Jan 5, 2018

Book Review 13: Phasma

Star Wars: Phasma
Yet another Star Wars book, this one featuring a major (or at least middling) character. Captain Phasma has been an elusive character in the movies. We read this book to learn more about her, and we learn in her history that she is... elusive! She's been cultivating her enigmadom all along!

Dec 26, 2017

Book Review 12: Star Wars: Canto Bight

Star Wars: Canto Bight
This is another book with stories surrounding a major Star Wars movie, but with incidental characters. Canto Bight appears in a sub-plot in the new Episode VIII: The Last Jedi. Finn and friends go to this expensive Sin City to find a codebreaker to help them sneak onto a New Order ship. I watched it again (for the second time) but still didn't see any of the characters in the book. I was particulaary looking for the masseuse mentioned in the review, but didn't catch his face. But those crowd scenes are dense!

Dec 5, 2017

The "Is It Shitty?" Rule

The Trump Administration may seem haphazard in words and actions, but they consistently follow one rule:
The "Is It Shitty?" Rule:

Trump: Is it shitty?
Flunky: Yes, sir.
Trump: Then do it!

Donald Trump speaking at CPAC 2011 in Washington, Photo by Gage Skidmore.

Nov 2, 2017

Book Review 11: Star Wars: A Certain Point of View

Star Wars: A Certain Point of View
This a collection of short stories by multiple authors from the perspectives of background characters during Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope. Writing quality varies, but overall it's interesting for fans. Plots range from painfully obvious to insightful.

Available at Amazon.

Sep 21, 2017

Book Review 10: The Armageddon Rag by George R. R. Martin

The Armageddon Rag by George R. R. Martin

Martin's forgotten novel from 1983 is like Big Chill meets Spinal Tap, with a tough version of George as brash detective. Reading this in strife-ridden Saint Louis echoes surprisingly well, with helicopters hovering*, daily street protests, and repeated unpunished murder. The ghosts of the past keep coming back to life.

* When the helicopter was flying over, there was indeed a demonstration happening just a couple blocks away.

Aug 30, 2017

The Last Great Rolling Stones Album

Tattoo You is the last great Rolling Stones album. I say this not out of nostalgia, for that year kinda sucked for me personally. However, 1981 was filled with many interminable classics, both good and bad: Journey's Escape ("Don't Stop Believin'", "Open Arms", etc.), REO Speedwagon's Hi Infidelity ("Take It On The Run", "Keep On Lovin' You"), and Foreigner 4 ("Urgent", "Waiting For A Girl Like You", "Jukebox Hero"), among others.

This is great album, rocking uniquely and exploring interesting slow textures as well. It may sound silly, but the Stones rock subtly.

Side one opens with "Start Me Up", which needs no introduction. Like the other hits above, it was overplayed to death, and is their last mega-hit. (They had more hits, but none this big again.) Then a quick drum fill from Charlie, and "Hang Fire" continues the rocking. "Slave" rests on a funky bass line that so embedded itself into my head that I used it in my own song, "Flick The Switch" (from World Famous In Chapel Hill). Keith sings lead on "Little T&A", as he celebrates his lady's physical features with salty language. "Black Limousine" and "Neighbors" wrap up side one with more uptempo attitude.

Side two is the mellow side, with lots of interesting textures. "Worried About You" and
"Tops" show that even Mick and Keith have compassion, those softies. "Heaven" is my favorite from side two. It's kind of a swirly haunting track, rather trippy.

They return to their usual rock n roll personas with "No Use In Crying" -- stay away from me. The album closes with their other big hit, "Waiting On A Friend". Not only was the message of the song a positive message of simple happiness in the moment, but video also made an impression on me. This was, once again, a crappy year for me, being in eighth grade. This was just the point where this thirteen-year-old had concluded that appearing mean and tough was the secret to success. Or at least prevented defeat.  To see members of the Rolling Stones, well known as bad-ass and cool, greet each other and their friends with hugs on a New York City stoop was a revelation, breaking my mind out of the oppressive macho world in which I found myself. If it weren't for Tattoo You, I'd still be trying to impress ladies by gritting my teeth and scowling.