Thursday, February 10, 2011

Cannonball Read III #4- In The Aeroplane Over the Sea by Kim Cooper

If any of you have talked to me for more than 10 minutes in the last year or read any of my facebook updates, you know I have become obsessed about a certain Indie Rock band and their certain album. For those of you not in the know, I have become a budding drooling hipster over Neutral Milk Hotel, a former Indie Rock band from Athens, Georgia.
This book written by pop culture writer Kim Cooper who has edited Scram- a journal of unpopular culture and co-edited two books, Lost in the Grooves and Bubblegum Music is the Naked Truth.

Ms. Cooper's task here is to chronicle the sudden rise and fall of Neutral Milk Hotel, indie rock legends. If you are not familiar the book sets up the tone for what would become such a holy grail to their fans. Jeff Mangum, the lead singer/songwriter, has become the JD Sallinger of the movement, only making brief appearances since disappearing into hiding soon after the end of the tour for In The Aeroplane Over the Sea. Its because of this shy away publicity, that has kept fans salivating for more and passing it on to new cult followers. This book pretty much shows how that came to be.

The book reminds me a lot of the album in that its hard to explain everything in the book without being intimately able to read it yourself and listen to the music it showcases. The best parts are the most raw ones describing how Aeroplane came to be and also loose interpretations of the songs. It provides an outlet for a fan based starving for more music from Mr. Mangum which given that he is set to perform at All Tomorrow's Parties this fall in Asbury Park and supposedly might tour will be getting that music.
To understand Jeff Mangum is hard, but it makes sense. He bared his soul on the album and in the book Ms. Cooper's interviews with the band and the fans really show that. He just didn't know how to deal with his rising fame so he walked away. Ms. Cooper makes an interesting point that he did something Kurt Cobain probably would have wanted to.
The music has reached countless people and has been cited by various musicians as inspirations.
The book might be short but it completely tells the story. I give the book an A but the album an A+.
I have embedded some videos if you have not heard this band.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Cannon Ball Read # 3- Johannes Cabal The Necromancer by Jonathan L. Howard

This book was recommended to me by a friend. I am glad she did. This book makes a good follow up to Zombie Spaceship Wasteland as the setting of the book definitely qualifies as a Wasteland.
This is the author's first book and he makes it a memorable debut. His writing is funny but also beautiful. Howard also hearkens to other writers in his story including HP Lovecraft who definitely has influenced Howard's thoughts on humanity.

The book is loosely based on the fact Johannes sold his soul to Satan to learn the ancient secrets of Necromancy. I say loosely because it is so much more than just a story of Johannes making a new deal with Satan to get his soul back. Johannes travels at all lengths to do it. On a side not, does anyone else have a hard time picturing Satan as anything other than this:
South Park has pretty much created the visual of Satan in my head every time. This added to some unintentional comedy in the book though the book itself is pretty humourful.

The world the author has created is a vast wasteland that doesn't feel like our world but it is supposed to be. I still can't pinplace the exact locations but I think that is the point though I believe it supposed to take place in the UK. There is something very American about what Johannes wants in his life.

Satan gives Johannes a full year to get 100 souls so he can get his own back. It isn't really explained why Johannes wants his soul back other than he needs it. Johannes is gifted a Dark Carnival to gather the souls. Yes I know insert your ICP jokes here. The reader also learns about Horst, Johannes' vampire brother who really becomes the focal point of morality and humanity in the book. He provides the balance to Johannes' narcissism. I like the other person who reviewed this book do not want to give away the ending but suffice it to say, it is 45 pages of mindfuck!

Needless to say I am going to read the sequel to this book this year as well.
I give it a B+

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Cannonball Read #2- Zombie Spaceship Wasteland by Patton Oswalt

Zombie. Spaceship. Wasteland. Which one of these archetypal personalities are you? I am a Wasteland much like the book's author, Patton Oswalt. While the title is important in this book, its not the only fun thing you will read. Patton's writing is witty and poignant and very reminiscent of his stand up. If you are not familiar with Mr. Oswalt's stand up, I suggest you check him out. Most non-hipster people will recognize him as Spencer from The King of Queens or as the voice of Remy in Disney's Ratatouille. Patton has been touring since the mid 90s which a few stories are recounted in the book. Though other comedians have written funny books, Patton stands out that its not a lot of rehackneyed jokes from their own routines. Even a comedy God, George Carlin, recycled jokes in his book. Patton is at home writing stories and epic poems as he is behind the mic. Yes I said Epic Poems!

The book opens up with the story, Ticket Booth, which recounts his days as a cinema worker in a warn down shit hole known as the Towncenter 3. If you want to know why Patton is Patton, this well laid out story pretty much explains it all. From his obsession with REM's Fables of Reconstruction to selling half stubs, his word play is a fascinating journey into the psyche of a budding genius.

Patton's layout of the book reminds me of a personal favorite author of mine, Chuck Klosterman. Weaving weird short lists, or fake wine lists, between the chapters makes for an awesome chucklefest. Some of the weirder things include a short graphic novel about vampires in New Orleans and my personal favorite part of the book, The Song of Ulvaak.

Now dear reader you are asking yourself who the fuck is Ulvaak? Is he some obscure Finish Prime Minister? Was he a German folkhero? Nope he was one of the greatest D and D characters created by Patton Oswalt ever. Ulvaak was a Half-Orc Fighter who kicked some major ass and then sacrificed himself by killing a Lord of a Plane thus negating all existence ala Azrael, Loki, and Bartleby's plan in Dogma sort of! This makes no sense to your non nerds but all you nerds are understanding whats going on. Patton's Epic Poem would make one hell of a death metal song if Brian Posehn hasn't claimed dibs to do it yet. Ulvaak was most likely a Wasteland as well. One well armed bad ass wasteland with a bit of zombie thrown in.

The three archetypes presented list out what the requirements to fit into that category are. Go read the book and tell me what your archetype is!

I highly recommend this book to any Star Wars Fan, Patton Oswalt Fan, Fan of Nerds, Star Trek Fan whatever. If you have glasses and a graphic calculator and listen to Weird Al Yankovich, this is for you. This book rates a 95% on the funny scale and a 97% overall. Now go queue up your Amazon wishlist.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Cannonball Read 3 Review #1- Neuropath by R. Scott Bakker

I picked up this book because the cover looked cool and the name sounded good. I read the back brief and it sounded like a Criminal Minds type book. As I absolutely adore Criminal Minds, I decided to buy it from Mercer Island Books. The cover tagline is "You are not what you think you are." This book absolutely passed popcorn Serial Killer Criminal Minds reading. The setting of the book was interesting as it promoted Speculative Science and was set in a mixture of Philip K Dick's Minority Report universe with a bit of Back to the Future II. Unfortunately even in this story there are no hoverboards! The year is 2011. Why can't we have Hoverboards. Anyway, end rant.

The story starts with Professor Thomas Bible being questioned by the FBI. Thomas Bible is a psychology professor in the near future. His best friend Neil Cassidy, former school chum is wanted by the FBI in a series of connected murders. Neil is mixed up in some weird ass Mind Control experiments on terrorists. That is just the beginning. Thomas's children and his ex wife all get caught up in Thomas's troubles. He is originally suspected to be an accomplice of Neil.

The whole book is posited on a philosophical argument between the protagonist and antagonist. They dubbed it "The Argument". The Argument for all purposes is that there is no free will or soul. Our brain is just a highly powered machine and we are just experiencing inputs and outputs like a computer. This is what sucked me in. I am a sucker for philosophy especially surrounding free will. I think that is a big driving force in my own philosophy. I think thats why this book Mindfucked me. It made me think more than I thought was going to happen.
The Argument itself screws with every major character in the book. This book is a must read for those who like futuristic crime novels, cyberafficianados, futurewhores, etc. It makes you think more than it would lead you to believe.

R Scott Bakker has a way with words and weaves in a secondary story about another serial killer dubbed the Chiropractor who is taking all the press while Neil is also being investigated for his crimes. His universal future is fraught with potential hazards of real life including Global Climate Change issues including making Moscow pretty much a wasteland and fires all across Europe. His future also includes a severe issue with Big Brother type government which pretty much is what Neil enjoyed being able to work for. He also posits about the first post porn generation where everyone grew up with internet porn and extremes so no one is really taboo about it.

This book has everything an Orwell, Huxley, Dick, or Gibson fan could want. I recommend it for anyone looking for a fast paced Mindfuck. I rate it around an 85%.

Monday, January 3, 2011

The Begining

I started this blog to do Cannonball Read 3 but will also use it to review movies, tv shows, cds, etc along with the books I will be reading. I should have reviews up for The Fighter, season 2 of United States Of Tara and my first book for CBR3, Neuropath by R Scott Bakker. I will try to be snarky, sweet, and wildly inappropriate and maybe sometimes serious. I hope my readers enjoy what I write because I know I will. That's the true test of yourself, if you love your work.