Children’s Book Review: The Rough House

11 02 2010

Well, I don’t write many book reviews, since I find most books to be full of words and many of them don’t make sense. But as an aficionado of both culture and the arts, I find it necessary to call to the attention of the general populace when one work of literary genius elevates our society as a whole.   I’ll let you know when that happens.

In the mean time, consider if you will the children’s book– THE ROUGH HOUSE: The House on the Hill.    A delightful yarn about mutant animal kids who, by their very nature, cannot help but live in active, naive, and hilarously authentic defiance to the guardian who is merely looking out for their best interest.  Any one with young children should find this a very familiar scenario.

The art is a giddy graphic style reminiscent of modern flash cartoons (which I can only imagine the illustrator used) and is so full of energy, the characters seem to leap off the pages.

All in all it is a short but enjoyable experience.   Perfect for reading at bedtime to that little one with far too much energy. We will look forward to more entries into this promising franchise.

Be sure and get your own copy today.  And if you’ve read it, please leave your own review here and on Amazon.

The Rough House on Createspace

The Rough House on Amazon

Hellbeast at the Movies: Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull

17 10 2008

Hi everyone,

Like many people out there on the interweb,  I am a person with a blog and an opinion– Which automatically qualifies me to be a movie critic.   Now I’ve had more training beyond that but let’s not get into professional pedigrees.  Speaking of pedigrees, here is movie franchise that has been beloved by many people for many years.  A brilliant creation borrowed from cassic serial adventures by a certain bespectacled man who seems to have caught lightning in a bottle when he created this beloved cornerstone of American cinema. Of course I’m talking about Indiana Jones.   Here is my review of the latest installment of the saga.



As is the case with the other movies in this franchise, the film starts off with the old style paramount logo of the mountain, which then turns into another, but in this case– the mountain is a mole hill… well a gopher hill anyway.  Sadly, this is a fitting metaphor for this entire film.   It is an undersized adventure with more style than substance.  While there are grand set pieces, (Indy silhouetted by a mushroom cloud is an amazing image) they seem pointless and unmotivated.  Whereas in previous movies, Indy travels the globe to unravel a great mystery,  in this film he goes to two locations in South America, neither of which are particularly interesting. He doesn’t have to work particularly hard to get the legendary crystal skull, and ends up keeping it for most of the movie.  Where is the peril in that? It was over-reliant on CGI. (C’mon, who hasn’t seen a character eaten by CGI ants before?).   None of the villain’s were properly developed.  The dialog was stilted.  And pretending to replace Indiana with a kid named Mutt?  Don’t even think about that! Finally, the religious themes of the previous movies that worked so well for the series as a whole were totally absent.  Indiana Jones is inherently about the conflict between science and religion.  When you have Indy (the scientist) going after space aliens (science), where is the conflict in that?  The faith element is gone.  With Indy having no where to develop as a character and nothing to believe in,  I was left with nothing to believe in with this movie.

All in all the script felt like it was concieved by kids playing in their back yard.  On the bonus features of the disc,  Steven Speilberg shares his reluctance to do this project and it is abundantly clear to me why.  This story needed more development work an probably the involvement of the original screenwriter for Raiders, Lawrence Kasdan.

I realize I am being really hard on this film and that it does have a lot of merits,  but I hold it up to such a high standard because I know of what it is capable of.  It is like the straight A student getting a “C”.  ‘C’ might be average, but to me that is unacceptable.

Sex in the City alternate finale

14 10 2008

For those of you who are fans of the Wheel of Time series by Robert Jordan, you know it to be a long, sprawling and pointless series, rife with cliche’, and almost physically painful to read.  But you also know that due to Mr. Jordan’s passing, the series is left to another writer to finish this sweeping epic.  In discussing this with another writer friend of mine, I thought it would be quite difficult to take someone else’s series so beloved and try to end it well.  But he challenged me to give it a try.  Since someone else is so graciously completing the Wheel of Time saga, I thought I would try another classic  that could really use some improvement.  So here goes–  My alternate finale to Sex and the City.

Carrie types on her laptop commenting on her latest sexual misadventure in this bustling, vibrant metropolis called Gotham.  Suddenly the curtains ruffle and she notices a dark figure.  She yelps, surprised to see Batman seated in her cream colored Ethan Allen Suzette Arm chair.  Carrie  curses Batman for standing her up again, especially after she just bought a new pair of Manolo Blahniks for the occasion. Batman informs her that her friends Samantha, Charlotte and Miranda have all been killed by the Joker.   Carrie bursts into tears at the loss of her friends, but then laments about the good times they had.   Carrie suddenly sees the bright side in all of this– she gets to buy three new outfits for their funerals.  Batman warns her not to get to excited– the Joker is coming for her next.

The next day, Carrie is eating lunch at the Antique Cafe when Mr. Big comes in with his face painted white and a crimson red smile cut into his cheeks.  Carrie comments on their on-again, off-again relationship and he laughs. Big then tells a story of how he got the scars on his cheeks.

Batman crashes through the glass but finds he is too late.  Carrie Bradshaw is dead.  Batman chases the Joker and eventually catches him.   At the end Batman writes Carrie’s eulogy one last time for the newspaper.

The end.

So what do you think?

How about one better?

28 07 2008

Why stop at just one eagle fighting a bear when you can see an eagle fighting a bear fighting another bear?

Rising Side Review

30 06 2008

On the rare occasions that I actually open the large steel door that protects my lair and venture out into the world, the event must truly be a spectacular one.  The CD Release party for Rising Side this last Friday was one of those occasions.

At the modest and somewhat difficult to park at Dunn Brothers on the south edge of Loring park, the stage was set for pure magic.  The room was at capacity when Rising Side took the stage and I was right there in the front row.  I was so close, that when the pyrotechnic charges went off, I nearly burnt my eyebrows off. (Don’t worry, they’re fine.)

Rising Side let their guitars sing into the night.  I was mesmerized.  It was truly an event to be experienced.  My only regret was that I was unable to stay for the whole show because I had to get my young’n off to bed.

All in all, I would say Rising Side is awesome and if you don’t already own their CD,  go buy it now. Go here and contact Raine– she will let you know how you can acquire one for yourself.

Here is the long awaited picture from the show.  Sorry about the poor quality.  Katie and Tony are high quality people.

Rising Side (Tony and Katie)

Rising Side (Tony and Katie)

Uke Coolness

18 06 2008

I play the ukulele… but not this well.


Rising Side Concert/CD Release Show

17 06 2008

Rising Side

Essential to any unbalanced mind is driving music to kill by. Get the soundtrack to your latest massacre here and go support the most musical and promising young world domination candidate to come along since… me.

Please go. If I hear you have been insolent, you will suffer the teeth of the grizzly woodchuck.

that is all.

Details are available here.