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text 2016-05-05 20:42
What I Tell You In the Dark: A Novel - John Samuel
In the Shadow of Edgar Allan Poe - Jonathon Scott Fuqua,Steven Parke,Stephen Phillips

1. What I Tell You In the Dark: Found this on the new book display at work and it had me at a description about a disgraced angel. I haven't read much of it, though, because I've been distracted by other things.


2. In the Shadow of Edgar Allan Poe (audiobook edition via Hoopla Digital): I've seen this book at work many times and have actually taken it home, but never actually read it. I'm currently still in the introduction, but very much looking forward to listening to the stories in this anthology.



I've decided to drop my challenge of reading 50 YA horror books this year. No updates to my Read Harder Challenge participation just yet.



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review 2014-03-01 03:00
Sleaze and Cheese
Unsafe on Any Screen: Cinematic Sleaze and Cheese - Scott S. Phillips

Cross-posted on Soapboxing


I'm really trying here to come up with a Walter Benjamin quote about media studies and engagement with popular culture, and I'm totally failing, which is about right. Obviously, I spend waaaay too much time reading all of y'alls lovely, personal reviews of all kinds of books. Books I would never read; books I have been warned away from; books I've been ordered to read; books I have on the long and growing list that I will never complete because some day I'm going to die.

Even though I have less engagement with movies, as an art form, I compulsively read movie reviews as well. I have the reviewers I trust, and the reviewers I know that I can take anything they say and turn it inside out, so that a bad review becomes a recommendation. I have a passing interest in trash movies, but not a full-blown love affair. Mostly my affection for bad movies leads back to Mystery Science Theater 3000, and the times I spent with my family watching MST3K. My immediate family, growing up, was all-female, and I still have the warmest of memories of watching bad movies on Thanksgiving, with my mother & sister, in lieu of the football that was de rigueur in most co-ed households.

Scott Phillips doesn't just have nostalgia to warm him when he watches grindhouse trash, he has a full-blown and well articulated love. This is awesome, and makes for a fine collection of movie reviews. Leonard Maltin, you may fu*k yourself. Many of the movies reviewed in this slender volume cannot be found on Netflix or even in your local video store, should you have such antiquated things in your location. You have to seek these movies out. They are made by people on no budget, with a group of friends, and a maniacal laugh. Or they were made on a budget and then disappeared. Phillips has an encyclopedic knowledge of the pedigree and taxonomy of trash cinema, so that he can draw lines between this director and that, this actor, this imprint, etc. Awesome.

I get the impression that this book started life as a blog, so some of the reviews are annoying short. Kind of like my - and many people's - early Goodreads reviews. But once he starts cooking, man, what a joy to behold. He has really weird grading scales: one about how many greased gorillas he'd fight to watch the film in question, and one about how many scotches, or whiskeys? it takes to get through the film. I endorse this. The scotch metric in particular, not because I especially love scotch, but because it can be either a bad or a good thing that a particular film is awarded the high scotch metric. I feel this way about a thousand things: that they are awesome, but they make me drink, or that they are terrible, and they make me drink. Or they are nothing at all and I remain sober. It gets at the whole deep ambivalence I feel towards so much stuff, even the stuff I love, in an intensely satisfying way. My only real complaint is that there is no index. At least the reviews are alphabetical.

What it comes down to is that I'm as fascinated by the critical process as I am with the art/trash in question, and this book is as much a love letter to the silly fun we have while watching bad movies as it is to the movies themselves. His exuberance is infectious, like an alien pathogen beamed down to a small Italian village that infects a scantily clad babe. It's going to eat someone's brains, but it might just take its top off before it does so.

Keep circulating the tapes.



Also, P.S., Scott is a friend of mine, which is how come I read this, in interests of full disclosure. I never know where to put these disclosures: at the front, like I'm defensive, or at the close, like I'm sneaking? I guess I'm going with sneaking this time. The thing is, there's no such thing as objectivity, so I'm not even going to pretend that the fact I think Scott, personally, is awesome didn't have an effect on my read. It did. But in this case, his balls-out love of his subject, his total commitment to the barrel-bottom of sleaze and cheese movies resonated for me. I know love when I see it, and he loves this shit. Amen. 

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review 2012-10-29 00:00
Pete, Drinker of Blood
Pete, Drinker of Blood - Scott S. Philli... Pete, Drinker of Blood - Scott S. Phillips I was recently telling a friend of mine about Pete, Drinker of Blood by Scott S. Phillips - a friend who isn't really big on genre fiction - describing the lovable schlub of a vampire who is our Pete, how he's the antithesis of cool or fancy or popular, kinda stuck in the 70s classic rock milieu that existed when he turned. (I've been joking with my man about how my brain keeps calling this "Pee-Drinker of Blood," which doesn't really work grammatically, but the brain wants what it wants. Like Bear Grylls.) And my friend was like, you know? That's actually really clever.

bear grylls, who is fond of drinking his own urine, staring off into the distance with the words 'the sun is going down, better drink my own piss' overlaid

And it is pretty clever, and I hadn't really noticed. Vampires in the modern vernacular tend to be these aristocratic fancypantses, whose long life is synonymous with compound interest and vast holdings, the long con of wealth in its longest form. The vamps in urban fantasy or its kissing cousin, paranormal romance - which is UF with sex scenes, as far as I'm concerned - tend to be these tragic, fopsy folk, mired in apologetic noblesse oblige, who get thrown a bang by wide-eyed waitresses and students for being soooo soorrry that they raped and murdered their way into wealth and long life. Let me pull my sexy sadface long enough for the ladies to drop trou.

Which can be awesome, don't get me wrong. I kinda love the parts in Buffy when Angel gets all emo about how evil he was as Angelus, eating rats all soulful-like. (I might love it more when they flashback to when he was Angelus, because Boreanaz's really bad Irish accent plus the serious television-budget minimalism of the "gradeur" makes for an unintentionally funny mix.) Nobody really writes blue collar comedies anymore - I think the last one of note was Roseanne, though I don't really follow sit-coms - but they are especially thin on the ground in UF/PNR. A case could be made for the Sookie books, what with the fangbangers and all the folksiness of Sookie's Wal*Mart fashions, but that's not really a comedy, right? Certainly not intentionally, the inherent funniness of banana clips factoring into a love scene with a straight face notwithstanding.

So, Pete's a hopeless dork long before he became a vampire, and a hopeless dork for decades after. He's plugging along in a hopeless job, in a hopeless apartment, with hopeless and moldering interests. And I'm making this sound like a drag, but it's so not. Pete is finally working up to hitting on a cheerful waitress when the dude who turned him comes back to town with fell and dire purpose. Apparently, killing regular folk isn't working anymore, so Pete's sire has to pee-drink the blood of vampires to stay alive. (Or undead, whatever.) Pete's gotta get the band back together, which means heading to Club Emoglobin (seriously, best vamp club name ever) to deal with the dickweeds who constitute the sire vamp's gets. Which doesn't go that well.

Here's where the really great class commentary comes in, because there are all of these beautiful, hilarious, bathetic character sketches for hipsters vampires who have self-styled with the douchiest of names, things like Lord Greystoke, only that's not really one of them. You know what I mean, because I'm not looking it up. Pete woos his lady and does some goat-blood-sucking, drives around in a tragic, classic car, and generally is the kind of dude who has a lot of band tee-shirts and heart. He manages to get a lot of people vampires wearing way too much velvet to go kick some sire ass, and it's wonderful and simple and ordinary how he comes into his gross new powers and love and stuff. I just want to rub Pete on his belly. Who's got your belly, Pete?

I was writing reviews along with the installments as Pete, Drinker of Blood was coming out as a serial novel - though I understand that the individual parts are coming down now that this is completed and edited for minor continuity errors and the like. Gotta say, I'm jazzed I don't have to do that anymore, because, boy, does that get spoilerful after about the fourth. Anyway, here's my disclosure: Scott is a friend, and my man did the layout for the final cover. (And all of the covers for the serializations are collected in the final draft, which is pretty adorable.) Pete, Drinker of Blood is an awesome, hilarious, funny bit of splatterstick horror-comedy, and I just had a blast reading it out over the last whatever months. Halloween is a-coming in. Maybe this'll do you right.

(Cross-posted on Readerling.)
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review 2012-06-16 00:00
Pete, Drinker of Blood (Part 4)
Pete, Drinker of Blood (Part 4) - Scott ... Pete, Drinker of Blood (Part 4) - Scott S. Phillips In our last installment, Pete started his date with the waitress, and the vampire master was evil. This reader was not that into it. But then came Part 4: Kicker of my Ass!

This section of this book rule. The opening of Pete's date was a little bit lame for me, because I was not feeling the waitress. She's one of those aggressive eaters whom you only find in fiction - the ones who eat two cheeseburgers in front of a first date, and then her date hearts her for it because She's Not Like Those Other Girls. Bah. But then, I'm thinking that vampires are where we're busy sorting out our food issues as a culture. I mean, obviously vampires have always had the whole specialized diet thing going, but since Twilight put the thumb on the scale towards sex in the sex/death equation, I think vamp stories have been freighted with some body issues as well. (What was I reading recently where I was thinking, holy cow, could you lay on your anorexic ideation any thicker, please? Oh right! It was Fifty Shades, which discards the vampires of Twilight but dials the food issues up to eleven.) Anyway, point being, I thought the Girl Who Eats trope actually worked here once I saw more of Angie. I mean, the fact that she drives a Geo Metro alone makes me love her, not that that has anything to do with the food issue. But Metros rule, and I would still be driving mine had not that teenager cracked it up running a red light.

But then, in addition to Angie getting cool and not just being unattainable girl, there are several fantastic little character sketches, the best of them detailing the bad guy. We've pretty much just seen him fly around like a bat and threaten people so far - gots to establish the badassery - but this is where we get his deal, and it's good - and more food issues, if you're keeping score. There's an almost throwaway bit about one of the Emoglobin poseurs that was both funny and chilling, and I'm still in love with Pinball. I'm hoping she'll get to kick some ass, and soon. Oh, so much cool stuff happens this time around! All of this is relayed in a disarmingly effective way that runs the line between self-deprecation and self-loathing, between pathos and bathos. Good lord, that was an obnoxious way to put it, Ceridwen. He's a really funny writer, is what I mean, but there's a surprising amount of heart in the pulp comic stylins.

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review 2012-06-16 00:00
Pete, Drinker of Blood (Part 3)
Pete, Drinker of Blood (Part 3) - Scott ... Pete, Drinker of Blood (Part 3) - Scott S. Phillips In our last installment, Pete got ready to leave town as the vampire who turned him sets up his evil plans. Complications ensue when Pete scores a date with the waitress of his dreams.

So, I never got around to reviewing Part 3 of Pete when I read it for two reasons. First, it wasn't listed in the Goodreads yet, and I am very lazy. Second, I just wasn't that into this installment of Pete. Some things happen - Pete goes on a date, and various people move around. The best thing is the introduction of the character of Pinball, so is so, so cool.

I should probably back up. This is the third installment of a serial novel by my friend Scott - there's the disclosure - with an installment published every month. The novel is planned to be eight sections long, though I truly don't know how much is plotted in advance. I suspect much is, because he's introducing us to characters and locations one after the other, setting up pieces in what feels like a deliberate manner.

Which is why, ultimately, I wasn't that into this section. Pete is still an adorable schlub, and things happen, but it felt a bit more like moving people to their places. Which is necessary and cool, don't get me wrong. When you're making a mix tape, you start with opening song bombast, and then move to a second song cool down. This is part on the mix tape where you have to find that song that bridges between the opening tone - a workaday song - something that will move you to the next big high without jangling. Having read Part 4, I'd say he was successful as hell at that, because Part 4 is YeeeeHawww!!

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