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Jesse Ball and a Book Once Begun

I’m so behind.  My bookshelf has gotten out of hand over the last few months… several months.. ok, two years.  Maybe three.

Night Passage, the first of Robert Parker’s ‘Jesse Stone’ books is among the oldest there (and since the Tom Selleck made-for-TV movies have gotten to the point Selleck is co-writing original stories, I need to knock this one off the list), as well as Geoffrey Girard’s Project Cain/Cain’s Blood. ( I have the two-in-one paperback advanced reader from my Barnes & Noble days, try not to be jealous)  Those are the ones hanging on since 2013.  Yeah, I know, that’s ridiculous, but these things just kind of pile up, it’s nobody’s fault.  Or it’s Netflix’s.  I did have ten seasons of Supernatural to catch up on, after all.

Jesse Ball's

But, before I get rid of the offending titles of ol’ aught thirteen, I need to finish reading Jesse Ball’s Silence Once Begun.  While there are always those authors whose list of titles grows without finding the time to step into their world (David Mitchell is at the top of the list victims of my best literary intentions), it’s equally important to stay on top of authors one has already started reading.

With the exception of James Patterson, who releases a new book every two weeks, this should be pretty easy to do.  And yet… I’m two novels and a novella behind on Jesse Ball.

I bought and started reading Silence Once Begun immediately upon its release but was distracted by Hugh Howey and Netflix and a miserable, unending Buffalo winter.  His next novel was released this past July, but I was a little preoccupied with being fired and forgot about buying A Cure for Suicide entirely.

Jesse Ball's novella,

It wasn’t until a week or so ago that someone on Goodreads added his new novella, “The Lesson“, to their ‘Want to Read’ list that I realized how behind I had become.

I’m making progress however, I’ve finished off five books in the last month, two of which I’d been picked away at for several months.  At this rate, there’s a good chance Silence, Jesse Stone, and Cain could all be knocked off my nightstand within a week or two….

Follow me on Goodreads for more reviews and to see what else I’m reading….


My Monsters

2013-11-12 14.23.48-1I’ve hung them up in two apartments and I can’t imagine a place feeling like home without them.  I’m talking about my monsters.  Three framed drawings by a little kid I don’t even know, who I’m sure I’ll never meet.  They’re perfect.

A couple years ago I was clicking around online and came across an article about a little boy with leukemia.  Similar to Batkid now out in San Francisco in that he’s sick and he’s awesome.  Come on, you can’t hear about a kid like this and not have tears in your eyes. 

Go pull up video of Batkid.  That’s the little boy who, thanks to Make A Wish, is surrounded by hundreds of people cheering him on throughout the city, while he saves a woman tied up by the Riddler and gets to ride around in a freakin Lamborghini Batmobile.  Tell me there aren’t tears.

Monsters at SunsetThat’s how it was when I came across this story.  The kid I read an article on, his name’s Aidan.  He loves monsters.  Drawing them, watching monster movies, making his own costumes.  Which is good, since he spent most of his childhood up until that point in a hospital bed.  Plenty of time to draw monsters.  And I’m talking the classics: Frankenstein’s monsters, the Wolfman, Dracula and Count Orlock.  There’s a difference. 

He got my attention.  If I wasn’t sold on this kid already, seeing pictures of Halloween when he got pulled around in a wagon dressed as Jigsaw’s dummy from Saw so he could trick-or-treat, did the trick.  This kid is awesome. 

I’d just purchased the Legacy set of Frankenstein movies that had a bunch of the old Boris Karloff monster flicks.  Thanks to Netflix I watched the Wolfman, Dracula, the Mummy, Creature from the Black Lagoon, the Invisible Man.  All those great old Universal flicks that started everything.  I also had Monster Squad, one of the greatest movies of my childhood.  At the time it was recently out on DVD and I snagged it.  It takes all those old great horror icons and rolls them together with a Goonies-esque group of kids.  Who doesn’t love this stuff?

Aidan's Monsters

the one in the middle looks just like Kevin

The reason this article on Aidan was out there though was because his aunt, in an attempt to raise some money towards his hospital bills, had taken his drawings and put them up for sale on Etsy.  Not a bad idea.  Well, unless you’re me.  Because now I have to buy one, right?  But how can I choose?  I just went to the site to browse, then I talked myself into buy one.  Then I double-checked my bank balance and decided I could get three.  It’s for a good cause, it’s ok.

I went with the classics.  Wolfman.  Frankenstein’s Monster.  And Dracula.  But not really.  There’s a difference between Dracula and Count Orlock.  You should know.  I’m not going into that.  Why did I ultimately go with Nosferatu over a Universal vampire?  Was it that then all three would be in different colored marker?  Yeah, that’s probably it.  But it may have been that I had to give it to this kid that he knew the ripped off Max Schreck/W.F. Murnau version.  That’s going to be my official position.

But I realize now that my choices were perfect.  Not only did I do something cool by purchasing these, but now I have my monsters, I have a good story to tell about how I ended up with these kid’s drawings framed on my wall.  Oddly enough, these actually represent my two friends and I. 

No, no, hear me out on this: Frankenstein’s monster is covered in scars, but the ones on his hands at first glance look like your typical hash marks for keeping score.  Much like I had to do on New Year’s Eve.  Marks on one hand for bottles of champagne I drank, marks on the other for shots.  Just in case I had to go the hospital.  The Wolfman is obviously Kevin who could probably braid his back hair and can grow a full beard before lunch.  And Nosferatu?  There’s this thing the three of us tend to do now and it came about after we lived together for a few years.  It unquestionably originated with Alan.  When someone comes into the room at night and turns the light on he will hiss and has gone so far as to throw his hands up in front of his face as if clawing at the light.  He started it.  We all do it.  Its reflex now, there’s no stopping it.  Our children will end up doing it.

So not only could I support this great little kid, who has since gone into remission, and his family by buying a few of his drawings, I’ve also, oddly enough, ended up with monster-caricatures of my best friends and I.  Money well spent.

Netflix, Why Have You Forsaken Me

I canceled my cable a while back.  When I was sharing the apartment with two and at one point three other people, that would have been out of the question.  We couldn’t live without it. 

actually, I wouldn’t mind watching this

Cartoons reigned supreme in our house with Family Guy up at the top.  There was also a Seinfeld addict (or aficionado as he may prefer to be called) so the handful of hours a day that was on was necessary to keep him calm. 

I could give a shit about sports but the guys I lived with were heavy into baseball, one a diehard Yanks fan while the other inexplicably bet his life on the Tigers year after year.  But these were sports dudes, they didn’t give a shit if it was baseball, football, hockey or jai alai.  That meant hours a day were devoted to Sports Center. 

Cable was a big deal back then.  We needed it.  Then those d-bags moved out, one with his girlfriend and the other to get a girlfriend—which story for another time, but I’ll probably never tell it, because it’s really none of your damn business.

Point is—they moved out and now I had to pay this cable bill myself.  It probably wouldn’t have been that bad but I never returned the second hi-def cable box, so that was an extra whatever a month to deal with. 

I’m not a fan of paying bills to begin with, so it wasn’t worth the ninety bucks or whatever I was paying just to watch the new SyFy abomination.

just watching the TV on my Netflix machine

I just finished watching Surface, which was a good show but only lasted one season.  A lot of shows now almost expect to be canceled, so the days of cliffhanger season finales seem to be all but over.  They wrap things up enough to give some measure of closure to the show at the end of the season, but leave just the tip when it comes to room for continuing the story.  They build and build and ask a hundred questions that need to be answered, and by the end of season one, yeah, they may answer a few of those. 

That’s enough to satisfy the first season, to give a solid finale, but they also leave enough to expand upon if they get renewed.  They don’t, and you’re left with Edwin Drood syndrome. 

Breaks your goddamn heart.

Back on the ranch though, I finished watching Surface, rated it like a good little Netflix bitch and waited for my top ten recommended results.

The problem now is that of the top ten recommended based on that rating and the rest of what I’ve been watching, I’ve seen nine of them.  I’ve watched and rated nine of the top ten shows or movies that Netflix wants me to watch now.  How is that helpful for me?

I’ve watched Angel.. its on at 5am, along with not much else, and after you’ve been up all night, you start to enjoy it. I’m still not watching Buffy.

Really?  You recommend Lost?  Based on my having just watched Lost.  Thanks.

There’s a whole category of named ‘Watch It Again’, why is everything else basically a watch again menu?  I rated this show, I’ve seen it, I don’t need you to recommend it to me.  I have that covered.  The only time you should be recommending me a show that I’ve already watched and rated is when new episodes or seasons are added. 

the power of Christ compels you!

And clicking ‘Not Interested’?  Does that do anything?  I can’t tell, because Netflix, you’re still recommending that shit to me.  How many times do I have to tell you that I am not interested in VeggiTales?  And what in my taste preferences made you think I was to begin with? 

The only VeggieTales I want to see are when they were massacred by Drawn Together along with Captain Hero’s lame friend Steve from Long Island.

Netflix, I think you need to define your animation categories a little better, because my liking Drawn Together and Family Guy does not warrant VeggiTales and My Little Pony getting added to my top ten.

My friend sent me a clip of My Little Pony the other day, some pony singing this song that apparently causes wars.  Maybe that show is darker than I imagined it, but after 5.3 seconds of listening to that song I spent the night hiding behind my couch rocking back and forth. 

That show is creepy.  Tattooed freakishly colored ponies, singing songs—I don’t get it, and I don’t want to.  And I don’t want them recommended to me because I happened to rate another animated show where the fact that both are animated are the only commonality between them.

And just because I rated  a show staring whoever, does not mean I now want to be recommended every single thing that actor has been in.

Remember when I used to search for a movie, but it wasn’t available on streaming and came up with a little ‘add DVDs to your package for whatever’, but I could still rate that movie?  Why can’t I do that anymore? 

Why, if I only have streaming do movies not exist if they’re available only as DVDs?  Before you’d try to sell me on getting DVDs, now you’re messing with my head and saying the movie doesn’t exist at all.

yeah, maybe I should get out more

I feel like I’m a five year old and Netflix is my mom yelling at me that I watch too much TV and need to go play outside. 

“Nope, sorry, you’re out of things to watch, see—everything you could want to watch you’ve already seen.  You have watched all of Netflix, maybe it’s time to do something else.”

Maybe they’re right, maybe I should do something else.  I could go outside, it’s a little sunny out but maybe I’d get used to it.  There’s always that puzzle I started, or I could get to work on that novel, finally finish that up—

                                           —oh, cool!  New episodes of Doctor Who!



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