Archive for the ‘ books ’ Category

the hunger games. [trailer park.]

I know most of my friends have already seen this, but here’s a link anyway, just in case. HERE.

books i read this year.

One list I post every year is the books I read. Rather than copy and paste, it makes more sense to refer everyone to the place where I keep track: GoodReads.

My goal starting this year was to read 50 books for the first time ever. After making significant progress, I upped that goal to 70. You can see all of them, as the list grows, right HERE.

the babble we think we mean.

“I saw well why the gods do not speak to us openly, nor let us answer. Till that word can be dug out of us, why should they hear the babble that we think we mean? How can they meet us face to face till we have faces?”

– Orual, Till We Have Faces

anansi boys. [fictionista]

If there had been any lingering doubt or uncertainty about Neil Gaiman being my favorite living author before, this book put all that to rest. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: Neil Gaiman writes the stories that I wish all stories could be. I don’t mean that I wish all stories were the same genre, or tone, or style, or whatever. I mean that I wish all stories could find the perfect balance of Gaiman’s stories, which are rich, beautiful, and full to the brim with subtext, with flashes and glimmers of something beyond the the wildly entertaining stories he tells.

Among other things, Gaiman’s works are about story, storytelling, humanity, the mystery of the divine, and our need for more than the mundane and the mediocre to be truly alive. Yet, he never uses simple one to one relationships that tip his hand. You can’t read Gaiman and say: Well, I’d have to say that Gaiman is definitely…  an athiest, or a Christian, or a new ager, or whatever. Instead, he uses myths and stories that humans have told for centuries as subtext, which leads toward a greater depth and beauty in his already superb writing.

No book does this more than Anansi Boys. A quasi-sequel to American Gods, this story follows in the wake of the death of Mr. Nancy, a character you’ll know if you’ve read American Gods. His estranged son, Fat Charlie Nancy, has no idea that his father is a god, until his father’s death leads him into the discovery that he has a brother he never knew about. In contacting his brother, Spider, Charlie’s world is turned upside down, and there are no guarantees that everyone is going to make it through the adventure alive.

Rooted in the oldest stories known to man, stories growing from Africa into tales that even exist in various forms in Americana, Anansi Boys is about the ways that we are shaped by the stories we tell and the stories we believe, by the songs we sing and the words we dream up, and by the risks we take the and things we love.

Also, it’s entirely possible that after reading this book, you’ll think twice the next time you’re about to kill a spider.

Really though, go read some Neil Gaiman as soon as you can.

 (artwork via@Jessbie)

five things. 8.10.11

There are so very many things I should be doing right now. None of those things is blogging on RtM. Yet, I miss it so very much. Thus, here I am anyway. I’ve been falling behind in every conceivable way, because my body just wasn’t made for the sort of schedules I’ve been working lately. This week is a really light schedule, but starting next Wednesday I work ten days straight, and twice in that ten days I work until between 9 and 11 at night and then wake up at 4 the next morning to open. For a depressed insomniac, that’s a recipe for disaster. And so, things like reading, RtM, and Trigger Fiction have fallen by the wayside. I hate it, and I hope to use the next few days to get back in action. So, there you have it, a bunch of information about my life, in case anyone cares.

Now, on with five things I’ve been enjoying during these woeful pauses; again, just in case anyone cares. On with the show!

1. Wye Oak, live at the world famous Crocodile Cafe!

Let me tell you, folks: See this band live when they come near you. They. Rock. So. Hard.

Just two people. Her, with several guitars and an effects board. Him, with a drum kit, a keyboard (which he plays simultaneously with the drum kit), and an effects board. Per person, they create more sound each than anyone I’ve ever seen live. They play so well together, they showcase each other really well, and I want each of them to be my friend.

So epic.

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2. A Dance with Dragons

A lesson I learned reading this book: Don’t start reading a 1,000 page hardcover book and a new job at the same time. It took me nearly a month to get through this book. It’s hard to tell, because there are more words on a page in a first edition than in paperbacks, but it could be the longest book in the series so far. It’s definitely longer than A Feast for Crows. 

Now, I love the world that Martin has created in these books. I love the characters, I love the way he develops story. Yet, that just makes it hurt all the more when he unceremoniously kills off main characters. There will be NO spoilers here, aside from the reality that Martin is willing to kill off main characters. Many of you have seen the HBO series now, so you are well aware of his willingness to kill off characters who would be untouchable in any other serial storytelling.

There are times when he has spent so much time and so many pages developing a character and events, and then kills them and erases it all. It’s difficult to take after you’ve spent soooo much time investing in that character.

In the world of George R.R. Martin, no one is safe. That’s good, but also irritating. Sometimes it seems like he is killing characters just because he can. Is there actually contempt for the reader at work here? I sure hope not, and I could just be angry since the wound is still fresh.

Though I may bitch, I’ll still be pre-ordering the next installment however many years from now it is released. I’m addicted to Westeros.

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3. Attack the Block [Invasion/Visitation Movies #6]

OMFGLASERS!!! Ahem.

This movie was amazing. I didn’t laugh as much as I expected to, although it was definitely hilarious. I also bet I’ll laugh more on my second viewing, since I won’t be on the edge of my seat quite as much.

Instead, the movie was a huge amalgam of elements that all added together to create one kick-ass package. Believe me, people, this movie kicked all kinds of ass. Laugh out loud jokes, characters that were lovable without being flimsy and 2-dimensional, awesomely over the top aliens, genuine social commentary, and brilliant performances by all involved (especially the young actors).

I was going to say that, sadly, a few of my favorite characters died, but on second thought I think all of the main characters were favorites. The deaths were also really important to the plot: for the journey of our protagonist, as part of the poignant social commentary I mentioned, and to create tension.

I want to go see it again today. I won’t, but I want to.

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4. Watch the Throne

I never, ever use iTunes to buy music anymore. Thus, I had no idea that Watch the Throne came out earlier on iTunes than it did on Amazon’s mp3 store. Then Brian told me, and I bought it right away. I am still on my first listen, not all the way through yet, but so far so wonderful!

“Otis” has already been playing several times a day, and I know I’ll be listening to this album a lot over the next few days/weeks.

Oh yeah, and Jay-Z is back.

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5. Cowboys & Aliens [Invasion/Visitation Movies #7]

With a 44% on Rotten Tomatoes, most people don’t like this movie. I respectfully disagree. Sure, the movie had plenty of weaknesses, but it had everything I hope for in a fun summer film.

Daniel Craig was a fucking badass as a cowboy.

Olivia Wilde was scaldingly hot.

The aliens are refreshingly original, and although they are somewhat evolutionarily suspect, they are still pretty awesome biologically. Also, instead of the silly flying saucers they could have easily gone with in a genre/cliche mashup like this, they instead had really great UFOs that flew in legit formations and combat maneuvers.

Keith Carradine as a cowboy. Always wonderful.

Sam Rockwell. Period.

In the saddest fall from grace in history, I was genuinely disappointed that Harrison Ford was in this movie while watching the trailers. All for nothing. While his character has some glaring development flaws, this is still his most enjoyable character on screen in at least a decade.

neverwhere, by neil gaiman. [fictionista]

Neil Gaiman’s Neverwhere is wonderful! Somehow, without even being all the way through, it became my favorite Neil Gaiman book. For those who read this blog regularly, you’ll know that’s no small feat.

It was the first novel he wrote on his own, and he sure did kick things off in style. Neverwhere is Gaiman’s imagination at its absolute best. Gaiman writes the stories that I wish all stories could be, filled with darkness and beauty and redemption and mystery. And, if Gaiman does in fact write the stories that I wish all stories could be, Neverwhere is the epitome of that.

The story is about a painfully ordinary guy who finds a girl bleeding in the street one night and decides to help her, and is pulled into an Alice in Wonderland style story of a world that exists under the surface of the world we know, in this case, in a place called London Below.

The prose, the descriptions, the characters, and the story are all spilling over with magic. Neverwhere is like the story my heart longs to read.

God, I love Neil Gaiman. Speaking of which… less than one week until his Doctor Who. OOOOOOHHHHHHHHHHH YEEEEAAAAHHHHHHH!!!!!

[five things.]

I know, I know… it seems like all I write these days are ‘five things.’ I just like doing it, and since I post less frequently now it gets more of what I’m currently loving onto the blog.

This week it’s all sorts of random.

1. Dead Space 2

More scary, gruesome necromorph action. Great story, perhaps even better than the first. Entertaining and engaging from start to finish.

It also had two of the best action scenes I’ve ever seen in a video game, or anywhere.

Bonus, here’s an awesome minimalist poster for the original Dead Space, via@Frank Russo

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2. Never Let Me Go

I really did love this film, but in part it was bittersweet because I love Ishiguro’s book so dearly. There were so many tender moments that didn’t make it to the film that I missed. The nuance and complexity of the book can’t possibly translate onto the screen completely, so even while I was enjoying the film I also found myself pining for the novel.

However, the movie should most definitely be praised. It was well filmed and well written. Most of all, any mention of this film needs to celebrate the acting. The performances of the leads were achingly powerful. It’s no surprise by now, but these are three young actors who should be turning in dazzling performances for decades to come.

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3. TV on the Radio – Nine Types of Light

I guess I’ll need to use the word bittersweet one more time if I’m going to write about the new TV on the Radio album. The album is brilliant, but just a week after its release the band’s bassist, Gerard Smith, died of lung cancer at the young age of 36. It’s so sad, and can’t but influence the way I listen to the album.

While nothing works as a silver lining in a death like this, one couldn’t ask for a better swan song, however involved his illness may have allowed him to be in the album’s recording.

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4. Fleet Foxes – Helplessness Blues

Seattle’s own indie favorites are back, and the album is faaannnnnnntastic. Such a joy to listen to. The band grew into a deeper sound without losing what makes them great.

Now, hopefully touring won’t eliminate any chance that J. Tillman releases some more solo stuff in the next year or two.

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5. Thor

I loved it. A really fun introduction to a character not many folks know, at least in the comic incarnation. It was funny, action packed, had enough human drama to be engaging without taking itself too seriously. It would have been disastrous if the film hadn’t acknowledged how silly the whole premise is, but it was able to be badass and have heart without forgetting that at the end of the day it’s a comic book movie based in Norse mythology.

Often, when movies ‘don’t take themselves seriously,’ that’s code for taking a dump on film and calling it a comic book movie. Examples of this include Ghost Rider and both Fantastic Four films. Blech! Not so with Thor, well crafted and charmingly acted, I was sad to see it end.

It looks like Thor is going to have a modest, but healthy opening weekend. Yet, since it is doing far better critically and amongst audiences than other films which have had similar weekends, like Fantastic Four and Clash of the Titans, I’m hoping it will perform better over the long term than those films and be more successful overall.