Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Look at the time...

Hi, everyone (and by everyone, I just mean me).  You can check my GoodReads feed to see I've been reading a LOT of comic books.  They're great and easy to finish before I pass out after a long day of work and kids and wife and cereal.

In the meantime I've been working on a podcast related to feelings about our favorite songs.  It's called "They're Playing Our Song".  It gives guests a chance to wax philosophical about their favorite songs and maybe, just maybe, get the word out about their choice jams.

You can check it out at They're Playing Our Song.

Monday, April 22, 2013

Shock Value

Shock Value: How a Few Eccentric Outsiders Gave Us Nightmares, Conquered Hollywood, and Invented Modern HorrorShock Value: How a Few Eccentric Outsiders Gave Us Nightmares, Conquered Hollywood, and Invented Modern Horror by Jason Zinoman
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

First things first: I took a class on horror films at Brown University.  Pardon the douchey opening but I want to be clear that I've probably read a hundred or more essays, books, and articles on horror movies, their creators, and the themes that these movies present.  So, when I tell you that Shock Value contains talking points that I have never read about the horror scene of the 60s and 70s, I am pointing out a valuable service done by Jason Zinoman.  Recounting the lives, successes, and failures of Wes Craven, Dan O'Bannon, John Carpenter, and others, Zinoman lays out the development of the modern era of the horror movie, a genre that continues to evolve as one of the world's most enduring and fascinating to this day.  While the book could do with a bit tighter editing on a chapter-by-chapter basis, often jumping from anecdotes of a famous director to tangential subjects like popular horror magazine editors, the overall theme of a new generation of creators fighting to push their message of shifting social mores out of the ghetto of "monster movies" flows clearly off the page.  Chapters devoted to O'Bannon (you might know him as the writer of "Alien") are especially fascinating for the recounting of the career of a typically unsung creator.
Be warned: if you are a horror devotee simply because of your annual pilgrimages to the cineplex for the latest "Saw" or "Paranomral Activity" entry, I imagine this book will be too cerebral a discussion to maintain your interest.  To end with the same tone as I began, only true fans of the genre need apply.  Very Good.

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Friday, April 19, 2013


Thumbprint: A StoryThumbprint: A Story by Joe Hill
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

As I excitedly wait for the next novel by horror/comic book writer, Joe Hill, I noticed this brief tale on the Kindle Store for only 99 cents.  As a fan of short stories (and a man impatient with the wait for new books from many of his favorite authors), I downloaded and read through this one in an evening.  Fans of Hill's horror short stories may be disappointed by this thriller which deals completely with realistic events; however, this taut thriller delivers other facets of Hill's writing-style, namely complex characters and a perfectly unfolding plot.  Hill's writing typifies the style that made shows like "Lost" so popular: secrets and flashbacks doled out at the perfect pace to keep pages turning.  Though, much like "Lost", Thumbprint ends in a fashion that may piss some readers off, this bite-sized treat helped to tide me over until NOS4ATU at the end of the month.  Really Good.

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Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Adirondack Mysteries (and Other Mountain Tales) Volume 2

Adirondack Mysteries And Other Mountain Tales: Volume 2Adirondack Mysteries And Other Mountain Tales: Volume 2 by Dennis Webster
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Picked this one up at a local bookstore in Lake Placid at my friend's wedding, mainly as a memento of the Lake Placid area (and because it was signed by many of the authors!) and while I can't say this book is for everyone, I had a decent enough time working through it on my lunch breaks.  Now, be forewarned, as a collection of short mysteries set in the Adirondack mountains, this book runs the gamut from pretty good to horrendous, both in writing style and content.  Interested in true crime? That's here.  Need some "Murder She Wrote"-esque tales? You got it.  Want stories about time travel? Well...that's actually featured twice.
As you can tell, I'm not a professional writer but, more often than not, I felt comfortable picking apart most of these stories like a night-school English professor.  Leaden language, dry descriptors, and cliched characters mar about 75% of these tales.  The rest, while better, won't exactly blow you away if you regularly read short stories from more established writers.
Hard to recommend this unless every book you read needs to feature northern New York landscapes or you're completely out of mysteries to read (or just happen to want a souvenir of your trip to Lake Placid like me).  Still, I was never bored or angry reading this collection, which counts for something and can think of worse ways to while away my all too-often skipped lunch breaks. OK.

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Sunday, April 14, 2013

Mystery on the Vineyard

Mystery on the Vineyard: Politics, Passion and Scandal on East ChopMystery on the Vineyard: Politics, Passion and Scandal on East Chop by Thomas Dresser
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

To remember my vacation to Martha's Vineyard this past summer, I picked up a signed copy of Mystery on the Vineyard at the local bookstore to add to my souvenir book shelf.  As a fan of true crime and local history I sure picked correctly when I grabbed this one.  As time passes and more and more sensational crimes occur, our modern generation tends to forget that famous crimes have existed for time immemorial.  Though not as famous as other murders from the WWII-era, the murder and following court case as described in detail by author Thomas Dresser stands as a fascinating review of how much the island and New England have changed.  I don't know how easy this is to find off-island but the author has a website (and apparently it's listed on Amazon) and I highly recommend this to anyone taking a summer ferry ride to the Vineyard.  Very Good.

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Saturday, April 13, 2013

Good Reads: You make this so much easier!

As a lapsed writer with more opinions than time to craft carefully-worded essays, my rediscovery of Good Reads has been a blessing as a means to organize my brief thoughts on books I've read.  While I rarely get through more than 10 pages of a book at night without falling asleep and have very few days at work where I'm not so busy that I can sit down for a lunch break with my Kindle, I've managed to get through enough stories this past year to create a few pellet reviews that I'll be doling out on the site over the next week or so.  My ability to critique books only slightly surpasses my ability to critique music ("Boy, that song sure was...fast?", "I think it had some words about stuff") so these will hopefully contain enough of my writing style to be read without much wincing.  Maybe you could let me know how that works?


Halo: GlasslandsHalo: Glasslands by Karen Traviss
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

I've read a number of books by Karen Traviss; I've read a number of books based in the Halo Universe.  On both counts, Glasslands ranks near the bottom.  Page upon page upon page of dull exposition, short descriptors, and glacial plot development all leading up to a decent 50 pages and...that's the end.  Buy the sequel, folks! I'm a sucker for completionism so I'll probably be purchasing The Thursday War someday to see what happens to Kilo squad.  But, after slogging through this one, I'm not planning on it for quite some time.  Meh

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