Friday, April 21, 2017

MST3K Friday: Reptilicus

The new season of MST3k is pretty close to tone to the original. It even has silly songs during the host segments! This song is from the first episode "Reptilicus".

Friday, April 14, 2017

MST3k Friday: Revival League Edition

Today is a special day. Not only because it's Good Friday, but because Netflix is releasing the first new episodes of Mystery Science Theater 3000 since August 1999. As a backer of the Kickstarter campaign, I got early access to the episodes. I am sworn to secrecy about the new season, but I'll offer a few quick thoughts.

  • It feels like classic MST3k
  • The volume of jokes seems to be higher than in the original series
  • Crow's voice sounds similar to what we're used to.
  • Tom's voice will take some getting used to
  • I don't know if it's because they're in the same vocal register or because they're new voices, but I had a hard time figuring out who said what riff in the theater.
  • I don't understand (yet) why the Mads have a house band.
  • IT'S REALLY FUNNY!
Do yourself a favor and check out the new episodes on Netflix. I know I'll finish the episodes of the season I haven't watched yet.

Monday, April 10, 2017

Song of the Week: Mississippi Blues

Here's a very tight blues jam by Jarekus Singleton at the Festival of Discovery in 2012. His bass player is pretty darn good, too. I wonder when he's going to put out a new album.


Friday, March 31, 2017

MST3K Friday: Village of the Giants

I watched this movie last week and it was a pretty funny one. You see some stars in MST3K movies, but how about Beau Bridges and Ron Howard in the same movie? You get that in this one.

Here's a collection of bits with Mike and the bots making fun of Tommy Kirk's tiny pants.

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Blind to Sin by, Dave White

What ever happened to a good old silent alarm?

Jackson Donne has spent the year since the events of An Empty Hell in prison. Being a former cop, a PI, and the scapegoat for a political assassination, nearly everyone in prison is gunning for Donne, but he has protection from Matt Herrick's father, Kenneth. Counter to Donne's wishes, the pair are released from prison, but the terms of their release include performing a heist on the Federal Reserve. Soon Matt Herrick is drawn into the pair's orbit and finds himself trapped in an explosive web of lies and family history.

With this novel, Dave White shows himself a true student of the genre. The heist theme is straight out of Donald Westlake, to whom White pays tribute by naming each part of the book after a different Parker novel.

Raymond Chandler once wrote about the private eye "down these mean streets a man must go who is not himself mean, who is neither tarnished nor afraid." But modern authors are turning Chandler's famous sentence on its head. Ray Banks put his PI, Cal Innes, through so much physical punishment that he was a cripple in Beast of Burden. Dave White seems to be putting Chandler's maxim to the test by putting Donne through so much emotional punishment to see if the mean streets can tarnish the man and turn him mean.

The history of the genre only informs and enriches the story. The actions of the characters are original (sometimes surprising) and White's characters feel lived-in. One criticism I have is multiple characters' reactions to events are described by an icy feeling in their chest or something stewing in their bowels. Also, more than one character counted to 10 or 20 before reacting in order to slow their heart rate and not be impulsive. I don't know how often this happened in the novel, but it happened a number of times in a short number of chapters that it felt repetitive and stuck out.

As always, White's books are enjoyable page-turners with actual depth. This one comes recommended.

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

The Thousand Dollar Tan Line by, Jennifer Graham

Paradise doesn't just get lost in Neptune. It gets razed to the ground.

Spring break and college students descend on Neptune, transforming the beaches and boardwalks into a frenzied, week-long rave. When a girl disappears from a party, Veronica Mars is called in to investigate. The house the girl vanished from belongs to a man with serious criminal ties, and soon Veronica is plunged into a dangerous underworld of drugs and organized crime. When a major break in the investigation has a shocking connection to Veronica's past, the case hits closer to home than she ever imagined.

Writing a tie-in novel to a popular TV show or movie is a tricky tightrope to walk. The author must both serve the source material, capturing the nuance of the screen character, and the casual audience who many not be familiar with the show. Graham and Thomas do a good job with The Thousand Dollar Tan Line. Veronica's sarcastic sense of humor and the banter with her father are hallmarks of the television show and are both rendered well here. There are many cameos from almost everyone in the show, and only one or two seem gimmicky. For non-fans, the mystery itself is compelling and twisty. The "shocking connection to Veronica's past" mentioned above will resonate with fans of the show and movie, but it explained well enough that even fresh eyes will empathize with Veronica.

The novel is well plotted and the characters have depth, but there are moments that are a bit over-written. This doesn't detract from the overall enjoyability of the book. I will read the second book in the series at some point.