Sunday, November 21, 2010

Sunday Shuffle #205/206

It's my annual Sunday before Thanksgiving weekend double issue. Why a double? We'll spend most of next Sunday driving back home from PA, where we'll have had a great time with my side of the family. I wish all of you a very happy Thanksgiving as well.

1. Ballad Of Sire Frankie Crisp (Let It Roll)/Yim Yames (4)
2. As I Rise/The Decemberists (2)
3. 36 Inches High/Nick Lowe (2)
4. Disney Time/Jarvis Cocker (2)
5. Crimson/Apples In Stereo (1)
6. River's Edge/Great Lake Swimmers (3)
7. Chesley's Little Wrists/Pavement (2)
8. We Are Underused/Pavement (4)
9. Here's Where The Strings Come In/Superchunk (2)
10. On My Way/American Music Club (1)
11. All I Got Is Me/Spoon (2)
12. Sallie's Heart Is Stone/Say Hi (1)
13. Blue Angel/The Love Language (9)
14. The Old Days/Dr. Dog (3)
15. Awkward Kisser/Telekinesis (5)
16. Baby's Coming Back To Me/Jarvis Cocker (2)
17. The Ghost Inside/Broken Bells (2)
18. I Know You/Sloan (2)
19. God, Please Let Me Go Back/Josh Rouse (1)
20. There Will Be No Divorce/The Mountain Goats (1)

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Sunday Shuffle #204

Not much to say, so let's get right to the music...

1. Ruination Day/Gillian Welch (3)
2. Staples/Buffalo Tom (2)
3. The Royal We/Frankel (2)
4. Dress Me Like a Clown/Margot & The Nuclear So & So's (4)
5. Heavy and Hanging/Patterson Hood (4)
6. Way Out West/Big Star (6)
7. Videotape/Radiohead (1)
8. Big Light/Roman Candle (4)
9. A Long Time Coming/Sloan (3)
10. Rule of Three/The Lemonheads (2)

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Mile Run

Greg Rucka and Dennis Lehane are forever linked for me. In 1998, I bought and devoured Rucka and Steve Lieber's Whiteout from Oni Press. Somewhere in that time I learned Rucka had written a few novels, which I quickly found and started reading. I'm still a fan of his Atticus Kodiak books. A friend of mine from the APA I was in at the time (Hi, Tim and Pulp Legacy!) recommended Dennis Lehane's novels about Kenzie and Gennaro to me and I bit. I was reading one of them on my trip to Spain in March 2000. They both moved away from those series - Rucka to many comics, one of which spun out into a couple novels, and Lehane to standalone books like Mystic River and Shutter Island. Both published new books within the last couple weeks and I've managed to squeeze both into my busy schedule.

First was Rucka's The Last Run. It's not a return to the Atticus Kodiak cycle, though his last book was. Instead, this is the third Queen & Country novel, the same series that started as a comic I mentioned before. In fact, the comic returned for a while after the last novel, Private Wars, came out in 2005. I do not own those issues in any form, something I should rectify.

The new novel begins with Tara Chace feeling like it's time to stop being a Minder. Events, of course, conspire to keep her active for one last mission involving double crosses and politics in Iran. Back home, her boss Paul Crocker is dealing with political repercussions from his utter support of his Minders over the years. It's fast-paced and very engrossing and I loved every minute of it. I did see the ending coming but I was okay with it, as it puts a pin on the series.

Speaking of putting a pin on a series, Lehane's Moonlight Mile is his first Kenzie and Gennaro novel since 1999's Prayers For Rain. The new one actually deals with events from Gone Baby Gone, which was released the year prior to Prayers For Rain (and made into a critically-acclaimed movie by Ben Affleck that I still haven't seen). Amanda McCready, the kidnapped girl from that book, has once more disappeared. Kenzie and Gennaro are now married with a four year-old daughter, barely holding on in the down economy and find themselves drawn back into Amanda's life. It's a compelling book that deals with guilt and class issues and the big issue of right versus wrong. I read it quickly. Unfortunately, I don't think there will be another one but I'm okay with the way it ended.

If you like your PI/bodyguard genre, you could do worse than picking up some Rucka or Lehane. I'd start at the beginning, though. You won't be able to stop yourself from catching up quickly.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Sunday Shuffle #203

It's been a busy week for various reasons and this upcoming week will be busy for some of the same reasons. I hope everyone remembered to turn their clocks back last night...

1. January Wedding/The Avett Brothers (6)
2. I Will Kill Again/Jarvis Cocker (1)
3. Help Help/Mates of State (1)
4. Someday I'll Be Forgiven for This/Justin Townes Earle (1)
5. You Threw A Spark/Crooked Fingers (5)
6. White Collar Boy/Belle and Sebastian (4)
7. Station Approach/Elbow (3)
8. Chill Out/The Hold Steady (3)
9. The Lost Brigade/Ted Leo & Pharmacists (2)
10. I Know You/Sloan (1)

Monday, November 1, 2010

F&SF Mar./Apr. 2010

One reason I haven't been doing these posts on the SF mags I've read this year is that I haven't read that many of them. However, I ran out of space in the nightstand drawer I store the unread mags in and that spurred me to get reading. It's no secret I like the anthology format and I consider F&SF to be the better of the two SF mags I read on a regular (well, sort of) basis.

Humor is difficult to writer because it is so easy for the words to fall flat on the page. A couple stories this time out worked well - "Epidapheles and the Insufficiently Affectionate Ocelot" by Ramsey Shehadeh and "The Frog Comrade" by Benjamin Rosenbaum. The former was a tale of a bumbling wizard narrated by an invisible chair named Door that mixed humor with an affecting character study of Door and the latter was a twist on the old princess and the frog story with a nice dose of Communism thrown in. Once you throw in Paul Di Filippo's "Plumage From Pegasus" about a penal system full of writers, you've got a nice set of humor.

The humor works well in contrast to darker stories, of which there were a few good examples. Dennis Danvers' "The Fairy Princess" is a story of a woman divorced from life and newly-sentient sex robots. "Blue Fire" by Bruce McAllister looks at the night a child Pope met a child vampire and what it meant for both of their souls.

You also get your classic themes and classic writers in this issue. The opening story was a take on mythology and time-crossed love ("Amor Fugit" by Alexandra Duncan) and the always dependable Albert E. Cowdrey gave us a story about art and death in "Fort Clay, Louisiana: A Tragical History." Mix that with the books column and the hide-and-seek nod to one of the stories in the classifieds and you get another good issue.