Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Not Another Vampire Book?

Actually, I have to say, not really...even though it is.

Does that make any sense?

A week ago I purchased Justin Cronin's "The Passage" on a blind faith given whim. I absolutely knew nothing of the book aside from Housewife Savant's adamant appeal to buy the book and read it (eat popcorn, drink coke, spend money). Yes, she put "post apocalyptic" on the hook, and I bit.

And now, 700 some odd pages past, I find myself praying for dawn, jumping at shadows, and listening for swift movement in the trees.

Mr. Justin Cronin gives you a taste of it all. Pre-apocalyptic government testing, the man-God-complex, a big screw-up that causes the end of the world as we know it, and a pint sized savior. Toss in a vampire or 12 million, and you have "The Passage." Yes, he follows the recipe for a home cooked PA, and yes, he throws in a young savior of the world...destructively indestructible...and yes, they seem to be able to get out of pinches that others fall prey too...and the bad guys, don't forget the bad guys (which are blood devouring man gone wrong things that have become infected with a virus that makes them starved for blood and hang upside down when they sleep, but hey, it's all good)...but all books follow that recipe. It's the little things you add to it like salt, an extra heap of fresh garlic, or a couple of shrimp here and there that changes the flavor.

As I began the book, there were times that I wanted to put it down. Too many man know...the army, scientific experiments, criminals, you know, man things, but Justin (we're on a first name basis now), threw in Amy. I'm not going to tell you about Amy. Just suffice it to say that Amy kept me coming back, and even though at times she's a bit annoying, okay, lots of annoying, she became the reason for that viral season. And while I enjoyed the meat of the book, it was the ending that had me applauding. I won't give you much into it but to say, the author gave himself an easy way to solve the big problem on the horizon, and then took the path less traveled by. If you don't understand what I mean by that, give the book a read.

To sum it up, Government eff's up the world,monsters on the loose, survivors struggle to survive, hope is hanging by a thread, a group lead by one courageous youth goes on mission to save their world.

A book that reads like a man, but smells like a woman (click the post title, buy the book, drink coke).

Friday, June 18, 2010

We Represent the Lollipop Gang

I have to spill.

I have to spew.

I have to get it off of my chest.

My home is in Louisiana. My home. Everything I grew up with, my family, my new family, my job, my friends, the roads I travel. Everything I know.

My father was a trawler. He caught shrimp for a living, and a hard living it was. And although we lived right on the poverty line, he did his best and raised us as right as he could. His line of work rarely allowed him to be home. He'd take his boat out for a week (longer in the winter because the ice in his hold didn't melt as quickly), come home for a day or two, ice up, grocer up, and go out into the wild once more. He did this for ever until the day he retired.

I remember when his boat burned down, when it sunk, when the engine broke, when the wench went kaput, when the hold had a leak, when crab traps were caught in the wheel, and a multitude of other things that threatened his livelihood occurred.

Those were scary times for our family, but there was always hope because the boat could be fixed.

I'm not so sure this can be fixed. The BP oil catastrophe had shut down Louisiana's shrimping industry. It has shut down it's offshore fishing. It has contaminated a way of life for many of its people. While I am fortunate enough to have a career in a different field, many of the students I teach cannot say the same. Everything they know is perilously hanging by an extremely then thread.

However, many of our local fishers are seasonal trawlers. They have a shrimp season in the fall, and one in the spring. This is the time of year where the wild life and fisheries allow them to trawl the "inside" fresh waters for shrimp. It lasts a few months, and when the shrimp become small, the season is closed. Unless you have a large trawl boat, you usually find something else to do for the winter season. Some people crab, some people fish oysters, some people find a temporary job at Wal Mart, but most people find a job working offshore, on an oil rig.

Louisiana has been hit hard. It's coastline is drenched in crude. The offshore fishing industry is all but shut down. And now they want to put a ban on deep water drilling.

I know the argument. It's better for the environment, it's better for our way of life, it's better for you, and it's better for me.

So tell me, what alternate energy source are they going to use in place? Where are they going to find the thousands of dollars for unemployed shrimpers that go on unemployment, where are they going to find the thousands of dollars for the thousands of soon to be unemployed oil field workers that go on unemployment...

Wait a few months for the trickle effect...when the big companies that came to our area pack up and leave. They will no longer be using our banks, our stores, our hotels, our real estate, our rental properties, our cars, our air ports, and this list goes on and on.

Wait a few years when our thriving city becomes a ghost town.

When families that have lived here all of our lives have to move in order to find work.

When our stressed economy loses all elasticity.

Guys, I'm all for a cleaner world. I'm seeing first hand the devastation this disaster has caused. But instead of working to fix it, people are pointing the blame finger, telling them it's your responsibility...clean it up. Shouting, now see what you've done? It's your fault, now I"m going to punish everyone.

Get. It. Done.

Stop fighting each other, and work together.

BP can't do it alone.

The coast cant do it alone.

Stop it. Stop it. Stop it.

Stop turning this into a "they f'ed up, now lets stick it to them" kind of thing. Fix it, then whack them with the ugly stick.

Just fix it.

Monday, June 14, 2010

That's Right It Starts With an Earthquake

It was late. So late that the skies were at its darkest while waiting for the sun to snake it's spidering fingers over the horizon allowing the twilight of dawn to appear, and while some people would call twelve midnight the official hour, this hour of pure pitch black was in deed, dead time. Gripped tightly within the hands of fear, I could not even slide out of bed to go potty. Fear, yes, big fear...fear greater than being faced by an emerging hibernated bear (Okay, not really, but you get the picture.

While I've never been a fan of gore, grizzly slayings of innocents by some fiendish monster, I have been known to become enthralled between the pages of a book that keeps me glued between the covers of my bed. My clutching fingers, and ears, eyes, nose, and mouth were the only parts exposed to the evils that lurked inside the pages of my book.

Terrified. Completely and totally terrified, sitting there at 4am impatiently trying to finish a book that had me paralyzed from the neck down with a massive dose of fear. The one book that really kept me nailed to the bed was "Moonsong" by Charles De Lint. It wasn't your typical horror, it was dosed with a Fantasy element crossing over into modern day society. We called it Sci-Fantasy back then (still do =P). And it wasn't people being torn to pieces, ripped to shreds that had me frozen in terror. The macabre never much appealed to me. It was this spirit thing that was trying to force his way into a protected house that lay on the borders of "our" world and an alternate universe. "shudder" You KNOW what would have happened if that thing would have gotten inside.

Now, Ms. Kelly at "Housewife Savant" has my mind tossing and turning again. She's picked the post apocalyptic theme for her summer reading this year, and had asked for recommends. And of course, I recommended the one book I recommend to anyone that drops off from the romance reading genre (Okay, but Sookie Stackhouse has totally got to go....ENOUGH already). The book I recommend is called "Swan Song." It's amazing. It's pure art. It's really good. And it brings the question of, "Why?"

Why would I read something that gave me nightmares for a good many night after reading it. Why would I read something that is a prelude to the destruction of man kind?

The appeal is simply this. In this crazy, messed up world...running amok in all it's technology, expansion, and new restaurants (yeah, but no TGIF yet), our inner selves desire a return to simplicity. Where we can feel safe once again. Where the world is truly...truly yours.

I read "The Stand" when I was in my early teens, and can remember putting the book aside and daydreaming of what it would be like to walk into a supermarket and just pick anything off of the shelf. To drive off in a brand new car of my choosing. To just go and be (of course while dodging killer zombies and gross putrid bodies lying all over the road). As I grew older, the appeal changed to that of gaining solidarity with mankind (corny, I know), learning to depend on each other again, introducing yourself to the land, your new caregiver), because the super market doesn't exist anymore. Finally being clean, even though you haven't bathed in quite a while!

Of course the books both go off into the typical "good vs. evil" mode, has its scare points (like I said, "Swan Song" left me waking up in the middle of the night not screaming, that's too embarrassing for quite a while). Read it read it read it.

You'll like it.

Especially Swan.

She's so cute.