narrative want us to know.

3. Moonlight – Very, very well done and it’s very easy to understand why this has been so well received. A little slower in its pacing which kept it from being higher for me, but I was blown away by the uniqueness and bravery of this movie.

2. Manchester By The Sea – One of the most powerful movies I’ve ever seen. The type of movie that you see once and sticks with you for years.

1. La La Land – I know this movie is divisive, but it’s been a few years since I loved a movie as much as I loved La La Land. The visuals, the score, the heartbreak, I loved all of it.

Thanks for reading and let me know your top movies!

My 50 Favorite Things

I know that if I want to write interesting characters for my novel I have to also know myself, here are my favorite things in no particular order:

  1. Seeing a good movie
  2. Ice water with lemon and lime juice
  3. Popcorn with frozen Junior Mints or peanut M&Ms
  4. Laughing
  5. Writing a song
  6. Barbecue chicken
  7. Visiting another country
  8. Being around friends you love
  9. Steak
  10. Playing music for people
  11. Finishing a good book
  12. The smile of and being close to a beautiful woman
  13. A Manhattan
  14. An Old-Fashioned
  15. A good pilsner
  16. Hearing a great song for the first time or the first time in a while
  17. Good conversation
  18. People fighting for what they believe in
  19. Underdogs
  20. Chips and salsa
  21. A sandwich with a good sauce
  22. Garlic bread with marinara
  23. Great acting
  24. Great writing
  25. Being a geek
  26. Gin and orange juice
  27. Seinfeld
  28. Breaking Bad
  29. Star Trek
  30. Star Wars
  31. Lord of the Rings
  32. Indiana Jones
  33. Completing a task
  34. Groundhog Day
  35. Relaxing
  36. Elliott Smith
  37. Nirvana
  38. The Beatles
  39. The Who
  40. James Bond
  41. Gummi bears
  42. Actual bears
  43. Dogs
  44. The Great Gatsby
  45. Seeing work you did go to help feed an animal or help a plant grow
  46. Fresh fruits and vegetables
  47. The perfect song during the credits
  48. A night lit only by stars, streetlamps, or a skyline
  49. My family and especially my little brother
  50. Seeing how many things in the world are pretty fantastic

Project Cardinal

I woke up and couldn’t open my eyes.  A light warmed my eyelids but while I tried to pull them apart I wasn’t strong enough as there was something keeping them closed.  I didn’t know where I was, who I was, what year I was in and found that my legs and arms were secured to a bed preventing any kind of movement, but despite all this I felt an immense sense of calm.  My shifts in the bed must have been noticed as a few seconds later a woman’s voice said, “He’s awake, get the doctor.”

The voice was assertive but soothing, I knew I had heard it before but whatever time that was felt foreign and from another life.  At the very least from what she said I knew I was a man, but how old and what I looked like would have to come later.  For now while I couldn’t see I could hear and smell everything around me; the hum of the light making my eyelids look red, muffled voices behind some kind of wall, and a slight scent of perfume as one pair of footsteps stopped at a door that quickly opened and left the room while the other came closer to my right side.  There was a sound of fabric softly meeting legs as the perfume smell came closer and the woman knelt by me, then her voice spoke and said, “Good morning Rouge, I’m glad we get to meet again.”

So my name must have been Rouge, or at least that’s what I was being called now.  I could swear it was something else, but instead of answers a haze filled my mind with vague memories.  As I lay there turning my name over I heard the door open again followed by footsteps ending in front of my feet.  “Alright Rouge,” it was a man’s voice drawing out each word with precision, “Nurse Geneca, it’s time.”  Then the nurse brought her hands to my face, I felt the texture of powdered gloves with a smell of chemicals as her fingers pressed lightly to the corners of my eyes.  There was a lift of pressure and after a moment of resistance whatever held my eyes shut was lifted.  The voice of the nurse at my side then confided gently, “You can open your eyes now Rouge.”  Hoping that seeing the world around me would end the haze I had found myself in I opened my eyes, and the new freedom along with every color in the room was beautiful.

I met the eyes of the woman Geneca who had set me free; she was young with dark hair that fell down to her shoulders in waves.  She and the doctor wore light blue uniforms and as she undid the charcoal straps holding my arms and legs she gave me a slight smile.  The doctor was older with white hair and then walked to my side with a glowing device that he used to emit a soft green light into my eyes, after a moment he was satisfied and stepped aside as if to let me see the world.  There were all sorts of intricate tools on a table beside me, a mechanical being colored silver was where the doctor had been and made more analyses of my body before disappearing through the door.  I sat up a bit and saw I was wearing a shirt and pants made of a crimson cloth, brighter than any other color I had seen yet.  Through the window I saw sunlit clouds flanking a cyan and yellow sky behind hundreds of cars flying in both directions.   The feeling of wonder wasn’t something I remembered having before, that was a haze and these visions colors came through lucid and clear.  The doctor then spoke again, “Rouge how are you feeling?”

I didn’t know how to put it into words, every breath felt sweet, every sound melodious, and every sight a mending of textures and colors with each detail unique from the last.   “I feel…” I paused as I looked around again and breathed the air, “like I’m alive for the first time.”  I then looked over to the doctor who had picked up a rectangular device from the table beside me and made a note with enthusiasm.

He then said with a smile, “Glad to hear that Rouge, sounds like our improvements worked out perfectly.”

I searched my mind for an answer but again found nothing, so I asked, “What improvements?”

Then a second voice at the end of the room answered, “A chance for you to see the hope and beauty in the world that from what I believe you hadn’t seen before.”  The man was younger than the doctor but still looked to be somewhere in his 50s, unlike the others however he wore a suit and tie which would be a simple black and white if not for having a tie the same color of crimson I was wearing.

The man in the suit went on, “Doctor Flannikan and Nurse Geneca here have done a great job, and through this connector right here,” he tapped a finger to a device at his temple, “I’m linked to what you’re seeing right now and wow.  It.  Is.  Beautiful.”  He had a look of achievement as if a great project had been completed, but while I knew Geneca and Flannikan were my nurse and doctor I had no idea who this man was.  The man must’ve sensed this as he answered my unspoked question, “Rouge my name is Savillon Miller and you’ve been a special project of mine for oh about six months now.” I then noticed the patch on the pockets of Geneca and Flannika that said Project Cardinal as he continued, “Your name used to be James and like many others you only saw ugliness and suffering in your life, but now with the new bright vibrant way you’ll be seeing the world I thought the name Rouge would go well with all those colors you’re going to enjoy, don’t you think?”

At that moment was another clouded memory where someone was calling me James, but as fast as it came my mind changed back to the world around me and he went on.

“Rouge this is your chance to be reborn and live more fully than you could have ever imagined, that’s why I want to now welcome you to your world and life thanks to Project Cardinal.”  As he had been talking, Doctor Flannikan had handed over his device and the man called Miller had taken his place at my side.  There was a roughness in his voice but also a sense of confidence and knowledge, as if he had learned many lessons over the years but each one had come with a part of his youth.

I didn’t remember becoming a part of any of this but with how I knew it was different I had to believe something had happened, so I had to ask, “Mr. Miller?”

“Please, call me Savillon,” he answered.

“Mr. Savillon,” I said making a note to myself, “how is all of this working and changing the way I see world?  Why can’t I remember anything when all of this now is so bright and vivid?”

He knelt at the side of the bed as he picked up the bandage that had covered my eyes, “Rouge all of your questions will be answered in time, but for now all you need to know is we’ve given you enhancements so you can see how beautiful the world really is.”  He then picked up a mirror and said, “Here, I want to show you something,” putting it into my hand.  “Take a moment and look at who you are.”  I lifted the mirror to my face and I must’ve seemed baffled as Savillon said, “That means your implants are working, you’ll learn to control them in time I promise.”

I looked to Savillon and then back to the mirror but saw the same color, my eyes were glowing a bright green and I was about to find out why.

My Top Movies of 2014

First I want to show you my list for honorable mentions, I know some you may rate higher but here are the ones that just barely missed my top 10.

American Sniper
X Men Days of Future Past
Captain America: The Winter Soldier
The Theory of Everything
Edge of Tomorrow
Obvious Child
Gone Girl
Under The Skin

Gone Girl and Under The Skin were the closest, but I have to admit that while Eddie Redmayne was great as Stephen Hawking the movie itself felt to me like it was trying too hard. I also am sure having Interstellar in honorable mentioms will cause some waves, but even though the visuals were amazing the dialogue was not even close to as good.

Anyway now let’s start with the runner up, you might be surprised but there were so many good movies this year that this got hard to decide.

Runner Up – Foxcatcher

This year was full of unsettling characters foreboding, where this movie is no exception. Steve Carrell has shown he is far from only being Michael Scott, but even more so Channing Tatum and Mark Ruffalo deserve credit as great actors here who help carry the movie. Definitely not the best of the year, but I liked it a lot.

So now onto the top 10, annnnnd *drumroll*

10 – The Lego Movie/Guardians of the Galaxy

Not every movie can be dark and depressing, and both of these are as much of an antidote to others on this list as possible. Chris Pratt not only was great in Lego Movie but also Guardians, and I really can’t decide which I like more so decided both Pratt movies get there to a spot in the top 10. For being more than just fun, but for being the kinds of movies that can make your day.

9 – Selma

I liked this movie and what it was standing for, in fact parts of it were inspiring and I took note for my own story I’m writing. Portraits of the injustices were upsetting and you really wanted to see the characters succeed in their quest to make a difference. In a way they did, but as injustices continue it’s clear there is still a lot fo work to be done. At first I wanted to put this movie higher, but it ended up having stretches that failed to keep my attention which was unfortunate. At the end of the day judging the movie by its content (to paraphrase one of the best men of the last 100 years), it falls short of some of the true innovation that you see further on.

8 – Grand Budapest Hotel

There’s a technique that Wes Anderson uses in his filmmaking of showing one picture for a few frames of film before moving onto another, and for that alone the man is an artist painting images on the screen with his lens. What becomes really interesting however is how each character ends up becoming connected with the others through one person and another until you have dozens of characters that indirectly are connected like a Kevin Bacon game. I really liked this movie and would watch it again, but don’t know if I could put it at the top of my list based on the brilliance of its direction alone.

7 -The Imitation Game

The movie is almost entirely about secrets, not just the secret codes that they are trying to break but the secrets existing between people and which to reveal and which to keep. I’ve seen a little bit of Sherlock and from what I saw I expected the same confidence here, but instead Benedict Cumberbatch plays someone incredibly awkward and unable to relate to others while possessing a unique way of thinking and intelligence. The story is about Alan Turing, who until less than 2 years ago was a criminal until being pardoned, and this man not only is the originator of modern day computer science but drastically helped change the way World War II went without anyone knowing for 50 years. In a way this is a sad story as like many geniuses it seems he was never really content while he was alive, but bringing recognition to someone who made such a difference in our lives ends up being uplifting in its own way and Cumberbatch is great.

6 – Nightcrawler

Ugh, oh man this movie is dark. Dark, dark, dark and I’ll give fair warning that if you got squeamish during Drive (this movie’s GOOD twin), then you might not want to see this. However I admit I don’t think I looked away once during the entire movie as it was like a car crash in fact at some points it is actually ABOUT a car crash. Except not only is about those accidents and the people who get the footage of accidents like car crashes, but the culture that wants to see as many of these as possible and the news crews who want to bring them to us. Jake Gyllenaal as Louis Bloom is vile and on par with Heath Ledger’s Joker, a kind of Donnie Darko character he hasn’t gotten close to since but even more memorable.

5 – Wild

I remember a time that I hiked through a few different towns in Italy by myself without any connection to anyone, going through each part fueled only by my determination as I analyzed my life with each step. That may have been a few miles, but in this movie Reese Witherspoon does this for 1100 with nothing more than quotes from her favorite writers and iodine to purify drinking water. The movie is based on the memoir from Cheryl Strayed where she hiked from California to Oregon, but even more than that in an inspiring and cathartic way shows what she does to overcome the drugs and pain she found after her mother died. Maybe I’m the only one who noticed but I thought the cameo from Art Alexakis from Everclear was a nice touch, as he himself lost people to drugs in Oregon and California but managed to overcome that. I’d highly recommend this movie to anyone, as it was powerful and stuck with me.

4 – Boyhood

A few years back I had an idea for a movie if I ever got to actually make one, where you would film people over a few years and then you would see them actually age over the course of a few hours. I have been a fan of Linklater since Before Sunrise, but this might be his best yet as he had been going through with the idea I thought was original before I even had it. Ethan Hawke has always been one of my favorites, but Patricia Arquette finally becomes more than just my favorite part of True Romance (sorry Medium fans) by making each of her scenes feel like a documentary. That’s what is so great about this movie is it doesn’t have a conventional storyline like most movies, but instead feels like it’s about a real life and growing up itself.

3 – Whiplash

I went to college and studied music, I had teachers and instructors who were at different levels of intensity but none even close to J.K. Simmons in this movie. I went into the movie wondering how anyone could be better than Ed Norton in Birdman, but the unpredictability of Simmons where one moment he would smile and then the next throw a chair at you was impossible to turn away from. Not only was the performance good but the music was also mesmerizing, Miles Teller who I recently thought did well in The Spectacular Now is coming forward as a force to be reckoned with and does extremely well playing the student drummer literally willing to bleed to make his teacher happy. I don’t want to give anymore away as it’s possible I may have said too much, but the ending was unforgettable and maybe the best in any movie I saw this year.

2 – Snowpiercer

Starting with an event that leaves only a few people around has happened many times before and is far from unique, however the way that it imagines what happens next and how those people go to that place is unlike any movie I’ve seen before. The basic premise is that international governments decide global warming needs to be stopped in some way, so they attempt to engineer the climate to cool instead with the intent of bringing balance. However (as I’m sure you guessed), the climate cools so much all at once that the world becomes nothing but ice. So how would people survive in a world almost completely frozen? This is where the movie gets interesting, because they are all on a train that continually travels the world, and the part of the train you are on is decided by how much you paid for your ticket. I could go on and talk about Tilda Swinton being creepily unforgettable or how you never know what’s going to be in the next part of the train, but really the movie speaks for itself.

1 – Birdman

Like any kid around in the early 90s the first Batman was the coolest movie ever when it came out, but after Keaton decided not to be in the third Batman he mostly disappeared other than arguments over who was the best Bruce Wayne (Keaton come on people). This movie with its frenetic drum based jazz soundtrack changes Batman into Birdman while keeping Keaton, and shows a man struggling to reestablish relevance for himself in a world where new comic book movies push him into obscurity. And where the movie really becomes interesting is instead of him trying to revitalize his Birdman character, he decides to reinvent himself through a stage play all while his Birdman voice (funnily similar to the voice Bale used for Batman) slowly breaks apart his sanity all syncopated to those drums and made to look like one long take. Emma Stone as his daughter shows she is one of the best actresses around today, and Ed Norton as an extreme method actor is particularly brilliant and possibly the highlight of the movie, but seeing Keaton back in business would make even Robert Downey Jr. impressed.

Thanks everyone for reading, and if there are any honorable mentions you want me to write about I will.


Chapter One

Rouge had never met his parents.  His boss knew where they were, knew where all those like his parents were, but would never tell him.  Rouge had only been told they had disappeared in the flooding.

It was July 3rd in the largest city of the United States, outside of Rouge’s work at Keraldtech a cardinal rested its feathers before the 280th year of Independence.  Here in Chicago there was no flood, it was 73 degrees or more all year long, and the paradise had brought millions from the underwater New Work where the houses were barely above the waves.  Most did not know what the Independence was from however, just as they had never learned about the flooding.

Years before ninety percent of the satellites had been destroyed, cell phones and laptops had been made illegal and all books had been burned.  Anyone with a television knew there were linkers, but only linkers knew what it meant to live before 2020 as anyone born before had disappeared.  His boss, Brad, was a linker.

Normally the program would cost 12 million units a year, but Brad had been given the privilege of unlimited linking through his position at Keraldtech.  This meant the privilege to know everything that had happened; under the condition that he would never share it with anyone under penalty of death.

Keraldtech had designed a new system of free television for all in 2032, five hundred channels existed for any story a person could want. Between the stories was advertising and that’s where Rouge was an expert, today they were working with Perfects.

Rouge and his department were in charge of sponsorship for the networks, and the year before Rouge had captured the attention of his boss with an idea.  Rouge recognized each consumer wanted more than anything to fill that void they felt in themselves, and his storyboard technique echoed throughout the company.  Brad understood how a Planter like Rouge had identified that need, and knew that implants like his could help in thinking outside the box.

“Rouge hey man you are the most brilliant Planter I’ve ever met.  I mean your work on the new Keraldtech spot was borderline genius.”

“Well even robots gotta be good for something don’t they?  With a little grease and oil I can cook a steak as good as my boards.”

“You want to meet up for a grill tomorrow Rouge?”

“Didn’t the link tell you I already had plans with Sylvia?  I’ll see you on the 5th.”  Rouge then smiled and walked away.  He thought for a moment that he was genuinely clever, just as last year’s Keraldtech award winner came on one of the screens.

Is your life the way you want?  Have you reached all your dreams?  At Keraldtech our team of committed doctors has a permanent solution tailor-made for where you need to be.   No more wishes, no more needing, just pure contentment.

As the spot finished Rouge felt a pang of regret.  Then a shock ran through the back of his head, as if the sadness was not being allowed by his mind.  But in a moment it passed and he was right back where he was supposed to be, feeling nothing but pure joy.