Thursday, June 25, 2009

Quit Reading: "Let's Spend the Night Together" by Pamela Des Barres

Quit Reading: Let's Spend the Night Together: backstage secrets of rock muses and supergroupies by Pamela De Barres, 2007, 9781556526688.

This sounded interesting even if it does seem to mostly cover events in the '60s and '70s - which do not interest me much.

Des Barres spoke to or interviewed a number of women who worked the rock star circuit by working rock stars' circuits. I quit reading after the first piece which read like a load of horseshit by the lady in question, Tura Satana.

Satana claimed to be Elvis' hidden and long term lover. She claims that Elvis' gave her an engagement ring and was going to marry her but the Colonel kept her away from Elvis'. It read like total bullshit with stripper Satana telling an elaborate lie. How many women did Elvis' pour the pork to? How could he have even kept count? And Satanal claims to be his true love and that Elvis' pined for her during his marriage? Baloney.

Des Barres seems to believe pretty much anything. Des Barres does no work to verify or fact-check anything and just eats up anything she is told. Des Barres admits to going all googly over any rock and roll guy - even Frank Zappa. Good Lord, did she actually look at Zappa?

Read a Few:"The Rattle Bag" edited by Seamus Heaney and Ted Hughes

Read A Few: The Rattle Bag edited by Seamus Heaney and Ted Hughes, 1982, 057111976x.

I didn't realize this was originally from 1982 until I just now looked. The book was mentioned somewhere like Library Journal and I placed a hold on a copy. I read a few poems but skipped most.

The fact that many people think Hughes drove his wife to suicide made me want to get it. How much crap has that guy taken?

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Finished: "The Order of the Poison Oak" by Brent Hartinger

Finished: The Order of the Poison Oak by Brent Hartinger, 2005, 97800600567317.

Another book complained about in West Bend. Sequel to Geography Club. Russ has had a crappy year at high school after becoming known as the "gay student". Russ has felt like an outcast - heck, he has been an outcast - all Spring and jumps at the chance to join his best pals, Gunnar and Min, to be a camp counselor and stop being the "gay kid" to everyone.

The three head up for their orientation and meet the other counselors. Russ instantly sports wood for one of the dudes, Web. But, the highly competitive Min zeros onto Web and swoops in before Russ. Meanwhile, nerdy Gunnar has given up on chicks after trying for naught for so long.

The first kids at the camp show up a few days later. All the kids are either burn survivors or kids with other disfiguring injuries. Russ has trouble being tough with the kids. He is expecting the kind, reserved and angelic movie version of injured kids. His lack of authority makes the kids ignore him and misbehave. Russ slowly gets control and in a late night ceremony enrolls the kid's into Russ's invention, The Order of the Poison Oak. The Order is for kids who have been outcast but who now have the hard, scarred skin that allows them to withstand the abuse of others.

Anyway. Web tells Russ he isn't dating Min and the two dudes tongue wrestle. Web is a lying bi-sexual dude and Min gets way upset. Russ hooks up with other counselor dude. Everyone else figures out Russ is gay. Gunnar hooks up with equally nerdy broad. Russ saves a couple of his kids from a forest fire with the help of Gunnar and Min. Neat storyline about the burn survivors and Russ getting to know them.

Russ learns lessons. Russ sticks to his safe sex resolve. Russ is self-deprecating. Russ is foolish at times. Russ has both friends really angry at him. Russ does do more than swap spit but never says exactly what he does. Hartinger uses awful similes, "glaring at him like a disgruntled store detective." (page 158).

A good YA book.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Read: "The Geography Club" by Brent Hartinger

Read: The Geography Club by Brent Hartinger, 2003, 978006012229.

EDIT, March 8, 2016: Gay kids, if you are looking for a digital copy of this novel check to see if your public or school library has an Overdrive account for ebooks. I presume many of the people landing here are looking for a copy of the novel on the sly. Load the book up on your phone or tablet if your situation requires secrecy. Overdrive also has a "read online" option for desktop machines.

This is one of the books the twits in West Bend were complaining about. We own a copy and a copy of the sequel. I ordered the book after a Page recommended them a couple years ago.

Not bad but not great. I write "not great" because this read more like a juvenile fiction novel than a YA novel. (The writing seemed geared toward 12-year-olds.)

High school sophomore Russ is a closeted gay teen who often thinks of himself as a spy in enemy territory. His deception has made him an expert liar. Russ is not a popular kid but to reveal himself as gay would be disastrous. The P.E. locker room is a source of anxiety because he is afraid he may give himself away with a glance or expression. Russ goes online one evening, logs into a gay chat room, and starts talking to a guy from his home town, the guy turns out to be from his school, they meet at a swampy park, other guy turns out to be star baseball player that Russ was already lusting after. Russ and dude swap spit.

Russ then comes out to his best friend (a chick) who, in turn, comes out to him. Russ, his pal, and baseball dude meet with other gay students at local pizza joint. Russ and new friends are all from different social groups and their paranoia at drawing attention scares them from meeting together again publicly. Russ and others form a boring school club - Geography Club - as a way to meet up regularly but discourage others from joining.

Of course, things go bad. School rumors of a gay student get everyone guessing. The Geography Club almost breaks up when a member keeps pressing for inclusion of school outcast who all the other students think is the gay student. A chick hot for Russ gets mad when he turns her down and to get even she declares him the gay one. Russ initially denies but then admits to digging dudes. Hot baseball dude cruelly betrays Russ to stay hidden. Geography club turns into gay-straight support group.

All-in-all this was a good book. Russ was a good character: a smart kid, perceptive about himself, learning as he goes along, self-deprecating, loyal to his friends, scared, etc. The scenes with the would-be-girlfriend were well done.

Things I did not like so much:

1-Hartinger set some important sequences in an overly dramatic school lunchroom. 2-Russ could be repulsively lovey-dovey (but admitted to being so). Evidence includes these quotes: The terrain of my own heart, the landscape of love, was still entirely unexplored.
In the close confines of his arms, it felt like I had stepped right up into the stars themselves - like I had become one with the sky, and that together we were as clean and pure and wide as the universe itself.
EDIT 7 Nov 2013
2. Page hits have been coming in on this.  Presumably because a movie version comes out this month.
3. I re-read my comments and noticed I wrote "homo" when I was shorthanding. I was not going to edit that because of my views on archiving and editing for posterity. But, if I make the mention here it is the same thing.
4. I bought the fourth in this series, Elephant of Surprise, for work. I have not yet read it.
5. I spoke to Hartinger once, he is a good dude.  I mentioned the locker room anxiety scene and he had some insightful comments.
6.  Of all the books within this series I think the zombie movie novel was the best.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Never Got Into: "Nothing Burns in Hell" by Philip Jose Farmer

Never Got Into: Nothing Burns in Hell by Philip Jose Farmer, 1998, 0312864701.

Crider was plugging Farmer a bit ago after Farmer died earlier this year. Crider even mentioned this book in particular and also mentioned that Lansdale is a fan. That was two good references.

But, I could not get into the novel past the first few pages. Too bad, because the cover says, "A really violent, sometimes funny novel."

Read: "The Punisher: Punisher Max: Vol. 1" by Garth Ennis, Lewis Larosa, Leandro Fernandez

Read: The Punisher: Punisher Max, Vol. 1 by Garth Ennis, Lewis Larosa, Leandro Fernandez, 2005, 9780785118404.

A Library regular came in the other day and I told him we had some new Punisher comics (not this) come in. he asked if they were by Garth Ennis. So, apparently Ennis is the big guy in comics writing.

These were good. The art is impressive and the storylines were good. There was one storyline set in Hell's Kitchen with the Punisher taking on a bunch of young Irish thugs who've taken over the names of old gangs like The River Rats.

The other storyline has the Punisher taking on the Italian mob while being hunted by the government who wants to force or cajole him into hunting Bin Laden.