Monday, June 30, 2014

Song of the Week: Sit Down, John

Since this is the week of July 4th, this week's song is from the musical 1776.  I had a hard time deciding between the first two songs of the musical, so here's both.  The first one has John Adams laying out the case for Independence before the Continental Congress. The second takes place immediately after Adams leaves Independence Hall and features him venting his frustrations with Congress.

"I have come to the conclusion that one useless man is a disgrace, that two are called a law firm, and that three or more become a Congress."

"They can't agree on what is right and wrong or what is good or bad. I'm convinced the only purpose that this Congress ever had was to gather specifically to drive John Adams mad!"

Friday, June 27, 2014

MST3K Friday: Head Swap

Have you ever wondered what would happen if Joel swapped Crow and Servo's heads? No? Well, you're about to find out anyway.

Monday, June 23, 2014

Song of the Week: Looking Back

Another one from Kenny Wayne Shepherd's most recent album. This week's song is an upbeat tune from Johnny "Guitar" Watson called "Looking Back".

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Act of Treason by, Vince Flynn

It's a gorgeous autumn day in Georgetown. The Democratic candidates for president and vice president of the United States are dutifully glad-handing voters and the media outside a grand estate where a national security conference has just been held, bringing together the world's greatest minds to discuss the issues that are threatening the country. It's American politicking at its best. That's when all hell breaks loose. When presidential candidate Josh Alexander's motorcade is ambushed by a group of terrorists, the nation is thrown into turmoil. Two weeks following the attack, Alexander is carried to victory by a sympathy vote, but his assailants have not been found. Enter Mitch Rapp, the super CIA agent star of Vince Flynn's hugely successful series.

When Flynn died last year from prostate cancer, I realized I hadn't read a Rapp novel in a long time.  They're all good stories that can be easily adapted to movies: high-octane spy stuff with gunfights and action sequences.  This was probably my first Rapp book in about 5 years or more, but it felt a bit more talky than I remember the series being.  After the first 50+ pages with the motorcade attack and Rapp tracking down the would-be assassin, I don't remember a single action scene.

Not bad, but not great.  A fun summertime diversion.

Act of Treason is the ninth book in the series.

Monday, June 16, 2014

Song of the Week: Breaking Up Somebody's Home

Kenny Wayne Shepherd released a new album, Goin' Home, in May. In this album, Kenny pays tribute to his many influences by playing songs he thought were emblematic of their style.  While not quite up to par with How I Go, it's a really good album.  There are a number of stand-out tracks, including Freddie King's "Palace of the King", Johnny "Guitar" Watson's "Looking Back", and Muddy Waters's "Love the Live I Live".

This week's song comes from Albert King and is called "Breaking Up Somebody's Home".

Friday, June 13, 2014

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Brilliance by Marcus Sakey

Since 1980, about one percent of the population have been born with powers and abilities beyond those of mortal men.  They are referred to as "brilliants" (or derogatorily as "twists"). Nick Cooper is a brilliant who works for a federal agency called the Department of Analysis and Response: a sort of NSA/FBI hybrid tasked specifically to deal with brilliant terrorists. His latest target may be the most dangerous man alive, a brilliant drenched in blood and intent on provoking civil war. But to catch him, Cooper will have to violate everything he believes in - and betray his own kind.

Anyone who's read my blog in the past knows how much I dig Marcus Sakey, so I eagerly anticipated this one. In this novel, Sakey stretches beyond his normal realm of everyday Joes dealing with moral dilemmas and jumps into thriller "The World is in Trouble" territory. The Brilliance Saga might be the Sakey's ticket to stardom, but I don't think it's his best work (that's still Daniel Hayes).

Lee Child's blurb on Brilliance says "The kind of story you've never read before", but my biggest complaint about the book is that it felt like I had read it before. There's a government operative who goes undercover to take down a terrorist, only to find out that the terrorist isn't what he was made out to be and there are elements inside the government plotting against him. It's standard thriller fare you can find in dozens of movies. The only twist is that some people have special abilities.

The description of Cooper's ability kicking in is fantastic and believable.  His gift is in pattern recognition, which allows him to process information quickly and react almost before his target takes action. This comes in very handy in fights and chase scenes.  Sakey deserves bonus points for figuring out how to effectively convey this talent through words where comic books or movies would make his task 100 times easier.

An Nick is an interesting character.  Like a lot of Sakey's protagonists, he has heart.  He puts himself at great peril because his daughter might be a Tier One brilliant - which means she will be taken away from him and given a new name and a new life.  But he's really the only character that is fleshed out.

Elements of the story are a thinly veiled War on Terrorism parallel, but those parts only succeeded in pulling me out of the story.

The book is fast-paced, well written, and definitely a page turner, but it all feels too familiar. Brilliance is an enjoyable novel, but I expected more from Sakey.

Monday, June 9, 2014

Song of the Week: Turn It on Again

I've talked before about how The Police were great at creating catchy tunes that stuck in your head. Phil Collins and Genesis are great at that too. Case in point, this week's song. It appeared for no apparent reason in my head when I woke up on Friday. I can't remember the last time I heard it.

Friday, June 6, 2014

MST3K Friday: A Joke by Ingmar Bergman

Last Saturday, I watched "The Sword and the Dragon".  It was a really good episode with lots of funny riffs and great host segments.  Here is one host segment where they make fun of Ingmar Bergman.

Here's SHOUT!'s promo for the DVD release:

"This baby can handle everything but a three headed dra - oh, son of a..."

Monday, June 2, 2014

Song of the Week: Don't Worry Be Happy

When I was younger, my family would always go on vacation to the Outer Banks for a week. I distinctly remember one year that every time we turned on the radio in the car, Bobby McFerrin's "Don't Worry Be Happy" was playing.  Sometimes you have to go back and remember his simple advice.

"In every life we have some trouble / When you worry you make it double"