Category Archives: Books

Ink N’ Pages – The Guns N’ Roses Autobiographies


Slash

Slash

So, it’s no secret that I’m a Guns N’ Roses fan.  Well, a fan of everything up until The Spaghetti Incident.  I like both of Duff‘s solo albums, all of Slash’s Snakepit & solo material, Velvet Revolver, I even have Hollywood Rose.  I still need to pick up a Loaded album, but I do have the Neurotic Outsiders.  This doesn’t dig into bootlegs of live and demo stuff… of which I have a plethora.

Appetite for Destruction generally tops my “all time favorites” album lists.  I go back to it time and time again, & get lost in between Slash & Izzy’s guitars spiraling around each other.

Of course, when the autobiographies started coming out, I had to read them.  I got Slash‘s book, then Duff’s then Steven’s.  Slash was a rock n’ roll hero to me when I was in Jr. High & high school, but out of the three books… I think Duff comes off the best  and most entertaining.  The writing is very fluid.  I found it easy to imagine Duff in the early days.  The stories are blunt & sincere, and he ties it all back to where it has led him & where he is now in life.  Duff seems like a great guy to hang out with.

It's So Easy: and Other Lies

It's So Easy: and Other Lies

Slash’s book is an easy read, but it jumps around quite a bit.  His recollection of events is really questionable.  It doesn’t necessarily feel like Slash is remembering things correctly, or even the one telling the story.  I might have to give it a re-read after finishing the other two books.

Steven’s book, like Steven, is a mess.  I can’t help but feel pity for the guy, mostly because he professes to not have a “poor me” attitude, but every single action the guy takes screams “oh poor me”.  This guy just can’t get it right, but he still seems like a likeable guy.

It comes across in all of them that they had fun times in the early days, with a vibe that can never be repeated.  Sadly, all these guys seem to have a habit of burning bridges… yet posses a decent history of patching things up.  I mean, Slash & Duff have never really stopped working together.  Duff has been on-stage with Axl’s band recently.  They both patched it up with Weiland recently.  Duff, Slash, & Izzy have jammed with Adler’s Appetite.

My Appetite for Destruction: Sex, and Drugs, and Guns N' Roses

My Appetite for Destruction: Sex, and Drugs, and Guns N' Roses

One thing is clear from all of these books… Axl is an absolute wild man, and these guys love & fear him.  I really hope Axl & Izzy churn out books someday.  Maybe somehow all of the events can get plotted out & reconstructed correctly.

Maybe they’ll even get together for the Rock N’ Roll Hall of Fame ceremony.

I’d love to check out some of the other GN’R biographies (like Reckless Road), but if the guys in the band can’t even get it right… then what hope does an outsider have?

♧♠♡♦♢♥♤♣

Someone, please, make a good Nightfall movie.


If you’re not familiar with Nightfall, it was first a short story by Isaac Asimov later developed into a novel by Asimov & Robert Silverberg.  It’s one of my favorite pieces of fiction.  Handled well, it could be like Indiana Jones meets Star Trek or Avatar and The Da Vinci Code.

Overall the movie could have an Apocalyptic kind of feel… with new beginnings and a b’ak’tun-like cycle.  It would be great if the movie were released this year, with the 2012 hype reaching full fervor soon.  Tie into that some epic sci-fi stuff, archeological mystery, journalism, psychology experiments, a little humor, religious and government conspiracies, disproving long-standing scientific theories (like “hey, we revolve around the sun!”) and blowing peoples’ minds, and even a great philosophical message.  I’d say you can’t go wrong with it as long as you try to stick to the original story as much as possible.

Nightfall (Asimov short story and novel)

Nightfall

It has apparently been made into a movie twice.  I have seen one of them, and I just remember it not only betraying the story but just being crap.  One was made in 1988 and one in 2000.  I looked on Netflix and can only see the one from 2000 and it can only be “saved”, it’s apparently not on DVD in their collection.  So maybe I watched this way back, from a video store or even on a VHS tape.  The 1988 one, I can only find used VHS copies on Amazon, so perhaps it doesn’t exist on DVD.  I just remember it being an inexplicably different planet & having different characters, or perhaps being another “cycle” than the one depicted in the book.  I may have to track them both down for the fun of it.

The book starts out with a little preface saying basically that it’s an alien world, with alien things … but in order to convey the story well, they were going to use the word “boot” instead of making up an alien word to cover whatever appendage the alien did the equivalent of its walking on.  So, while it would need to be an alien world… it wouldn’t need to be too alien.  It would have to be easily related to.

A successful movie would really need to make use of the suns & colors at the times of day & days of the week.  Much like The Crow had bleached overall look or 300 looked like a painting in every frame, the colors of the sky would need to change ever so subtly from red hues to yellow hues as noted in the book.  They could certainly relate to the mood of each scene.

Dr. Isaac Asimov, head-and-shoulders portrait,...

Asimov wrote a great story. Don't screw it up.

Also… don’t alter the damn story.  It’s great how everything’s revealed.  Don’t rename the characters.  Don’t rename the planet.  Don’t get rid of their numbers.  Don’t change their occupations.  Don’t add any characters.  Don’t take the premise & build another story around it.

In a time where Hollywood is making movies that are remakes or reboots of movies only  a few years old… why not tap into some other sources, especially ones from (arguably) one of the best science fiction writers of all time?  From Wikipedia:

The Science Fiction Writers of America voted “Nightfall” the best science fiction short story written prior to the 1965 establishment of the Nebula Awards, in 1968, and included it in The Science Fiction Hall of Fame Volume One, 1929-1964.

Do you really need any more proof that this would make a great film if handled properly?  I mean, even this would make a great poster tagline if condensed somehow:

According to Asimov’s autobiography, Campbell asked Asimov to write the story after discussing with him a quotation from Ralph Waldo Emerson:

If the stars should appear one night in a thousand years, how would men believe and adore, and preserve for many generations the remembrance of the city of God which had been shown!

Campbell’s opinion to the contrary was: “I think men would go mad.”

So studio execs, casting directors, effects teams, directors, & producers… get on this.  Please?

Calvin and Hobbes


Calvin and Hobbes

Calvin and Hobbes

Calvin and Hobbes has been popping up over & over on my radar lately.  It was such an incredible strip, and Bill Watterson was awesome for taking such control of his creation.  No Saturday morning cartoons ruining your interpretation of Hobbes, no live action travesties like the Garfield movies.  No licensing, no over-saturation, no Calvin air fresheners.  Just pure, simple, beautifully drawn comic panels with wisdom & wit out the wazoo.

Not that there haven’t been countless Calvin and Hobbes bootleg T-shirts, and the notorious “Calvin peeing” stickers that could express your distaste for anything from a car make to a political figure.  Bill Watterson encouraged me to look at both sides of every issue, taught me many things about friendships, and taught me all about artistic integrity.

Imagination is a powerful tool, and morbid snowmen are the funniest things ever.  I still need to get The Complete Calvin and Hobbes one of these days.

Here are some fun things I’ve found lately:

Originality

Calvin and Hobbes Snow Art Gallery

Snow Sharks

Calvin & Hobbes Snowman Cartoons

Townsfolk

Calvin and Hobbes | Snowmen

Shameless plugs notwithstanding, there’s also the AiXeLsyD song:

And, the “better” quality audio:

Calvin and Hobbes AiXeLsyD – “Calvin & Hobbes”

Please, share your favorite Calvin and Hobbes images, sites, memories, books, quotes, panels, strips, etc. in the comments below!

I’ll start a board on Pinterest.

Suggested Reading…


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Image by Walt Jabsco via Flickr

So recently I finished two books that my reader(s) might enjoy.

The first is Nerd Do Well by Simon Pegg.  It’s a great book, & gives you insight into Pegg’s fanboy roots, aspiring to be an actor, and some really funny stuff thrown in.  Also, in a bit about how Revenge of the Sith should have ended… he couldn’t have been more spot-on.  I won’t go into crazy detail as you can find many reviews online… but I have to say for fans of films like Shaun of the Dead, Hot Fuzz, Paul, and the new Star Trek… you need to see this.  It also reminds me that I need to get my hands on some Spaced DVD’s.  Also… where/when in the hell can I see Burke and Hare in the US?

http://www.27bslash6.com/images/spiderdrawing.gif

"I do not have any money so am sending you this drawing I did of a spider instead"

The second amusing book is probably old, as I picked it up at a discount book store…   It’s called The Internet is a Playground: Irreverent Correspondences of an Evil Online Genius, and it’s by David Thorne.  You can tell from the title why it piqued my interest.  If you’ve been around the internet long enough, you’ve seen the infamous spider.  You should check out 27b/6 some time.  It, like the book… is rather amusing.  This brings to mind the now seemingly prehistoric Idiot Letters and Letters From a Nut series that I love, as well as Emails From An A**hole and Little Billy’s Letters.  I won’t go into too much detail as again… there are enough online reviews.  But, I would suggest checking this one out if you’re a fan of goofy email exchanges.

Those are my suggestions for you.  What are your suggestions for me?

So, how do I make money at this art thing?


I’m a lazy artist.  I always have been.  I generally make art for fun, and give it away.  I made a ton of cool stuff in art class in high school and even in my time at WCCC, now I only have a fraction of it.  I’ve never had an interest in making money from any of it, perhaps because I felt it wasn’t perfect or even “good enough” to sell.  Perhaps it was because I’d feel “dirty” making money from art.  I’m also lazy in that I have a lot of ideas that don’t make it to fruition.  (You should see the AiXeLsyD and Gasoline Dion “almost” song piles… and that Yup-punk band idea…)

I also went through a phase of drawing a bunch of comic book stuff… and it was always my understanding that Marvel didn’t want me selling my Wolverine art, and DC didn’t want me to sell my Batman art.  Somehow the Airbrush guy at the mall makes money on pretty much any popular character out there.  (Exactly who’s buying white T-shirts with airbrushed Mickey Mouse and Garfield on them at a mall kiosk in 2011 is a subject of another blog.)  Is that guy bootlegging?  Is he paying royalty fees?

With the advent of sites like Etsy (and more so Regretsy), I can see now that my art is certainly acceptable for sale.  I’d like to think it’s a few grades above what’s considered acceptable for sale.  The question remains on copyrights though… I see all kinds of people selling Superman, Batman and Spider-Man stuff with images clearly ripped from elsewhere.  Not that I want to sell comic book-art, but I never know what mood will strike me.  My flyer art is mainly bastardization of existing images… so I’m sure I can’t sell any of that kind of stuff.  Again, I think I’m veering toward the subject matter of an entirely different blog.  Back to the insanity at hand…

I’ve been drawing mazes for what seems like forever.  I started them when I was a kid & was in the hospital for a while.  I remember my pediatrician saying I ought to look into getting them published.  I obviously never have.  I have through twitter found another cat on the internet who draws mazes… he sells them online & at art shows and has used LuLu to publish some books.  Is that a good avenue to explore?

I have an idea for what I think would be an amusing photo book… but how does one go into execution of such an idea?  Do I even have time for something like this?

Would I use something like deviantART to set up shop?  How do I get prints made from original artwork?  Should I settle for a Cafe Press or Zazzle store?  Ha ha.  I’d like to put photography in the mix too, eventually.  Every once in a while I capture some stuff that would look great on someone’s wall.  How do I sell the stuff online without the seller site making most of the money, or without breaking the bank in setting up a site & paying any maintenance fees while not selling anything… therefore eventually losing money?

People have also told me that I ought to get paid to write.  I must confess, I would most likely be an editor’s nightmare.  I jump tenses like hopscotch, and my grammar & typing can be quite poor… even though I can differentiate between you’re and your and the apparently difficult they’re/there/their.  (Is it just me, or do they all sound totally different if you’re pronouncing them correctly?)  If you would like to pay me to write, I will certainly take your money.

I don’t think I do well with deadlines or commissions though.  I don’t work well with others’ ideas.  I’d like to make my own mazes, drawings, paintings, photos, etc. at my own pace.  Although, I aim to be productive with art, & maybe buy some more camera accessories, or a new amp, guitar, or some other new goofy instrument or piece of equipment.  (Because I apparently can’t make any money as a musician unless I join/form a human jukebox band – and let’s face it; I’m a poor guitarist.  Ha ha.)

As you can see, I’m all over the place.  I need focus/direction.  I guess I’m just looking for advice beyond the “you should publish a book” or “you should sell your photos” or the “you should write for someone” point.  I get that, and accept that… but how?  I’m looking for specifics here.  I’d like to hear “I use such & such & it’s fantastic, and works like…” and not “I think my cousin’s uncle’s mother’s neighbor uses blah blah blah, …I think.”  Are you an artist?  How do you sell your work?  Hit me with your wisdom!

Book Review | Allergic Girl: Adventures In Living Well With Food Allergies


So, I had ordered the Allergic Girl book a while ago, and did finally finish reading it, but a lot has been going on in life lately so I didn’t have any time to sit down & give it the thoughtful review that I felt it deserved. Now, I have the time to do that.

Allergic Girl: Adventures In Living Well With Food Allergies

Allergic Girl: Adventures In Living Well With Food Allergies

The author Sloane Miller has a popular blog, and is so very easily contacted via Twitter… which as I’ve remarked before, is easily now my go-to resource for any food allergy related news or information.  Twitter is how I discovered Sloane, her food allergy advocacy empire, and this wonderful book.  I’ll warn you now, this may read more like an advertisement than a review… but this is the first book of its kind that I’ve ever picked up… if there are even any more like this out there, and it really spoke to me.

The first thing that hit me about the book is that it’s an excellent balance of “hey, you’re not alone” and “we’ll work through this”.  It’s a comfort & a guide all at once.  Of course, the writing style pulled me in right away.  In the prologue, you’re dropped into a situation that could easily be a sitcom plot (or your weekend), but the seriousness is not lost in the humor… it’s underscored by it.

The book then moves into accounts of discovering and dealing with food allergies, one passage in particular that I’m going to highlight before I give it to friends & family to read… it describes the anxiety that builds after just an inkling in your mind that a certain food is unsafe (or could be unsafe) for whatever reason.  I felt like Sloane had read my mind & put down my thoughts.  From the order of thoughts jumping to other thoughts, to the hidden (or hopefully hidden) panic, down to the actions in dealing with such a situation… it’s uncanny.  It’s a hard thing to convey to people, even if they are supportive & understanding.

The book covers dating, which can be harrowing… but luckily I have my incredibly supportive wife, and I don’t have to worry about that any more.  This is a great guide to anyone in a dating situation, or for younger people with food allergies about to get into dating… or any social situation.

Allergic Girl is thankfully chock-full of resources for everything from websites to support groups to products to help you deal with your food allergies.  There are also bullet-points at the end of each chapter, not unlike a textbook… they can work as a personal checklist for you.

This book will help you get organized… build support, learn to pick your food allergy battles, and maybe even to expand your comfort zones.  This is what I personally need to work on.  Dining out can be a paralyzing fear for me, and I need to learn to find people and restaurants that will work with me to feed me & keep me safe.  Whether it’s starting the dialog the right way, using chef cards, or making calls ahead… they are all viable options of acquiring a safe meal.

If you have food allergies, have a friend, relative, or other loved-one with food allergies and want to understand their situation a little more… you need this book.  No joke.

Numbers Stations


Numbers Stations.  I want to say that I’ve heard of them before, but recently they’ve popped up in a Fringe episode and in Uncle John’s Heavy Duty Bathroom Reader, and they’ve piqued my interest.  Ham Radio always seemed cool to me, and growing up in the 80’s there was a very USA vs. USSR cold war spy thing going on that feeds into my interest of these things.

The general consensus is that these number stations are broadcasting some type of code, most likely with a “one-time” pad which would make each code  impossible to crack unless you had the key.

What are they doing now though?  The cold war’s over, right?  What’s their use?  Spies are still out there & active, apparently.

The UJ article Numbers on the Radio is a really good read!  It lead me to search the internet and come across these recordings free for the downloading: http://www.archive.org/details/ird059

This kind of stuff fascinates me.  I’m definitely going to have to read more on the subject!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A.J. Jacobs – The Year of Living Biblically


While browsing the humor section at Borders the other day, I had more than a few books in my hands, and kept putting them back.  Then, I went over to the general reference section.  I also had 3 or 4 books in my hand there.  Then I put them back.

Generally, I’m a sucker for books filled with useless information in short bursts.  I like to read before I go to bed, and I generally find it hard to put down something that has a continuous story.

Do Ants Have Assholes?: And 106 of the World’s Other Most Important Questions is one that is definitely in my mental checklist of books to grab on one of the next few trips.

I finally wt back to humor & picked up The Year of Living Biblically by A.J. Jacobs.  I’ve had it in my hand before, but I’ve always put it back.  My friend Joel visited while we were at camp and actually recommended that I get my hands on this one.

Boy, am I glad that I got this one.  I’m not too far in, but so far the imagery that Jacobs puts forth surrounding his quest (or struggle?) is hilarious.  I have a feeling that not only is the book going to get even more funny, but I think there will be a warm-fuzzy feeling at the end.  Ha ha.

From the book itself:

Everyone – family, friends, co-workers – had the same concern: That I’d go native. That I’d end up as a beekeeper at a monastery or I’d move into my ex-uncle Gil’s spare room in his Jerusalem apartment.

In a sense, they were right to worry. You can’t immerse yourself in religion for 12 months and emerge unaffected. At least I couldn’t. Put it this way: If my former self and my current self met for coffee, they’d get along okay, but they’d both probably walk out of the Starbucks shaking their heads and saying to themselves, “That guy is kinda delusional.”

As someone who was brought up in church, but who also appreciates things like logic… this book really hit home with me.  Around Jr. high, I started driving some more straight-laced ministers insane with questions.  Not long after that, I found the ones with a healthy sense of humor and realism that helped me see where religion can fit into an everyday normal existence without being overbearing or ridiculous.

A.J. comes at the subject as an agnostic but with a  healthy respect for the process.  He recognizes the good in religion along with the insanity.  He points out the insanity and makes it humorous without mocking.  That has got to be a difficult thing to do.

His visits with an Amish family, and we learn that some Amish have deadpan humor down to a science.  He has an Orthodox Jewish clothing fiber inspector come to his house to make sure that his clothing isn’t made of mixed fibers.  (Yeah, that’s actually in the bible.)  I’m anxious to see who we visit next.

I can’t wait to finish this book, and already recommend it to anyone who has ever wondered about all those crazy rules… or all those crazy Christians/Jews/[Insert religion here].  I’m definitely going to pick up Know it All soon too.

I write like Cory Doctorow


Who?  I don’t know either.  Cory Doctorow.  At least when this website analyzed my blog containing my recent letter to McDonald’s.

From his Wikipedia page, Mr. Doctorow seems pretty cool.  I’ll take it.

I write like
Cory Doctorow

I Write Like by Mémoires, Mac journal software. Analyze your writing!

Little Billy’s Letters


Recently I found myself at Borders, planning to purchase another one of Uncle John’s Bathroom Readers, but I already have all the ones that they had there on the shelf (except for Wise Up, but I don’t know if I like the format of that one), and I’m impatient, so I decided to look around for another book in the humor section.

I found myself drawn to Little Billy’s Letters.  Bill Geerhart is like me.  He likes to annoy others with goofy letters.  His angle is that he’s writing these letters from Billy, his inner child.  I’m only about a quarter of the way through the book, and it is ridiculously entertaining.

From Amazon.com:

What do , Don’t Even Reply, the Church of Scientology, and Donald Rumsfeld all have in common?: They — and many others — have answered letters from “Little Billy”, a grown man with a cache of stamps and far too much time on his hands. Funny, touching, and delightfully quirky, Billy’s letters cover a broad range of subject matter:

  • Operation Drop-Out: Considering dropping out of elementary school, Billy writes to serial killers and celebrities seeking their wise counsel.
  • Billy’s Law: Which Supreme Court Justice prefers the Big Mac to the Whopper? Who is Janet Reno’s favorite crime fighter? What does Robert Shapiro say is the best defense for being framed for murder? Billy finds out.
  • The Making of the Class President: Billy runs for class president and collects “endorsements” from Nancy Reagan, Dick Cheney, George HW Bush, Gerald Ford, Bob Dole, Ken Starr, and Colin Powell.
  • Choosing My Religion: Billy asks representatives from the Catholic, Presbyterian, Mormon, Raelian, Satanic, Scientologist, Hare Krishna and Unification Church (Moonies) what is “cool” or “easy” about their religion.

Presidents, Supreme Court Justices, Celebrities, Heads of Corporations, Serial Killers, Robot Makers, and the NesQuick Bunny have all replied to “Little Billy’s” scrawled questions.

From Facebook:

In the ’90s and 00’s a grown man–in the guise of a child–wrote prank letters to politicians, CEOs, serial killers and others. “Little Billy’s Letters,” available March 9th from HarperCollins, is a collection of this insane correspondence.

Heh.  Right up my alley, right?

The replies from Charles Manson (& some Manson Family members) had me cracking up… making it even more funny is the fact that I probably shouldn’t be laughing at anything involving serial killers.

Advice from Bob Dole or Dan Quayle on anything is probably always hilarious.

Check out some awesome re-printed samples thanks to Boingboing:  Little Billy’s Letters to famous and infamous people

boingboing | Little Billy's Letters to famous and infamous people

It reminds me of some of my other absolute favorite books.  Idiot Letters by Paul Rosa is the first one of this kind that I picked up, and I think my favorite by default.  Then there was The Complete Idiot Letters (also by Rosa).  I think I also have Letters From a Nut, More Letters From a Nut, & Extra Nutty! Even More Letters From a Nut! by Ted L. Nancy.  If they’re not at my house, I’m sure they’re at my mom’s in my old room.  It seems to almost be an emerging genre…  There are a lot of similar books and even websites out there.

Maybe I need to get back to writing some more goofy letters & emails.

At any rate, I suggest picking up this book, or getting it at the library or in your Kindle or iPad or whatever you crazy kids do to read these days.  It’s absolutely hilarious.

Mustafi