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  • gilwilson 3:34 PM on January 19, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , americana, hitchhiking, john waters,   

    “Carsick: John Waters Hitchhikes Across America” By John Waters 

    18594483Carsick: John Waters Hitchhikes Across America
    By John Waters
    Narrated by: John Waters
    Length: 8 hrs and 8 mins
    Release date: 06-03-14
    Publisher: Macmillan Audio

    We’ll start this out by me confessing that I’m a fan of John Waters.  Now when I say that I mean the films he’s directed and/or written.  I was first introduced to his work through 3 of his movies.  A friend told me I would love these films, since they knew I was an indie-film fan.  Those 3 movies were: “Cry Baby,” “Serial Mom,” (my favorite) and “Hairspray” (the original 1988 version).  They were off the beaten path and were dark and fun.  I later tried to watch some of his 70s films with Devine (i.e. “Pink Flamingos,” “Female Troubles”) but they were a bit out there for me (and that’s saying alot).  So when I got wind of this book, I just had to give it a listen.

    Narrated by the author makes this book priceless, only John Waters can do John Waters, but what makes it extremely interesting is that it is basically 2 novellas and a memoir in one audiobook.  Waters goes across country and experiences America in a way only John Waters can.   What is funny is that I was not aware for some reason that it was 3 separate parts.  The first section is his journey written as if only the best things happen as he hitchhikes across the USA.  The second section is if only the worst things would happen and finally the last section is the actual events on his trek across the country.

    Not being aware of the 3 sections, I was listening to his story unfold in section one and thinking, “Wow, how cool is that?”  Basically, he gets picked up by a drug dealer on his first ride and the drug dealer gives him a million dollars to fund his latest film.  I thought this has got to be the luckiest guy in the world.  Yeah there were times I was doubting the reality of his tale, but he told it with such feeling that I bought it.  Then when section two starts and we are starting over and he says that was the best case here’s the worst, I felt ripped off.  That feeling soon passed because I realized  he’s a master story teller and that’s exactly what I want.

    When I recommend this to friends and family and they listen to it or read it, I’m quick to ask what their favorite part was.  It is all good, but the bad part get’s really bad and dark.  The real life experience is not boring by any means, but it was nice to have the best and worst as comparisons.

    Have fun with this book,  but before you start make sure you are familiar with John Waters so you don’t get too surprised.

    Publisher’s Summary

    A cross-country hitchhiking journey with America’s most beloved weirdo.

    John Waters is putting his life on the line. Armed with wit, a pencil-thin mustache, and a cardboard sign that reads “I’m Not Psycho”, he hitchhikes across America from Baltimore to San Francisco, braving lonely roads and treacherous drivers. But who should we be more worried about, the delicate film director with genteel manners or the unsuspecting travelers transporting the Pope of Trash?

    Before he leaves for this bizarre adventure, Waters fantasizes about the best and worst possible scenarios: A friendly drug dealer hands over piles of cash to finance films with no questions asked, a demolition-derby driver makes a filthy sexual request in the middle of a race, a gun-toting drunk terrorizes and holds him hostage, and a Kansas vice squad entraps and throws him in jail. So what really happens when this cult legend sticks out his thumb and faces the open road? His real-life rides include a gentle 81-year-old farmer who is convinced Waters is a hobo, an indie band on tour, and the perverse filmmaker’s unexpected hero: A young, sandy-haired Republican in a Corvette.

    Laced with subversive humor and warm intelligence, Carsick is an unforgettable vacation with a wickedly funny companion – and a celebration of America’s weird, astonishing, and generous citizenry.

    ©2014 John Waters (P)2014 Macmillan Audio
  • gilwilson 3:59 PM on January 18, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , maine, white privilege   

    “Vacationland: True Stories from Painful Beaches” By John Hodgman 

    True Stories from Painful Beaches
    By John Hodgman
    Narrated by: John Hodgman
    Length: 5 hrs and 23 mins
    Release date: 10-24-17
    Publisher: Penguin Audio

    I, as with maybe many of you, was introduced to John Hodgman on those Mac vs. PC commercials where Justin Long was a Mac and John Hodgman was a PC.  They were humorous and didn’t make me want to buy a Mac, but they tried.  Maybe because I was more of a fan of the somewhat dry humor of the PC.  Later Hodgman was a regular on “The Daily Show” with Jon Stewart.  That’s when I loved Hodgman’s “White Privilege Humor.”

    I knew Hodgman had written some books, but for some reason those books never ended up in my hands.  Well this time I had to make sure this one got consumed.  It was was worth the wait.

    I am pretty sure I’m safe in saying this, but John Hodgman’s wit and commentary can be appreciated and enjoyed by anybody.  In fact, the humor lies in the fact that this, or something like it, has happened to everyone.  Hodgman takes us on a tour of his life, making this book almost an autobiography, and ending up in Maine, Vacationland.

    We learn about;  his speaking at a Mark Twain Day event at some unnamed school, even though he hasn’t read Mark Twain, and is only being used to make a colleague jealous, how tourism in Maine is dark and dismal, how he accidentally bought a boat (as we all have done), his getting high with a musician friend and making cairns, and hanging out with the lead singer of the Pixies.

    The many adventures are presented in a way that you may laugh or just smile but at the same time you may accidentally feel sorry for him.  Either way all the stories are great adventures.  I am so glad this audiobook was read by the author, only he could have delivered the stories with the correct inflections and feelings.

    Publisher’s Summary

    John Hodgman – New York Times best-selling author, semifamous personality, deranged millionaire, increasingly elderly husband, father, and human of Earth – has written a memoir about his cursed travels through two wildernesses: from the woods of his home in Massachusetts, birthplace of rage, to his exile on the coast of Maine, so-called Vacationland, home to the most painful beaches on Earth.

    Vacationland is also about Hodgman’s wandering in the metaphoric wilderness of his 40s, those years when dudes especially must painfully stop pretending to be the children of bright potential they were and settle into the failing bodies of the wiser, weirder dads that they are.

    Other subjects covered include the horror of freshwater clams, the evolutionary purpose of the mustache, which animals to keep as pets and which to kill with traps and poison, and advice on how to react when the people of coastal Maine try to sacrifice you to their strange god.

    After three best-selling books of fake facts, Hodgman is finally ready to tell the truth – in the same outlandish, audacious, and inimitable style that has won him fans in every medium he has worked: books, stage, social media, television, and movies.

    ©2017 John Hodgman (P)2017 Penguin Audio
  • gilwilson 3:31 PM on January 17, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: art garfunkel, existentialism, hippie, , poet, poetry, prose, simon and garfunkel   

    “What Is It All but Luminous Notes from an Underground Man” By Art Garfunkel 

    33931219What Is It All but Luminous
    Notes from an Underground Man
    By: Art Garfunkel
    Narrated by: Art Garfunkel
    Length: 5 hrs and 8 mins
    Release date: 09-26-17
    Publisher: Random House Audio

    Every so often I have to go through a phase of musician biographies and autobiographies.  This time around I picked up the audiobook of Art Garfunkel’s “What is it all but Luminous…”  I wasn’t sure what to expect, but I did know I liked Simon & Garfunkel.  One of my first LPs I ever heard was “Parsley, Sage, Rosemary, & Thyme,” it was in my dad’s record collection and I loved the cut “7 O’Clock News/Silent Night.” The sound of the news under the harmonies of Simon & Garfunkel singing “Silent Night” was beautiful yet haunting.  In fact this was the first song I can recall that made my hairs stand on end.

    I later in life followed the career of Paul Simon and loved every one of his albums.  For me Garfunkel kind of just faded away.  I guess he was like the Aquaman of musicians.  (my nerdy readers will get that reference)

    So what did I expect to hear in this?  I’m not really sure. Maybe I was just curious as to what I missed.  Whatever I expected it was not this book.  Being an audiobook read by the author I knew I would be getting it from the horse’s mouth.

    Art Garfunkel not only has a great singing voice, but he also is a bit of a hippie and poet.  I was a bit annoyed by some of this book.   What annoyed me?  Well at times I would just shake it off as him being a pretentious hippie poet.  For example, at the beginning of every single chapter (except chapter 9 for some reason) he would say “Chapter XX or whatever you call them.”  Why?  It was annoying….if you don’t know what to call them then don’t, or if you are such an existentialist that chapters are a composition of the mind don’t call them chapters.  Many books just start a new section without numbers.  Jeez, that was annoying.  But I got over that after about 7 chapters or so and just listened to the content.

    Basically this book is a recap of the author’s life in prose and many times poetry form.  Some of the poetry was a bit “out there” for my taste but I worked through it.  All in all it was still somewhat entertaining, a nice view of his career and life, and finally some of the poetry was quite fun.

    So would I recommend it?  Yes, but only to a select few and with a bit of a warning. Something along the lines of :  “Warning: what you are about to read/hear is the collections of a very artistic mind, the views and opinions expressed may be a bit wordy or over the top in the use of synonyms, but you will be able to pick out a few shiny gems of pure art, while learning about a musician’s life.”

    Publisher’s Summary

    From the golden-haired, curly-headed half of Simon & Garfunkel – a memoir (of sorts): artful, moving, lyrical; the making of a musician; the evolution of a man, a portrait of a lifelong friendship and collaboration that became one of the most successful singing duos of their time.

    Art Garfunkel writes about his life before, during, and after Simon & Garfunkel…about their folk-rock music in the roiling age that embraced and was defined by their path-breaking sound. He writes about growing up in the 1940s and ’50s (son of a traveling salesman), a middle class Jewish boy, living in a red brick semi-attached house in Kew Gardens, Queens, a kid who was different – from the age of five feeling his vocal cords “vibrating with the love of sound”…meeting Paul Simon in school, the funny guy who made Art laugh; their going on to junior high school together, of being 12 at the birth of rock ‘n’ roll, both of them “captured” by it; going to a recording studio in Manhattan to make a demo of their song “Hey Schoolgirl” (for $7!) and the actual record (with Paul’s father on bass) going to number 40 on the national charts, selling 150,000 copies….

    He writes about their becoming Simon & Garfunkel, taking the world by storm, ruling the pop charts from the time he was 16, about not being a natural performer but more a thinker…touring; sex-for-thrills on the road, reading or walking to calm down (walking across two continents – the USA and Europe). He writes of being an actor working with directors Nicolas Roeg (Bad Timing) and Mike Nichols (“the greatest of them all”)…getting his master’s in mathematics at Columbia; choosing music over a PhD; his slow, unfolding split with Paul and its aftermath; learning to perform on his own, giving a thousand concerts worldwide, his voice going south (a stiffening of one vocal cord) and working to get it back…about being a husband, a father, and much more.

    ©2017 Art Garfunkel (P)2017 Random House Audio
  • gilwilson 2:58 PM on January 16, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: david bowie, drummer,   

    “Spider from Mars: My Life with Bowie” by Woody Woodmansey 

    29772867Spider from Mars: My Life with Bowie
    by Woody Woodmansey
    320 pages
    Published January 3rd 2017 by St. Martin’s Press

    The radio station I work for gave copies of this book away on the air when it was released and I kept wanting to read the book.  Problem was the promotion happens first and all copies were given away on the air.  So eventually I forgot about the book and it slipped from my mind.  A few months ago we were going through the infamous radio station “prize closet” cleaning out and seeing what could still be packaged up and given to listeners.  For some reason there was a solitary copy of the book sitting in the back of the shelves.  I immediately grabbed and said, “hold on to this I want to read this.”

    Being a huge Bowie fan (but then again, who isn’t) I wanted some more insight into the world of Bowie.  The career of Woody Woodmansey covered covers my favorite (and probably many others) era of Bowie’s career.  Woody was one of the Spiders from Mars, this means he was with Bowie during the early 70s on the albums from “The Man Who Sold the World” (1970) through to the album, “Alladin Sane” (1973).  These are some of the best (in my humble opinion) albums of Bowie’s career.

    The book first starts with Woody’s stunted educational career, where his drums soon took over and school was less important.  The tales of how he was somewhat shunned by his parents and living at the top of the stairs in Bowie’s house created a great view into what a true starving artist’s life is like.

    Soon the glam rock era was in full force and the Spiders were having to deal with fame, drugs, and being on the road.  The musicians were creating new music but their individual personal lives were creating little hiccups in their careers that soon led to the demise of the Spiders.  Woody Woodmansey tells these stories in such a candid/casual way that, as the reader, you feel as if you and Woody are just sitting in his living room or at the neighborhood pub and he’s just telling stories.  This makes the book a very fast and easy read.  Fast because you just have to know what happens next, and easy because the flow and structure of the stories are matter of fact with no extra fluff.

    The book also covers the rest of Woody’s career to working with various artists through the years, including Art Garfunkel, all the way to various tributes to Mick Ronson and David Bowie leading up to him being the only surviving Spider.  Woody still tours with his band Holy Holy which is somewhat of a Bowie tribute band.

    Although this book has no big reveals or shocking secrets, it is a nice glimpse into the early 70s music scene.


  • gilwilson 6:17 PM on January 9, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: ,   

    “Typhoon Fury” By Clive Cussler, Boyd Morrison 

    34408710Typhoon Fury
    By: Clive Cussler, Boyd Morrison
    Narrated by: Scott Brick
    Series: Oregon Files, Book 12
    Length: 12 hrs and 10 mins
    Release date: 11-07-17
    Publisher: Penguin Audio

    If you have never read a Clive Cussler novel, and you like action with a bit of a spy novel,  do yourself a favor and pick one up.  I’d highly recommend one in the NUMA files, Fargo, Dirk Pitt or this,  the Oregon files series.

    The Oregon is a ship run by “The Corporation” which is somewhat of a mercenary branch of the government.  From the outside the ship looks like a run-down merchant ship that could fall apart during the next storm.  On the inside, however, the latest weapons and surveillance equipment are run by a crack team that is ready for any adventure.

    In this case a super serum drug called “Typhoon” was designed to turn soldiers into super-soldiers. (Think Captain America.)  The problem is that this drug was designed by the Japanese and lost to the ages when the Philippines Islands were freed from Japan tyranny in WWII by the U.S.  A Philippine nationalist who believes the country should be under Communist rule has discovered a cache of the drug creating his own army of super-soldiers to take over the country.

    Creating even more of a problem tracking down these super-soldiers is even harder with an approaching category 5 typhoon storm is approaching the Philippines and threatens to hinder the search and the lives of the crew of the Oregon.

    The narrator, Scott Brick, does a great job as always.  I am a huge Scott Brick fan so I will not bother with with my flying the Scott Brick petard.  But he is great!

    Publisher’s Summary

    Juan Cabrillo and the crew of the Oregon sail into a perfect storm of danger to try to stop a new world war, in a thrilling suspense novel from the number one New York Times best-selling grand master of adventure.

    Hired to search for a collection of paintings worth half a billion dollars, Juan Cabrillo and the crew of the Oregon soon find themselves in much deeper waters. Not only is the vicious leader of a Filipino insurgency using them to finance his attacks, but he has stumbled upon one of the most lethal secrets of World War II – a Japanese-developed drug, designed, but never used, to turn soldiers into superwarriors. To stop him, the Oregon must take on not only the rebel commander but a South African mercenary intent on getting his own hands on the drug, a massive swarm of torpedo drones targeting the US Navy, an approaching megastorm – and, just possibly, a war that could envelop the entire Asian continent.

    ©2017 Clive Cussler and Boyd Morrison (P)2017 Penguin Audio
  • gilwilson 4:22 PM on January 8, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: clockwork, , , , , terminator   

    “The Clockwork Dynasty” By Daniel H. Wilson 

    32670125The Clockwork Dynasty
    By: Daniel H. Wilson
    Narrated by: David Giuntoli, Claire Coffee
    Length: 10 hrs and 45 mins
    Release date: 08-01-17
    Publisher: Random House Audio

    Take a little bit of Steampunk, mix it in with some mythology, maybe a hint of the Terminator, then take out the steam and use clockwork and you have yourself a new form of sci-fi created by Daniel H. Wilson in “The Clockwork Dynasty.”  Okay, I’m not 100% sure he created this new genre, but, until listening to this audiobook, I had never heard of the premise.

    The story jumps back and forth between present day and the 18th century telling the tale of a “race” of beings created to maybe help mankind.  I say maybe because some of the even further past events that are visited to me seem a little blurred.  I’m hoping this is because Wilson is planning on writing more books in this world he has created.  Each Automaton has a word which guides their actions and even creates some of their personality.  That word is built into their animus that serves as their soul.

    June, a scientist specializing in ancient technology carries an animus with her that her grandfather found after being saved by an automaton on the battlefield in Russia.  While working on a 300 year old doll June soon discovers the underground world and war between the automatons.  She is soon swept into the this world with Peter who once served the Czar.

    The narrators swap chapters depending on what time the action is taking place.  Claire Coffee narrates the modern day events while David Giuntoli narrates the past events and the life of Peter.  The two create a time travel experience through the different voices so the listener is never lost as to when is being discussed.

    Closing out this review, I have to say that the action in this book ranges from robotic sword fights, to a “Come-with-me-if-you-want-to-live” action sequence that makes this book a great adventure.  After rolling through this book and feeling like I had been on the adventure with the two main characters, I had to look more into the world of the author Daniel H. Wilson.

    What first attracted me to the book was the author.  I had read some of his robot books before (e.g. Robogenesis) and knew they were full of adventure.  But what I found out this time around was that he holds a PhD in Robotics from Carnegie Mellon University, as well as Masters degrees in Artificial Intelligence and Robotics.  Now that’s pretty serious background work.


    Publisher’s Summary

    An epic, ingenious new thriller from the New York Times best-selling author of RobopocalypseThe Clockwork Dynasty weaves a riveting path through history and a race of humanlike machines that have been hiding among us for untold centuries.

    In the rugged landscape of Eastern Oregon, a young scientist named June uncovers an exquisite artifact – a 300-year-old mechanical doll whose existence seems to validate her obsession with a harrowing story she was told by her grandfather many years earlier. The mechanical doll, June believes, is proof of a living race of automatons that walk undetected among us to this day. Ingeniously hidden inside the ancient doll is a lost message addressed to the court of Peter the Great, czar of Russia.

    Russia, 1725: Peter and Elena, two humanlike mechanical beings, are brought to life under the watchful guise of Peter the Great. Their struggle to serve in the court of the czar while blending in and to survive amid those who fear and wish to annihilate them will take Peter and Elena across Russia, Europe, and, ultimately, the centuries, to the modern day.

    The Clockwork Dynasty is Daniel H. Wilson’s masterful new novel. It seamlessly interweaves past and present, exploring a race of beings that live by different principles from humans but ultimately value loyalty. As June learns more about these beings, she is quickly drawn into a fierce battle that has spanned the centuries and will ultimately determine the survival or extermination of this ancient race. Richly drawn and heart pounding, Wilson’s novel expertly draws on his robotics and science background, combining exquisite characters with breathtaking technology – and unmatched action. The Clockwork Dynasty is a riveting breakout novel.

    ©2017 Daniel H. Wilson (P)2017 Random House Audio
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