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Posts Tagged ‘love actually’


Yes, it is almost the end of 2017 and it has been quite a year. A year that most of us would love to “edit” out of our collective memories. Lost a lot of good folks along the way both in body and spirit. Hopefully, 2018 will offer a bit or sliver of hope’s ray of a most delightful year … which is what I wish for everyone out there: those who read my blog, and those who don’t (give them time, I’m as patient as an Arctic wolf) … and even regardless of how you voted (yes, I mean that). So in light of the strange, topsy-turvey, dark and gloomy year, and just before you rush of to freeze your nips and other body parts in watching balls drop (aye, there is a dirty joke in there somewhere), I have to mention Strange Weather. See it even has the word “strange” in the title.

Ever since having read NOS4A2 and The Fireman, I’ve become fascinated with Joe Hill’s writing and … yes … he has written other titles that I’ve yet to read, but all in good time. Of course, the fact that he is Stephen King’s son did not play into this until I discovered this fact much later (after having read The Fireman). I guess, like father like son … good show, Stephen, good show. So there I was, sitting at the reference desk, allowing myself to calm down (moving from green back to normal skin colour) after having kicked out a bunch of disruptive teens, when I noticed the strange Joe Hill cover on the New Arrivals stack. Slight detour here: whatever happened to folks plugging their phones into their ears? Why is it that so many folks, especially teens, seem to feel the need to “share” their listening/viewing experiences with the rest of the public … in a bloody library? Alas, the devolution of civilization. I’ve detoured enough. To the review. Yeah?

Strange Weather is actually a compilation of four stories (or novellas) that are eerily strange, dark, disturbing, and/or all of the above. In other words, great reading material on a cold, dark windy night … possibly in wooded area.

In Snapshot, we encounter an awkward teenager, Michael Figlione, who becomes an unwitting hero. Mike lives with his father and apparently are bunch of nerds since Mike attends some kind of robotic club during the weekends. Note this is set in the early 80s, so, yes, no smartphones, social media or any of that bollocks (such simple times yet so much fun). They also live next to an older couple, the Beukes, whom Mike is rather fond of. The husband use to be a bodybuilder that now owns a chain of fitness clubs. Mrs. Beukes stays at home and occasionally asks Mike to run errands for her which he does lovingly. But something sinister is happening to Mrs. Beukes, as she claims that someone called The Polariod Man is stealing her memory. Sure, sure you might say, that’s just some old codger losing her mind and imagining things. That is until Mike (and us) encounters someone known as the Phoenican who is this strange character with a Polaroid type camera (Solarid … whatever) that actually steals memories snap by snap. And then the crap hits the fan. Any more will be spoiling the story for you and that would make me a tosser.

In Loaded, there is a bunch of intermingling stories: a philandering tosser and his female teenage lover; a young (ill-fated) Afro-American on his way to attend a dancing school in London; an ex-military type turned security guard that’s dealing with separation from his wife and daughter; an Afro-American journalist dealing with a ghost from her past and trying to change the world. The common denominator in all of these stories: guns. When Jim Kellaway, during his shift as a security guard, stops what could have been a mass shooting at the mall, he is hailed as a hero. That is until Aisha Lanternglass starts poking around, finding holes in his story and causing him to unravel viciously and in a way that would leave most gasping (though maybe not so shocked). It is a nice twist on one of the NRA battle cries about when “bad folks with guns run into good folks with guns”. Just saying, mates.

In Aloft, there is Aubrey, Harriet and June. Aubrey is in love with Harriet and Harriet is in an indie band (called The Junicorns) with June. Aubrey passes up tons of awesome musical opportunities just to be in The Junicorns, simply because … well, it’s a chance to be closer to Harriet. Sort of like a Duckie and Andie thing going on there … and for those you that are wondering, that was a Pretty In Pink reference. Ah, Molly Ringwald, I was supposed to be married to you. A wee bit of detour … ( and too much information). Somewhere along the line June dies of cancer, and so to memorialize the passing of June they decide to … skydive. Personally, a good swig at the pub with a few pints, some Mazzy Star in the background as a DVD plays a looped photo montage of the departed would be fine … and safe. But that’s just me … something about jumping out of perfectly good planes and all that bollocks. So Aubrey, after finding the nerve to jump finds himself stranded on what seems to be floating cloud island. Of course, with his tandem instructor along with the harness being blown off the cloud leaves our man with little more than vertigo to worry about. And then the strange odyssey begins, as the cloud seems to offer all sorts of strange, delightful, erotic (yes, you are reading correctly) and terrifying possibilities. Fascinating, strange stuff that’ll keep you wondering how this poor chap will find his way down to earth. Don’t be surprised to hear Iron Butterfly’s In A Gadda Da Vida playing in your head. Or is that only going to be me?

In Rain, we get the visit a near future Boulder, Colorado through the eyes of a young gay woman named Honeysuckle Speck. Honeysuckle lives with her lover, Yolanda, in possibly one of the most strangest neighbourhoods. Below her apartment lives a Russian meth dealer with his stripper girlfriend Martina (also Russian) that are always fighting. A few blocks down the street is an end-of-the-world cult, led by an enigmatic Elder Bent, who is known to prowl the streets singing Phil Collins songs. Only from the mind of Joe Hill. And to top things off, Honeysuckle babysits a charmer named Templeton Blake who thinks he’s Dracula and lives with his (single) mom Ursula. And then it begins to rain … nails. Yes, again you are reading correctly. Mother Nature decides to go postal and instead of nice, soft, wet, delightful water, people get showered with nails. Yolanda gets caught and in the downpour and dies saving Honeysuckle’s live. I guess being perforated by nails via nature will do that to a person. And so as Honeysuckle makes her towards Denver to inform Yolanda’s parents about her passing she encounters psychotic cult members, a strange Billy Jack drifter type that saves her, the National Guard, murderous, homophobic neighbours and creepy crows (yes, birds). On top of that, in lieu of all the nailstorms happening across the country, we have president in his bunker tweeting about “biblical retribution and payback” on North Korea. Yes, nothing like that will EVER happen in real life, because that would like a really bad dream of sorts. Aye, a president using social media platform to mouth off absolute bollocks … nope, never … only in fiction. Preposterous. Absolute balderdash and rubbish. Aye … we’ve strayed and detoured again. Now you’re wondering what would be the cause of those strange nails and it is in the exciting conclusion to this story. A twist that you’d never see coming.

Strange Weather is indeed a potpourri of strange stories. Dark, disturbing, creepy, occasionally trippy with little touches of heartwarming pecks on the cheek and definitely entertaining as it keeps you riveted as you hurtle towards the end. Rock on, Mr. Hill. And Happy New Years, America. You are already GREAT in my books (pun possibly intended). Cheers.

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grunt_cvr

Running Title: Grunt – The Curious Science of Humans At War.

Aye, it is that time of the year. We cave into our materialistic lust as we answer the Siren call of Black Fridays, and tons of sales “events” … and other such bollocks. It is also that time of the year when we look forward to drinking eggnog, with our our bearpaw slippers on as we curl up and watch another screening of Love Actually. Oh wait, that’s just me. Hey mates, don’t judge me. But enough with the bollocks and one with the review. Shall we begin?
When you combine the sciences with … well … war, you are bound to capture my attention, so with a running title like “the curious science of humans at war”, it was only a matter of time before this poor book was plucked from the stacks and nestled in my grasp for a few days. Yes, as you can easily surmise that Grunt does something is not so often reported when it comes to the world of war. Sure, we’ve read many books written by Special Operations warriors and military personnel about their brave and valiant deeds, but how often do you get to read about the science that goes into war that not only helps and protects our brave soldiers, but sometimes even save or heal them. Roach’s Grunt does an excellent job of this, though I must warn those who don’t have a strong stomach that they may want to reconsider reading this book during … say … eating times. Sure for the inwardly forensic fans such, such as yours truly, this great reading even whilst scarfing down mounds of lasagna. Others, maybe not so much. There is a lot of science that goes into war, and I really mean A LOT. Some of it may seem trivial, but to the folks downrange it is a big deal, such as zippers being a no-no on sniper clothing. Trust me on this one. Or (the best one) diarrhea being a threat to national security (hint: it’s every SEAL’s worst nightmare when on a mission). I bit you didn’t know that scientists have built a chicken gun that is used to propel dead chickens at turbines to test the effect of birds on aircraft engines. Some folks have all the fun. And then Roach hits you with the a literal blow to the minerals: penile reconstruction. Yes, many times when an IED goes off more than just arms and legs get injured. And for several chapters Ms. Roach explains this in great but understandably cringe-worthy detail: apparently strip of mucus membrane from the inner cheek is used to recreate urethra in penile reconstructions. There is a really dirty joke somewhere in that fact, but the science behind is amazing, and apparently it is doing wonders many of our soldiers’ lives. Occasionally, we are treated to some historical tidbits such as the REAL use of codpieces, and …no … it was not about enhancing or even protecting one’s manhood. In fact it actually stored materials that soaked up syphilitic discharges of blood and pus you get from sleeping around with wenches after beheading your wives. Yummy. I guess that explains why they were popular with hair bands in the 80s. Paging Lawless from WASP. And yes, I’ve seemingly gone there. Astounding fact: the scent of a seal and used tampon has the same effect on polar bear salivary glands. I kid you not. So ladies, be a bit wary if your mate is planning trips to the Polar-type regions and is somewhat inquisitive about your cycles. I’m afraid the love may not be there anymore and his plans for you may be malevolent. Slight detour there, everyone.
Roach’s Grunt is a fascinating read about the sciences that impact our soldiers both on and off the frontlines. If your fascinated with the sciences or just curious about what is going with our men and women in battle, Grunt is a delightful read. For the curious in mind that are not so scientifically-minded, fear not, for Roach practically keeps at a layman’s level that can be enjoyed by all but well appreciated by us nerd-types. Plus she’s got a scorchingly delightful wit that makes me wish I could marry … um, never mind. And I’ve said that too loud. Ignore that part. Please.

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