A good writer who desperately wants you to know just how good he is, and how many big words he knows. This type of thing tends to distract one from hi...moreA good writer who desperately wants you to know just how good he is, and how many big words he knows. This type of thing tends to distract one from his considerable storytelling skills. I did learn from this book that the word "sere" means "dry", allowing me to proclaim, as a hilarious, highbrow, and technically inaccurate joke, that I need to put the clothes in the serer for a few more minutes. "Sere" has also helped me with Boggle. Otherwise, this is a hit or miss collection with a few stories that make the whole experience worth it. I wouldn't be opposed to giving Boyle another shot in the future. (less)
Jerry Lewis kind of grosses me out whenever I see him being interviewed, but I used to enjoy his movies when I was little, so I generally cut him some...moreJerry Lewis kind of grosses me out whenever I see him being interviewed, but I used to enjoy his movies when I was little, so I generally cut him some slack. The man isn't renowned for his modesty, so it's nice to see him giving credit, and lots of it, where it's due. It's evident that Lewis adored Martin, perhaps on a grander and certainly more personal level than any of his wives (I for one won't forget anytime soon the scene where Dean obligingly inspects Jerry's swimsuit area for pubic lice. Laaa-dy!) and the ups and downs of their career and relationship make for a diverting read. (less)
I love books about motorcycle gangs. This is fact-based reading at its most compulsive. Each page ratchets up the suspense a half-notch or so, to the...moreI love books about motorcycle gangs. This is fact-based reading at its most compulsive. Each page ratchets up the suspense a half-notch or so, to the point where you simply cannot believe that the next paragraph won't contain some form of unspeakable brutality. Pick it up and read it fast. Once you stick a bookmark in it, you'll just be walking around wondering what happens next all day, and the quality of your day-to-day unrelated-to-reading tasks will suffer noticeably. (less)
Throughout the 70's and 80's, David Greenberger worked (and may still) in an assisted living type place, getting to know the elderly patients (whose m...moreThroughout the 70's and 80's, David Greenberger worked (and may still) in an assisted living type place, getting to know the elderly patients (whose mental conditions were in various stages of decay) as well as possible under the circumstances, all the while letting them talk and talk about whatever struck their fancy (though generally starting them off with a broad topic - snakes, for example - and letting them run wherever they liked with it). During these conversations, Greenberger would dictate the patients' responses and reactions, then provide these accounts to cartoonists, a la "American Splendor", who would then interpret them as they saw fit, using a provided photo of the patient. The book is split up into several segments, each starring an elderly man with their idiosyncracies and singular communication style. The majority of the delightfully glib codgers regale Greenberger with supposedly fact-based adventures (some less likely than others), half-remembered bits of trivia, and questionable advice. Typically, the cartoonists either use the freewheeling nature of the transcript to let their pen run wild, inking the men into exaggeratedly humorous illustrations that take their rambling at face value, or they simply draw Greenberger and his chatty friend sitting around the room having their conversation. Both routes have their merits, but I found myself, in most cases, more drawn into the cartoons that simply showed the men talking. Some of the facial reactions in these strips are perfect and hilarious, as Greenberger squints at suspect information, and drops his jaw at an out-of-left-field, casually dropped non-sequiter, while the old men beam with the thrilling momentum of a successful anecdote, or scowl testily during one of the many moments of inevitable miscommunication.
Avoiding any temptation to simply deliver a "boy, aren't old men weird and stupid?" cartoon, the book simply lets these characters have their say, shying away from neither the giddy ridiculousness nor the empty sadness of their stories. My favorite one is probably the last comic, which illustrates a road trip that Greenberger and a very old, particularly crotchety gentleman named Arthur take to attend the funeral of a former fellow patient. When he isn't expressing anger at perceived incompetence or misplacing his hearing aid, Arthur tends to relay less-than-urgent information that he feels absolutely pertinent to the current situation (during the trip, while Greenberger tries to figure out where he took a wrong turn, Arthur declares "Water is my number one best drink!"), and his chapter is the least surreal and probably most relatable. When they finally arrive at the funeral, they find it to be modest and sparsely attended, but they settle into what crowd there is and take in the ceremony. Finally, the pastor asks those in attendence if anyone would like to say a few words in memoriam, and Arthur raises his finger, stands up, and proceeds to announce that the departed didn't like bananas.
Just like talking to your grandparent in the nursing home, it's fascinating, frustrating, and heartbreaking, and you'll be thinking about it for the rest of the day. (less)
Joe Matt's work puts me in a terrific mood. Unless he can somehow benefit from being friendly or helpful, he is always exemplifying the exact opposite...moreJoe Matt's work puts me in a terrific mood. Unless he can somehow benefit from being friendly or helpful, he is always exemplifying the exact opposite of those traits, and pre-teen Matt, brought to vivid, unforgettable life in "Fair Weather", is pure, hilarious, wonderful human evil. He's a lying, baiting, snivelling coward, interested in nothing more than getting his way, and God help the woeful parent who obstructs him. In short, this brisk account of a mildly turbulent weekend in 70's-era suburbia perfectly encapsulates everything that rules and sucks about being a rotten little American kid. I can't wait to read it again.(less)
Whenever I happen upon this book in my apartment, and I'm not doing much of anything, I tend to pick it up and read the entire thing. This probably ta...moreWhenever I happen upon this book in my apartment, and I'm not doing much of anything, I tend to pick it up and read the entire thing. This probably takes about an hour. It makes for an hour of astonishing contentment. I try to get other people to read it, but it never takes. I can see how it could come across as kiddy and maudlin, but I prefer wide-eyed and sensitive. So I'm a sap, is what I'm saying. Also, it's Canadian, and that's always weird. And there's a comfort with nudity here that's alternately jarring and refreshing. Obviously I still haven't pieced together what it is I like so much about this graphic novel, which may explain why I keep turning back to it. Please, someone, read it and like it. Validate me over here.(less)
This may be my favorite book ever. The Sterns know food so well that I think they might be made out of cheeseburgers and scrambled eggs. There isn't a...moreThis may be my favorite book ever. The Sterns know food so well that I think they might be made out of cheeseburgers and scrambled eggs. There isn't anything I can think of right now that I don't like better than eating in a run-down diner, and this guide celebrates and achingly describes the best in the U.S. I am not lying when I tell you that I look at the book just about every day. Unfortunately, I have been unable to patronize the vast majority of the included eateries, but the Sterns, perhaps aware of the fact that most people don't get out much, recreate each bite of sauce-drenched barbecue and swig of Southern sweet tea with unmatched foodie passion. There are passages in this book that - seriously - can bring me to tears, in particular a paragraph or two describing a now defunct boarding house in Florida, where ravenous strangers once gathered around an enormous lazy Susan, helping themselves to community bowls of insanely delicious fried chicken and talking amongst themselves, even the least personable of the group roused to jovial conversation thanks to the amazing food and neighborly goodwill exemplified by the woman who ran the place. Another review, yet again for a fried chicken establishment, compares the taste of their chicken to a first kiss. "Bon Ton fried chicken, like a first kiss, is a never to be forgotten experience". Good God. Fried chicken as a good as a first kiss...my mind goes white with wonderment. I get choked up just typing that. (I really like fried chicken). It's the best food writing I've ever read, and it makes me want to run outside and eat everything in the world. (less)
This is the best film guide I have ever read. Thorough doesn't even begin to describe it. Weldon takes these movies seriously, and never even really m...moreThis is the best film guide I have ever read. Thorough doesn't even begin to describe it. Weldon takes these movies seriously, and never even really makes much fun of the worst of the lot. Closer in spirit to Halliwell than Joe Bob, which is a rarity when it comes to cult film reviews. If you have even a passing interest in horror, sci-fi, or under-the-radar movies in general, this book is an absolute necessity. I take a look at it almost every day. (less)
I read a lot of books about cops, and I always like them, even when they're dumb. This is one of the better ones. It's based on the true story of a pa...moreI read a lot of books about cops, and I always like them, even when they're dumb. This is one of the better ones. It's based on the true story of a pair of upstanding young policemen who are kidnapped by two of the most fascinating, hilariously tragic, and cuh-razy criminals I've come across in my readings and viewings. Overall, a damn good read. (less)
People who are just trying to be gross can't help but be entertaining, no matter how see-thru their intent. You can't ignore the little boy who's tryi...morePeople who are just trying to be gross can't help but be entertaining, no matter how see-thru their intent. You can't ignore the little boy who's trying to wipe his boogers on you, and when his parents have finally collared him, with anger and gag relex fully suppressed you have to admit the whole thing was actually pretty funny.
Chuck Paloonyhoonyhookiak is just trying to wipe his boogers on you. When he's done with that, he'll gladly exhaust whatever other bodily fluids happen to be available to him. His novels seem to have been steadily leading up to this: a good old-fashioned gross-out fest, a chance for him to pull out all the stops and just have fun.
I settled into "Haunted", prepared for the worst/best, and got it with the first story, "Guts". This is the one that's apparently been making people faint at readings (though how anyone can actually lose consciousness simply listening to someone read something fictional, no matter how shocking, is beyond me), and it really is genuinely disgusting. Yet fun to read, a vomitrous tale well told.
Unfortunately, the rest of the stories simply don't latch onto this gory glee, and, apart from a surprising and amusing tale of a hospice patient who is and isn't what he seems to be, the book becomes more and more of a slog, with a wraparound narrative peopled with irritatingly-named victims (I can't hope to adequately express how thankful I am that I'm unlikely to ever again encounter a character in literature named "Comrade Snarky") meeting their inevitably vile ends. It's ultimately a letdown, but do check out "Guts", if you're into this sort of thing. (less)
It's truly shocking how fascinating this autobiography is. Poor Loni had quite a time of it, even before hooking up with the slap-happy (in the negati...moreIt's truly shocking how fascinating this autobiography is. Poor Loni had quite a time of it, even before hooking up with the slap-happy (in the negative sense of the term) Burt Reynolds. I don't remember the specifics, but I seem to recall someone she knows having their mother murdered right in front of them, or something equally pleasant. I don't know, it's been a couple years. I should probably purchase this book.
And she doesn't completely eviscerate Burt, who at the very least doesn't seem to have brutalized her on a daily basis, and in the mid-80s underwent a bad experience on a movie set wherein all the bones in his face were pulverized after being hit with a prop chair that was supposed to have splintered upon contact. I guess if one day you're a sex symbol, and the next day your face is a flappy pink sac of skull powder, you might be entitled to bouts of grumpiness, if not bouts of harming your spouse. (less)