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Archive for April, 2009

gaiman-graveyard-book-cover

During my recent sojourn to far Numenor, I had a long layover in the Gondor airport and, as a result, came up with two new books which I’d like to recommend to you.

The first is Neil Gaiman’s “The Graveyard Book”. This book just won the Newbury Award for Young Adult fiction and, may I say, it richly deserves it. Although I knew of the author, I hadn’t read any of his work before and I was blown away by his poetic, lyrical story-telling.

Briefly, “The Graveyard Book” is the story of Nobody Owens, a young boy who escapes the murder of his family as a toddler, and is watched over and brought up by a graveyard full of ghosts.  But why was he targeted for death and why is the man Jack still hunting him? A dark, but not scary story in which vampires and werewolves are the heroes.

dewey-cat-cover

The second involves cats and libraries so you know that it’s just irresistable to librarians. “Dewey: the Small Town Library Cat Who Touched the World” by Vicki Myron and Bret Witter is, on one level, a biography of the title feline, Dewey, who was found as a kitten in a book return in Spencer, Iowa in 1988. Myron, the director, and the library staff adopt Dewey who becomes the mascot of the library. On another level, however, it is also the story of how a library (and its librarians) can rally a town and serve as its community center.  The struggles of Vicki to keep Dewey, the library, her community, and herself going despite hard economic times, personal loss, and petty-minded, small-town politics will ring true to librarians everywhere.  A word to the wise: don’t read this book on the plane as you will find yourself sobbing at the end.

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The summer sun was busy broiling the asphalt from Chicago’s streets, the agony in my head had kept me horizontal for half a day, and some idiot was pounding on my apartment door.

I answered it and Morgan, half his face covered in blood, gasped, “The Wardens are coming. Hide me. Please.”

His eyes rolled back into his skull and he collapsed.

Oh.

Super.

Up until that moment, I had been laboring under the misapprehension that the splitting pain in my skull would be the worse thing to happen to me today.

Harry can believe just about anything about Warden Donald Morgan, the White Council’s chief executioner, field commander, and all around pain in the ..uh.. neck, but he can’t believe that Morgan is a traitor so when a desperate Morgan comes to him for help, he agrees to find the real turn coat in the Council. In 48 hours. Before Morgan’s concealment spells give out. So no pressure.

But when some of the toughest, most high-level magic slingers on the planet are involved,  the spy vs. spy game can get deadly quick. Faster than you can say “Blackstone Copperfield Dresden”, Harry’s brother is missing, the House of Raith is on the prowl, the White Council is sharpening their swords, Harry himself is being stalked by a powerful, semi-divine skinwalker, and, worst of all, he can’t seem to leave his dog, his apprentice, and his bad-tempered house guest alone for five minutes.

Harry will need all his skills as a private investigator as well as all his magic to get himself out of this one –with his head attached. Highlights for fans of the series include a visit to White Council HQ and a major magical throwdown featuring Injun Joe (Listens to the Wind).

Another well-written addition to the Dresden File series. We are roughly half-way through Butcher’s proposed twenty book cycle and it’s interesting to see the Black Council starting to break cover after acting largely behind the scenes throughout the earlier stories.  While “Turn Coat” does reveal the identities of 1-2 members of the Black Council, are they really the only double-crossers among the senior wizards?

Write the next book, Jim, and quickly!


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And even more “Tin Man” music videos you didn’t know were out there.

Music: “I’ll Make a Man Out of You” from Disney’s Mulan.

The character of Wyatt Cain (played by Neal McDonough) is the classic, hard bitten private eye dude. Initially, he has some issues with his “civilian” companions as this video illustrates.

Music: “Don’t Fix It” by the Squirrel Nut Zippers.

During the course of the story, Cain, the strong, silent, stoic type, clashes repeatedly with Glitch (Alan Cumming) who is the emotive, chatty, easily flustered type.  In time, however, they learn to like and respect each other.

Music: “Star Wars Cantina” by Richard Cheese (sung to the tune of Barry Manilow’s “Copa Cabana”)

It’s Star Wars, it’s Tin Man, it’s ….Barry Manilow? Richard Cheese parodies Star Wars and the Barry at the same time and the twisted mind of Surreal696 put them together with “Tin Man” clips.  A word to the wise: you are guaranteed to have that “Copa Cabana” melody stuck in your head for at least a day. You have been warned.

Music: “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” by Me First and the Gimmie Gimmies

Me First puts the “punk” in “steampunk” with this fun, punk rock version of  “Somewhere Over the Rainbow”. Somewhere Judy Garland is rolling in her grave, but, hey, it works.

Music: “Home” by Breaking Benjamin

It’s been rumored that the Sci-Fi Channel might make a sequel to “Tin Man”. If so, I hope they use this song by Breaking Benjamin which I think captures the essence and spirit of the mini-series.

Regarding this next offering, I must warn gentle readers that it is a bit spicy. If you are offended by saucy subject matter featuring that tasty bit of alright, Wyatt Cain (Neal McDonough), you may want to avert your eyes from the following video.  The subtitles are somewhat racy, but very funny.

Music: Ain’t No Other Man (musical group is uncredited)

If you’re not going to avert your eyes, you may want to have some tissues handy to mop the drool off your keyboard.

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An “Tin Man” obsession is a terrible thing, but judging by the flood of “Tin Man”-related music videos on YouTube, I’m not alone in my love for this Sci-Fi Channel mini-series. And now a sampling of my favorites:

Music: “Jerry Springer” by Weird Al Yankovic

What can you say about a song with such classic lines as “yeah, well, I slept with your dog, Woofy?” Nothing except that you’ve been watching a bit too much Jerry Springer.

Music: “It’s Raining Men” by the Weather Girls

What a difference a few decades makes. Once upon a time, I would have regarded a cast that was mostly male as another example of the chauvinistic film mindset that limited film roles for women. Now, however, I realize that Hollywood is merely making eye candy for me.

Music:  “If I Only Had a Brain” by the Mount Hood Community College Jazz Chorus [Oregon] (1996 recording, now out of print)

This utterly charming cover of  the classic “Wizard of Oz” song is an example of YouTube’s underrate potential for sharing limited edition, out of print music with the masses.

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