This little Faustian ditty is a hoot and a half, let me tell you and should you think my three stars indicates a less than enthusi...moreOCTOBER COUNTRY 2013
This little Faustian ditty is a hoot and a half, let me tell you and should you think my three stars indicates a less than enthusiastic recommendation, think again. I adore Frank Darabont because he is one of the few film directors out there who truly "gets" Stephen King's work (as an artist and as a fan). The proof is in Darabont's King adaptations onto the big screen with stunning cinematic results, including The Green Mile and my personal favourite -- The Shawshank Redemption.
There is a persistent rumor that Darabont is sitting on the film rights to King's Bachman novel The Long Walk, another favorite of mine which I like to re-read every couple of years. Just the thought of Darabont bringing this classic edge-of-your-seat dystopian nightmare to the big screen is enough to send me into a raving fangirl tizzy. So c'mon Darabont, get on that please before the zombies rise up and we're all more concerned with hoarding toilet paper.
But back to Walpuski's Typewriter. Darabont is a talented director, and an equally passionate screenwriter. He knows how to construct a story and give life to characters, but mostly in the visual sense. He is a man who thinks and experiences the world cinematically. Which is why you see his name on movie marquees, not on the New York Times bestsellers list.
But this fantastical tale laced with dark humor and outrageous outcomes showcases Darabont's admiration and respect for the craft of storytelling, in particular for the works of Stephen King and Anthony Boucher. In Walpuski's Typewriter Darabont is paying homage to these men, a short story that proves imitation is the highest form of flattery. King fans will chuckle. There's something here that feels so familiar and honest, in an adorable, tongue-in-cheek way. It's Creepshow and Tales from the Crypt, a delightfully gruesome story ripped from the pages of the 1950's EC horror comics.
It's appropriate I should be reviewing this on November 1st, as thousands of people all over the world sign up to participate in NaNoWriMo. The overwhelming urge to write a novel can make hungering desperadoes out of the most calm and sensible people. As all you NaNo participants venture forth this month to slay your literary dragon, ask yourself how far you would go to succeed in this madcap adventure, to bask in the glory of your triumph and drink from the sweet well of fame and notoriety?
My advice -- stick to pen and paper, and whatever you do, don't resurrect that old typewriter from your uncle's basement or grandma's attic. (less)
***I'm reposting this review in honor of Neil Armstrong (August 5, 1930 – August 25, 2012) who died today at the age of 82.
"That's one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind." --Neil Armstrong
Well...that was...interesting. This book is so thoroughly researched. The amount of painstaking detail used to describe the epic sublime of space right down to the microscopic level of doing your "business" in zero gravity is impressive to say the least. As a side-effect though, I did find myself getting "fecal fatigued" and "vomit weary" more than once.
Don't get me wrong -- I applaud Mary Roach in her unapologetic approach to getting the details right, because this is a side of space exploration and the life of an astronaut we've never seen before (at least not in such unexpurgated glory and triumph). In other words, this is everything you ever thought you might like to know about traveling into the final frontier (and some things you could have happily gone your whole life without ever knowing, trust me on that) but were afraid to ask.
This book is chock full of interesting tidbits as well as several mind-blowing facts, all marinated in Roach's signature wry humor and breezy writing style. It really is a delightful romp (and you'll learn stuff too!) I already feel smarter. I also appreciated that Roach extended her scrutiny beyond NASA and dug up some colorful detail about the space programs of other countries, including my own.
It was Stephen's awesome review that brought this book to my attention, and despite a few cringe-worthy, grimacing moments of "ugh!", I'm really glad I read it, and I highly recommend that you do too! (less)
Jenny Lawson (aka The Bloggess) is seriously effed up, and that doesn't always equate with being seriously bleeping funny but in her case, this book w...more Jenny Lawson (aka The Bloggess) is seriously effed up, and that doesn't always equate with being seriously bleeping funny but in her case, this book will S-L-A-Y you. I laughed so hard in parts I shed tears (and a little pee I think). Just sayin'. For anyone out there with some incontinence issues already.
Her frantic, stream-of-consciousness delivery (though punctuated with gems of insane hilarity) can get exhausting. Sometimes you just want to scream, "Jenny, will you just shut the *&%@# up already!" -- imagine being stuck in an elevator with a coked up Robin Williams who just also happens to be sipping on a Red Bull laced with vodka. As horrible as that sounds, Jenny Lawson makes it work. Despite her frantic crazy energy, she will make you laugh your ass off, teach you how to curse like a sailor (that woman loves to let the expletives fly), force you to appreciate all of life's absurdities, face tragedy with (enough) dignity, and be grateful for every single blessing that you have.
She also taught me that the most interesting person in the room is probably the one hiding under the table (or in the bathroom) hyperventilating. Only stupid people aren't locked and loaded for the zombie apocalypse (well d'uh, that one I knew already). That chupacabras are REAL. That people who tell you that acupuncture is painless are "complete fucking liars." And most important of all, Texas may be big and beautiful and have awesome BBQ, but it's also where all the bitey, stinging things live.
Today the exterminator came out to spray for scorpions again, and he left a note saying that he found an enormous snakeskin next to our house. Then I screamed, "EVERYTHING IN THE COUNTRY WANTS TO KILL YOU," and Victor told me to go lie down. But then I went to look at the snakeskin, and I was all, "This is a used paper towel." Then Victor said, "Dude. That's totally a snakeskin that's been shed. Look at the diamond scale pattern," and I was all, "That's a textured diamond weave to absorb more wetness. You can tell it's a paper towel because snakeskins aren't square. Or perforated." And I spread it out on the ground and then he was all, "Huh. That is a fucking paper towel. I think we need a new exterminator." We're probably not going to survive the year.
Imagine if Dr. Seuss got drunk off his ass one afternoon, did a few lines of coke, and decided to write a little somethin’ somethin’ for the grown-ups...moreImagine if Dr. Seuss got drunk off his ass one afternoon, did a few lines of coke, and decided to write a little somethin’ somethin’ for the grown-ups. Welcome to World House.
How do you refrain from recommending that everyone read a book, when in your heart of hearts you know that not everyone is going to love it? In fact, there will be those who will hate it … or worse … be left bored by it. It takes a stronger person than me. I can’t stop myself recommending The World House as loud and as sincerely as I can … because those who will like it are going to like it a lot.
Here’s what I know for sure: Guy Adams is a writer of awesome audacity and imagination, who has retained his sense of childlike wonder. He infuses this story with all the charm and spectacle found in the best fairy tales, writing the utterly impossible with such conviction it reads as entirely plausible. Not as someone’s dream or a far-off fantasy landscape on some distant moon … but as something in our midst, impacting our world, happening to someone that could be us.
There were moments I was reminded of being inside the The Dark Tower itself, or the Agincourt Hotel from The Talisman. Having made the comparison, The World House is not that serious or frightening; in fact, if you come to this novel expecting terror and dread then you really will be disappointed. While the premise has all the potential to go dark side, it remains throughout a swashbuckling tale of whimsy, delight, and outright foolishness – more Indiana Jones than Hellraiser -- or Cube -- definitely more Clue (see karen’s review here) than House of Leaves. The premise is addictive, and even though the horror fan in me can't help but be disappointed I didn’t get the wits scared out of me, I surely did appreciate the originality, the silliness and the nonstop action. For me it became an intoxicating winsome brew.
As karen points out, like Clue, The World House is “a book about a bunch of strangers trapped in a house, trying to solve a mystery”. Adams has assembled quite the diverse, ensemble cast. As with Clue, or the more dramatic Gosford Park, to really enjoy this book the large cast has to please you, rather than become an annoying obstacle (and a fast way to eject you out of the story).
You won't find three-dimensional dramatic characters with in-depth histories and story arcs. It is true they are more caricature than character, but it works here in this context. Adams expertly juggles all his characters like a bunch of colorful scarves; each is unique enough to follow with ease. I love the voices he uses, and the frequent changes of perspective jumping from cliffhanger to cliffhanger is invigorating. It adds an element of suspense and tension that kept the pages turning almost faster than I could read them.
While Adams’ story may fall on the too fluffy side to be taken too seriously, within its pages he introduces a gargantuan idea and I really can’t wait to see where he takes it in Book 2 – Restoration. This is the second novel I’ve read coming out of the weird but ultra cool publishing house Angry Robot (the first was Slights). I usually don’t take notice of the publisher but these guys have got something exciting going on. I for one will definitely be keeping my eye out for more of their books. As for The World House, read it!!!! (less)
I had never heard of The Oatmeal until some GR friends started reviewing this book. With my ignorance finally rectified, I gleefully dived into this g...more I had never heard of The Oatmeal until some GR friends started reviewing this book. With my ignorance finally rectified, I gleefully dived into this giant heap of hilarity. Now I feel it's my turn to spread the word about its awesome contents (and parent website).
One of my favorites is Why I Believe Printers Were Sent From Hell to Make us Miserable. This comic is added as a pull-out poster and is worth dropping the cash to own a copy. How many late nights and very early mornings have I been through "the printer trials from Hell" with my boyfriend as he pleads with the demon to give up its goods? Pleading turns to cajoling, which turns to cursing, which turns to screaming, which turns to threats of throwing the damnable machine right out the window (which thankfully hasn't happened yet). He's shown infinite patience, and has tolerated the extortionist prices for new printer cartridges, but alas, the vile, demonic gadget continues to break his heart.
I love the brutal honesty and cheekiness of many of these comics. They're not all home runs, but the diamonds do sparkle and shine. The best part is their diversity: no matter your humorous bent you are bound to find something that appeals and resonates. Highly recommended!
Oh, and for cat lovers? Don't miss these to die-for gems. I laughed so hard at a few of these they hurt me :) :)(less)
Samuel L. Jackson makes everything better in my books. He is the King of All that is Awesome. I can't say it any better than Becky does here. If you h...moreSamuel L. Jackson makes everything better in my books. He is the King of All that is Awesome. I can't say it any better than Becky does here. If you haven't already listened to Mr. English-Do-You-Speak-It tell all the world's children to go the fuck to sleep, do so immediately. I hear it's quite cathartic for parents currently battling the bedtime wars! Here's a working link. Watch it fast because these are being blocked soon after they're posted. (less)
Thoroughly fun, thoroughly enjoyable. A quick little read that delivers on some big laughs. Yes, it's gimmicky --even kitschy-- but still worth readin...moreThoroughly fun, thoroughly enjoyable. A quick little read that delivers on some big laughs. Yes, it's gimmicky --even kitschy-- but still worth reading because you will forget about life for awhile .... and laugh, oh my how you will giggle and smirk and snort.(less)
I absolutely loved John Connolly's The Book of Lost Things (which I gave an enthusiastic 5 stars with no hesitation). The Gates is written in a much m...moreI absolutely loved John Connolly's The Book of Lost Things (which I gave an enthusiastic 5 stars with no hesitation). The Gates is written in a much more simplistic style, almost as if it were aimed at a young teen audience. It's lighter and brighter than Lost Things for sure (despite being about the gates of Hell opening and demons pouring forth upon the earth). I found the first half so enjoyable and I laughed out loud in places. The narrator's quirky observations about the universe, and the running commentary going on in the footnotes, were ... well ... delicious (for lack of a better word).
The second half of the book with it's never-ending action sequences of legions of demons (in all shapes, sizes and temperament) pouring out of the open gates grew to be a little tiresome in parts. The humour persisted, and I did enjoy Nurd immensely (otherwise known as the Scourge of Five Deities). Nurd - exiled by The Great Malevolence to a barren section of Hell know as The Wasteland - is who you end up really cheering for (at least I did).
Horror movies and I? We go way back. I've been a voracious consumer since I was eight and my enthusiasm for the genre hasn't diminished with ... ahem...moreHorror movies and I? We go way back. I've been a voracious consumer since I was eight and my enthusiasm for the genre hasn't diminished with ... ahem ... maturity and wisdom. So yeah, it's been a lifelong love affair, one I don't hide, or feel I need to apologize for. Because even amidst the dreck, there exists some awesome cinematic gems, and amidst the classics there are film moments of hair-raising, heart-stopping, enviable genius.
The naysayers who decry: "how can you watch that garbage" are rude asshats, unimaginative douchebags or big fat chickens. Okay, maybe that's a little harsh. Rationally I know horror movies aren't for everyone, but there's that rabid part of my brain that thinks if you're not with us, you're against us.
In writing this little manifesto on how to survive a horror movie, Seth Grahame-Smith proves that he understands horror and humor are a marriage made in heaven – the two go together like Pam and Jim, Butch and Sundance, Pancho and Lefty, Dolly and Kenny and that other celestial match – Sam and Bruce. Horror indulges in all forms of comedy – satire, slapstick, black, blue, Freudian, farce, irony – you name it, it’s been done; in some cases to humbling effect, either deliberately with great focus, or by happy, moronic accident. Don’t believe me? Look no further than these cinema classics (and I’m not being facetious here): An American Werewolf in London, Evil Dead I and II, The Return of the Living Dead, Creepshow, and Shaun of the Dead.
All of the above are prime examples of why I’d rather be watching horror movies rather than reading about them. But every now and then a book of this sort breaks through my defenses, giving me that “come hither” look I just can’t resist. This book has giggles, a few gut busters, and a whole lot of in-jokes delivered with tongue firmly planted in cheek. There are some sections that fall flat being over-written and a little dumb, but there are also shining moments of pure cleverness. Any die-hard horror fan who reads this little book is going to think “I could have written this and probably done a better job”; maybe, but you didn’t, and neither did I so we’re going to shut our pie holes and give props where they’re due.
More than anything, this little book is pure goddamn fun. Plain and simple. However, it is not a classic – for that you have to read If Chins Could Kill: Confessions of a B Movie Actor and Danse Macabre. These definitive texts will teach you everything you need to know about the industry, the genre, the people who make their living by it, and the people who love it. Seth Grahame-Smith wants to make us laugh, but it also comes across how much he loves celluloid horror and because of that I know he is one of us and therefore to be trusted.
There are just too many delightful nuggets to quote from here and rather than trying to capture them all I’m just going to say go read the book. But I can’t resist throwing out a few of my favorites:
The Seven Deadly Horror Movie Sins: 3rd Deadly Sin: Independence – “Screw you guys I’m going home”. Actually you’re going about a third of the way home.
5th Deadly Sin: Curiosity – “Do you think it’s dead?” No. Go ahead and poke it with a stick.
How to Defeat a Killer Doll: Kick the Crap Out of It. Why are you running away from something that could be imprisoned with Legos?
How to Kill a Vampire: Interview It.
What to Do If Your Corn Has Children In It (I still can’t say this out loud without giggling my ass off)
The Amityville Horror (1979) – Bad things happen in house. Family buys house. Bad things happen to family.
Carrie (1976) – If you haven’t seen this masterpiece yet, pelt yourself with tampons and go to your prayer closet.
The Hitcher (1986) – How many times do I have to tell you: Never pick up Rutger Hauer!
Seven (1995) – I went to see this film by myself on a cold, rainy Boston day. I haven’t smiled since.
The Sixth Sense (1999) – Hi, my name’s M. Night Shyamalan. Trust me…you’ll learn how to pronounce it.
I've filed this as a "childish delight" but make no mistake, while it reads like a child's rhyme, it's really meant for adults. You could quite possib...moreI've filed this as a "childish delight" but make no mistake, while it reads like a child's rhyme, it's really meant for adults. You could quite possibly scar a child for life by making this a bedtime story :-D An absolute classic, and not to be missed!!!!(less)
So this book promises to deliver up the 101 strangest, sleaziest, most outrageous movies you've never seen -- and let me tell you that's not an idle b...moreSo this book promises to deliver up the 101 strangest, sleaziest, most outrageous movies you've never seen -- and let me tell you that's not an idle boast. Romano really, really, really delivers the goods on that score. The films listed are strange, sleazy, and outrageous and I haven't seen any of them. Given the "mockumentary" nature of the imaginary canon entirely made up and pulled out of the ether, there's a very good reason for that!
I love movies, and fancy myself a bit of a cinephile, but this collection is truly for the hardcore, low-budget movie fanatic with a penchant toward the bizarre and sexploitative (some of these drive-in / adult movie house flicks make Russ Meyer movies look like Disney productions).
What does this book have going for it to warrant 5 stars? Despite its sleazy inspirations and subject matter, it is an amazing compilation of underground cinema's greatest hits. Pardon the expression, but it's a cult classic lover's wet dream. With tongue firmly in cheek Romano has an encyclopedic knowledge of the extremely no-budget indie movie scene; his essays are rich in behind-the-scenes details, little known facts and interesting tidbits that if you can stomach to read it, pull the whole trashy scene together into a fascinating larger cultural context. I admit I skimmed most of the essays, but what I did read was sordid, sick and utterly entertaining.
What's more, the color plates of the fake movie posters are fantastic; my favorite part was collecting all the obscure tag lines -- oh! so dreadful but too goddamn funny to be missed.
Twisted Kisser:This man has just killed his wife for the second time...will the third time be the charm? Toolshed of the Living Dead:For godsake, don't go in the shed!
That's just the tip of the iceberg. I would say this is a book you want to own and cherish -- the ultimate coffee-table book -- but friends and family may disown you, so perhaps it's just better to borrow it in secret from your public library like I did. (less)
What a wicked, intoxicating combination of weird, creepy, horrific and funny; the last thing I expected when I picked up this book was to laugh my ass...moreWhat a wicked, intoxicating combination of weird, creepy, horrific and funny; the last thing I expected when I picked up this book was to laugh my ass off in parts, doing so was such a bonus. So I can't say this book is going to be for everyone, but if you're looking for something truly different, that's well-written and a bit depraved, then this just might be for you.
The setup: Jamie is a bit of a wanker -- a well-meaning guy, but without much ambition or direction in his life. Let's say he's surviving by being spectacularly dull, hoping Fate will leave him the hell alone if he keeps flying under the radar unnoticed, unnoticeable. He then makes a stupendous error in judgment when he spies on some nefarious clown activities late one evening and retrieves a small bag one of them discards and brings it home with him.
This act will get him noticed by forces so much worse than Fate -- this act gets him noticed by the Pilo Family Circus and once in its clutches, at the mercy of some pretty deranged and hostile clowns, Jamie will be lucky to escape with his life, let alone his sanity. Once trapped on the circus grounds, he is forced to become a clown and he soon discovers much to his dismay that his clown alter-ego -- J.J. -- is a total dickwad and dangerous to boot. Suddenly Jamie is at war with himself in a twisted, sometimes hysterical battle of wits a la Dr.Jeckyll and Mr.Hyde.
I don't want to say much more because the delight in this book is not knowing what the hell is going to happen next. (less)