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  • gilwilson 6:46 PM on August 30, 2018 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: a fish called wanda, , , , ,   

    “So, Anyway…” By John Cleese 

    33032675“So, Anyway…”
    By John Cleese
    Narrated by: John Cleese
    Length: 13 hrs and 32 mins
    Release date: 12-13-16
    Publisher: Random House Audio

    So, Anyway, yeah I had to start the review out that way.  So, anyway, I’m a huge fan of John Cleese and all of the Monty Python Alum.  I remember watching “Monty Python’s Flying Circus” every weekend on my local PBS station as a kid.  I would just laugh and laugh until my sides hurt.  The funny thing was that everyone else in my family would say they couldn’t understand them through their accents.  I would always ask, “how can you not? They are speaking English.”  It frustrated me to no end that a bunch of hillbillies from Oklahoma couldn’t get the humor because they couldn’t understand the language.  Eventually I trained them and after some time they could finally get “The Parrot Sketch.” Then when I introduced them to the series, “The Goodies,” they were able to follow the humor along with me.

    So, Anyway, John Cleese’s autobiography is a must for any Python fan.  Cleese not only tells of his upbringing, his education (he studied law and wanted to originally become a lawyer, or Great Britain’s version of same) and his brief career teaching.  This part of the book is interesting but not nearly as entertaining as when he finally starts talking about his career in entertainment.  For me the fun part was hearing all the great talent he had worked with, Marty Feldman, David Frost, Peter Sellers, et. al.  Creating several sketch comedy shows with this talent helped him to mold what was to become a world wide phenomenon of Python.  Through the early years he had worked with Tim Brooke Taylor (who later went on to write for and act in the series, “The Goodies”).

    With this audiobook, not only do you get the treat of Cleese talking about his own life and making comments on same, but he also includes clips of some of the sketches from the various programs he wrote and performed on.   It was funny to hear him and Marty Feldman actually perform a sketch rather than just read the script.  Comedy depends 100% on delivery.  For anyone who has seen the movie, “Rain Man,” that truth comes out when Raymond can recite the Abbott & Costello bit “Who’s on First.”  It’s not funny when he recites it but seeing/hearing it performed it takes on a whole new life.  Besides that it was just a treat to hear the original sketches.

    Yeah, you’ll have to trudge through the boring parts of John Cleese growing up, but that is part of the big picture which gives us the gift behind the talent of John Cleese.


    Publisher’s Summary
    John Cleese’s huge comedic influence has stretched across generations; his sharp, irreverent eye and the unique brand of physical comedy he perfected with Monty Python, on Fawlty Towers, and beyond now seem written into comedy’s DNA. In this rollicking memoir, So, Anyway…, Cleese takes listeners on a grand tour of his ascent in the entertainment world, from his humble beginnings in a sleepy English town and his early comedic days at Cambridge University (with future Python partner Graham Chapman) to the founding of the landmark comedy troupe that would propel him to worldwide renown.

    Cleese was just days away from graduating Cambridge and setting off on a law career when he was visited by two BBC executives who offered him a job writing comedy for radio. That fateful moment – and a near-simultaneous offer to take his university humor revue to London’s famed West End – propelled him down a different path, cutting his teeth writing for stars like David Frost and Peter Sellers and eventually joining the five other Pythons to pioneer a new kind of comedy that prized invention, silliness, and absurdity. Along the way he found his first true love with the actress Connie Booth and transformed himself from a reluctant performer to a world-class actor and back again.

    Twisting and turning through surprising stories and hilarious digressions – with some brief pauses along the way that comprise a fascinating primer on what’s funny and why – this story of a young man’s journey to the pinnacle of comedy is a masterly performance by a master performer.

    ©2016 John Cleese (P)2016 Random House Audio

  • gilwilson 6:06 PM on August 29, 2018 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: baking, , , recipes   

    Baker’s Magic by Diane Zahler  

    34687372Baker’s Magic
    by Diane Zahler
    Narrated by:Elisabeth Rodgers, Stina Nielsen, Robin Miles, Kenneth Cavett, Stephen DeRosa, Tavia Gilbert, Michael Crouch, &  L.J. Ganser
    Approx 7 hours
    Publishedby Live Oak Media; Unabridged edition (September 30, 2016)

    I have to start out that this is the youngest target audience book I’ve reviewed.  The intended age group for this book is 9-12 years old.  I had received the book from the SYNC YA summer downloads, and they rarely let me down, so I figured what the heck, let’s see what happens.  There are times where the prose could target kids up to about 15 years, but for the most part let’s keep it 9-12.

    The story is about what it means to be family.  In this book family doesn’t necessarily mean the family you were born into, but that family is equally important.  Being able to pull off defining family from both and how both are equally important is not an easy task.  This book does and does so in an entertaining and charming way.

    Bee is an orphan (we later find the cause of the loss of her parents and it becomes vital to everyone else in the book) and has escaped her foster parents to explore the lands.  She gets caught trying to steal bed from a baker and instead of punishing her, the baker sees she’s in need of food and helps her out.  He takes her on to be his apprentice to help pay for room and board.  Through her learning to bake it is discovered she has a magical ability to bake emotions into the foods she bake and the person eating the baked good feels what she felt while baking.

    Soon the exquisite baked goods come to the attention of the Mage, who is ruling the land by growing tulips in the absence of the King.  The tulips are the main source of income for the Mage and in making more room to grow more tulips, the Mage has removed all trees from the country.  The Mage is also in charge of the Princess who will gain rule of the kingdom when she comes of age.

    The reader/listener soon learns that the Mage is a very evil man and must be removed.  It comes to Bee and her new found friends to become the Princesses’ rescuers, but not without a fight.

    A fun charming story to share with your kids, and at the end of the book a recipe for buns that you and your children can make together.


    Publisher’s Summary
    Bee is an orphan, alone in a poor, crumbling kingdom. In desperation, she steals a bun from a bakery, and to her surprise, the baker offers her a place at his shop. As she learns to bake, Bee discovers that she has a magical power. When a new friend desperately needs her help against an evil mage, Bee wonders what an orphan girl with only a small bit of magic can do. Bee’s journey to help her friend becomes a journey to save the kingdom, and a discovery of the meaning of family.

  • gilwilson 6:08 PM on August 15, 2018 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , air punk,   

    “Airborn” By Kenneth Oppel 

    By Kenneth Oppel
    Narrated by: David Kelly with a full cast
    Series: Matt Cruse, Book 1
    Length: 10 hrs and 46 mins
    Release date: 08-09-07
    Publisher: Full Cast Audio

    Kenneth Oppel has created an alternative to the Steam Punk genre, for now, I’m gonna call it Air Punk.  This book launches the reader/listener into an alternate universe where Airships (Zeppelins) rule the skies.

    In this story we meet Matt Cruse, a cabin boy on the airship “Aurora.”  Matt serves on the same ship as his father and was actually born on an airship.  The skies are his life.  The story opens with the Aurora, a passenger cruise ship, going off heading to answer a distress call. What they find is a hot air balloon losing altitude and in it a dying man who asks his rescuer, Matt Cruse, if he saw the beautiful creatures.  The man dies leaving these creatures a mystery.

    On the next journey of the Aurora, one of the passengers is Kate DeVries who we soon find out is the granddaughter of the man Matt attempted to rescue.  Kate is determined to find the strange and wondrous discoveries that have been scoffed at by the Academia Elite.

    Meanwhile Matt is up for a promotion to Sailmaker, but the owner of the company places his son in what would have been Matt’s earned position.  While still carrying out his duties as cabin boy with the same fervor, Matt still has some ill feelings toward the rich kid.

    The Aurora is soon boarded by pirates who steal all things of value from the rich passengers and kill one of the crew members.  Once the pirates disembark they damage the Aurora causing it to make an emergency landing on a deserted Island.  Matt and Kate soon discover that the island is the same island her grandfather discovered the strange animals later dubbed as “cloud cats.”  The island not only has plenty of food to keep the passengers and crew fed, but also has a great source of Hydrium, the gas needed to put the Aurora back in the air.

    Matt and Kate explore the island further only to discover that it is the haven for the pirates who attacked.  They get captured and the adventure really gets rolling as they fight off pirates and attempt to rescue all those aboard the Aurora.

    This young adult novel is full of adventure and is written from the point of view of Matt Cruse.  Each chapter ends with the reader/listener not able to stop but only to keep reading/listening.

    Being a full cast production the audiobook becomes an audio adventure that keeps the excitement rolling.


    Publisher’s Summary
    Matt Cruse is a cabin boy on the Aurora, a huge airship that sails hundreds of feet above the ocean, ferrying wealthy passengers from city to city. It is the life Matt’s always wanted; convinced he’s lighter than air, he imagines himself as buoyant as the hydrium gas that powers his ship. One night he meets a dying balloonist who speaks of beautiful creatures drifting through the skies. It is only after Matt meets the balloonist’s granddaughter that he realizes that the man’s ravings may, in fact, have been true, and that the creatures are completely real and utterly mysterious.
    In a swashbuckling adventure reminiscent of Jules Verne and Robert Louis Stevenson, Kenneth Oppel, author of the best-selling Silverwing trilogy, creates an imagined world in which the air is populated by transcontinental voyagers, pirates, and beings never before dreamed of by the humans who sail the skies.

    Listen to the next book: Skybreaker.
    ©2003 Kenneth Oppelale (P)2007 Full Cast Audio

  • gilwilson 6:24 PM on August 14, 2018 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: bruce springsteen, , discography, , the boss   

    Counting down Bruce Springsteen: His 100 Finest Songs by Jim Beviglia 

    20362503Counting down Bruce Springsteen: His 100 Finest Songs
    by Jim Beviglia
    Series: Counting Down
    Hardcover: 220 pages
    Publisher: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers (June 4, 2014)

    As with all of Jim Beviglia’s “Counting Down” books, this one should really be looked at not as a countdown but as an in depth analysis of The Boss’ finest songs.  This time around I pretty much agree with the order of songs, but many won’t.

    What makes this and the other books in his series is Beviglia’s in depth analysis.  He goes into detail on pretty much every aspect of a song.  I would love to browse through his music library, knowing how his detailed listening must require a huge library.   Beviglia discusses the musical arrangements, the lyrics, the history of the artist, and most of all how well the song tells a story.

    I’ve always loved Springsteen’s music up until 1980’s “The River,” and kinda just stopped listening to him through the 80s.  This book not only gave me a deeper appreciation of his later work, but actually made me go out and buy some “newer” Springsteen albums.  On top of that, I’m working on rebuilding my vinyl library and have definitely added to my “to be purchased” list several of Bruce’s albums.

    The reading of this book was slow going, but that was entirely my fault because once I’d read Jim Beviglia’s analysis I would have to listen to the song I had just read about.  This created a depth of reading that became a completely submersive experience into the Springsteen library.

    I now have to go and find copies of Beviglia’s Tom Petty and Elvis Costello books.  If Mr. Beviglia ever reads this I hope he’ll take into consideration some of my favorite artists:  Grateful Dead, Led Zeppelin, Rush, and heck even some Black Sabbath.

    If you are a classic rock or Bruce Springsteen fan this book absolutely, without a question needs to be in your library and read in whole, or just as you listen to the works of Springsteen.

    Thanks to Jim Beviglia, I have a newfound appreciation for all of the Boss’ works.


    Publisher’s Summary

    For 40 years, Bruce Springsteen has held center stage as the quintessential American rock and roll artist, expressing the hopes and dreams of the American everyman and every woman through his vast array of insightful and inspirational songs. In Counting Down Bruce Springsteen: His 100 Finest Songs, rock writer Jim Beviglia dares to rank his finest songs in descending order from the 100th to his no. 1 greatest song.

    In this unique book, Beviglia reflects not only on why each song has earned its place on list but lays out the story behind each of the 100, supplying fresh insights on the musical and lyrical content of Springsteen’s remarkable body of work. Counting Down Bruce Springsteen brings together critical historical and biographical information to explain the making and importance of each song to its listeners, painting a fascinating portrait of Springsteen as a major American songwriter and consummate recording artist.

    Counting Down Bruce Springsteen is the perfect playlist builder, whether it is for the diehard fan or the newbie just getting acquainted with the work of the Boss!

  • gilwilson 6:13 PM on August 13, 2018 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: clinton, democrat, hilary, , republican,   

    “Insane Clown President” By Matt Taibbi 

    33895023“Insane Clown President”
    By Matt Taibbi
    Narrated by: Rob Shapiro
    Length: 9 hrs and 19 mins
    Release date: 01-17-17
    Publisher: Random House Audio

    Don’t let the title fool you, this book is not a Trump bashing romp, rather it is a horrid look at the way American politics has been on track to becoming a freak show/travelling circus since back to the Clinton presidency and election process back in 1992.  Whether you are down with the clown or not this book should be on your reading/listening list for, if nothing, else as a warning for how politics do not have the common man in mind.  The circus that was the 2016 campaign (for Democrats as well as Republicans) was nothing but a clown car on tour or even better, sticking with the book’s title, more of the circus that is the tour of the Gatherings of the Insane Clown Posse’s fans, the Juggalos.

    This book highlights the battles within the Republican Party and the fall of both parties through the years to actually fight for the interests of the people and making the campaigns all about who can yell the loudest.   Many points are made where the candidate will say or do something, like mocking a disabled reporter, and then deny it happened.  Even though the event is on recorded via video.  It’s amazing how quickly the public will respond to soundbites and not facts.

    If you are planning on voting in the next election cycle, use this as your prep material to weed out what needs to be weeded out.  While many supporters from both sides will argue against the facts pointed out, they should first look at the source material and then realize, that the job of the media is to present facts.

    Rob Shapiro is a standout narrator for this book and definitely keeps an already crazy book even more interesting.

    Publisher’s Summary
    Dispatches from the 2016 election that provide an eerily prescient take on our democracy’s uncertain future, by the country’s most perceptive and fearless political journalist.

    The 2016 presidential contest as told by Matt Taibbi, from its tragicomic beginnings to its apocalyptic conclusion, is in fact the story of Western civilization’s very own train wreck. Years before the clown car of candidates was fully loaded, Taibbi grasped the essential themes of the story: the power of spectacle over substance or even truth; the absence of a shared reality; the nihilistic rebellion of the white working class; the death of the political establishment; and the emergence of a new explicit form of white nationalism that would destroy what was left of the Kingian dream of a successful pluralistic society.

    Taibbi captures, with dead-on, real-time analysis, the failures of the right and the left, from the thwarted Bernie Sanders insurgency to the flawed and aimless Hillary Clinton campaign; the rise of the “dangerously bright” alt-right with its wall-loving identity politics and its rapturous view of the racial “holy war” to come; and the giant fail of a flailing, reactive political media that fed a ravenous news cycle not with reporting on political ideology but with undigested propaganda served straight from the campaign bubble. At the center of it all stands Donald J. Trump, leading a historic revolt against his own party, “bloviating and farting his way” through the campaign, “saying outrageous things, acting like Hitler one minute and Andrew Dice Clay the next.” For Taibbi, the stunning rise of Trump marks the apotheosis of the new postfactual movement.

    Taibbi frames the reporting with original essays that explore the seismic shift in how we perceive our national institutions, the democratic process, and the future of the country. Insane Clown President is not just a postmortem on the collapse and failure of American democracy. It offers the riveting, surreal, unique, and essential experience of seeing the future in hindsight.

    ©2017 Matt Taibbi (P)2017 Random House Audio

  • gilwilson 6:38 PM on August 2, 2018 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: accelerators, , , gavin smith, indiana toy and comic expo, nerdup podcast, ,   

    The Accelerators Volume #03: Relativity  by R.F.I. Porto (Author), Gavin Smith (Illustrator), Tim Yates (Illustrator), Thomas Mumme (Editor) 

    31499159The Accelerators Volume #03: Relativity
    by R.F.I. Porto (Author), Gavin Smith (Illustrator), Tim Yates (Illustrator), Thomas Mumme (Editor)
    Length: 125 pages
    Publisher: Blue Juice Comics (November 29, 2016)
    combines Issues 11-15 of THE ACCELERATORS

    I first heard about this comic series from a podcast as the series was being created.  The podcast featured Mike & Ming from Jay & Silent Bob’s Secret Stash (the comic book store in New Jersey owned by Kevin Smith).  One of the creators worked on their series, “Comic Book Men” on AMC.  As I listened I got to hear the entire process from scripting to discovering the artists.  Being a regular at area ComiCons, I sought out the books.

    I met up with artist Gavin Smith at IndyPopCon and had the chance to interview him for my own podcast (The NerdUp Podcast).   As I interviewed him he was working on a commission for a con attendee, and I was just fascinated by watching his process.  I purchased the first two trade paperbacks, after I read them I was hooked. I so love this comic book series. Time travel with paradoxes & condundrums galore. The art is just plain beautiful and imaginative. The storyline just propels the reader through space time with a sense of adventure and wonder.

    At first in the series, what seems like a random group of people are thrown into time travel from a mysterious object shaped like a doughnut.  This volume finds our heroes scattered through time with one group in the mythical 88th century, there they find an older version of one of the travelers and things seem to have more of a plan than originally conceived.

    It’s hard to really explain in this series, especially once this volume is read. Just trust me and go out and get your own copies.  Now I’m anxiously waiting for volume 4.  I should be able to pick it up at the Indiana Toy & Comic Expo in Bloomington this year.

    Publisher’s Review
    What if the time machines could only go forward, never backward?
    What if each new future was worse than the last one?
    What if the only escape was to leap forward again?
    Welcome to the The Accelerators, a nonstop sci-fi adventure about a group of ragtag time travelers lost in the future, searching for a way home.
    At the center of the story is Spatz, a teenage time refugee who thinks he’s been caught up in this time turmoil by accident. Little by little, future by future, Spatz realizes that in fact he is the source of it all this chaos, and maybe also the salvation.
Our heroes have been scattered across the timeline, and must find a way to reunite.
    Spatz has been stranded in a distant future controlled by an insane gang of Time Criminals, with no chance of escape. Meanwhile, the rest of the group arrives at the mythical 88th Century, where they meet an older version of Spatz, who seems to have gone completely insane. How many Spatzes are there, and what do they really want?
    This acclaimed series features time-warping artwork by Gavin Smith (Human City) and electrifying colors by Tim Yates (Anne Bonnie), with a story by creator and screenwriter R.F.I. Porto. This volume collects The Accelerators #11-15.

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