Saturday, July 13, 2013

Reggie's Random Round Up: In Which there is a Book and A Giant Cup of WTF?

So, this week's Round Up is a bit scattered. Mid-summer things tend to get busy in Reggie-land. It's cyclical thing. The play Road to Nowhere is still in the works, but we're in search of a venue for the workshop and eventual run. (NEPA folks who know of a space, give me a shout out.) Currently I am about half-way through the first draft of the dragon novel, and of course, there's the volunteer radio show. Then there are the daily obligations, family stuff, and, well, the general feeling of "HOLY CRAP IT'S JULY AND I NEED TO GET MORE SUMMER INTO MY SUMMER!"

Just, you know, in case anyone was curious about general goings on.

Now that I've cleared my throat, here goes the round up...

Chuck Wendig's Blue Blazes

What It Is: A novel wherein the criminal underworld intersects the supernatural underworld. Huge, meat-loving Mookie Pearl handles a lot of dirty jobs for a criminal organization which bring him in contact with the supernatural underworld, particularly when it comes to finding and then distributing a drug called the Blue Blazes. Smear some on your temples and you'll see the world as it really is, which you may or may not, exactly, appreciate.

Why It Is Awesome:  Demons, and mob bosses, and kick-ass roller-derby queen gangs and satyrs and ghosts and double-crosses and intrigue and BIG THINGS AT STAKE! Like, New York City sized things. Okay, it is, in fact, New York City which is at stake, here. Of course, none of that means a thing without the meat of a good story. (See what I did there, people who have already read this?) The reader begins with Mookie Pearl as a bad ass with a past and plenty of regret. As muscle and go between for the Organization and the underworld, he didn't have much time for his ex-wife and his daughter, Nora. Nora is all grown up and somehow managed to get into the same line of work as dear old Dad, except that she does so for another team, doesn't follow the rules set by his organization. And therein is the beginning of a sh*t storm that takes everyone by surprise.

So, no more about the plot because, spoilers, and if you like stories about criminals, stories about the supernatural, stories about family that don't gloss over the difficult stuff, stories that combine all three of these things and then some... then you need to read this book. It is faster paced than a hopped up gerbil running from a goosed cheetah.

Weird, personal bonus for me as a reader? There is a bit of detail about the joys of polish cuisine. In particular, the keilbassa, known in the book as kilbo, and in my region of PA, as kelbo.

(A few years ago there was a play that I wrote called The Reason We Can't Have Nice Things, a soap opera spoof written entirely in PA coal cracker dialect. Da kelbo was featured strongly therein.)

1932's War Babies

What It Is:  A giant cup of WTF!?!

It is also an artifact of our culture in another time.

It is a ten minute film short featuring Shirley Temple, a child star that I recall watching during my childhood, a reminder of simpler times. (The simpler times I am referring to here are the times of me being a little kid, not historically. I think we all know through reading, or HBO originals, history is everything but innocent.) This is a thing that makes me think I need to rewatch a few of the less, um, icky, Shirley Temple films for traces of ick. (No, I don't mean the thing that makes goldfish sick.) See, I haven't watched anything with Shirley Temple in it for mumblesomething years, because, um, well, those things were part of being a small child and I haven't had the interest. The film short is on one of those collections that you can get in bargain bins full of DVDS all over the U.S.  The parents broke this out one night, thinking that it might be something innocent and fun and ... well, it's just not, but here, you guys judge.

Viewed through the eyes of an adult in 2013, this film is something very, very different than it may have been to audiences in 1932. I have to admit laughing, A LOT, but it was the kind of explosive laughter that comes from being shocked and in a state of disbelief. "This is not the Shirley Temple I remember."

It sort of shattered a few pleasant memories. On the other hand, it kind of opened my eyes, like the fictional Blue Blazes, (see, everything is a circle) this film short will probably have increased my awareness of elements of sexism and racism in older films. It's not that I wasn't aware before, I just haven't seen it displayed so... jarringly in a long time as most of the films I've watched recently were released from 2000 and beyond. Maybe the lesson here is that it isn't always a good idea to revisit things that you loved as a child but have fallen off the radar. I still haven't quite unpacked everything about this film that bugged me, but I shall leave you with the thoughts of my friend, Matt Gourley, who said in response to this, "There is not enough WHAT in the What the F*ck!"

That "maybe it's not a good thing to revisit old stuff you loved, etc..." thing I just said?

Totally not a hard and fast thing.

I can hear you asking, "Why is that not a hard and fast thing, Reggie?"

Internet, I am glad that you asked. The answer?

Because, from the beforetimes, X-Files.

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