Category: Reading


The Unpublished Works

Everyone likes seeing their name in print.

Well, unless of course it’s trash tabloid-ism or an arrest warrant… But I’m not talking just-printed-on-paper but I mean a by-line of one sort or another. I can say that from experience as I’ve gotten that kick — seeing “John Fontana” linked to letters-to-the-editor, or being sourced/interviewed by USA Today, being quoted in The Hockey News, The New York Times Slap Shot blog and la-de-da.

But I can also say that wasn’t where I intended to go with writing when I started out as a kid.  My intention wasn’t to be a face-in-the-crowd (though no matter what you write or publish, you are another face in the crowd of literature) in the newspaper.  Not another source for magazines and what not.  Not a weblogger.  I planned on doing things creatively and having my own book.  Or books — plural.  Take your pick.

But that never happened.  See, when i was a teen I got away from story writing so much and was writing poetry most of the time…  a habit that’s followed me into adulthood.  Lyrical verse more-so than deep observations and perspectives..  Well, yeah they are perspectives but they are my perspectives.   Sometimes just pop, sometimes inspired by events or people or feelings  in my life.

Over the years, I’ve had some of them available to the masses through the web…  Certainly you can find a couple of them on this site and probably elsewhere on the web…  But they’ve never really been published in the sense of print.  Never published in the sense of being out there for any traditional form of mass consumption.  I haven’t bothered to take the time with sending out poems to magazines who have niches all of their own (and aren’t available unless you pay for a subscription or pay for a copy — while you’re not getting paid for your contribution).

I ought to put together a manuscript and do something with it.  But I’m hesistant.

Catherine Durkin Robinson, local blogger and Creative Loafing contributor, has written two book manuscripts.  Her first one is being published, chapter-by-chapter, on a blogspot site.  The other, a more recent work based on her life as a teacher in Hillsborough County, is being sent around to literary agents in hopes someone will pick up the work and mass-market it. Sadly, that has not been the case and the rejections have been comical at best.

Their loss.  I’ve read the book and it’s not only a good read, it’s provocative and controversial enough to be read widely by those fearing school-district scandals.

I also have another friend, in the Pacific Northwest this time, who went out and self-published her first novel.  The book, Steel Goddesses, is currently available on for purchase.  It takes a lot of courage to go out on a limb like that and self-publish any work…  But it sort of cuts out the middle-man of having to appease literary agents who tell you what a proper market for your writing is-or-isn’t and tells you to change your work to fit that niche.  At least that’s what I’ve seen with rejections served up to Catherine.

So the idea I am kicking around is actually putting together a manuscript of poetry I’ve written over the past decade and self-publishing it.  I realize that poetry is not exactly a hot seller and not going to lead me to riches…  It’d cost me more to publish than the commissions I’d get in the long run from doing it…  But it does what I have long sought to do — take the writings jammed in Mead notebooks that I’ve carried around since High School and take some of those verses and show them to the masses.  Will people connect?  I have doubts.  Will strangers read what I’ve  written?  Even more doubts…  But it’s mine, and it’d be out there.  My claim.  My piece of literature.

My book.

It’s a thought, at least.

The Stand and the hyper-sensationalism of Swine Flu

I’ve had “Don’t Fear the Reaper” in my mind lately, with the song wailing and images of the corpses throughout that military installation where the made-for-TV version of Stephen King’s epic, The Stand, starts.

That had nothing to do with the news that has been buzzing around lately. Odd coincidence, though…

I guess it was when a friend on Facebook posted this status that I really woke up to it:

looks like captain tripps does exist!!! awesome!!!

Ah yes, “Captain Tripps” — the nickname for King’s super-flu from The Stand. What’s next? Corin Nemec joining Fox News coverage, staking out the Center for Disease control and trying to insinuate this is all the Democratic Party’s fault? (Corin Nemec, for those who don’t understand the reference, played Harold Lauder: outcast-nerd-turned-turncoat; in the miniseries. He also used to be Parker Lewis. “Not a problem. ?”)

Anyway, forget The Stand for a minute and let’s just go back to the sensationalism of the coverage of the Flu. From what reports would have you believe, death-rates are high (like 10%+) and we’re all screwed. Joe Biden didn’t help things this morning by stating public caution.

But really, I wish people would just stop watching TV coverage of this and just become aware of the facts and just go about their lives. The flu sucks and is known to be deadly… But unless people start showing severe symptoms and start dropping dead in mass in New York instead of showing only mild symptoms… Well, it’s a panic that seems straight out of a work of fiction.

…And to be honest, King’s work of fiction was a lot better than the news coverage we are seeing in reality.

Let me point to it again — read the articles here. If you only want to spend time reading a single article, read the fourth in that series. And calm the hell down!

Ain't Technology Grand?

Will the technological wonders never cease?!? Behold the latest offering (by way of Penny Arcade):

Technologial advancements and good for the environment!  Uses next to no energy at all!

Technologial advancements and good for the environment! Uses next to no energy at all!

Ye Gods! (Take Two)

I continue to believe Roland Deschain (aka Stephen King’s Gunslinger) would go into convulsions if he saw the Burj Dubai:

Somewhere over 700 meters (2,100 feet for metric ignorant Americans) in height. It will be over 800 (from rumors and hersay) when completed.

A lost world — rest in peace, Michael Crichton

I started reading the works of Michael Crichton in late middle school and freshman year of High School. I read his stuff voraciously and found myself falling ever so joyfully into his worlds of tension and tech.

While I enjoyed the book version of the movie that had pulled me into Crichton’s world (Jurassic Park), it wasn’t my favorite book of his (though I found it wonderful when I did get around to reading it). Sphere, Congo, Eaters of the Dead (now known as “The 13th Warrior”) all entranced me. Disclosure, The Andromeda Strain… They both kept my mind tripping and the pages turning.

Of course, when I finally saw some of these movies on the big screen, I cringed. I scowled. I changed the channel. But when I read them, I fell into the works and was safe in a womb of fiction.

I think the only book that I couldn’t stand from Crichton was “The Great Train Robbery” — and at this point I cannot recollect the reason why I hated it so much. Might have to pick it up again sometime soon.

I heard the news that Michael had passed and was absolutely shocked. He was a talent, and he will be missed.

The last book I read and reviewed of his was Prey, you can check that out here.

Why is that stadium in St. Pete anyway?

The history of Tropicana Field and Tampa Bay’s quest for MLB is one hell of a book

One of the hot topics around the Tampa Bay metro region right now is the Tampa Bay Rays proposed stadium in St. Petersburg, Florida. I’m not going to bother getting into the arguments but after reading a few knee-jerk reactions and misinformation about the plans… Well, I felt it was important that people actually familiarize themselves with why the Dome was built in St. Petersburg in the first place.

I read Stadium for Rent by local author Bob Andelman during high school and it showed the battle — political and logistical – to get Major League Baseball in town.

It’s out of print but there are copies for sale out there, also the entire thing is available at the above link. It’s very much worth a read for both pro and anti-stadium people. I oppose the stadium for economic issues (the timing sucks, Stu) as well as logistical reasons, but it’s important to be armed with the facts instead of making up hearsay or misconstruing what is really going on.

I plan on buying a used copy of Stadium For Rent for quick reference in the future. I’ve held it in high regard long enough….

Why is that stadium in St. Pete anyway? "Stadium fot Tent" shows why

One of the hot topics around the Tampa Bay metro region right now is the Tampa Bay Rays proposed stadium in St. Petersburg, Florida. I'm not going to bother getting into the arguments but after reading a few knee-jerk reactions and misinformation about the plans... Well, I felt it was important that people actually familiarize themselves with why the Dome was built in St. Petersburg in the first place.


Speaking of Harry Potter…

Has anyone else noticed how similar the Daily Kos logo and the cover to the upcoming “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hollows” look?


I noticed it just this weekend and now I can’t un-notice it.

EDIT: Edited the Kos picture so the BANNER was the focus, not the sponsor.

Stand alone Pottermania

Ever since Chris Columbus left the Harry Potter movie franchise I’ve found the films to be both entertaining and thrilling. I had read the first book (Harry Potter and the Sorcerers Stone) and was totally aghast when I saw how incredibly lame it came off.

It compelled me not to read another Potter book to avoid similar disappointments… at least until after I had my curiosity piqued by way of the film adaptations of Prisoner of Azkaban and the Goblet of Fire.

The latter film had enough of a hook to make me want to know what was going to happen next… It nagged at me. I didn’t care for the film as much as Prisoner of Azkaban when I first saw it because it ran so long and had so much going on… But it grew on me. Repeated viewings made me appreciate it more and the ending compelled me to return to Potter literature.

Cal it a Wrath of Khan/Empire Strikes Back negative closing and how it makes you ponder where the story goes from there. Goblet of Fire pulled it off (even if the film lacked the multiple side stories that J.K. Rowling worked into the book).

So I picked up Order of the Phoenix and read it through – finding Rowling’s narration exquisite and the story compelling just as I found the first book to be. While I’ve read about the new movie (due out this summer) through Entertainment Weekly and about which side stories are shelved (Ron playing quidditch, Dobby the house-elf making a return, etc) there is enough going on to keep you interested.

And after seeing the International trailer for the film — I’m dying to see this adaption:

ye gods!

I have little to no doubt that Roland Deschain, aka The Gunslinger from Stephen King’s Dark Tower saga, would have absolute convulsions if he took one good look at the Burj Dubai under construction in the U.A.E.

I can't impress upon you how true this is…

The title of Northwest Leftists post is “The Most important book for Progressives”… He’s talking about Crashing the Gate and I must stress how true those words are.

If you read political books to be outraged instead of informed — trash like Michael Moore or Al Franken and their self-obsorbed writings — this book can and should replace that type of reading in your bookcase. While Crashing shows you reasons to be outraged at both the left and the right, it keys you in how things must change and how you must be part of the political process too.

It’s the Red versus the Blue.
The Old versus the New.

It shows you what’s wrong with the Democrats and how we can go about fixing it.

Please, if you’re a Democrat — this is required reading material.

Light My Fire — no, put it out. Please.

It’s been a while since I decided to read any non-ficiton. Usually it’s biographical works on icons of the Entertainment industry (ie: Beatles or the Doors). Keeping with that trend, I decided to pick up Ray Manzarek’s Light My Fire, it’s a Doors autobiography I’ve been meanign to read for some time.

And yet, as I’m still in the early areas of the book, I’m trying to understand why I thought it was a must read? Probably because of all the positive reviews of the book when it originally was released. Can’t be bad at all then, can it?

From a writing standpoint, it can be all that bad. And worse. Though Manzarek has a unique perspective on his tail…. He’s not a writer.

The book comes off much like a personal journal would, I guess… Reporting the mundane as well as the gripping, life-altering events of Ray’s life… But Manzarek loses focus and direction on any given topic quite easily. At one moment he’s about to discuss finding a live performance of the Blues in the south side o fChicago, and the next moment he’s rambling about attire he wore to graduation from the 8th grade…. One moment he’s about to get into his first exposure to Beat poetry, the next he’s laying the smackdown on facism and intimidation of the California Highway Patrol. He goes off on the broadest tangents and does not focus on the event that inspires the tangent thought.

Another instance of Ray veering wildly is a recounting of Jim Morrison’s UCLA film school student film… While trying to detail Jim’s non-linear movie that Rya found “poetic”, he begins recounting Oliver Stone’s version of the student film that he made as part of his feature film on the Doors. Ray goes off on Oliver for makign an innocent film into something with anti-semitism and Nazi inneundo. He attacks Stone (as he has since the film came out in the early 1990’s) and lets the UCLA film school experience vanish from the story.

It almost comes off like a conversation — one that varies wildly as those who partake in the conversation ramble on into the night. Yet, having to read this conversation is painful… Especially with gramatical errors of repeated run-on sentences, short sentences that woudl be better combined, repetition of adjectives, etc….

Ray’s book, while from the heart, has nothing on John Densemore’s Riders on the Storm autobiography.,

Michael Crichton's "Prey"

When I was working in Target a few years ago, Michael Crichton’s first book in a while came out — titled Prey — and I found myself wanting to read it but also fearing disappointment because Timeline hadn’t been that great and Michael had seemingly gone off the deep end with comments he was making in the media.

That was 2002.

Last week I got bored and while my girlfriend scanned my mom’s bookshelf for paperbacks to borrow, she came across a copy of Prey and I immediately snatched it up, saying I’d like to take a look at what Michael has offered us here.

Now, when I started reading the novel I knew two things – that the action in the novel would be interesting and that I would likely learn something or be inundated with technical information that can or may entirely bore me. What i hadn’t banked on was the book being predictable and that it was.

The novel starts out with a synopsis of what was going on 7 days after the book starts. “Things rarely turn out how you plan them” seems to be a fitting line that leads you into chapter one because this synopsis does not hold true at the end. Yet the little piece that Crichton threw in before section #1 (Home) that my interest was immediately piqued.

Crichton also departs from his normal formula by writing this novel in the first person which I found helpful to his cause because he can go off for entire chapters in technical details and lose vision on the story… Having Jack Forman, the main character, tell the story allowed Michael to mix in the action of the story with the technical information that was going to be told to the reader through the story. Everything is paced rather well in that fashion and the book is a page turner…


I felt like I was reading something I had read before — not just that but things were predictable with allusions that Mike left. Maybe they were intended but when you tell me a virus helps you make something and that something is now running amok all on it’s own, it seems rather obvious that the virus has something to do with it as well as everything you suspect that you don’t find out until later.

I have already spoiled the book enough with that last paragraph… I don’t want to go into predictable stuff any more nor do I want to continue to spoil it for those who haven’t read the book yet (and there is probably a handful of you if not a bunch of those who have missed the book’s release).

It’s a page turner and it’s captivating… it may be Mike Crichton’s best pacing of a book but at the same time – it’s not his best book.

A little "faith" for the progressives

Last time I talked about anything that had to do with faith, the chips were down for me and people / things continued to screw the pooch for me…

Well, thank you America, you have done a mighty job filling me with doubt and ridding me of my faith and hope for the future.

My older borther Michael sent me a quote from Terry Goodkind’s Faith of the Fallen which seesm rather fitting at this point.

“The only sovereign I can allow to rule me is reason. The first law of reason is this: what exists exists; what is, is. From this irreducible, bedrock principle, all knowledge is built. This is the foundation from which life is embraced.

“Reason is a choice. Wishes and whims are not facts, nor are they a means to discovering them. Reason is our only way of grasping reality – it’s our basic tool of survival. We are free to evade the effort of thinking, to reject reason, but we are not free to avoid the penalty of the abyss we refuse to see.

“If I fail to use reason in this struggle, if I close my eyes to the reality of what is, in favor of what I would wish, then we will both die in this, and for nothing. We will be but two more among uncounted millions of nameless corpses beneath the gray, gloomy decay of mankind. In the darkness that will follow, our bones will be meaningless dust.

“Eventually, perhaps a thousand years from now, perhaps more, the light of liberty will again be raised up to shine over a free people, but between now and then, millions upon millions of people will be born into hopeless misery and have no choice but to bear the weight of the Order’s yoke. We, by ignoring reason, will have purchased those mountains of broken bodies, the wreckage of lives endured but never lived.”

"Song of" The Gunslinger…

Song of Susannah kicked ass.

In my review of the sixth part of the great sage and imminent wordslinger’s (Stephen King) magnum opus – The Dark Tower — I have to say that for the most part Song of Susannah made up for any and all problems that I had with his last entry to the series (Wolves of the Calla) and was probably the most constant and tension filled book in the series for me — probably a bit more than The Drawing of the Three and The Waste Lands . Compared to Wolves which I fought at times to finish up, or Wizard and Glass which lost my interest because of how far off course the story ventured, this was an absolute pleasure to read.

“Dude, stop with the praise and give me an idea what happens already!”

OK, I don’t want to play the spoiler but of course in all reviews of anything (movies, books, TV shows) you get an idea of what is going to happen in a review…. In Song, the first gasp of the novel establishes the need for the ka-tet to be repaired… Beamquake. It gives a new idea of the sense of urgency of the mission to the Dark Tower (but of course gives no idea on what they need to do there). Eddie is in shambles because Susannah has gone through the Unfounded door, Father Callahan is going insane because he’s found out he is a character in a book, Jake Chambers is still pissed off at losing his best friend because of “Frank…..Fucking….Tarvery” and of course Roland is…. Roland. A bit rational even when there is pressure afoot.

Only taking place for a short time in the borderlands between Mid-World and Thunderclap, the story spends a good deal of time in New York City of 1999 and Maine of 1977. It puts some explanation of story flaws in past Dark Tower novels and it doesn’t exactly sink with the Stephen King side plot. That was my biggest beef with Wolves of the Calla — King writing himself into the books… But you know what? It works now. You see how it works. King had written in the past about what would happen if he met Roland in person and basically you get to see that for real in this story.

Something really bit at me though and it was something I don’t know if it’s real or not. It’s excerpts from King’s “Diary” between 1977 and 1999… I don’t know how much is fake and how much is real — but if there is reality to his wife telling him not to walk a certain route and the fact he predicted 6/19/1999 (O, Discordia!)… It’s just chilling to the bone. There’s no other way to put it.

Susannah gets a lot of pages in this book — and to some degree things did get boring with her dealings with Mia (the other inhabiting her body) and that might be the weakest part of the story… That or a rehash of the ending of The Waste Lands (and no, it ain’t Blaine the Mono) might piss some people off. But it’s not going to be years until we see the conclusion of the Dark Tower saga. Episode 7 — The Dark Tower — is due out later this year.

Long Days and Pleasant Nights to ya, I beg. Life for your crop and thankee-sai… Song of Susannah is a pleasure to read.

My Understanding of Truth… Ok, HIS Understanding of Truth

My Understanding Of Truth
By John M. Chambers*

“I will show you fear in a handful of dust.” – T.S. “BUTCH” ELIOT

“My first thought was, he lied in every word.” – ROBERT “SUNDANCE” BROWNING

The gunslinger is the truth.
Roland is the truth.
The Prisoner is the truth.
The Lady of Shadows is the truth.
The Prisoner and the Lady are married. That is the truth.
The Waystation is the truth.
The Speaking Demon is the truth.
We went under the mountains and that is the truth.
There were monsters under the mountain. That is the truth.
One of them had an Amoco gas pump between his legs and was pretending it was his penis. That is the truth.
Roland let me die. That is the truth.
I still love him.
That is the truth.

When is a door not a door? When it’s a jar, and that is the truth.
Blaine is the truth.
Blaine is the truth.
What has four wheels and flies? A garbage truck, and that is the truth.
Blaine is the truth.
You have to watch Blaine all the time, Blaine is a pain, and that is the truth.
I’m pretty sure that Blaine is dangerous, and that is the truth.
What is black and white and red all over? A blushing zebra, and that is the truth.
Blaine is the truth.
I want to go back and that is the truth.
I have to go back and that is the truth.
I’ll go crazy if I don’t go back and that is the truth.
I can’t go home again unless I find a stone a rose a door and that is the truth.
Choo-choo, and that is the truth.
Choo-choo. Choo-choo.
Choo-choo. Choo-choo. Choo-choo.
Choo-choo. Choo-choo. Choo-choo. Choo-choo.
I am afraid. That is the truth.

*from Stephen King’s “The Wastelands”, part of the Dark Tower saga

Choo Choo and all that jazz… Ya gotta love this 😀

Wolves of the Calla review

I’m done with Wolves of the Calla for over a month, making reference to it before I went into the hospital and finalizing it the day I got out of the hospital… but I haven’t made mention of that once in this journal.

There, I just did… Once.. :tongue

The Dark Tower V starts with a section of the story that was already published online – an introduction to Calla Bryne Sturgis and their dillema with the Wolves… A band of rough-riders/brigands/harriers who steal children from the Calla once every genereation or so. We then have our hero’s — Roland of Gilead (whom the Dark Tower saga revolves around) and his band of Gunslingers — Eddie Dean, Susannah Dean, Jake Chambers and Oy…

And what commences is what seems to be author Stephen King’s literary version of a bridge that gets him back to writing the Dark Tower saga after years off.

What I am saying doesn’t exactly shed new light on the story. I could go into detail with each section of the story and give a general synopsis of what happens, but I won’t. I will say that though we are re-introduced to Father Callahan (who is a character in King’s vampire horror novel, ‘Salem’s Lot), I found some of Wolves of the Calla to be a let down… Specifically the end when not only does the climax come off anti-climatic (build up throughout the story and then — fizzle!), and some points that lead us on to the next chapter of The Dark Tower saga (episode VI, Song of Susannah, due out soon) don’t just put a damper on the story, but a damper on the entire Dark Tower saga.

Does that mean Wolves isn’t worth reading? Oh hell, it’s worth reading. Anyone who has gotten immersed into the Dark Tower saga knows that Wolves is a must read for the sake of one’s sanity… The problem is that Stephen King knows how big the Dark Tower is to himself and his fans, and seems to play up that fact and — as an end result – falls a bit flat with regards to telling the tale and furthering the tale.

The wheel of Ka will continue to revolve for me and drive me to finish the saga when the last two novels are published, but for all the build up, for all the intense wait, for all the long stories and tension that drives Wolves Of The Calla, I still feel let down by the end result of the tale.