Sunday, 22 February 2015

Book Review: Flesh Worn Stone by John A. Burks Jr.

Flesh Worn StoneFlesh Worn Stone by John A. Burks Jr.
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

The island is a playground of horror and the kidnapped are forced to participate in the Game, a modern-day rendition of the Coliseum of ancient Rome, where they must compete in acts of murder, rape, and self-mutilation for the amusement of an unseen wealthy elite. Contestants must survive the Game five times to earn their freedom from the island. Losers become the evening meal.

I should hate this book. I really, really should. What with a man sitting on a "thrown" and words missing, punctuation missing, names spelled wrong, shock for shock's sake, telling-not-showing and the misuse of the word "literally".

I can't hate or even get mad at this book. It was self-published and I got it for free, so nothing lost except for a little time and space on my Kindle. But I applaud Mr. Burks for coming up with something fairly original (No this is not a rip off of Hunger Games or Battle Royal.) Really, the books worst crime is the complacency that self publishing can lend a person. This book is in terrible need of an editor. If this book was this poorly edited and dull, then I would have been angry.

But, I kind of loved it. I was entertained, bad writing and all.

It's bad, the shock value (A character was kicked so hard and so many times her intestines were trampled on), the plot holes (They wear human skin but the human meat in the pot had skin on it), the predictable "twists", the one note characters, the none-too-bright protagonist, the necrophilia, the child death...but it was terrible the way the DooM novels are terrible. It was bad the way a bad horror movie is bad. It was all kind of...boyish. While I will not deny the best part of this book, by far, is the title and cover, I had to see how it ended.

Unfortunately the ending disappointed me greatly. We spend the last quarter of a book focusing on A Thing but in the end that Thing is not achieved because it could Never Be Achieved. It was a let down because it was poorly constructed, because of the telling-not-showing writing.

There are two more books in this series. Will I get the others?

I want to say no, but...

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Thursday, 5 February 2015

Book Review: N0S4A2 by Joe Hill

NOS4A2NOS4A2 by Joe Hill
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

3.5 Stars, but Goodreads will not allow for such a crazy thing.

For a while, I had a room mate. I mention her because she had an intense fear of Count Orlok from 1922's Nosferatu. When she first told me, I sort of snickered, I couldn't imagine anyone being afraid of that, even after she went on to explain how he was possibly designed as anti-semetic propaganda (Google it). She literally cannot even look at him.

But while Count Orlok is indeed an unsettling figure, he never scared me. That's the ultimate problem I had with this book.

Old Count Orlok looking dude with a "daffy, dim-witted" overbite, is not scary.

Christmas themed vampire car with a will of it's own is not scary.

Charles Talent Manx III is not scary.

Children and parents missing without a trace? That's scary.

Demonic ghost-children calling you from a phone only you can hear ringing? That's scary.

Man-child with anesthetic gas, wearing a gasmask, who's into necrophilia? That's scary.

But Manx was our main antagonist and he wasn't scary. No one seemed scared of him, not even the kids. Consequently, I didn't care about Manx. His henchman, Bing, was much, much scarier.

So, the premise is, much like The Maxx (Which, holy crap Mr. Gone to take Manx without even blinking.), everyone has their own inner world, or Inscape. Some people are 'fortunate' enough to have a key to reach into their Inscape. Manx has a old Rolls-Royce Wraith with the license plate N0S4A2 which takes him to Christmasland while Victoria, our protagonist, has a bridge that helps her find lost things. There are others, (Can we please have a story about The Walking Backwards Man Manx mentioned, Mr Hill?) but those two are the ones the story really focuses on.

There's usually a cost to using their totem.

The story takes place over a great length of time, we meet Vic as a young girl with her discovery of her bridge, as a troubled teenager, as an adult, and we see gradually how much the encounters with Inscapes and those who can access them drive her slowly mad.

And that was what I liked.

I really, really liked the human characters. I liked how Vic and Lou were flawed. Victoria no doubt went through a traumatic experience with Manx and I was far more invested in the human drama of coping, family, love, expectations, self-worth and sanity than this supernatural stuff. Vic and Lou felt real, or real enough. They were genuine. They loved each other, but in any other story, Lou, for example, would just be a dimwitted ugly fat bastard. But their love felt real and genuine and I just wanted more of that. To the point of whenever we got back to Manx I kind of just...groaned.

I also read the companion comic book mini-series The Wraith, which barely left an impression on me. I'm sorry, I don't care about Manx and 7 comic books about him aren't going to change that. I was far more interested in Millie and Lorrie than Manx and was happy to see them show up in the novel.

Do I recommend this book? I don't know. There are parts I really, really enjoyed and to it's credit it didn't go where I thought it would, with courageous heroic sacrifices or things like that, and Manx is certainly a unique sort of vampire, but Manx and Christmasland come across as silly. If you like stories about a strong woman coping with severe supernatural trauma, go for it, but if you want horror, you're probably better served looking for something else.

Mr. Hill, your father already wrote this book, and it was called Christine.

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Thursday, 8 January 2015

Book Review: The Disaster Artist by Greg Sestero & Tom Bissell

The Disaster Artist: My Life Inside the Room, the Greatest Bad Movie Ever MadeThe Disaster Artist: My Life Inside the Room, the Greatest Bad Movie Ever Made by Greg Sestero
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

When I'm doing non-writey stuff at the computer, such as surfing or art stuff, I've fallen into the habit of listening to podcasts. Still, I tend to disregard audiobooks.

But I have to say, I can't imagine not listening to this novel. Sestero does a perfect Tommy Wiseau impression that to merely read the text really limits the full feel of The Disaster Artist.

I first heard about The Room from online reviewers. I think it was The Bunny Perspective, and I've only been able to sit through it with Rifftrax commentary. But I absolutely needed to read this book for myself.

After reading some reviews mentioning Sestero's Tommy impression, I knew I couldn't read it, I had to listen to it.

So, while doing things that did not require my brain to form words, I had my head firmly sandwiched in my earphones and carried my phone around in my pocket as it played the mp3.

This story of friendship and making one's dream come true is at once warm, creepy, melancholy, silly, welcoming and cringe-educing. The reader-listener will be constantly veering between schadenfreude, "Nope!" and groaning. Armchair psychology will also be hard to avoid as the layers of the intensely private Wiseau are slowly peeled away. Or are they?

One thing is, Wiseau's belief in his film was genuine. He honestly thought he was making a masterpiece, conventional moving-making and storytelling be damned! And his earnestness is charming.
Last night while almost finished the audiobook, I went back and re-watched The Room(Rifftrax), and knowing now the honest intention, and how hard Wiseau (and others) struggled during scenes made it an even more fascinating watch.

If you're a fan of The Room, of bad movies, or just in moving making in general, I strongly recommend you give this one a listen.

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Tuesday, 6 January 2015

Review: The Egg

The Egg
The Egg by Andy Weir

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I'm not a huge student of philosophy so maybe this is really sophomoric stuff, but it put me in awe in a mere four pages. It blew my average, plebeian mind.

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Wednesday, 31 December 2014

2014: My Year of Multi-media

2014 in retrospect.

I'm going to break this down into subjects this year. Let's switch it up a bit. 2014 was the year of multimedia for me.

This year we said goodbye to our cat Peter. He was a good cat. We had him for years. He was rescued as a kitten up in a cabin with his brother Batty. He was one of the most chill cats you could ever know.

Crash on the left, Peter on the right.

In early to mid 2014 I started to re-write my first novel, Project C. I finished the novel in 2009 or so, subbed it to many places, got numerous rejections, trunked it and worked on new stories. Since 2009, I feel that I have grown as a writer, but the story was still viable. So in 2014 I picked it back up again. I got aggravated, dropped it again, then was encouraged to re-plot the bastard. I was also taught a hard lesson about letting characters and stories evolve thanks to the finale of How I Met Your Mother. So that was the majority of 2014`s writing.

Over the last 3 days I plugged ahead and wrote about 10k of stuff for this novel.

2015 is dedicated to finally finishing PROJECT C 2014 and making it the best it's ever been.

I wrote a short story I am quite proud of. More on that later, in 2015.

I shoved Re-Invention through the submission game again, but with no bites.

I'm tentatively plotting a short story collection. I just have to write it first.


Maybe I'll consider self-publishing something come new year.

This year I read The Death of Bunny Munro after years of wanting to read it. I adored it, but felt a little bad about it. I delved into new comic series with Alex + Ada and the Alice Cooper comics. I revisited Warren Ellis with Scars and Lazarus Churchyard, and gave Grant Morrison another chance with The Pro and Multiversity: Pax Americana.

I read critically acclaimed books A Fault in Our Stars and Gone Girl and thought little of them. I read self-published books about the triumph of the human soul in the face of diversity with Ghost No More and Daniel Wallock's short stories.
I'm not a modern music person. I don't listen to the radio. The only albums of 2014 I cared about were Weird Al's Mandatory Fun and Rishloo's Living as Ghosts With Buildings As Teeth. South Park brought out my favorite song of 2014 with "Push". Yes, really.

However, this year I also had Nick Cave stand yards away from me and sing Push the Sky Away. It was one of the best moments of my life.


Short version: Best movie of the year for me is The Lego Movie tied with Guardians of the Galaxy. Worst movie is No Good Deed.

I went to see two music documentaries in theatre. Super Duper Alice Cooper and Nick Cave's 20,000 Days on Earth. I saw movie versions of books I had read (Gone Girl, The Giver), I dropped movie versions of books I read (The Fault in our Stars). 

I decide to follow an anthro raccoon for 2 hours with zero regret. I left Godzilla in my living room to get a drink. The Lego Movie is AWESOME!

Tusk had me, then lost me, but yay for practical effects. 

Hyper-stylized sequels like 300: Rise of an Empire and Sin City: A Dame to Kill For didn't live up to their predecessors, but X-Men: Days of Future Past was probably the best X-Men movie we've had yet. How to Train your Dragon 2 is probably my favourite sequel of the year.

Dawn of the Planet of the Apes was good, but I liked the first one better.

Snowpiercer was a breath of fresh air. 

Knights of Badassdom made me snicker at times and I appreciated the practical effects. 

Gimme Shelter felt like it had huge chunks missing in the middle. Friendships grew waaaayy too fast in that story.

Jodorowsky's Dune was a great look at the process of making a movie and cultivating creativity.

The Sacrement had too much telling, not enough showing. WHY are these things creepy? They're praying? Why do you find that creepy, camera men? Why am I suppose to find it creepy? 

Open Windows was a fun thriller, with cool visuals.
The Good Lie was both harsh and funny. Well balanced and real good.

Book of Life was visually sumptuous but was way too reliant on pop-culture. But so pretty!

Big Hero 6 was great. It had so much heart. It could have just been Hiro and Baymax and I would have been fine. I didn't find his buddies particularly...nessisarry.

Stage Fright was cute, but the music was not memorable and the ending rather predictable.

Angelina Jolie and the costume design were the best things about Maleficent.

Live Die Repeat Edge of Tomorrow was a solid action movie. But I found myself wishing Eva Green was cast instead of Emily Blunt.

I liked the live action version of Kite and felt like a traitor to the anime. It shouldn't have worked, but it DID!

Cheap Thrills...I don't remember how that ended. I think I was multitasking when I watched that. Also I constantly get it mixed up with 13 Sins, which is basically the same premise.

The Muppets Most Wanted was fun! I like fun!

No Good Deed was probably the worst movie I saw in 2014. But, then again, I couldn't sit through The Purge: Anarchy because I was so bored.

Video Games
I got my gaming laptop and got lost in Mordor, Tamriel and Lodaeron. I started my Jedi training, I fought to claim the Stick of Truth, I defended House Forrester,  drowned hysterical sims, and I dodged and distracted zombies.

I also play tested a couple of games in their beta state. I'm not allowed to say which ones, or who for, but the games are available for purchase to the public. It was a really fun experience and I'd do it again if the chance arises.

I miss Mass Effect.

This is the first year that my niece and I don't have a Batman game to mainline over the break. It feels weird. Our tradition has been broken.

I did 4 arts. Three of them were fanart, one was a manipulation for a friend, one was template-based. I totally called it. I knew 2014 would be a bad year for art. But I already have art to make in 2015 so things are looking up.

So, here's to a great 2015.

Monday, 24 November 2014

Book Review: Ghost No More by Ceecee James

Ghost No More: A MemoirGhost No More: A Memoir by CeeCee James
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I would have given it 3.5 stars if Goodreads would allow such a thing.

It's difficult to write about these kind of books because who am I to judge someone's pain or adversity?

I liked this. It's a million times better than A Child Called "It" because things actually make sense, seem to have a coherent timeline and the things poor Ceecee endured are, sadly, believable. In this story, there are no pregnant women making chlorine gas or child-stabbings.

But like A Child Called "It", I have one similar critique: why was the mother like this? She had health issues and I am curious as to what those were. But unlike A Child Called "It", there are hints of what Ceecee's mother had gone through to make her the woman she turned out to be; Health, abuse, molestation, and possibly mental issues. I don't want to presume though, it's not my place.

I think this would be a good read for anyone trying to work through their own abusive past.

I'm glad Ceecee found happiness and peace and I wish her all the best.

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Wednesday, 19 November 2014

Review: Right-Hearted: Finding What's Right With a Wrong-Sided Heart by Daniel Wallock

Right-Hearted: Finding What's Right With a Wrong-Sided HeartRight-Hearted: Finding What's Right With a Wrong-Sided Heart by Daniel Wallock
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This is more like it.

Previously I had reviewed Daniel Wallock's short story Breathe: A Very Short Story and I didn't care for it. I ended the review hoping that this would be a better story.

Thankfully, it was.

The quality of the writing was much improved over Breathe, and there was an actual story here, not just a connect-the-dots of events.

It wasn't mind-blowing or anything, and many things were hinted at, vague, or just dropped. I still have so many unanswered questions. Daniel alludes to fleeting, but abusive romances in his past and I felt there was probably a goldmine of wonderful stories there. I'm not trying to go for the salacious details, but maybe the trial-by-fire would make the reader appreciate his time with the young lady in this book a bit more.

Also, for all his health problems, they're never really focused on. Again, I don't want the grimy dirt of human suffering, but it's more impressive that he play sports like a bad-ass when we actually get to read about his many near-death experiences.

I hope all this is coming out in a actual autobiography some day because I would be very interested to truly get to know Daniel, and not just what he picks and chooses what to tell us.

Daniel wants his stories, all of which are free, to be downloaded 100,000 times. Help make it happen for him. It costs nothing and you'd be helping a young man's dream come true.

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Wednesday, 12 November 2014

Review: Breathe: A Very Short Story

Breathe: A Very Short Story
Breathe: A Very Short Story by Daniel Wallock

My rating: 1 of 5 stars

As you probably have all heard, I am a chronically ill little letter of the alphabet. I was born with (Among other things) Tetralogy of Fallot, which basically means there was a hole in two of the chambers in my heart and the oxidized blood with mixing with the un-oxidized blood. When I was 14 months old, I had several heart surgeries to correct it.

When I heard about Daniel Wallock's goal to give away 100,000 copies of his e-books, out of both a sense of congenital camaraderie and "yay, free books!" I hunted them down.

I read Breathe because it was short. Unfortunately it's not very good. The writing is clunky, and the story is predictable. I knew it was autobiographical but by the end of the first sentence I thought to myself "The last line is going to be And I was that boy... isn't it?"

The wording is repetitious and there's no empathy because everything is glossed over.

Everyone's afraid for him because he's slow and sickly but...they don't realize he's skipping school? Do they not know where he is?

When he wakes from surgery he's covered in blood. That's...not usually how that works. You'd think the doctors would try to practice a little more decorum, especially for a terrified 13 year old boy.

Then his parents sent him away. Where?

I know I sound harsh, and I'm sorry. I'm glad Daniel Wallock made it and is following his dream and I sincerely wish him all the best. I really, really do. But this is how I feel.

However, I downloaded all of his books and I will likely read all of them, with hope that they get better. From what little I skimmed of Right-Hearted Finding What's Right With a Wrong-Sided Heart, they do.

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Sunday, 19 October 2014

Review: Gone Girl

Gone Girl
Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

This review will not be entertaining.

While the writing was good and I stuck it out because I genuinely wanted to know what happened, I didn't like this book.

The characters, even when trying to be likable, were very unlikable. To the point I only liked the lawyer, and tolerated the sister.

There were too many twists, just for the sake of having twists, and I just got tired and mad.

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Saturday, 13 September 2014

Review: Warren Ellis Double Feature

 ScarsScars by Warren Ellis
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Last night I went on a bit of a Warren Ellis adventure. I watched his documentary Captured Ghosts which delved into his childhood, skirted into his teen years in which he was barely conscious, then talks about his career as a writer and patron saint of the Internet. It would make a good double feature with the Harlan Ellison doc, Dreams With Sharp Teeth.

I'm more generous about calling myself a fan of a writer versus a fan of an actor or director, artist or musician because I can gobble up an album in 20-30 minutes, I can watch a movie in 90, I can watch two in about three hours. It's quicker for me to judge multiple portions of works of art or film of music than it is for comics or novels. If I like one book out of 12 written by someone, I call myself a fan until proven otherwise.

All I've ever read of Warren Ellis' work was Transmetropolitan and I adore it, so I call myself a fan. I've never read The Authority or StormWatch or anything else, but I do follow his Twitter and blog and I have several of his works on my To Read list.

Then, the documentary brought up Scars and I hunted it down.

Scars is a well constructed, tightly contained story about a cop hunting down a child murderer. It's a case of true horror, gruesome and terrible but unlike the shock-for-shock's-sake mess that is Garth Ennis' CROSSED or The Walking Dead, it's the realism that makes it terrifying. Sick bastards like this exist, will always exist and we never know who or where until it's far, far too late.

The rest of this will contain spoilers. You've been warned!

I think what I liked the most is that the story is so very contained and nothing is over-explained. We're left to assume that the drive by that left Cain a broken man was due to him being a detective, but it's never spelled out for us. We're not sure if Cain was the intended target, or if the person caught in the path of the bullet was.

The ending is left up to interpretation, though in my opinion it's quite obvious that Cain's partner shot him, otherwise we would have gone through the fallout.

I wish it was longer than six issues, I feel some things happened too fast and Cain could and should have fallen even farther. But over-all, a very good story that I recommend, if you have the stomach for it.

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Thursday, 28 August 2014

Meme: 10 Books That Changed My Life

I was tagged by Ashe Sedai on Facebook.

10 books that changed me, or had a profound effect on me. (In no particular order)

1 - Animal Farm by George Orwell
"Must work harder..."

This is my un-offical favorite book. I don't remember how I heard about Animal Farm, but something about it intrigued me when I was younger, so I hunted it down. I loved it, it was horrifying! A brilliant story, amazingly quotable, and it really stuck with me. I have, in my lifetime, purchased the book four times. Currently my home has two copies of it. I recommend it to everyone.

2 - Poison Elves by Drew Hayes
"Say goodnight to the Sandman."
Poison Elves fed my sense of high-fantasy and kept it alive. It directly influenced Elven Lacryment in both tone and aesthetics. The little therapy session between Parinatchin and Luse still grabs me by the throat after all these years. We lost a visionary when Drew passed away. Since then, they brought Poison Elves back but it's not even close to what it used to be.

3 - DooM by Dafydd ab Hugh
"(something something something) Enervated (something something)"

This was the first book I ever read because it was so bad it was ...well...not good, but reading it was like watching a bad movie with friends. I enjoyed the badness. I had never done that before.

4 - The Death of Bunny Munro by Nick Cave
"I just found this world a hard place to be good in"  

I just finished this book a few weeks ago. I liked it a lot, and I learned that no matter how vile and despicable the actions of your protagonist, you, the reader, can still have a good time. Reading this book is like having your drunk fratboy friend tell you all the horrible things he did while he was drunk and in a frat. Filthy, shameless, vicarious fun.

For anyone who's sick of the internet screaming about Social Justice, safe spaces, misogyny, victim blaming and slut-shaming and just want to revel in horrible things, this book is a haven.

5 - HOUSE of Leaves by Mark Z. Danielewski.
"We all create stories to protect ourselves."
This book legitimately frightened me. I don't want to say anymore. Read this book.
I tried his second book but only got to page two. It seemed MZD believed his own hype. Once is a brilliant fluke, twice is try-hard.
I need to re-read this and see if it holds up.

6 - No Place Like Home by Mary Higgins Clarke
SCREW THIS BOOK! I HATE this book. I despise this book. I loathe this book. It's terrible. This book was the first book I hate-read. I would not let this book beat me. You'd think life would be too short to spend on bad books. Roll your eyes, drop it and move on to better things. But no. No, this book wasn't good or bad enough for me to abandon it. I had to finish it. If I didn't, it would have won. It would be sitting there in a pile of unloved books all smug and unassuming.

You might have noticed I'm putting quotes in each of these listings. I wanted to put a quote about how "un-fucking-belivably lovable" the main character was, but it turned out that was a different book! I can remember no quote about this book. At all.

7 - John Dies At the End by David Wong
“I tried to say something cool, wound up stammering something like, “WANNA YOU WANNA WEENIE ME?” The end kind of trailed off in a shrill, choking warble.”

My favourite book I have ever read. Hilarious, terrifying. It's basically HOUSE of Leaves written by a 10 year old on sugar. I totally now want a HOUSE of Leave/JDatE crossover. You know Johnny Truant, David Wong and John Cheese would be BFFs. MAKE THIS HAPPEN, INTERNET.

8 - Helter Skelter: The True Story of the Manson Murders by Vincent Bugliosi

"“Since we place so much value on human life, why do we glorify, in a perverse sort of way, the extinguishment of life? The answer to that question, whatever it is, is at least a partial answer to why people continue to be fascinated by Hitler, Jack the Ripper—Manson.”"

The first biography I ever read. The first true crime I ever read. My first real exposure to Charles Manson. My copy is from the 70's, as it was my father's copy. It's falling apart. I should maybe get a new copy, but I have no idea if newer editions have amendments or new content. Would be interesting to see if there are major differences.

  9 - The Maxx by Sam Kieth
"Sorry, I know you're just trying to look out for me, like you always do."

The last issue made me cry. That's all I need to say at this point.

10 - World War Z by Max Brooks
"Fear is the most basic emotion we have. Fear is primal. Fear sells."

This book was actually purchased for a friend but I ended up reading it on an airplane. I devoured it, then I made everyone else read it. This book kicked off an epidemic of reading in my family that lasted over a year and spanned several books.

Friday, 8 August 2014

Upscale Downsizing.

I have thrown in the towel when it comes to My sites were hacked beyond repair, with medical spam injected in pages, in searches. URL re-directs when viewing with an iPhone, it was terrible.

I will miss Wordpress's flexibility and super customization, and all the widgets and themes and ease of use, but the spammy, hacked head-ache wasn't worth it.

So, I've made re-direct to, and I'm going to have to do make a back-up of Elven Lacryment and do the same there.

Here's where it gets important: In a few days I will be removing the FRIENDS 4 EVER!!!! website. I will make all the comics available on, but soon the site, as it is now, will be gone.

I'll post more as the moment approaches, stay tuned.

Tuesday, 29 July 2014

Book Review: The Death of Bunny Munro by Nick Cave

The Death of Bunny MunroThe Death of Bunny Munro by Nick Cave
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

On July 1st, I saw Nick Cave live in concert, on July 2nd, I saw 20,000 Days on Earth, the Nick Cave documentary. This month I have consumed vast quantities of Nick Cave's oeuvre.

Artistically, when it comes to the written word, he is probably my favorite. I love his blend of dark humour and sex & violence and class. He's a literate, well-versed bastard.

I believe it's a good thing to not mindlessly consume and praise everything produced by a thing you love. I believe it's good to judge the individual works on their own. For example, I'm a fan of the Silent Hill series, but don't think all the games are even that good. I kind of wish I had never spent money on Alice Cooper's Special Forces album. I can't stand Katatonia's early work. I don't even like all of Nick Cave's work.

But, I think I like this book so much because of the author. I think if someone else had written a book with a protagonist exactly like Bunny, I would have loathed it.

Because I know I should despise Bunny Munro, he is a horrible, horrible, horrible (I can't say "horrible" enough!) human stain on the Earth. I feel Nick Cave probably tossed as much as he could into and onto the character to make you hate him and want to see him suffer.

Just off the top of my head, I can think of at least three or four other characters from other novels which have done far less terrible actions or had been far better people than Mr. Munro and I have judged them, or just simply disliked them or rolled my eyes. Like Johnny Truant from House of Leaves or Astrid from White Oleander .

And yet I felt pity for him, not contempt or hate.

Because, Bunny felt like one of those characters that was a part of Nick Cave, like the male character in the song Dianna or Jubilee Street, Henry Lee or Saint Huck as opposed to, say...Robert Moore or Stagger Lee. And you could tell Nick Cave was having fun writing it. Consequently I pictured Bunny looking like Nick Cave, which influenced my affection for this book, or at least my willingness to let certain abhorrent behaviors slide.

Besides, Bunny gets everything he deserves.

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Tuesday, 1 July 2014

Nick Cave Concert "Review"

I have attended a wide eclectic range of concerts. I've seen Paula Abdul in the height of her fame in the very early 90's, I've seen Weird Al twice, Blue Man Group, Alice Cooper three times, Stabbing Westward, Green Day, Evanescence, Rolling Stones, Don Felder, Cheap Trick, AC/DC, Alanis Morrisette, Sarah McLachlan, Machinehead, Sloan and Dethklok.

Nick Cave is by far the best concert I've ever attended.

In February I purchased two tickets for Nick Cave, one for me and one for my nephew. Unfortunately circumstances resulted in my nephew being unable to attend so I was left with a spare ticket. I asked everyone I knew, but no one could go with. So I went alone.

I had great seats, looking down at the stage, there was no way anyone could block my view. Disability seating, people! (Listen, let's make a pact right now, readers. You wanna see a thing or go to Disneyland? Take me with you, get the perks my friendship offers. Quicker lineups, better seats, yes.)
My seat.

So, the opening act, Mark Lanegan, comes out for a bit. He's...fine. Like an emo Leonard Cohen. He comes, does some songs, some covers, then leaves.

Then Nick Cave and The Bad Seeds come out. They begin with a few from his new album, We No Who U R, which is one of my favorites of his new stuff, then on to Jubilee Street, which builds into this absolute craziness.

Can I just say Warren Ellis (No, not the Transmetropolitan Warren Ellis, apparently the two Warren Ellis' (Ellises? Ellisi?) get that a lot) is a master? During certain parts of certain songs I found myself watching him. At the end of Jubilee Street he just flings his fiddle bow off who knows where. Pretty sure it got lodged in the lighting scaffolding.

All the while, Cave is a jumping, flailing ball of energy and charisma. Cave also randomly *Mic drops!* and is very careless with mic stands. Poor roadie had to keep coming out and standing it back up. By the time Nick Cave got to Tupelo, he was literally wading into the audience. He'll do this a few times during the show.

There was some fun, easy back and forth with the audience. At once point he pulls a guy up on stage
"That's a great shirt," He says to the guy, who's black shirt has a giant kitten on it. "Now fuck off."

Then they launched into Red Right Hand, Papa Won't Leave You Henry then Mermaids, which once you get past the dick joke in the beginning, is a beautiful song.

Then Mark Lanegan came out to sing The Weeping Song with Nick and poor Lanegan is so stiff and "I'm just gonna hold on to the microphone stand for dear life!" and Cave is such a ball of spastic energy that Cave had nothing to work off of, so Mark was pretty much ignored by Cave throughout the entire song. Sorry Mark, you don't have Blixa Bargeld's ...anything. But it was a good try.

They played Lyre of Orpheus, Into My Arms, People Ain't No Good and From Her to Eternity, once again wading into the audience.

Then they played The Mercy Seat and I actually got choked up. The Mercy Seat is the second or third song of Cave's I've ever heard (The first being Loverman, and the second possibly being The Weeping Song.) but it is by far my favorite Nick Cave song. The instrumentation is just so strange and drilling and the song seems to go on forever and it's so full of doom because of the subject matter and I just love it.

But it seemed Cave was having mic troubles and he kept cutting out at "And anyway I told the truth", and he threw the mic down and the song ended in a tattered wail. Then Cave talked to someone back stage for a second, which is what lead me to think it was mic or sound problems. And I don't even care. It was totally and completely The Mercy Seat.

Then they went into Stagger Lee, which is fun as all hell, with the gun-shot instrumentation, the thunder, the screaming, the swearing. It actually gave me a new appreciation for the song.

For the encore they did God is In The House, The Ship song, then he took requests! The request that was honoured was Do You Love Me? because of course it was.

Finally he ended with Push the Sky Away, which again made me choke up because it's a very emotional song. It's one of those, at least in my interpretation, don't give up songs, and we all could use more of those.

It was an amazing concert.

This belongs to me. I purchased it. If you know me, you know why. No, not the penis.

Thursday, 12 June 2014

Book Review: The Fault In Our Stars by John Green

The Fault in Our StarsThe Fault in Our Stars by John Green
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

I can count the number of books and movies that had made me cry on both hands, though I don't need all 9.5 of my fingers to do it. This book will not join those ranks. It doesn't even come close.

The Fault in Our Stars centers around two pretentious, teenagers as they suffer together through a variety of cancer-caused maladies (or Side-effects as our narrator Hazel likes to call them.) and fall in love, knowing their time together is finite.

So, we're stuck with these characters who fall basically instantly in love and just pontificate how much they love each other and how hot they both are. Then they bond over books and video games and "Gee doesn't cancer suck?" "Totes.".

Then they mock Disneyland and go to Amsterdam where they learn the author of the book they bonded over is a dill-hole. I like to imagine Van Houten is John Green's self-insert. "How do you like me now you overly romantic, sappy teenage girls!? WAAHAHAHA!!!"

It's not all bad. There is some good, non-pretentious imagery, like that Hazel named one of her breathing apparatus Phillip (As an aside, my prosthetic leg's name is Leggy, my stump is named Stumpy. My wheelchair is named Brookhaven.) and how she likes to imagine another device is a dragon sleeping by her side. There is some harsh reality too, like how no one visits when a person is gross and sick but once they die, the Facebook mourners come in droves, or that, simply, life isn't fair. (Or, that The World Isn't a Wish Granting Machine which they say more than Uncle Ben goes on about Great Power and just shut up, shut up, SHUT UP, SHUT UP! Get new material, kids! See? Even when I try to give this book the benefit of the doubt I find something annoying.)

But when these two lovers get together the lame pretentiousness skyrockets, to the point where neither character talks like a human being. Hazel talks like a 30 year old trying to talk like a young, sick, Eff-the-world! teenager. And, to be honest, she was a bitch. Cancer or no cancer she would spout out 'wise' words that were actually really bitchy and cruel. I rolled my eyes several times.

And Gus...oh boy, Gus. Gus spoke like...Like no human teenage boy speaks. Even by teenage pretension levels he's off the charts.

So, this resulted in the problem of my favorite character being Issac, their mutual friend who's story was actually way more compelling. He loses his eyesight then the teenage love of his life flat out says "I can't do this" and he cares more about HER and how her abandonment feels than the loss of his sight. There's something there, something to be said about loss and abandonment and the weakness of the healthy when confronted by the harsh realities of living with a sick person. Also he spoke like a freaking human being.

I really, really wanted this book to end in a way that would slam home just how unfair life is. I wanted it to end with Gus dying from a car-accident or a mugging or something. I wanted him to fight so hard to be with Hazel and then have them lose it all by random happenstance. I wanted THAT unfairness. That is how I wanted this book to end.

Which is funny, because that's kind of how My Sister's Keeper ends and I hated that, but for certain reasons. (Reasons that concern Right to Die and Die With Dignity laws, which I believe in.)

Because of my health issues, I've thought a lot about dying and death, concepts which are neither romantic or sexy. I get that these two characters know they have little time in their world, and they're trying to pack as much living as they can in their short time, but there are better stories about human suffering than this. More human stories with more human characters.

I wish the movie 50/50 was a novel. THAT, is one great cancer story.

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