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  • gilwilson 6:24 PM on August 14, 2018 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: bruce springsteen, , discography, non-fiction, 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 5:49 PM on February 23, 2014 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , , bunny wailer, don't look back, , mick jagger, non-fiction, peter tosh, , , the wailers   

    Audiobook Review:“Steppin’ Razor, the Life of Peter Tosh” By John Masouri 


    Audiobook Review:“Steppin’ Razor, the Life of Peter Tosh”
    By John Masouri
    Read by Cary Hite
    Produced by Buck 50 Productions
    Published by Blackstone Audio23.8 hours

    I have been reading and listening to a slew of musician biographies and autobiographies lately and have been learning a lot about my favorite bands and musicians. This time around I listened to the audiobook version of “Steppin’ Razor…” I had heard of Peter Tosh as an original member of The Wailers and loved his version of “Don’t Look Back” with Mick Jagger, but that was pretty much the extent of my knowledge of who, thanks to this book have come to know as the militant mystic man of Reggae.

    John Masouri has taken various accounts of the life of Peter Tosh told by those that knew him, such as fellow musicians, friends and family members. He also takes various accounts and anecdotes from music columnists, reviewers and professionals from all aspects of music. What comes about is a detailed, non-biased account of the life of Peter Tosh. How you view Tosh, whether being a militant Reggae music representative or a peaceful purveyor of the legalization of marijuana depends on what section of the book you are reading at the time. Tosh was a multi-layered man that had many deep seated beliefs in his religious views and in human rights and his music was a direct reflection of those beliefs.

    As a founding member of “The Wailers,” Peter Tosh, a self taught guitarist, he inspired the other members to pick up instruments and learn to play. Bob Marley had the voice but later, thanks to Tosh, learned to play guitar and make The Wailers the successful reggae music diplomats they are known as. Tosh’s leaving The Wailers has been attributed to his attitude toward the band’s representation of Rastafari, the religion of many reggae stars, to his change of personality after a car wreck in which he was severely injured and his girlfriend was killed. This book presents all sides of the Tosh’s departure from the Wailers and allows for the reader/listener to draw his own conclusions.

    The book also follows how Tosh’s fame received a boost by recording the Temptations’ song, “Don’t Look Back,” with Mick Jagger. Tosh seemed be be the Reggae artist which the Rolling Stones wanted to take under their wing and expose the world to the island music. Eric Clapton had recorded Bob Marley’s “I Shot the Sheriff” and brought a little exposure, but Mick and Kieth (Richards) of the Rolling Stones fell in love with Reggae, especially Peter Tosh, and thought the genre deserved world attention. The problem is that Tosh had firm beliefs in the Rastafari religion that would sometimes stand in the way of his fame.

    Whether it is lighting up his spliff’s live onstage or on an airline flight from the United States, Peter Tosh was a major diplomat in the representation of legalizing “the herb.” One of his many stances which is referred to is his schpiel on the stage of the “One Love Peace Concert” in 1978, in which he lambasts the Jamaican authorities on the lack of action in the legalization of marijuana. This lead to his being arrested and beaten severely by Jamaican authorities a week later.

    Peter Tosh led a very controversial life whether being militant about human rights, pushing the legalization of marijuana, or just bringing to the public the genre of Reggae music. This book covers all of the controversy surrounding Tosh and allows for the reader/listener to draw their own conclusions.

    This audiobook was full of information and presented in a non-biased manner that made me want to discover more about Peter Tosh and Reggae in general. I do have one problem with the book and that is with the narrator, Cari Hite. Hite was able to represent all of the Jamaican subjects of the book by reading in different voices, and applying a Jamaican accent. This made the book easy to understand where the anecdote was coming from. The problem lies in that as the book progresses and other accents are needed he tries to read their voices in their accents. Most of the non-Jamaican accents are very stereotypical, especially those of the female voices. It made those segments very difficult to hear. Several times I wanted to just stop listening to the audiobook because it was discordant to the information presented. Had I not been interested in the subject matter I would have stopped listening several times in the book. Especially when famous music columnist, Lester Bangs’, segment was read with a Jamaican accent. Lester is far from Jamaican.

    I highly recommend this book, but not the audiobook format.

  • gilwilson 3:34 PM on January 16, 2014 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: andrew scott, , , non-fiction, , , , , ,   

    Audiobook Review: “The Wonderful Story of Henry Sugar and Six More” 

    henry sugar

    Audiobook Review: “The Wonderful Story of Henry Sugar and Six More”
    by Roald Dahl
    read by Andrew Scott
    Published by Penguin Audio
    Approx. 7 hours

    Penguin Audio has recently released the works of Roald Dahl, the man who brought us “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory,” and I have the pleasure of getting all these audiobooks for review. I immediately jumped in with “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory” and “Charlie and the Great Glass Elevator” and really didn’t know which book to listen to next. It was great reliving my childhood and being entertained as an adult with these fantastically funny and whimsical stories.

    I decided to just randomly choose my next Roald Dahl audio choice and this is the one I came up with. This audiobook came as a complete surprise. The stories in this collection are much different from the Roald Dahl stories I was used to. This collection is a combination of fiction and non-fiction stories each one was unique and while most were poignant they each revealed a little bit of humanity as the story progressed and unfolded. Not knowing any of the stories beforehand made for a very pleasant surprise as the end of each story was reached. Sometimes there was that bit of tear in my eye and sometimes there was a hopefulness for all of humanity.

    This is definitely a collection to grab for the older fans of Roald Dahl. A couple of the stories are autobiographical in nature and as the listener you will discover a little more about the man that told such great children’s stories. The narrator in this collection did a superb job in presenting each story and giving each story their own unique ambiance through his vocal presentation.


    Next, I will briefly summarize each story to give you a hint as to what you can expect.


    “The Boy Who Talked with Animals”

    This story is told from the point of view of someone on vacation in Jamaica. One night a huge sea turtle is being brought on the shore by some fishermen. All the people on the beach are enthralled by the massive beast and many talk about the ways the turtle could bring in money, some of the enterprising vacationers offer money for the turtle. All offers are turned down because the hotel owner has already paid for the turtle to make turtle soup. The vacationers are then talking about how great dinner will be. A young boy steps in and calls everyone horrible and cruel. The boy loves animals and even talks with them according to his parents. The boy’s father pays off the fishermen and the hotel manager and the turtle is set free. But that is not the end of the story. The next day the boy is missing and only when the fishermen return from sea can the story find a very heartwarming ending.


    “The Hitch-hiker”

    I found this story very intriguing. The beginning is not clear where the story will go but by the end it is quite humorous. The story is told from the point of view of a man who has a brand new BMW 3.3 LI. He is enjoying a drive down the highway and stops to pick up a “rat-like” hitch-hiker with long fingers. They begin talking and eventually talk about the car and the hitch-hiker talks the man into pushing the car to it’s limits. They get the speed up faster and faster until a police officer on a motorcycle comes up from behind. The driver is given a ticket and even threatens the driver with prison time. After receiving the ticket the driver becomes quiet. The hitch-hiker then tries to cheer him up by making him guess his profession. Once the driver starts to guess the story becomes funny and even with a little twist to the end of the tale.


    “The Mildenhall Treasure”

    This story is the first non-fiction in the collection and tells of a plowman who is plowing a field in England during WWII for a local farmer. The plowman, Gordon Butcher, hits a hard spot in the field and the plow becomes disconnected from the tractor. Wanting to get the field plowed before the snow hits he rushes back to try and clear the plow. What he discovers is a large metal plate. The area is well known for it’s buried Roman Treasures. When he tells the farmer, the farmer proceeds to uncover the treasure which is a collection of silver dinnerware, later discovered to be worth millions. The farmer moves all of the treasure to his home where he cleans the silver and keeps it for himself. The catch is that the United Kingdom has a law that buried treasures must be reported and become property of the country, (compensating the discoverer, of course). The farmer hides the treasure and keeps it to himself until a visiting historian sees one of the silver spoons accidentally left out. This may be a bit of a spoiler but the treasure now sits in the national museum, but the events that lead to getting the treasure in the proper hands make this story intriguing.


    “The Swan”

    Break out the tissue for this one. Peter Watson loves nature and birds, when bullies Ernie and Raymond set off to kill some rabbits with the new gun Ernie received for his birthday, they run into Peter. Peter has always been the target of the two bullies and this day just became his worse day ever. Holding Peter at gunpoint the bullies tie him to the middle of a railroad track. They tie him down between the rails so that he narrowly escapes death as the train rolls by and Peter barely fits under the passing train. They then march Peter to a nature sanctuary and shoot a swan. This brings Peter to tears to see such a beautiful creature shut down. The bullies send him over to retrieve the swan. This is when Peter discovers the unhatched eggs. To further Peter’s humiliation, Ernie says he can bring the swan to life and cuts off the wings and straps them to Peter. The events that follow present a little hope to anyone being bullied.


    “The Wonderful Story of Henry Sugar”

    Henry Sugar is an extremely wealthy man who loves gambling. While visiting with a doctor friend he discovers a medical report about a man who could see without using his eyes. This man studied with a Yogi until he developed the ability. Henry Sugar sees this as a way to guarantee winning at numerous casinos. The catch is the process of learning this ability requires strict mind and body training. The training, while successful, changes Henry in many ways and soon he looks at life from a different viewpoint.


    “Lucky Break”

    This is a non-fictional account which discusses the events in his life that led to Roald Dahl becoming a writer, including a meeting with a famous writer, who helped to launch his career. The story is about Dahl’s school and all the teachers, up until after the publication of his first story.


    “A Piece of Cake”

    This final story is another non-fiction story which is autobiographical in nature. This one covers Dahl’s time as a fighter pilot in World War II, and details how Dahl was injured and eventually forced to leave the Mediterranean arena. The original version of the story was written for C. S. Forester so that he could get the gist of Dahl’s story and rewrite it in his own words. However, Forester was so impressed by the story (Dahl at the time did not believe himself to be anything approaching an accomplished writer) that he sent it straight off to his agent who had it published (as “Shot Down Over Libya”) in the Saturday Evening Post, thereby kick-starting Dahl’s writing career.


    A great collection of some of Roald Dahl’s lesser known works, that will give you a little more insight of the famous children’s author.


  • gilwilson 1:59 PM on July 10, 2013 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: analysis, , , ender wiggins, , marines, non-fiction, , , USMC   

    Audiobook Review: “Ender’s World: Fresh Perspectives on the SF Classic ‘Ender’s Game’” Edited by Orson Scott Card 


    “Ender’s World: Fresh Perspectives on the SF Classic ‘Ender’s Game’”

    Edited by Orson Scott Card

    Various Readers

    Published by Blackstone Audio, Inc

    Length: 7 hours and 46 minutes

    Originally published as a novel in 1985 (before that, in 1977, it was a short story), Orson Scott Card’s sci-fi military novel has found a place in many sci-fi fans hearts.  This novel has also found a place in military training.  The U.S. Marine Corps Professional Reading List makes the novel recommended reading at several lower ranks, and again at Officer Candidate/Midshipman.   The book provides useful allegories to explain why militaries do what they do in a particularly effective shorthand way.

    This book, “Ender’s World..,” is a study into the world created by Card and how it has affected the many who have read it.  This book contains essays from “Burn Notice” creator Matt Nix, “Ender’s Game”  prequel series co-author Aaron Johnston, bestselling author Neal Shusterman and more. The entire book was edited by Orson Scott Card himself and contains sections between every essay that Card spends answering fan questions about the series in length and detail.

    With many centers of education, from public schools to the Marine Corps, listing “Ender’s Game” as suggested reading one has to wonder why.  I know I enjoyed the book immensely and especially with the somewhat surprise ending, but what makes this book a phenomenon?  “Ender’s World…” takes the story and the author and places them both under a microscope to find out what went into the creation of Ender Wiggins and what the readers have taken out of the book.

    This analysis presents a new view of the book from several different angles.  It has even made it so that I will be reading the book or rather getting the audiobook this time and revisiting the Battle School and Ender Wiggins.  The release of this analysis is timely in that the “Ender’s Game” movie will be coming out this year.  It’ll be nice to revisit the book before the movie, but it was even nicer to hear the different points of view that were put into the book and taken from the book.

    If you are a fan of “Ender’s Game,” then treat yourself to an education that is “Ender’s World.”

    • Violamom 10:59 AM on July 15, 2013 Permalink | Reply

      Um, the movie is “Ender’s Game” not “Ender’s World”… 😉 Good review. I’m thoroughly enjoying this book, being able to see Ender’s Game through different eyes. I especially recommend the two articles written from the military perspective. But all of them are interesting and even fun reading, and the format of OSC answering fan questions in between each essay keeps the pace moving forward very well. A must-have book for anyone who loves Ender’s Game.


      • gilwilson 11:10 AM on July 15, 2013 Permalink | Reply

        Thanks…all the switching back and forth talking about this book and the original must have thrown me out of phase. but it is corrected now.


  • gilwilson 8:15 PM on March 6, 2013 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: bonobos, Brian Hare, chimpanzees, cognition, dog training, , domestication, , non-fiction, , Vanessa Woods, wolves   

    “The Genius of Dogs: How Dogs Are Smarter than You Think” by Brian Hare & Vanessa Woods 


    “The Genius of Dogs: How Dogs Are Smarter than You Think”
    by Brian Hare & Vanessa Woods
    read by Fred Sanders
    Published by Penguin Audio
    Approx. 8 hours

    Every once in a while I venture off into the world of non-fiction, and I never know what will intrigue me. This time I saw this book on the list of new releases from Penguin audio and, being the owner of a too-smart-for-his-own-good Jack Russell/Beagle mix, I had to see what it was all about. I was surprised by the material contained. Not only did this book talk about the cognitive abilities of dogs, but also the reason dogs are smart and how dogs compare to other animals thought to be smart.

    Brian Hare is a dog researcher, evolutionary anthropologist, and founder of the Duke Canine Cognition Center, and Vanessa Woods is a Research Scientist at Duke University, and has worked in the Democratic Republic of Congo studying bonobos, and the People’s Republic of Congo studying chimpanzees. Together they uncover the intelligence of dogs and how they became intelligent.

    The gist of the findings is that dogs domesticated themselves and thanks to being around humans they are smarter than their ancestors, wolves. While that sums up the book into one short sentence in no way does it reveal the depth of the information covered in this book. The book doesn’t just talk about dogs. With Vanessa Woods studying bonobos and chimpanzees one can expect some comparisons between dogs and the intelligence of the primates, and as a listener to this audiobook I enjoyed hearing about the intelligence of all the animals mentioned. One of the points made is that intelligence cannot be measured the same for all species, for example if a bird has the ability to crack a nut to get to the tasty morsel inside the shell that is a sign of intelligence, but just because a dog cannot crack a nut does not mean the dog is not intelligent. Testing has to be relative and the tests discussed throughout this book are very intriguing.

    Along with dogs, chimps and bonobos the authors discuss the domestication and intelligences of foxes and wolves, so all around this book provides a great study in animal cognition and sociology. With all of that information this book also discusses the ways in which dogs interact with humans and why they so eagerly want to please us.

    Taking in all the information from this book one could gather some really good hints and tips as to how to train your dog and why some methods work and others don’t. Some of the discussion of the training methods also includes a bit of a philosophy/psychology discussion about behaviorism and cognitivism. Like I said enjoyed the plethora of information and discussions in this audiobook. I just thought I was going to find out more about why my dog is “too” smart, but ended up getting a general liberal arts education.

    This is a very informative book containing some great anecdotes that any dog lover will enjoy as well as create a better understanding for man’s best friend.

  • gilwilson 2:03 PM on February 23, 2013 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , , daniel h. pink, non-fiction, , sales,   

    “To Sell is Human: The Surprising Truth about Moving Others” written and read by Daniel H. Pink 


    “To Sell is Human: The Surprising Truth about Moving Others”

    written and read by Daniel H. Pink

    Published by Penguin Audio

    Approx. 6 hours


    Sales, just the thought of the word always gave me the heebie-jeebies. My long career in radio has allowed me to work alongside pretty much all types of what we lovingly refer to as sales-weasels. I’ve always thought that they were a completely different species (homo salesians?). I’ve worked with the best and the worst, the one who is your friend and confidant until the sale is done, and ones who are none stop sales pitch in every aspect of their speech. The sales force is necessary in all aspects of business, but definitely not for me, right? Well according to the latest book by Daniel H. Pink, one in nine Americans work in sales, and so do the other eight.


    In today’s age of information, the sales person’s method has changed. The example of car salesmen is the best proof. There was a day when a consumer would go onto a car lot and basically be at the mercy of the sales force. The salesman had all the information and the consumer had to rely on them for the truth. Today any consumer can go online shop for prices look for similar models available at other dealerships and go in fully armed. The consumer now guides the sales process.


    Whether you are pitching and idea to a colleague, enticing funders to invest in your project or teachers convincing children to study, we are all in sales now. Daniel Pink teaches in his latest book the science and art of selling. He shows how the old salesman stereotype is outdated and that the extroverted pushy sales person today will not make the sales, rather, what makes the sale is one who is able to be empathetic, and a good combination of the extrovert and introvert.


    Throughout the book (which is formed in the style of a textbook, with the concepts through the chapters and practice exercises at the end of each chapter) Pink demonstrates through examples in real life and through the social sciences how you can become a better modern day salesperson. The “ABCs” of sales is no long “Always Be Closing,” but rather “Attuned, buoyant and Clear.” Each concept is explained through the book.


    Pink even offers new sales pitch formats in this enlightening book. Some of the pitches he pitches are; the Rhyming Pitch, The Question Pitch and others.


    All the information about selling yourself or a product in today’s information age can be found in this book. This book is not just for sales people, I would recommend this book to parents, teachers, bloggers, well actually to everyone. I was just curious about the book and requested to review it from Penguin because of my job’s close dealings with sales people, but by the end of the book I found several ways to improve my own daily functions in my job and home life.


    The author, Daniel H. Pink, also reads the audiobook and from hearing this one book from him, I would say he is a great lecturer and teacher. His delivery kept the information interesting and at times entertaining. His sincerity and enthusiasm for the subject is clearly heard through his delivery and actually becomes contagious. I don’t think I’m going to go out and join my radio station’s sales team, but I will be able to offer ideas and even help my career move along.


  • gilwilson 8:48 PM on January 18, 2013 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , gay rights, , , , , non-fiction, one gay american, shorn,   

    “One Gay American” by Dennis Milam Bensie 


    “One Gay American”
    by Dennis Milam Bensie
    Published by Coffeetown Press
    242 Pages

    In Dennis Milam Bensie’s first book “Shorn…” the reader was introduced to the author by way of his finding his way through life struggling with being a gay man in a cruel society and on top of that having to struggle with his obsession with hair. This was a very brave move for Dennis to expose himself to the world. Dennis has taken that newfound bravery and further explains his life and struggle to find who he is and where he belongs in the world in his second book, “One Gay American.”

    From his first memory of his mother’s wedding dress, Dennis desires to one day have that perfect wedding and maybe that perfect wedding dress. What starts out as a desire for a beautiful dress develops into the author wanting to have a meaningful relationship with a lifelong partner and actually being wanted and having a sense of belonging. He starts out with a photo of his mother at her wedding in which to his amazement and horror is not decked out in a traditional white flowing wedding dress. For the rest of his childhood Dennis is trying to make up for that by making bridal dolls for family members and even one for the woman he marries.

    Dennis does marry a woman, all the while struggling with the realization that he is a gay man and that this marriage is a sham. Being the loving person he tries to stay married so as not to crush his bride, her family or worse yet his family. He wants to impress his father, who doesn’t know how to show his feelings for his effiminate son. Eventually Dennis cannot handle living that lie and gets divorced. The rest of his life from his college years to working in the theatre, Dennis struggles with trying to find the right person to share his life with. This is the basic struggle of all human beings, finding love, loving and being loved. The big difference is to find love with the right person when your passion is for someone of the same sex and all the while society looking down on your lifestyle.

    Dennis tells his life story while at the same time comparing with what is going on in gay rights history. Each Chapter begins with an event in gay rights history and the authors response to that event and compares that to what is going on during that moment in his life. One day in the future when same-sex marriage is accepted and gay rights are an accepted norm, this book will serve as the perfect textbook in this history of America’s civil rights movement. From the gay bashing of Anita Bryant to California’s Prop 8 turmoil, Dennis’ life parallels the struggles of any Gay American, this book just makes it more personal.

  • gilwilson 9:15 PM on August 20, 2012 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , , , john w. quinn, , , , , non-fiction, spoken word inc, U.S. Navy   

    “Someone Like Me: An Unlikely Story of Challenge and Triumph Over Cerebral Palsy” by John W. Quinn 

    “Someone Like Me: An Unlikely Story of Challenge and Triumph Over Cerebral Palsy”
    by John W. Quinn
    Narrated by Jim Meskimen
    Published by Spoken Word Inc.
    5 hours 50 minutes.

    A couple of factors attracted me to this book and intrigued me enough to give this one a listen. I can’t say I normally seek out memoirs, but I have on occasion picked one up. The first factor that brought this book to my attention was the narrator, Jim Meskimen. I have been a fan of Jim Meskimen’s work for a while now and have been highly entertained by his celebrity impressions. He has some fun YouTube videos of various impressions and not only are they good but very funny. He is a man of a million voices. You may recognize him from the commercial for a wireless provider in which he portrays a boss reviewing an employee’s vacation pics.

    I will admit that I was curious as to why an impressionist would be reading a memoir type audiobook, after all there were no celebrities to be imitated. I soon learned that Meskimen’s talent for voices carries over to a memoir excellently, in that he is able to narrate/read the book and create the necessary vocal changes to clarify which character is talking during dialog moments. That is not the only selling point in his reading of this book. Jim Meskimen’s delivery of this book makes it feel as if you were sitting down with a friend as he tells you his life story. Great smooth delivery that kept me listening and made me feel I was right alongside Senior Chief John W. Quinn for the whole ride.

    The other aspect that attracted me to this book was that it was the story of a Navy Veteran. Being a Navy Veteran myself, I love to hear about other’s experiences in their Navy career. John Quinn and I could have actually run into each other through our experiences and there were times where in his service time where he mentioned events that I remembered being near at the time. He went to bootcamp in Great Lakes, Illinois two years before me and described events that brought back memories. He also served in San Diego where I spent a good chunk of my time. He took part in Operation Earnest Will, the operation where the U.S. Navy protected Kuwaiti Oil Tankers from 1987-1988 and I took part in Operation Praying Mantis which was the last major action in Operation Earnest Will. So, our lives coincided with our Navy Careers. However Senior Chief Quinn had a bit more of a struggle through his career part being a secret he kept from the Navy and part being the pain he had to endure through not only his Naval career but throughout his life.

    This audiobook is not a military book but rather the everyday life events that create major challenges for someone like John W. Quinn. Quinn had an excellent career in the Navy despite his affliction with Cerebral Palsy. Cerebral Palsy encompasses a group of non-progressive, non-contagious motor conditions that cause physical disability in human development, chiefly in the various areas of body movement. The condition is caused by damage to the motor control centers of the developing brain and can occur during pregnancy, during childbirth or after birth up to about age three. In Quinn’s case it occurred during pregnancy and he was brought into the world with this debilitating condition. Through the will and determination of his parents he was not allowed to think of himself as disabled. All his life he endured painful physical therapy to try to keep his body in as much “normalcy” as possible.

    After seeing his older brother come home from boot camp Quinn knew he wanted to be a sailor. Quinn enlisted but failed the physical testing and was sent home. He was sent home because he couldn’t duck walk, nothing was noted about his Cerebral Palsy, so after a year of rigorous days in his parent’s basement he retrained his body and overcame the disability and tried again. Once he was in he struggled everyday to keep his CP a secret and even while doing PT with the Navy Seals he was able to fight through the pain. Later in his career his constant battle and then the suicide of his brother almost seemed too much and alcoholism threatened to bring him down. Again not ready to give up he fought on.

    In this constant heroic struggle of the everyday life of someone living with constant pain and struggling to keep up and even going above and beyond, “Someone Like Me,” will change the way you think and maybe even give you a little extra boost to get through your own life.
    The inspiring story of Senior Chief John W. Quinn and the excellent delivery of Jim Meskimen combine to make this audiobook one that you will want to share with everyone. Enjoy and be inspired.

  • gilwilson 6:57 PM on May 2, 2012 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , , barry letts, , , , jon pertwee, , non-fiction, terrance dicks, tom baker   

    “Who and Me” Written and Read by Barry Letts 

    “Who and Me”
    Written and Read by Barry Letts
    Published by AudioGo
    3 hours an 15 minutes.

    As you have learned by now, if you keep up with all my postings, I’m a Doctor Who fan.  Actually, I’m a huge Doctor Who fan.  I was wary of the new Doctor Who series (launched in 2005) but after giving it a chance was a fan again and this time with more gusto.  I do have my favorite Doctors; Tom Baker and David Tennant with Matt Smith Growing on me.  Nothing at all against the other Doctors, I just have my favorites, as does just about every Doctor Who fan I know.

    I got the chance to listen to this audiobook that promises some behind the scenes looks at the series and I pretty much jumped on it.   Barry Letts, the author of this memoir was the producer of Doctor How from 1970 to 1974 and executive producer in 1980.  He was present for  the change between Jon Pertwee and Tom Baker Doctors and also worked for the BBC as anctor, and directer before landing the Doctor Who Gig.  This book is the first volume of memoirs from Letts and with him doing the reading as well, it’s as though you have the chance to sit down with your grandfather and hear about the days of old.  That is if your grandfather was a producer for the BBC and had to deal with actors and budget limits in order to kee a television series running.  His voice is very pleasant to hear and when telling the tales you can tell whether it was rough times or smooth sailing, he looked back on these years fondly.

    One of the things that cemented my wanting to hear this audiobook was while is was recently re-watching the Doctor Who Special from 2009, “The Waters of Mars,” the show was dedicated to Letts, having aired just after his death in 2009.  So I knew that I had to listen.  Synchronicity was pointing the direction I needed to steer toward.

    It’s funny, I was never a huge fan of the Jon Pertwee portrayal of the Doctor, my opinion was Pertwee was a bit stuffy, but with the stories told here I can see he was a bit fun and that he often edited his own story with Jon coming out on top.  Letts tells the stories that don’t seem to match up with some of Pertwee’s tellings but Letts says, why let the truth get in the way of a good story, right?

    “Who and Me” recounts the journey he took from struggling actor to successful producer, and the ups and downs of working on ‘Doctor Who’ during the Jon Pertwee years. Along the way he describes the personalities he worked with during that time, from his script editor Terrance Dicks and the stars of the series to the senior management, of the BBC with whom he had encounters some good and some bad.

    Letts tells the stories of budgets, learning the ways of live television and then relearning how to film for pre-recorded episodes of Doctor Who.  It was all a learning process and after hearing these memoirs from Barry Letts it sounded like a fun process.

    • Aidan 11:48 PM on May 2, 2012 Permalink | Reply

      Thanks for the review – I have been thinking about getting this for a while but haven’t got around to it. This has pushed me towards finally going out and getting it.


  • gilwilson 10:16 PM on March 22, 2012 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , , , chasing amy, clerks, , , internet, jay and silent bob, , miramax, , non-fiction, , silent bob   

    “Tough Sh*t; Life Advice from a Fat, Lazy Slob Who Did Good” by Kevin Smith 

    “Tough Sh*t; Life Advice from a Fat, Lazy Slob Who Did Good”
    Written and Read by Kevin Smith
    Published by Penguin Audio (2012)
    Approx. 6 hours.

    First and foremost I have to admit I am a Kevin Smith Fanboy, but even more so now. Although I don’t think I can call myself a full-fledged Fanboy since I don’t listen to his Smodcasts. I’ll explain Smodcasts later. I really should listen to them, but I listen to so many audiobooks that I have a hard time finding a place to squeeze them in. Okay, okay, I will start listening…one smodcast between each book, fine, are you happy, Mr. Smith?

    Anyway, back to this book, Kevin Smith, to many folks is that “Clerks” guy, or maybe the “Chasing Amy” guy, or maybe “the Too Fat to Fly” guy, or more recently the “Comic Book Men” Guy. No matter what your association with Kevin Smith you know it’s a lot of humor, usually self-deprecating, and even some bouts of reality thrown in at a super-sized delivery box. (sorry could help the fat joke, but being a fat lazy slob as well, I can do that.) Kevin Smith was king of the indie films (and still is in my book) during the 90s, beginning with the movie “Clerks,” a tale of two slackers hanging out at a convenience store and their obsessions with pop culture (particularly Star Wars). Okay actually it was a lot more than just that but I’m not reviewing that movie at this moment. Smith, had the dream to become a filmmaker and sought out that dream. Soon his movie was sold to Miramax and the entire Jay and Silent Bob run of movies began. Jay and Silent Bob seemed to be anchors in all his movies, with Silent Bob being played by Kevin Smith.

    During his filmmaking career, Smith created a whole new genre of films that would soon be copied and become a staple in summer movies, the Bromance. Kevin’s films showed that men can interact with each other and that the movie can exist entirely on the basis of a friendship between two guys. With “Clerks” & “Clerks 2” there was Dante & Hicks and in an odd way, Jay & Silent Bob. The Bromance film would later be copied in such films as “Good Will Hunting” (no he didn’t help write that one, which he talks about that controversy in this book), “The 40 Year old Virgin,” “Superbad” and “Pineapple Express.” the last three you’ll notice were Seth Rogen films, he comes up in this autobiography a few times.

    So making Indie films was the beginning and soon Kevin was sucked into the corporate world of Hollywood. At one point he got to meet his big screen idol, Bruce Willis. While working with Bruce he found him to be a decent guy, but when Kevin was called on to direct Willis, Smith found out that Bruce was a “douchebag” (his word not mine, I don’t know Bruce Willis, but I, like Kevin Smith, am a fan of his work). This one of the many events Smith talks about in “Tough Sh*t” that begins to make his passion of filmmaking actually work, and begins his journey to seek out something else to keep his mind creative.

    On a good note, Kevin Smith says that the line “You should never meet your heroes.” should be changed to “You should never meet your heroes, unless the hero is George Carlin.” Kevin Smith grew up appreciating and loving Carlin’s ability to talk smart, using the English language in a very intelligent way while still sprinkling in some colorful expletives to grab the attention of the audience. When he met with Carlin he discovered that Carlin was the genuine article, and a down to earth Human being. All of these stories are included in “Tough Sh*t” and more.

    The biggest lessons Kevin learned and shares with the listener/reader of “Tough Sh*t” are from “The Great One,” Wayne Gretzky. Kevin watched a series on hockey and learned from “The Great One” two major lessons: Gretzky was great because of assists not just because of the high number of goals scored and don’t be where the puck has been be where the puck is going to be. Throughout this book Kevin talks about how he has applied these lessons to his life.

    This peek into the world of Kevin Smith screams with subtlety, what makes the man Kevin Smith. From his respect for his dad who died screaming to his beautiful wife and daughter, Smith turns out to be a pretty darn decent human being. He’s the type of guy that if he were your friend, you’d have a friend for life. Kevin Smith is able to tell his story in the fashion of his hero, George Carlin. Speaking intelligently and with lots of wit and a sprinkling of what could be “offensive” language. From stories of helping his friends to adoring his wife, I feel after reading this book I know the man personally. I wish…but for now I’m happy being a Kevin Smith Fanboy.

    • rwhyan 11:27 PM on March 22, 2012 Permalink | Reply

      I’m not a huge fan of Smiths films (I did like Red State) but I am a big fan of him as a person and I regularly listen to his smodcast and it’s absolutely hilarious. Great post.


    • Laura Ashlee 10:11 PM on March 25, 2012 Permalink | Reply

      This books made me laugh so much. I would never call myself a Kevin Smith fan. I’ve been more of a Kevin Smith appreciator. Anytime I saw something by him or with him in it, I always enjoyed it, but I never went out seeking his stuff. It was really nice to get in his head though. He’s one smart guy.


      • gilwilson 10:53 AM on March 26, 2012 Permalink | Reply

        I think the what I liked most is that just as he was almost swept up in the corporate biz of Hollywood, he went back to his indie roots keeping his sense of humor and individuality.


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