Friday, August 31, 2012

'Peanut Butter: The Diary of Molly Fredrickson - Vol. 6' by Cornnell Clarke

Let me first say that this cover is tremendous.  If “a picture is worth a thousand words”, then the first few words in that journey have to be “I’m about to tear this… up”.  The look on his face coupled with the extremely ample and sexy bottom of Molly is the perfect start for Cornnell’s latest work. 

Molly is back in all of her sexual glory and sexually impossibility.  Over the course of her diary (Volumes 1-5) I’ve seen Molly take on some pretty large individuals, and Vol. 6 is no different.  How she’s still able to walk after all that I do not know.  This volume takes place at a party where the only thing flowing more freely than the alcohol, is the sex.  I went to college and I’ve never seen a party like this.  And while Molly is the sexual prima, Paola, a newcomer, is her wing (wo)man.  Even Molly couldn’t believe what she did with Ron.  Not to be outdone, Molly does something with Sean that I couldn’t believe. 

With each of his graphic novels there are usually one or two scenes that are just waaaayyyy over the top.  This one doesn’t have that but it does have something just as good.  Cornnel is a very good artist and there are a few panels that take place near the end of this book that are fraught with a mixture of pain, sex, tears, strain, pleasure, and finally release.  The faces drawn on Molly speaks for themselves.
All in all, this is another winner from Mr. Clarke.  If you enjoy his work then you must join his social networking.  He is very active and is always sharing or drawing something.  But please don’t look at his stuff at work… unless you live in Amsterdam. 


Thursday, August 30, 2012

'Avenger of Rome' by Douglas Jackson

Yeah.  Douglas Jackson can write.  If I didn’t already know that from the other books of his I’ve read, this one would have confirmed it.  “Happy is the book lover that finds an author that creates for him a world of adventure”. (Oh that is sooo going on FaceBook).  A compliment can be a blessing and a curse so when you hear Douglas Jackson’s name being bantered around with the likes of Iggulden and Scarrow, you wonder which one it will be.  To be fair, with only five books under his belt, vs. Iggulden’s and Scarrow’s four hundred (give or take) that comparison may not be fair either.  But you know what?  I really don’t care.  (OK maybe I care a little) but my zeal for reading doesn’t come from author comparisons, it comes from their work.  And Douglas my friends, is building one hell of a resume.

‘Avenger of Rome’ is just simply a damn good book.  This is the third book in a series with Gaius Valerius Verrens and it is truly the best one.  (sorry to sound cliché”)  I do suggest that you read the first two because there is very good and very gradual character development that I LOVE in a series, not to mention all the blood, guts, and glory that any decent novel about Rome would have.  On paper Valerius Verrens is a soldier.  On anything else he’s a man with the luck of a broken mirror.  In 2012 A.D. we have beautiful romantic ideas on what Rome was.  But underneath every gorgeous city are the sewers.  While Valerius doesn’t frequent that stench filled place, some of his orders were born there.  Hence his mission in this book.

We’ve all heard about ‘Mission: Impossible’.  How about ‘Mission: You’ve got to be out your damn mind”?!  Of course with this order coming from Nero the Nutbag, he couldn’t really say that.  Guys, when I say this is ‘Mission: WTF’ I truly mean it.  Nero is more paranoid than Ann Coulter in Harlem and because of this, he has unleashed a plan that is as baffling as it is stupid.  Douglas weaves a great story of Rome, her soldiers, her battles, her politicians, her enemies/friends, and more importantly, her contradictions. 
Reading about Valerius has been an honest thrill, but this book pushes even that excitement over the edge.  If you are looking for a magnificent Rome series to start fresh or one to read as you’re waiting for other ones to come out, I HIGHLY recommend this one.  The fights are brutal and real, the missions are a jigsaw gumbo of duty vs. right and wrong, the blood flows, and the torture scenes… the torture scenes will have you asking yourself “were men truly this evil”?  Then you read about Nero and you’re like “yeah, they were”. 

While Douglas doesn’t have the bibliophile depth of Iggulden or Scarrow, he delivers a very strong addition to his repertoire that says, “yeah, not yet… but I will”.  He keeps writing books like this and I will be one happy reader.  Gratias tibi ago, Douglas.

Friday, August 24, 2012

Dear AT&T...

Dear AT&T,

My name is Jason Frost and I have been a customer of yours for a long time now.  Your computer says “since 2005”, but in actuality it’s been since around 1994.  I’m writing to let you know about an experience I recently had.  I called on 8/20/2012 to add a line to my account for my son.  I was looking to add the Blackberry Curve 8130 and after calling twice I was finally able to speak with someone who was able to help me.  To his credit, the gentlemen that assisted me was very nice and very helpful… unfortunately his information was also very wrong.

Since I already owned the Blackberry he told me that all I needed was a new SIM card.  Good.  He told me that I would be getting the SIM card in a few days.  That became problem #1.  I went online to see when my order would arrive and I’m told it will arrive on 8/28/2012, a Tuesday.  Almost a full week after I placed the order.  How I could go from “a few days” to over a week is baffling.  He even went so far to tell me that “since I called early enough the order would go out that same day”.  How can a rep. of your company be so wrong and pass along wrong information?  I would have gladly paid for faster shipping had I known because I wanted my son to have this for his first day of school.

Problem #2 arose when we started talking about the phone specs.  Again, he was very nice but really didn’t know what he was talking about.  My questions was “does this Blackberry have wireless and not just 3G”?  He assured me it did and even went online and confirmed.  Not sure what website he referenced because when I did some extra research I found that this BB Curve does not have wireless.  Had I know that I might not have gone forward with the order, OR might have gone with another phone because I needed the wireless.  These two problems could easily have been avoided if the rep. helping me would have known his information.

This experience coupled with throttling your longtime (iPhone) customers on data and blocking FaceTime, it seems that you guys are making some bad business decisions.  I’ve stayed with you guys because I sincerely have enjoyed your service.  I’ve had some headaches from time to time (like now) but overall I’ve been pretty happy.  I just wish you would reconsider your decision to throttle your iPhone customers.  If we have unlimited data that means that we’ve been with you at least four years (most like me, even longer), and I think that warrants some consideration.  Right now you are giving your new customers more benefit than the ones that have been with you for years and paying you for years.  That isn’t right.

Blocking FaceTime is just plain wrong.  If we pay for an allotment of data then we should be able to use that data anyway we please.  TV, radio, websites, FaceBook, every medium is inundated with other carriers boasting on how they are expanding their network, bring back TRUE unlimited, and courting customers.  You guys seem to be pushing yours away.  I’m not the type to make rash decisions, nor am I the type of customer that storms off and says “I’m going someplace else”!!  I still have a year left on my contract and that gives me plenty of time to see what you guys will do in the future.  Please feel free to look at my data usage as well.  I’ve never gone over my “unlimited” allotment because I do watch and monitor my data and use wireless whenever possible, but I don’t like to be told what I can and can’t do with the data and minutes that I pay for.  I would love to stay with the company that I’ve invested my time and money, but if another company will offer me true unlimited data and the freedom to use said data, I think that warrants an honest look. 

I do thank you for your time.  I sent this snail mail and probably to a wrong address, but I could not find anywhere to send this online without having to fill out drop-down forms that had nothing to do with this problem.

Monday, August 13, 2012

'The Walking Dead'

This isn’t a review on one particular book in ‘The Walking Dead’ series, but rather the volumes I’ve read up to this point.  Sound stupid?  Yeah… so what.  When I tell people about this series I always begin with how I got started.  They have to suffer through it… and now so do you.  I have heard about this series (TV and comic) for a long time now, but I’ve got SOOOOOO many things to read and review that it takes something huge to earn a spot in my “to be read” list.  Enter free issue #1.  Not sure how I ran across the website ‘Comixology’ but I did.  They were offering issue #1 for free so I bit.  And I bit HARD!!

I downloaded the first volume, ‘Days Gone By’ on July 12th, 2012 and as of today (August 13th, 2012) I am on Volume 11: ‘Fear The Hunters’.  In less than a month I have burned through ten volumes!  Unfreaking believeable!!!!  I’ve always been a huge book lover but it’s usually been novels, fiction more than non-fiction, tons of Eric Jerome Dickey and absolutely NO Nicholas Sparks.  I’ve never really been a huge fan of comics or graphic novels, but something about ‘The Walking Dead’ has just grabbed me and will not f*cking let go!  I work at a bookstore, so by definition I’m a po’ ass man with a futile and unappreciated zeal to change the world, one recommended book at a time.  I don’t get paid a lot and I damn sure can’t afford buying the trade graphic novels (eBook) at $9.99 a pop.  Actually ‘Comixology’ only charged me $4.99 for the first three or four volumes and then it went up to $9.99.  But still… over $100 in graphic novels in just over a month!?!? GOOD LORD!!!!

(Quick sidebar: you can get the graphic novels cheaper on Amazon, B&N, Blio, iBooks, and other eBook sites.  Why?  Not sure, but an educated guess would be that since Apple take 30% on all “in app” purchases ‘Comixology’ figured this into the price.  Every other eBook sites has them for around $7.99.  Now… I knew this but still bought them on ‘Comixology’.  Why?  Listen to me because this is big… (are you listening?)… they have a MUCH better format!  MUCH, MUCH, MUCH better!  In their format you can read panel by panel instead of page by page.  This is a major selling point (THE major selling point) for me because the regular print is so small and having the ability to blown it up where it’s not distorted is worth the extra $2.  Reading is fun, but having to squint or adjust the pages to follow the conversations or enjoy the artwork is a pain the butt.  Trust me on this one folks.  The other eReading apps SUCK!  Now it might be different on the actual device (doubtful) because I only have the iPad and use the apps on it.  I did a test and the B&N app is unable (WTF!?) to read this graphic novel through their own app!  That is insanely stupid!  If you are wondering what app is best for reading, I did a blog (here)  a few months back.)

OK… sidebar is over.

What has captivated me so much with this series is the story.  It’s been said that the hardest thing for a writer to do is pen a short story.  I wonder how different that statement would be work for writing a comic?  Whatever the case Robert Kirkman has done a magnificent, and I do mean mag-freaking-nificent job of telling this story!  You have your high brow detractors who look down on graphic novels because they aren’t “true literature” but they miss the whole point.  If someone can tell a story and capture and audience, isn’t that kind of the whole point?  Kirkman does, and he does one hell of a job. 
Another part of what makes this magic work is the artwork.  In a graphic novel that goes without saying, but in my one month professional opinion the artwork is crazy-stupid-good. I don't pretend to understand the dance the writer and artist must do, but they do it well. (Let's just forget about that little lawsuit going on now between them).  It's almost like the artist has been tasked with drawing emotion and not just drawing the scene. That is very powerful. There are times that I find myself reading/ studying the art because I'm trying to sense what the character is truly feeling and not just what I'm told they're feeling. 

I mentioned earlier that there is a dance going on here between the writer and artist. And there is. One leads the other follows and the switch between the two as beautiful as it is subtle. If you've read this series you know exactly what I'm talking about. If you haven't read this series, you should. Really. You should. And I'll say again that I'm only on Volume 11.  Eleven out of who knows how many (no, I didn't check). I'm just so happy that I have so much ground to cover before I catch up with the series. I'm not sure how I'll make myself wait month to month when that time does come. 

Reading ‘The Walking Dead’ is fun.  Fun, fun, fun, fun, fun!  I wish I could meet Michonne, Michonne, Michonne, Michonne, Michonne.  Rick will never be able to clap, clap, clap, clap, clap.  Carl is drifting away, away, away, away, away…

'Hondo' by Louis L'amour

I’ve been searching for a good western for a while now.  I’ve been asking real friends, FaceBook friends, dead friends, and Twitter friends, but they either couldn’t give me a good title OR they would recommend something I’ve already read.  Booklover, heal thyself; I took that research magnifying glass that I use for my bookstore customers and turned it on myself and I went on a lion hunt .  Now, I’ve seen Louis L’amour’s books and I’ve heard very good things about them, but I’ve never read anything by him.  Until now.  While Mr. L’amour has about a million books, I wanted to start with one of his “best”.  And to be honest, even his “best” was up for debate.  I’ll get to those later, because this go round I chose ‘Hondo’.  

Based on this one book… I see why people adore this man so.  He can tell a story and THAT (at least for me) is the single most important thing that endears this book hound to authors.  Louis obviously has that with his fans.  This book was written wwwaaaayyyy back in 1983 so (thankfully) political correctness hadn’t fully reared its ugly head, so Louis uses words like “white man”, “brave”, and “squaw”.  Nothing wrong with these words mind you, but we both know how the cowardly passive-aggressive PC crowd can be.  My assessment?  I really enjoyed ‘Hondo’.  I mean I really, really enjoyed ‘Hondo’.  The only… weird… part for me was the interaction between Hondo and Angie.  At times as I was reading about them it almost felt like a romance.  Right up until Hondo has to fight a brave, then it gets back to the burly, sweaty, dusty, and violent West that I love reading about.  Not sure if it was just this book but I’d be curious to see if this is how he writes about relationships between a man and a woman.

That being said, this book is 99.9% wonderful western and .1% crazy booklover probably reading too much into nothing.  If you’re looking for a good western, don’t take as long as I did, choose this one.