Wednesday, December 31, 2014

The Hours Vs. The Diving Bell & The Butterfly


I told you all I’d been reading pretty steady lately.  This has been some of the reason I have stalled out a bit in book 4 of Harry Potter.  I received a great deal of books for both my birthday and Christmas so I’m going to be kneed deep in reading for a while now, in fact next up is the Brick Bible!  It is a retelling of the Old Testament with LEGO illustrations.  Just glancing through it has made me really excited to actually go back and read the Bible.  And that is a statement I never thought I’d ever actually make.  So without further ado…


- T. Campbell. Erica Henderson, Phil Kahn, & John Waltrip’s Guilded Age Season 2 (***** out of 5).  
I was a contributor to the Guilded Age Kickstarter seeing as going and reading the Webcomic is one of my rituals Monday through Friday.  I had purchased the first ‘trade paperback’ of Season 1 and have poured through it about a thousand times.  The thing is I’d read 90% of the stories in the ‘Trade’ online, but it doesn’t mean I haven’t enjoyed and re-read those tales about ten times in the last two months.  I know the big twist, and LORDS almighty is it a fantastically AMAZING twist that hits in this Season of the ongoing story, but it hasn’t changed the fact that even with subsequent reading I’m amazed at how wonderful the twist is.  It is a perfect addition to a story that seems on the surface to just be a crazy sword and sorcery tale.  It elevates it into a social commentary, an adventure story, a conspiracy tale, a redemption saga, and its own ‘multiverse’ that continues to spin out peripheral characters that I both like and care about.  Suffice to say Guilded Age is wonderful, and you all should be reading it EVERY F’Ning DAY!

- Chris A. Jackson’s Pirate’s Promise (**** out of 5).  
I thoroughly enjoyed the first of Jackson’s Pathfinder pirate Tales, Pirate’s Honor.  It is something with a bit of novelty, but also something so different and fun that it held my attention with its likable enough characters so I was excited when I saw that the next book in my subscription was a sequel.  Captain Torious Vin and his crew of the good ship Stargazer are enough of an oddball lot that I was intrigued to see what happens next.  The tale was one of intrigue, betrayal, and loss.  Really the book is going in two directions at once with Vin’s navigator and Lunar Naga lover, Celeste, going to the Observatory in the desert to give her an opportunity to gaze at the stars in a new light.  Everything at the Observatory is not what it seems though.  There are mad cultists, Gnolls, and a ‘Keeper’ with a very creepy agenda.  While this is unfolding Captain Vin is enlisted by the duplicitous ‘ally’ Vreva to take on a new, extremely dangerous mission.  It turns out Vreva isn’t just a concubine for Slavers of Okeno, but actually an abolitionist spy.  When her handler is captured, tortured, and killed she is in need of someone she can trust, and she turns to Captain Vin.  Of course this goes completely sideways.  In the first book Vreva wasn’t necessarily the antagonist, but she was a driving force in the conflict, and in many ways a character you loved to hate.  Here she is given a backstory, motivation, and becomes a very layered and interesting character.  This is so well done that unfortunately it takes away from Celeste as a character, because she just comes off sort of paper thin and is completely obscured by Vreva’s arc.  In the process though seeing her lose everything she holds dear and be broken becomes a pretty nasty experience for the reader.  She goes, in my opinion, from secondary character to the main character and the driving factor in the book.  Therein lies my biggest complaints with the book overall.  If there is such an undying love between Vreva and the Inquisitor that developed then how things play out from the reveal to the climax don’t work for me.  I just found it inconsistent.  It is the same thing with Grogul’s, Captain Vin’s bosun, ‘death’.  If you couple that with how Captain Vin avoids any of the horrific torture and potential death during his incarceration it makes the dread Slavers seem beyond incompetent.  These are really the only issues I had with the book, as you can tell with the stars I gave it.  I will say one of the things that Mr. Jackson has done in both novels that makes me really enjoy the crew of the Stargazer is that folks come and go as well as crew die, well with the exception of Grogul apparently.  There is a palpable air of danger in these tales and that is really cool.  Overall, it is a fun fantasy read, with a decidedly pirate bend.  If you enjoy that sort of thing, and let’s be honest if you read my blog you most likely do, give it a read!

- Chris Gethard’s A Bad Idea I’m About To Do (INFINITE *’s out of 5).  
I am a Chris Gethard guy.  From the ideal of ‘Lose Well’, to the brilliant TCGS on YOUTube, to reading his tweets, to ‘friending’ him on ‘Teh Fazebookz’ I am all about ‘Big Poppa Geth’.  I had been reticent to buy and read his book as I was afraid it would lessen my enjoyment of the man’s comedy and brilliance.  I received the book for my birthday and literally absorbed it three readings.  It is beyond amazing.  It has vaulted into my Top Ten Books of ALL TIME(s).  It is simply Gethard telling tales of his life, which is crazy enough, coupled with his bouts with both his anxiety and bi-polar disorder.  If you are unfamiliar with Chris Gethard and his brand of comedy then stop reading, go to YOUTube, and watch at least one episode of TCGS (The Chris Gethard Show).  I’ll wait.  Ok, what did you think?  I KNOW RIGHT!  It is just this insane mix of sketch comedy, interviews, call-in-show, therapy, music acts, and brilliance.  It isn’t for everyone, and you know what I’m ok with that, because it speaks to me.  Gethard doesn’t hide his struggles, his inner geek, his intelligence, his ignorance, or his desire to just entertain.  His book is no different.  It is laugh out loud hilarious at times; it is brutally honest at times, and unrelentingly sad in others.  It is the open wound of someone who just wants you to like them, but isn’t afraid for you to hate them.  I admire Chris Gethard because he does what he loves without apology and he wants you to come along for the ride, and that is amazing.  So if you are looking for a book that will make you think, make you feel, and make you laugh then go find this book and read it immediately, because it is simply fantastic.

- Beau Phillips’ I Killed Pink Floyd’s Pig (*** ½ out of 5).  
This one is interesting just because it is a collection of tales from Mr. Phillips’ time in radio in Seattle and at VH1.  It certainly explores the debauchery and insanity of the late 70’s through the early 90’s Rock scene.  There aren’t a lot of punches pulled when it comes to making sure you as the reader understand that these folks lived like there was no tomorrow.  It is an entertaining read because of that, but it is also a bit monotonous at the same time due to the same reasons.  I also felt that the author made a concerted effort to attempt and paint himself in the best light as often as he could.  In a lot of ways I thought this really detracted from the stories he was relaying.  That being said there are four or five tales that really change the dynamic of the book.  One is about the generosity of Paul McCartney to a dying girl.  To know what the former Beatle would do for this young woman and her family in her final months simply because he could and it was the right thing to do is really quite touching.  If you add into that the idea that his one condition was that it was kept out of the public eye makes you wonder just how often he was doing this sort of philanthropist moonlighting.  In a world where celebrities spend a lot of time telling you about all the ‘good’ things they do it is really refreshing to read a tale where that was the very last thing on the person’s mind.  The other stand out tale has to do with Pete Townshend and Roger Daltrey.  It is no secret that the dynamic duo of The Who, who have a history of fighting like cats and dogs.  This particular tale dealt with the author managing to secure interview time with the both of them during a tour right after drummer Keith Moon had died and tensions were high.  Daltrey is late and the author and Townshend end up having a brutally honest and very heartfelt discussion about Moon, Townshend’s own drinking problems, and about how hard it is to lose someone you think of as a brother.  This makes Daltrey’s petulant behavior all the more disgusting when he does arrive, and the eventual ‘revenge’ by Townshend during the concert that night all the more funny and fantastic.  If you take these two tales and add them to the really crappy tale about Heart being in studio and of course the Pink Floyd story that the title of the book comes from and you have a book of stories with some great gems in it for any Rock fan. 

I also plowed through the 2nd & 3rd IDW D&D Trade Paperbacks that I got Cassandra for Christmas.  
Yes, they are still wonderful, and yes you should seek out every comic that John Rogers has penned and bask in his brilliance.  I’m also reading a book on Superhero Law, and staring Simon Pegg’s book as well.  It is a good time to be a voracious reader.

Remember kids that whenever you are making your way from your cold ass car to the place that pays you every two weeks and someone screams at the top of their lungs from the SuperAmerica across the way, "DO YOU THINK THIS IS MUTHERF*&KING GAME?!" that it is going to be a good day...

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