I’m an Ordinary Guy…Burning Down The House! (Daily Prompt)

In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “Burning Down the House.”

My home is on fire! I can only grab five items (and all people and animals are safe). What do I grab?

Hmmmmm…Assuming I have the time, here’s what I’d take:

1) The Bookshelf – My dad built a wooden bookshelf for me when I was a baby, and I’ve had it with me, carrying my book collection, for as long as I can remember. No way I’d let this go in a fire. Realistically…probably not the best choice since I’d probably burn with it. But I’ve made the comment out loud that I want my coffin to be constructed of the wood from this bookshelf. Or at least to have it cremated with me. Either one. Morbid. Good start.

2) The Responses – I took 4 creative writing classes in college, and the responses I got from the other students and my teachers on my stories are things I treasure. I don’t have electronic copies…just the hard ones. And they’re in a big heavy box with a lot of other papers. Again…realistically and logistically not a great choice. But I wouldn’t want them burned in a fire. So I’d save them.

3) The Thumb Drives – I have all of my writing on these. The short stories, finished and unfinished. Anything I’ve ever written copied on a collections of thumb drives. I’d have to have these. The computer (where they’re also saved) is replaceable…but the thumb drives are not. Plus they are way easier to carry. So I’m 1-for-3 in practical decisions…hey, sounds like real life.

4) The TV – I have a 55″ Samsung that is basically the shining, phallic monument to my testosterone-fueled manhood. It is the one thing I always wanted but never asked for when I was a kid, because I knew we didn’t have the money. When I was finally old enough, I saved and got one. It’s not just the price-tag, it’s what it stands for that would make me save it. Also not very logistically intelligent…but more so than a bookshelf.

5) The Pin-Stripe Suit – The most recent of the prized possessions, it’s easily the most expensive article of clothing I own. And I can modestly say I look pretty good in it. Also, it was a gift. And a pretty awesome one. Also is a bit of a symbol of a big change in my life to something better than it was. In short, a special piece of clothing to me. It would be pretty easy to carry as well. So I’m 2-for-5 with practicality.

So there you have it, the 5 things I’d save from a fire. What would you risk life and limb for?

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Saying Goodbye

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But strew his ashes to the wind
Whose sword or voice has served mankind,—
And is he dead, whose glorious mind
Lifts thine on high?—
To live in hearts we leave behind

is not to die

-Thomas Campbell, Hallowed Ground

Goodbye Gene. The world’s a bit darker without you in it. You touched so many lives, had so many friends, and went way before your time. You won’t be forgotten.

Harry Potter and The Goblet of Fire: A Grown-Ass Man’s Book Review (Part 4)

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Annnnnnnnd I’m back. This book took a little longer to hack through. Mostly because if you put the first three books together, they might be as long as this one. Might. I could do the math…but I don’t want to. I didn’t start a blog to do book reviews so I could do addition. That is nonsense. Anyway, this book is 600 or so pages. And it can drag a little bit in parts…but this is the first book where the nerd can really come out and flourish in the Wizarding World.

The first three books are very Hogwarts-centric, outside of the Azkaban mentions. Whether intentional or not you’re given very little real direction about how the Wizarding World works (point for alliteration). On a few occasions the world will open up a bit, but everything is centered around the characters at Hogwarts (as it should be) and a nerd like me wants to see more of how they fit into the universe the author created. This is the first time that Rowling opens up the world a bit more…and I can’t lie I got a bit of nerd wood. Also there’s intrigue, interrogations, internal struggle, and shape-shifting. Betrayal and subterfuge abounds. If Harry Potter has an Empire Strikes Back volume, it’s definitely Goblet of Fire. At least the last 60 pages or so. Empire is definitely the best Star Wars movie, and if you disagree you should take whatever device you’re reading this on…tablet, phone, or laptop…and smack yourself in the head with it. I don’t feel quite as strongy about Goblet, and I don’t know if it has unseated Prisoner as the fave, but its definitely second if not first. I like it when evil (sort of) wins.

You find out that witches and wizards are everywhere, not just in Merry Old England, which was kind of implied in the first three. You see contingent from Bulgaria, Ireland, even the good ol’ USA. There’s an in-depth look at a French school, and a deliciously evil Bulgarian one, during the oh-so-plotty Triwizard Tournament. As the series progresses Rowling gets better and better at her craft…but lord, having a French and vaguely Soviet school was apparently a invitation for her to inflict dialogue on us. Every time Viktor Krumm and Fleur spoke, nails screeched against a chalkboard inside my brain, and my eyes wanted to crawl out of their sockets. Yes, it was really that bad. Viktor sounded like a love-sick teenage version of Boris and/or Natasha. Fleur left out so many consonants I thought she might have been having a seizure. I prayed for the return of Hagrid’s stilted dialogue. Thank god they’re only in one book.

I may have gotten a little off the rails there. That’s really the only issue I had with this particular installment of the Harry Potter tales. Besides the expounding on the Harry Potter universe, the plot was even twistier this time around and we got more subtle reveal of the meta-plot. Also, Voldemort came back. Shit got real, real fast. In a scene that could have gone very wrong very easily, Rowling handles the big reveal in a very efficient, if mildly melodramatic fashion.

Rowling, aside from the dialogue, is definitely growing as a writer. The pacing isn’t as frenetic and fast here as in the first three (Maybe that’s why it took 600 pages to tell the story). And while it is longer, and some of the Triwizard side-plots could’ve been truncated a bit (the movie definitely made some strategic cuts without losing any of the movement), the length wasn’t too much of a drag on the reader. I found this installment relied lot more on the story and the action to move the plot versus relying on the characters to speed things along, like the first three books. The new additions to the line-up are not as fleshed out or enjoyable as the folks from the first three volumes, but I feel like that’s ok. Invest me in any more characters, and the book you’ll have to write will double as a brake-brace. For tractor trailers.

Fleur, Krumm, Madame Maxine, even Mad-Eye moody, portrayed so memorably by Brendan Gleeson in the movies, was a bit forgettable. Maybe that’s because he wasn’t exactly himself. The story is what mattered in this volume, and it was a nice change. All the old favorites were still around. The budding teenage romance angle, which managed to involve Krumm Fleur, Ron, Hermione, and Harry, is enough to make an almost-30-year-old laugh. Same with the awkwardness surrounding the school dance. The slimy reporter archetype of Rita Skeeter has an appropriate ending. The old favorites of Dumbledore, McGonagall, and Hagrid the Horrible-Speaker are still keeping everybody in line, and good olde Snape is still…haunting…the…grounds…in typical Alan Rickman-style. Which is smooth…and Snapey. We get more of his dark story as well…a Death Eater turned agent of good…or is he? Rowling’s use of meta-plot grows in this volume as well, and remains one of her strengths as a writer.

In summation: another good read. Not as fast, or as easy to get through, but still enjoyable. The characters are still good, even if the new ones aren’t developed as well. The story-driven aspect makes it seem a little less childish and a bit more serious, as it should since the subject matter is getting darker. Maybe not the best of the four I’ve read…but definitely a contender. Especially since it delves into nerd-indulgence and gives you the full monty of the Wizarding World.

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And now I’m through the halfway marker. No turning back.

Signing off.

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2015 Banned Books Challenge

What About Birdman?

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What About Birdman?

My one word review for Birdman: Glorious.

The End.

Just kidding. I don’t usually do the Oscar hype thing, but seeing a movie with Michael Keaton playing a washed-up actor who played a franchise superhero on the big screen…the beautiful layers of irony were too much to pass up. The SO and I found a small theater that was still playing it, and after a trek accompanied with white-knuckling levels of parking frustration, sat down for the fun.

I won’t spoil it for you, but I’ll tell you why you should see it: layers. Everything in this movie is layered, from the humor, to the tragedy, to the really dynamic all-in-one-shot cinematography. I may have used that word incorrectly. I definitely don’t care. It kept the movie-watcher in a state of semi-amusement from open to close, and managed to walk the line between artistic and damn funny without being too full of itself.

I’ve been a Michael Keaton fan since Beetlejuice and Batman, and he was the best damn Dogberry in the history of Much Ado About Nothing. Big sorries to Nathan Fillion, but it’s true. I was incredibly happy to see him back in the limelight and up for an Oscar, and if you take the time to see this film you’ll understand why. The quiet, reserved crazy he brings to a lot of his roles fits perfectly here. Every time Birdman’s gravelly voice starts narrating inside his head, you giggle internally. You just can’t help it.

So go see Birdman. It’s worth the $20 admission and then some. And that’s the highest praise I can give a movie.

Signing Off.

My Friend Gene

There’s some things that take you by surprise. You look left, and then something submarines you from the right. One wishes it didn’t take sadness of that magnitude to make a person stop and think. Look back and stop looking forward. Thinking about good times that were even better than you thought, and sometimes wish hadn’t stopped. And then you realize the impact people make in your live even if they’re only in it for a small fraction of time.

My friend Gene is a bonafide, certifiable hero. In many ways, he’s a hero to heroes. As Corpsman in the USMC, he braves the same danger as the front-line forces of the US military. He goes in first, among the bravest, to make sure those fearless Marines feel safe and receive the best comfort and care they can get in the midst of a blood-filled battlefield. He’s been decorated multiple times for his valor in combat. He could relay stories about being under fire in the same even, steady tone he would tell you a silly story about a Marine’s jar-headed hijinks.He has a sense of inner-calm, that I can only imagine has brought so many soldiers a feeling of safety and shelter during the most harrowing moments of their lives.

When not actively serving, Gene is a proud EMT on the Medicwest team in the Las Vegas Valley. He’s a cosumate healer of others, giving his time, effort, and expertise to save lives and bring comfort to others.

I don’t know him from the military. I don’t know him from inside an Ambulance. I know Gene as one of the best RPG GM’s, and party members in an RPG group, I’ve ever known. For about three years, every Friday night, Gene was a regular for game night. He’s a sharp, intelligent GM who ran one of the coolest, most spine-chilling Cthulu games I’ve been a part of. That same quiet determination translates into a challenging but enjoyable gaming experience. He was also a supportive party member when not manning the books, and taught a newbie like me a lot of the RPG basics.

In short, Gene is one of the coolest people I’ve ever known, from his military career, his job, and his absolute devotion to nerdiness.

A few weeks ago, Gene had a serious medical issue while exercising. No one was there to witness what happened, but thankfully he was working out with several of his EMT friends from MedicWest. They found him on the ground, not responsive, and immediately took him to the hospital. It could’ve been a stroke, heart attack, A calcium deposit rupturing a heart-valve, known as a “Widow-Maker”. It’s also very possible he struck his head on some gym equipment after suffering the incident. After three brain activity scans, all returning inconclusive, no one is sure what happened or what’s going to happen. He’s off life-support, but still kicking. It’ll take more than that to take down a Marine Corpsman.

You can read his story here. It’s a crowd rise site, which enables you to donate to his recovery, but that’s not why I’m posting it. And no, its not a scam. Gene is real and in real trouble. Take some time to read the comments from his Marine Corps friends, his EMT peers, and his nerdy friends (like me). It made me think about how Gene had been such a seemingly small part in my life but made a big impression. Do you know anyone like that? Will it take something like this to make you realize it?

Even if you don’t know him, please keep Gene in your thoughts and prayers. Take it from me, he’s one of the good ones.

A bit sadder than normal, signing off.

The Best Author You’ve Never Read Vol. 4: Joe Abercrombie

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I first picked up a Joe Abercrombie book mostly due to the pressures of metadata (Amazon and Barnes Noble telling me “If you like this then you might also like…”) and the placement of his works so close to Dan Abnett on the shelf at the book store. One of the few times metadata actually brought something positive into someone’s life.

I Digress.

Basically the universe twisted my arm until I picked up a copy of Best Served Cold, looked up at the ceiling and said “Fine, happy now?” then paid the slightly wary cashier. For once, universal bullying led me to find something good. Joe writes with a reckless abandon that’s refreshing to find in the Fantasy genre. Most Fantasy feels very controlled and directed, but with Joe you never know what’s happening next.
Best Served is a prime example because it features a female protagonist, with a bad-ass streak a mile long, barreling through assassination attempts and rebellious uprisings, all the while displaying a Porter-esque (That’s a Payback reference in case you missed it) devotion to the simple goal of revenge. He had me hooked from the first chapter.

Most of what I’ve read from Joe takes place in the First Law universe, a fantasy setting of his own design. First Law is a trilogy, but many of his works (Best Served and The Heroes) take place within it. It’s a dark, angry little place filled with interesting places and captivating characters. Many are crossed-over or at least mentioned in the many different titles. If you’re a super-dork like me and have a penchant for getting addicted to well-crafted world from another writer…this one is as good as any.
Here’s why Joe Abercrombie is for you:

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1)      Action – While he doesn’t quite have Dan Abnett’s gift for precision, Joe moves through action sequences at breakneck speed, and takes a quantity over quality approach. You get an explosive combination of action spread across a group of characters that gets resolved simultaneously. He’s also got a talent for inter-relating several fight scenes that happen at once, a simple feat in visual medium but potentially complicated in prose.
2)      Style – Gritty, raw, and unapologetic are three words that would not quite do justice to Joe’s writing style. It’s refreshing to read fantasy where the author isn’t afraid to get his hands dirty, or roll around in the mud like an enraptured pig if need be. Lots of authors glorify the warriors and knights fighting for hands of fair maidens. Joe gives the fantasy setting a stark dose of reality by delving into the worst parts of a medieval world – filth, disease, and the gritty aftermath of melee combat, right down to the screaming wounded and clouds of corpse flies.
3)      Characters – He brings the aforementioned grit and reality to all his characters, main and supporting. From Black Dow to Monzcarro, they all have a very striking effect on the reader. He masterfully creates these men and women so they’re fleshed out and whole, but makes them unpredictable. I’m never sure what anyone’s going to do in any of his works, and that keeps it exciting.

Overall, Joe is a breath of fresh air in the Fantasy genre. Even if that fresh air is a bit fetid and reeks of dead bodies and pig shit. That’s what makes it so refreshing. Let me beat metadata and the universe to it, and peer pressure you into trying one of his books. So do it. Go try one.
Signing off.

Harry Potter and The Prisoner of Azkaban: A Grown-Ass Man’s Book Review (Part 3)

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In prisoner of Azkaban, things start to get Sirius (never gets old). Rowling ambitiously tackles everything from time travel and teen angst to lycanthropy and shapeshifting in this one, as well as more gradual revelation about Potter’s past. Does she bite off a bit more than she’s ready to chew? Maybe. The speed of the story still pulls you in and you are 100% invested in all of the characters by this point, so you have to know what happens to them, and the pages keep turning.

Definitely the most action-packed book so far, Rowling still keeps the child-like voice and approach consistent. As the story gets darker and a bit more mature, her reliance on basic voice and lack of subtlety in some cases is glaringly apparent and a bit distracting. There’s still a lot of her telling us Harry, Ron, or Hermione is scared rather than showing us through the text. She does a masterful job with portraying the gradual maturity of her young characters, however. Hermione’s rebellion against a teacher, the lover’s quarrel between her and Ron (Oh yeah, you know those two are gonna shag at some point), Harry’s running away from the Dursley’s, all of this paints a picture of the hormonal teenagers our little young wizards are growing into without telling us that they look or feel older.

The fast pace she establishes in all her books does work against her in a few places as the frenetic pace detracts from some of the more complex action descriptions. Particularly the confrontational scene between Black, Lupin, The Trinity (Ron, Herm, Harry), Snape, and Pettigrew got a bit out of control as I read it. There’s too much simultaneous action without enough pause for explanation, and not enough control over the speed of the story. As this is by far the turning point in the narrative, I had to use my memory form the movie to get me through the blocking of the conflict.

Where Rowling improves leaps and bounds here is subtle additions to the meta-plot and the inclusion of small, interesting, and frankly very cool ways of revealing them. The Moony, Padfoot, Wormtail, and Prongs side-plot was well-conceived and well-executed (until the big reveal). The Marauder’s Map could have been a Deus Ex type magicky item, like the phoenix, but in book three she’s a bit more subtle about its application. And it even gets confiscated when Harry gets distracted. It’s a convenient plot device but less blatant, and furthers along an intriguing aspect of the meta-plot.

The characters, once again, were the strength of this book. Rowling has a penchant for creating characters that captivate the reader and fit smoothly into the story. First, Remus Lupin, who may be my favorite character in the books, serves as a semi-fatherly figure for Harry, and turns out to play an intricate role in Harry’s past. He’s sharp, observant, somewhat tortured, and throughout the narrative a very well-rounded addition. Also he’s a werewolf. And werewolves are awesome. His name however, gives away this fact well before the prose does. Naming him Wolfy McWolferson would have been only slightly less subtle, but as this book was aimed at a younger audience that probably wouldn’t know nuances of Roman Mythology and Romance languages, I can’t complain too loudly. Just quietly.

And then there’s Sirius Black, who’s easily my favorite character in the movies and may overtake McWolferson in the books given time. While the confounding conflict scene beneath the whomping willow is a bit hard to follow, the way Black transforms from arch-villain to hero is captivating. He isn’t in the book for very long, but his shadow spreads from page one to the finale and the revelation of the man himself does not disappoint. He’s sinister, angry, and yet his motivations are believable and his shift well-executed. And his name has given rise to a bevy of glorious internet memes and one-liner blog jokes. Siriusly.

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We also see more mystery from Dumbledore, some refreshingly ragged emotional displays from Hermione, and Snape’s story, which is even more intriguing than Sirius Black’s, starts to take some shape in Prisoner. Snape may be one of the most carefully crafted characters (10 points for alliteration) in any literary series, and to see his story start to take shape, even though I know where its going thanks to the movies, is captivating. And still Alan… … …Rickman reads all his diaogue… … …in… … … my head.  Makes me want to dive into book four.

My favorite book so far, I think Rowling has a handle on her bread and butter in volume three: fast pace and irresistible characters. Some problematic action sequences don’t distract too much from the overall joy one gets from reading it, and the pages kept turning. Can’t wait to get into book 4.

Signing off.

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2015 Banned Books Challenge

The Best Author You’ve Never Read Vol. 3: Thomas Disch

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 Disch is one of those authors I stumbled into rather than sought out. My Dad is a Sci-Fi short story fan, and he borrowed a copy of Fundamental Disch form the library about 10 years ago. I picked it up, Double Time, and was immediately hooked. My angsty, college-age self was attracted to the simplicity of the darkness Disch represented in his writing. At least, his short stories. The more works of his I read, the more I liked. Wings of Song and Camp Concentration can be ranked right up there, in my opinion, with Sci-Fi classics like Stranger in a Strange Land or Slaughterhouse 5.

Disch played a key role in taking sci-fi from the pulp stories to serious literature. Yet he’s rarely mentioned now with his contemporary heavyweights like Phillip K. Dick, Isaac Asimov, Robert Heinlein, Ray Bradbury, and the like. He’s won just as many awards, and in some cases more.The only thing that sets him apart from these more renowned writers is the lack of modern-day translation, like movies and TV shows. The closest Disch ever came was a children’s book called Brave Little Toaster, which was a staple cartoon movie for me when I was growing up. Why not Disch? His prose is a bit more “out there” than many of his contemporaries, and isn’t as concrete. He’s a lot less science and a lot more fiction, and that may be why he wallows in semi-obscurity.

And for you video game nerds, you can probably thank Disch for contributing to the idea of open-world format games, like GTA, Elder Scrolls, Fallout, Shadow of Mordor, and the like. He helped script the ancient Commodore 64-era game Amnesia. It was the first game ever to feature an open world, in this case a chunk of NYC a player could explore without linear limits. So read his books, nerds.

So here’s why you should read Disch (Besides owing him for the best video games ever created):

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1) Style – The man’s got it in spades. It permeates through his writing, making everything he describes feel cool and controlled. He’s got masterful control of his reader’s perception, particularly in his short stories. Nothing feels wasted, and every single word he writes has a meaning somewhere in the story. It gives his prose a depth that a reader happily struggles in vain to find the bottom of. There’s a timeless quality to the way he tells a tale. It pulls you in and refuses to let you go, and leaves you thinking at the end.

2) Discord – There’s a level of inherent crazy in just about everything he likes that makes the reader feel slightly off-kilter, not unlike Hunter S. Thompson. It’s a bit of an acquired taste to most consumers, but I find his crazy is subtle enough to make it more generally appealing to a reader. I’ve never been a fan of the weird kaleidoscopic drug fiction, but Disch doesn’t go quite that far. The unreality he creates is less LSD and more Hannibal Lecter. It gives a sinister edge to his work that I haven’t encountered anywhere else. May not be everyone’s cup of tea, but its a key component in his fiction that is prevalent throughout his work, and really sets it apart from any other writing of the time.

3) History – This is one of the fore-fathers of modern science fiction. He’s got all the chops of every famous Sci-Fi writer you’ve ever heard of and then some. I his time, Disch was on the cutting edge not just imaginatively but also functionally. He played with diction, delved more internally than the linear pulp sci-fi, and helped create science fiction in the conscious and the sub-conscious the way so many of the greats have. If you haven’t checked out Thomas Disch, and you’re any kind of nerd or sci-fi fan, it is your duty to at least check out something from the library and give it a shot. You might be surprised.

Disch is one of the greats. He’ll take your mind to a place you didn’t think it knew how to find. Go grab one of his books, or at the very least a short story. And then let the thank you notes rain.

Signing Off.

Save Us Rex

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There’s a new face of the Buffalo Bills. It’s jovial, jowly, and gets red and sweaty whenever someone takes off their shoes. Rex Ryan, the highly-quotable former king of NYC, takes his talents out west (about 350 miles to the west) to ring in a new era for the Buffalo Bills. The new owners, Terry Pegula and (apparently) his wife are definitely dedicated. To keeping the Bills in Buffalo? We’ll see. To making splashy personnel moves? Definitely.

There were other options out there for Buffalo. They interviewed a slew of coordinators from both sides of the ball. The deep, dark, sentimental part of me that still can’t let go off the 1990’s success was rooting for Frank Reich, a name any Bills fan would recognize. He’s currently the Offensive Coordinator in San Diego, and lord knows it would take a lot to get anyone to move anywhere from San Diego. Unless they offered a billion dollars and a harem of supermodels, I’d have to say, “You know what? I’ll live here where it’s pleasant, 70 degrees every day, and continue to make my slightly-less millions of dollars. But thanks for the offer.”

Oh would it have been glorious. Hiring Frank Reich, the steady, dependable back-up everyone in Buffalo sometimes secretly wanted to replace Jim Kelly. He engineered that magnificent comeback against Houston all those years ago. He was the steady-handed second-stringer an entire city knew they could count on. The Homeric  poetry of having him return as the head coach, and leading his old team on to glory the way we all know he should have 25 years ago. I had a little bit of football wood. I can’t lie.

Yet the Bills, in an uncharacteristic move, managed to grab the sexiest name (and all the headlines) off of the Head Coach name from the unemployment line. After a decade of “under-the-radar” guys, capped off by hiring a Syracuse coach with a mediocre college record, we may finally have a real coach. He’s led teams to the playoffs this century, is apparently a defensive genius, and puts Buffalo in the headline section of the ESPN app before the season even starts. Maybe he can bring some swagger to an oh-so-swagger-less team. Perhaps he can make an already strong defense into something historic (as he’s already claiming).

What the team needs, however, is a quarterback, and here’s where Reich may have been the better choice. Strong defense? Check. Talented skill players? Check. What’s the one thing missing from the Seattle-style formula for success? A functional quarterback. Kyle Orton was plugged in halfway through the season and we went 9-7. If someone can come in and fix EJ Manuel, we’re a shoe-in, right? Or maybe we go grab a young free agent or someone’s back-up and develop them, right? Or maybe we hire the defensive guy who strung along Mark “Butt-Fumble” Sanchez and managed to turn him into…a butt-fumbler. Now that sounds like a Buffalo move.

2014 was a season of hope for us hapless Bills fans. They finished over .500 for the first time in…way too long. They had Playoff relevance into week 14 (until we blew it by losing to the Raiders in typical Buffalo fashion), a defense that put the screws to Aaron Rodgers and the Packers late in the season, and an offense that managed not to lose more games than it won. Doug Marrone, the aforementioned mediocre college coach, miraculously had the team on the right track. And then he walked away from the team, the same way our 2014 vagabond quarterback did.

After years of hating your guts, and mocking you and your team, and saying oh well at least we aren’t the Jets…I have to cheer for you. I have to like your superior smile and irritating mannerisms. I have to feel positive about a move my team made that makes me feel slimy and in need of a long shower. I have three words for you, Rex Ryan. On behalf of all Bills fans. Three words, that, six months ago, I would only have said within the confines of a straitjacket inside of a round, padded room:

Save Us Rex.

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Ick…Time for that shower.

Signing off.

The Best Author You’ve Never Read Vol. 2: Mike Carey

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If you don’t know who Mike Carey is, you should. And you will. Currently in production for TV development, which will hopefully come to fruition in the near future, is the Lucifer series, a spin-off from the equally as epic Sandman series. Fox bought the rights and put it to pilot. It’s a bit…ambitious for a TV show but has potential. We’ll see.

If you haven’t read Sandman and are interested in trying to or do read graphic novels, go do it. And then read Lucifer. And then send the thank you letters. Both are severely introspective, interesting, and addictive. So graphic crack.

Anyway, back to Mike Carey: Another writer who made his bones in Graphic Novels, Mike’s original prose work is firmly rooted in the Fantasy genre. Very similar to the Dresden stuff, and in my humble opinion a whole lot better. It’s based around a protagonist named Felix Castor, and shall hence be the called the Felix Castor series. There’s currently five books in the series, and we may or may not get a sixth.He’s also written The Steel Seraglio series and The Girl With All The Gifts.

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Here’s why you should read Mike’s prose work:

1)  Dialogue – Another key strength from most crossed-over graphic novelists, Mike excels at the inter-play between characters as a method of advancing the story. He can weave the words from his characters around similar to the way his protagonist spins exorcisms with his music (plot reveal). He rarely tells, and always shows you what’s happening, mainly through dialogue. It’s not sharp and biting the way Warren Ellis or Abnett like to make their character’s words kind of jump off the page. It’s a bit softer, quieter, but no less captivating. If you like reading about people talking…dive into the Felix Castor series with abandon. The inner-monologue for Mr. Castor is probably the high point of the series, and keeps you laughing and thinking all at once. “Poor Bloody Infantry is a State of Mind”, words to live by.

2) Pacing – To the point of frustration, Mike has great control over the pace of his books. It’s the same for his graphic novels as well. He very much keeps an even, steady pace through out; It can be a bit complex during action sequences or higher-adrenaline moments, but the consistency is very refreshing. He takes your hand and walks you through the text, never running, never stopping, just taking you through at the rate he desires. I don’t know if this is British-y or just a nuance of his particular style.

3) Imagination – Der. Can probably apply to every writer, but I pick this one because of the way  Mike imagines everything in his story. It takes talent and patience to make the otherworldly feel very real and tangible especially when the setting is the “real” world.He finds cracks, crannies, and crevices that feel incredibly realistic to fit his underworld of pacifistic exorcists in and shelter them from reality. This is why I would recommend this over the Jim Butcher Dresden Files. Not that they’re bad, I just prefer the subtle, quiet approach to magic in the real world. He also includes enough high-stakes, old testament style demons to keep the stakes high.

Overall, you should give Mike Carey a try if you’re a fan of any kind of magical fantasy or interesting, imaginative fiction. His graphic works are a bit better, and are the true measure of his imagination, but he’s damn good with prose and will keep you turning the pages.

Signing off.