Wednesday, September 28, 2016

It Was Aliens

Very True Stories Starring Jeff O'Brien  - Jeff O'Brien 5/5
      What is your definition of truth? Do you believe in aliens? Do you believe that the world has been saved twice by a scruffy dog lover and a Starting Lineup action figure? As a fan of Jeff's I have read just about everything the dude has put out and as I gazed at the cover I knew that I was going to be in for one hell of a read. Jeff writes the kind of stuff that he would like to read, and along the way he's picked up a bit of a following. Whatever he writes it always seems to work, and shouldn't be taken to seriously. The same goes for his latest book which will no doubt piss of scores of people, but I thought it was a lot of fun.

      Are these any of things in O'Brien's book plausible? Does it matter? What's important is that Jeff is a decent writer that can tell you a story while winking at the same time. The Allston Girl kicks things off and here's the moment where you cough and say bullshit at the same time. A vagina monster? Not gonna lie I laughed my ass off at this one and as I read on I laughed more. In these stories Jeff comes off as a bit of a dork, but he manages to save the world twice and gives us tips on how how to keep away a boner while getting a massage. That alone is worth the price of the book. If you follow Jeff on Facebook his love of chem-trails and aliens have made it into Very True Stories which really shouldn't surprise anyone. If there were a contest for bullshit artist Jeff would no doubt win.

      Without a doubt Stories is an entertaining book that may or may not be true. I can't say for sure, but I will tell you that you should pick up this book unless you fail to have a sense of humor. It's a quick read that proves that Jeff is the master of B-rate fiction. I don't mean any disrespect by that because I love b-rate movies and Jeff has brought that into his fiction. In a world gone mad Jeff reminds us that we shouldn't take ourselves too seriously.

Sunday, September 25, 2016

Ladies And Gentleman, Lenny Bruce

   How Talk Dirty and Influence People - Lenny Bruce  5/5 stars

     In this politically correct version of the world Lenny Bruce is just as offensive as he was back when he was being busted by the fuzz for being obscene. You see Lenny is an icon that paved the way for greats like Carlin, Pryor, Hicks, and even Sam Kinison. Words themselves aren't dirty. It's the image that they create. Lenny was ahead of his time and he paid dearly for it. It's unfortunate that Mr. Bruce doesn't get the respect that he deserves. He changed the way that people approached comedy and busted down doors that were formerly closed. I know I'm coming off fan boyish, but Bruce is one of those guys that taught me more about life than most teachers. I learned about free speech from Lenny, and I also learned that you don't really have the freedom to speak at all. You just think you do.

     This isn't the first time I read this book I read it back when I was eighteen and I hadn't really seen Lenny perform, and I didn't really know all that much about him. I knew how he died, and how dirty he was, but then again when you looked back at the state of who came after, he wasn't really all that dirty. He knew how to hold a audience's attention but he wasn't trying to offend anyone. He just spoke to them the way he spoke to his friends. If you look on Youtube there are some really good bits of his that still hold up well, while others are quite dated. I fell in love with the book and read it about ten, or eleven times. I thought this was an autobiography, but it's really not.

      It's just a series of stories that seem true, and who knows, maybe to Lenny they were. They are entertaining and what makes it so readable is that they're funny, and you're inside Lenny's head a bit. There are other biographies of Bruce, but this one is special because it's the man's own words before his world started falling apart. We do get a glimpse of his beginning legal troubles, but we don't get the tragic end. Lenny had no idea just how bad things were going to get. Neither did family or fans. Some of the stuff is dated but anytime you read an older book you're going to have this issue. If you're one of those people that are bothered by that then maybe you should avoid the book and read something else.

      It is one of my favorite books though, and one that you should read if you're at all interested in what the world was like for someone like Lenny who actually arrested for saying cock sucker on stage. He talks about his status as a sick comic and we also get a glimpse inside his marriage to Honey Bruce. This was at the time, the definitive book on Bruce and still is. These are somewhat autobiographical tales that will make you laugh and is a great introduction the legend that is Lenny Bruce.


Saturday, September 24, 2016

Season Of Decay

     Season Of Decay The Decaying Worlds Saga Book 2 - Michael W. Garza  5-5 stars


     You want a tight, intelligent zombie novel you've come to the right place. Seasons picks up after the first novel ends so it's pretty important to read the other books in the series before picking this one up. What I like about this series is that Michael has attempted to put his own spin on the zombie apocalypse without relying on gore or even the zombies themselves. The focus is on the survivors who are now faced with a coming horde of the undead. I enjoy Garza's work a great deal because he writes stories that pull you in and make you feel as if you're one of the characters. As the series progresses we can see the story evolve organically which can be frustrating at times, but Seasons is a book that takes a variety of different genres and comes up with something unique.

     A tale of survivors is part of the plot, but then you have the Nexus and just how important it is. It's a simple straightforward story that doesn't use the zombies to hook you in. It's the tale of the survivors and there's quite a few surprises to keep you interested. It's clear that Garza plans on taking us on a wild ride, and all we have to do is trust that he'll get us there without trying our patience too much. It is a series after all and we have a cliff hanger ending that gives us a hint of what's to come. The big question is how is this all going to end? The answer isn't clear yet, but it will be.

     It's an interesting book that continues the story of Mia and the rest of her tribe. We have characters that we want to see survive and that's important in a book like this. Without solid characters the book just falls apart and you begin to care less and less about reading on. We've read books like these, but this one adds intelligence to the mix. You can have a smart zombie novel that doesn't rely on gore to tell the story, or make us watch as the survivors slowly begin to unravel under pressure. The most frustrating aspect of Season is the cliff hanger ending. You expect something huge to happen and then the book's over. If you're impatient like I am that wait feels like forever.  I was given a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review and it's an interesting take on a tired genre. The momentum that he's created with the first book is still going but can he keep it going?

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Rob Zombie's 31

      31 Thoughts and a review

     Once upon a time I saw a trailer for a movie called House of 1000 Corpses, and was blown away. Finally a horror film that paid tribute to the films I grew up watching. The second it came out on DVD I snagged my copy and immersed myself in the mayhem. Corpses was, and is a huge influence on me and as I watched it I realized that this was a film by a guy known mostly for his music. It wasn't supposed to be this good, but it was. Critics of course dismissed it and most horror fans didn't understand it, but when it comes to horror films most critics are elite snobs anyway. What Corpses did was show us that you can make a decent horror film that is not only shocking, but entertaining.

      I became a fan of Zombie's films, but not his music To this day I still say that Lords Of Salem is his best film, and who knows I'm probably wrong. What matters is that when you see a Rob Zombie trailer you know you're in for one hell of a ride. Zombie's films are never boring, and they always deliver. Even Halloween II had decent moments in it and proved that as a filmmaker Zombie is creates some pretty decent horror. Sure, you can usually see what his influences are, but you'll have that with any director, and you'll always get it when you read a book by your favorite author. If you're a fan of his films, you always get excited when a new trailer is released. I saw a trailer for 31 and I couldn't wait until it was released. It was as if Christmas had come early. This was a good reason to celebrate.


        Then I began to see posts on Facebook from people that saw the film and I began to panic. Did it affect my desire to see it any less? Fuck no, it's a film by Rob Zombie. As soon as it comes out on Blu-ray I'm still going to buy it, and I'm going to see it no matter what. It could be the worst reviewed movie ever and I'd still see it. There's nothing you can say that would make me not want to see this film. I have seen the reviews and I've seen the Facebook posts, but I still sat down to watch 31. I had to see it for myself. I saw Blair Witch on Saturday despite what all the critics said I actually enjoyed it. I don't often agree with critics anyway. They get paid to give their opinion and people actually listen to what they say and allow these fucks to dictate what the watch and even what they listen to,

       Anyway 31 is not your typical Zombie film. It has certain elements of the same brutality and gore that we've come to know, but this one feels a little off. It's as if Zombie has run out of ideas and decided to give his fans exactly what they want. Does that make 31 a bad film? Not at all. It's still a pretty decent film but it's not his best work. We know what Zombie is capable of so as I watched 31 I felt my spirits sink a little. There are still moments in 31 that remind us that we're still watching a Rob Zombie film and that's the problem. He's seemingly going through the motions and giving us what we want. There's very little originality involved and we've seen this type of movie before.

      Maybe when we get the Director's cut we'll get a better version, maybe there's stuff here that reminds us why we love this guys films so damn much, Did I hate the film? Not by a long shot. It is a Rob Zombie film after all so there's still enough fucked up shit in here to keep me glued to the screen. If you hate the guy's films, you're going to hate this one too. As a fan there was enough brutality and gore in the second half to make up for the slow moving first half.

      31 is still a decent film, and better than most of the horror that Hollywood keeps pumping out. There's a style to Zombie's films that no one else has. The problem is that there are far too many questions about the game itself, and what happens if there's a winner? I want to see a Doom Head movie. This guy needs his own fucking movie. He's the reason why the 2nd half was so damn watchable. You can't help but like this guy. He's a fucking psycho, but exactly the kind of killer that we just don't see enough of in horror films. I finally liked this movie towards the end. It was exactly what I wanted to see, but the problem is that we've seen it before. Corpses did it better, but so what. I couldn't hate this if I wanted too. You have a survival horror film directed by Rob Zombie. You've seen these before and you will again, but not like this. This is one that will probably give you nightmares.

      The question here is, should you see it? It's all up to you. I thought the 2nd half was insane and just brutal enough to redeem itself, but there's that pesky first half to get through, and don't get me started on the shaky cam bullshit and the weird camera angles. Story wise it's simple. Survive or die. Nothing too deep, nothing to hard to figure out, but who will survive? That's usually why these fail, or succeed. Here it doesn't seem to matter. These are disposable characters who don't really matter all that much. They're there to either die brilliantly or spout clever quotes you can share on Facebook and Twitter.I think if you're a fan of horror you should check it out. It's got enough here to keep you interested, but the days of Zombie making a classic like Corpses, or even Salem may be long behind him. You'll instantly forget most of the film once it's over, but Doom Head? That fucker will give you nightmares!

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

I'm a dude and I read a Kasey Hill book!

 Firefly Of Immortality (The Guardians Of Light Book 1) - Kasey Hill 4/5 stars

     When Kasey gave me a copy to review I was stoked because I thought that her take on the Wizard of Oz mythos was pretty damn cool. She should a lot of promise and easily became a writer to watch for. Now we have Firefly and the premise is cool as hell. I wanted to read this and you should despite my awarding this four stars. It's a book worth reading, but the problem is that I'm a dude and this is clearly not a market that this book was intended for. If you're into young adult fiction with a bit of cheese, then this is for you. If you're like me and don't like young adult fiction with a bit of cheese you should avoid this and find something you do like.

      To be perfectly honest I love Kasey's writing style and her characters. These are complex and well thought out which is essential in a book like this. If you have characters that don't pull you into the story then there's no point in reading it. It's clear that she has grown more confident as a writer and has the talent to elevate the young adult market. This is perfect for those that want a bit of edge with their romance. Firefly is unique and doesn't follow the same ideas that most of these books follow, It's a well thought out novel, that shows that Kasey has talent. I could have easily just awarded this one star for not being in my comfort zone, but the thing is that Kasey is a writer to pay attention to. Young adult fiction needs people like her to take a few risks and move the genre forward. Not many dudes are going to review this and that makes total sense, but I'm not most dudes.

     It's a great beginning to a series that shows a lot of promise. I know that when the second book is released I'll groan and whine a bit, but I'll read it and roll my eyes at some cheesy dialogue, but as long as the story is interesting I'll keep reading. Now if you'll excuse me I need to read something manly.

Sunday, September 4, 2016

The Dinner

  The Dinner - Herman Koch  5/5 stars

      Have you ever read a book and then sat and thought about it for a minute trying to decide if you liked it or not? That's exactly what happened after I finished The Dinner. The book itself isn't hard to follow and the message itself is up for interpretation. How it leaves you feeling is where the trouble lies. Is that the mark of a good writer, or is it something else entirely? Koch has written a novel that leaves you exhausted and confused. I wanted to hate the Dinner. I wanted to throw it across the room quite a few times, but I was too invested to quit. I had to read it through to the end. Novels like these are complex, but not because of the plot. It's the characters. These aren't characters that you want to hang out with, and I don't even like them. They all have character flaws and are quite despicable. Not just one or two characters mind you. Each and everyone of them.

      Koch has written a novel that you will either love or hate. There's no middle ground here and I like that he had built the novel around them and one very sinister event that binds them all together. One crime that could destroy the futures of their children. You would think that would be simple enough, but throughout the novel you see glimpses of who Paul really is, and maybe the illness he has has been spread to his son. Paul tells the story as if he's indifferent to it all. He glosses over facts and tries to make himself to be the victim at times which doesn't really hold a lot of water when you see what he's capable of. I guess the question here is what would you do to protect your child. What if he's done something so bad that maybe, just maybe you shouldn't protect him at all. The wild card here is Claire. She at first seems to be the most level headed of them all, but looks can be deceiving can't they?

      Highly controversial, and not your typical paint by numbers fiction It's a very dark, but engrossing story that works in spite of the characters. It's a dark, yet gripping novel that doesn't want you to have a clear cut love for it. It settles in and demands your attention and you end up enjoying it in spite of these horrible, and often boring characters. It's the story that makes it worth reading. Is it an easy to story to read? No, but that's why it's so good. Normal people don't act this way, and at times you can feel just a bit of anger begin to settle in over the course of Paul's narrative. In the end I ended up loving The Dinner because of its flawed characters and dark plot. Everyone is different of course and for every ten people that love this novel there's about twenty who truly loathe it and that's understandable. It's not for everyone. Some people want a true happy ending, or characters that aren't weak or so dis-likable.

      How you approach The Dinner is up to you. It's going to make you think, and it's sometimes going to test your patience, but doesn't great fiction do that? We all crave something different. We all want to read a novel that affects us and challenges us to see things from a darker perspective. If you're looking for a nice cozy book to pass a few hours this isn't for you. It's not a happy novel at all. That's what appealed to me. The darker aspects of the novel really showed why some of these characters behave the way they do. Does it make it right? No, but you at least have a reason. Novels sometimes take us places that we normally wouldn't go. Koch takes us into the darkness of human nature and that is where some people will throw up their hands and opt out. It's their loss and they're missing out on a damn good book. It's disturbing, it's dark, but most of all? It's brilliant and I loved every minute of it.

Thursday, September 1, 2016

Love Wins??

     Love Wins: A Book About Heaven, Hell, And The Fate Of Every Person Who Ever Lived - Rob Bell 3/5 stars

     I remember when this book first came out people lost their minds! It seemed as if everyone had an opinion and if you weren't against it then you were part of the problem and declared an enemy of Christianity. Sadly, I was one of those Christians. It doesn't make sense does it? As a Christian you're job is to show some sort of compassion, and love all people, but when this book came out Rob Bell was the most hated man in America. It's interesting that no one talks about religion and if you do you're attacked because you don't follow the mainstream beliefs of Christianity. The problem is that Christianity is full of hypocrites that talk a great game but when it comes to actually following the Bible they fail miserably.

     Now that I'm in a different mindset and removed from my Christian faith I thought I'd read Rob's book again. The difference now is that I can do it with an open mind. That's really the best way to read Love Wins. If you begin reading this ready to attack it then the message itself is going to be lost. You're so set in your belief system of hell and eternal punishment that nothing is going to change your mind. It's okay. Most of us are taught that there's a heaven for good people and then for those that reject Jesus and the Bible well, sorry about your luck but you're gonna burn in hell. There's no leeway or middle ground. You have one chance to repent or else.


       We want to project this image of Jesus but what we're taught flies in the face of that. God is often portrayed as a jealous wife, or girlfriend and because of our free will (which God gave us) we face the possibility of being cast into hell. There's no second chances, but Love Wins shows us another possibility and who knows maybe he's right and they're wrong. Rob shows us a lot of proof that what we're taught could be wrong. His proof at times seems a little wonky but let's be honest and admit that all religion is full of contradictions and ideas that just don't make a lot of sense. There are a lot of rules and no real wiggle room. Love Wins is pretty convincing when you look at the state of the world we live in now. Could this be the hell that we're so afraid of? Rob's book shows us that it's okay to question what we believe and seek out the truth. That's something that goes against what we're taught to believe but as I read Love Wins I could see the point that he was trying to make. 

      Is it faulty? Any book like this is, but the thing to keep in mind is that it opens up a dialogue with other Christians to seek out what the Bible is trying to tell us. It's interesting that God has created us only to allow us to suffer for eternity in a lake of fire. If he loves us wouldn't he try and save all of us? What about free will? Is that our true downfall? If that hadn't been given to us then what? See? There are a lot of questions that Bell doesn't answer, and maybe he can't. What he shows us makes sense because it portrays the God that we are taught to believe in and then there are other ways that you can be a follower of Jesus that hardly anyone actually practices. The idea of a Heaven on Earth seems like a hippie concept but isn't that what Jesus wanted us to do? He wanted us to teach people about him and not hell but somewhere along the way the wires got crossed. 

     Love Wins does raise more questions than it actually answers, but it's an interesting book that shows us that there's more to faith and religion than hell. It's not something that you'll find in your local Baptist Church or any other church for that matter. Hell drives the point of religion home and if you want to be a Christian it's your job to hammer that into people's heads. The idea of choice has to be removed and in order to have a working relationship you must fear him. Is Rob Bell the Devil? Of course not and the book is not as evil or as vile as people would have you believe. It's an interesting look at faith that could be wrong, but we're all in danger of being wrong. That's what faith is all about. It's not a perfect book, but it does raise some interesting points and allows us to look at religion in a different way. An interesting read that most Christians would love to erase, but they can't so you should borrow a copy from your local library.