Wednesday, September 29, 2021

Review: The Great War: Stories Inspired by Items from the First World War

The Great War: Stories Inspired by Items from the First World War The Great War: Stories Inspired by Items from the First World War by David Almond
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The Great War
Stories Inspired by Items from the First World War
By: David Almond, John Boyne, Tracy Chevalier, Ursula Dubosarsky, Timothée de Fombelle
Narrated by: Nico Evers-Swindell, JD Jackson, Gerard Doyle, Richard Halverson
Length: 6 hrs and 22 mins
Release date: 04-14-15

I’m not sure why I picked up this audiobook, I’ve never been a “War Buff,” but I think the idea of the story being told based on items that had some significant value or importance in the war and the people affected by the item and the war was an interesting perspective.  This gave the book a more personal appeal.  

Some of the items that prompted a story are, a war-effort plate, a helmet with a hole in it, a writing kit, etc.  Each author was given an item and to write the story around/about that item.  My favorite being the helmet.

The story involving the helmet talks about how the helmet (with a hole in it) was used as a planter, and as a toy by a young boy to pretend he was in the war.  This story sticks out to me because of how the helmet came to be in possession of it and how, until a kid doing a project for school, it had served a mundane purpose.  The boy learns of his family member who originally wore the helmet and maybe a bit more about the human condition.

This book about the Great War does have some war stories, but it is much more than that.  It explores not only the war but how it affected regular people.  (wives, mothers, sons, friends)  The book doesn’t glorify or damn war, but merely gives it a human connection.  

A simple pencil in this book, has so much more surrounding it.  I would highly recommend this book to any high school wanting to teach more than just dates and places, but also the philosophy of it all, the human condition.  

Publisher’s Summary

In a powerful collection, eleven internationally acclaimed fiction writers draw on personal objects to bring the First World War to life for listeners of all ages.

A toy soldier. A butter dish. A compass. Mundane objects, perhaps, but to the remarkable authors in this collection, artifacts such as these have inspired stories that go to the heart of the human experience of World War I. Each author was invited to choose an object that had a connection to the war – a writing kit for David Almond, a helmet for Michael Morpurgo – and use it as the inspiration for an original short story. What results is an extraordinary collection, illustrated throughout by the award-winning Jim Kay and featuring photographs of the objects with accounts of their history and the authors’ reasons for selecting them. A blend of fiction and real-life events, this unique anthology provides young listeners with a personal window into the Great War and the people affected by it, and serves as an invaluable resource for families and teachers alike.

©2014 Walker Books Ltd., first U.S. edition published by Candlewick Press. (P)2015 Brilliance Audio, all rights reserved. “Our Jacko” © 2014 by Michael Morpurgo. “Another Kind of Missing” © 2014 by A. L. Kennedy. “Don’t Call It Glory” © 2014 by Marcus Sedgwick. “The Country You Called Home” © 2014 by John Boyne. “When They Were Needed Most” © 2014 by Tracy Chevalier. “A World That Has No War in It” © 2014 by David Almond. “A Harlem Hellfighter and His Horn” © 2014 by Tanya Lee Stone. “Maud’s Story” © 2014 by Adèle Geras. “Captain Rosalie” © 2014 by Timothée de Fombelle; translation © 2014 by Sam Gordon. “Each Slow Dusk” © 2014 by Sheena Wilkinson. “Little Wars” © 2014 by Ursula Dubosarsky.

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Review: The Globe: The Science of Discworld II

The Globe
The Globe by Terry Pratchett
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

The Globe: The Science of Discworld II: A Novel
By: Terry Pratchett, Ian Stewart, Jack Cohen
Narrated by: Steven Briggs, Michael Fenton Stevens
Series: Science of Discworld, Book 2
Length: 12 hrs and 46 mins
Release date: 01-20-15

I dabbled in fantasy fiction back in the 80s and part of the 90s. I became curious about the genre after getting addicted to playing the RPG "Dungeons & Dragons." It seemed I should study the characters in the game, so a friend recommended to me the Discworld books by Sir Terry Pratchett. I immediately was sucked into this humorous romp through the fantasy genre that all happened on disc world which was sitting on top of 4 elephants which were forever fixed upon a turtle flying through space. Weird but fun.

A few college degrees later I felt as if I grew out of the fantasy genre and became more interested in biographies and sci-fi. Well, the sci-fi was my return to fun and I remembered the Discworld. I thought, well, that's sci-fi mixed with fantasy. So after a little justification I looked to see what I missed. I then found these Science of Discworld, in which Pratchett and friends started explaining science not just of Discworld but the real world. The lessons in physics and science from these books seemed to soak into my brain better than most of my college classes.

In this book we return to to the library of the wizards in which they have "created" Roundworld, or rather Earth. This time the elves have discovered the roundworld and wish to make it their own. While the wizards were only interested in the science of such a world they forgot about the inhabitants (humans especially). The elves, not so much. The elves quickly learned how to take advantage of the superstitious creatures of Roundworld.

The wizards soon have to travel through time to fix and get humans back on track. In doing so this book soon gives the reader an interesting insight to evolution, creativity and language development.

It's funny that a book such as this can entertain and educate in such a manner that makes learning fun and really, accidental.

The audiobook performers are such great comedic actors that you forget your listening to an audiobook but rather travelling to discworld with the wizards. They make the book so much fun to hear.

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Wednesday, May 12, 2021

The NerdUp Podcast: Episode # 158 “WEeeee're back, again”

The NerdUp Podcast: Episode # 158 “WEeeee're back, again”: Episode # 158 “WEeeee're back, again” In this exciting episode Gil T. and Tony sit and discuss more nerdy things,  Disney+, The ...

Wednesday, April 28, 2021

Review: Swing

Swing Swing by Kwame Alexander
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This coming of age tells the story of two best friends Noah and Walt (a.k.a. Swing) as they make their Junior year in High School THEIR YEAR. All their lifelong dreams are going to be made real. From Walt finally getting to play on the high school baseball team (he may not be good, but he's got heart) to getting Noah to finally ask out his lifelong crush.

As their year progresses they find the ups and downs of life are not always easily dealt with and soon learn more about themselves than they would have had they just kept going as normal.

My favorite part of this book is the use of Jazz music as their metaphor for life, from listening to jazz vinyl at the local thrift store to hiring of Walt's uncles jazz band to entertain the party at Noah's house, while his parents are on vacation. Everything is better with Jazz.

I will warn you this book is a tear-jerker, so just have the tissue ready.

Read by the author, this audiobook really stands out. Kwame Alexander's delivery is perfect and will keep you in anticipation for the highs and getting those lumps in the throat for the lows. Great read/listen for all ages.

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Review: Lady Death: Treacherous Infamy

Lady Death: Treacherous Infamy Lady Death: Treacherous Infamy by Brian Pulido
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Lady Death once wanted to destroy all life and leave Earth as a desolate graveyard. Luckily she has changed her evil ways and is a sort of an anti-hero helping mankind by destroying demons. Until now...

Something has reverted her back to her evil self and she is on her way to destroy the Earth. Unless a group of supernatural super-heroes can stop her, including her children. This is Lady Death at her most evil self.

The battles for mankind take place throughout the United States, picking up more powered individuals to defeat her and even some that come to support her cause.

The artwork in this book is absolutely stunning, the writing will leaving you wanting more (which will be coming since this is an on-going arc in Lady Death's story).

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Review: Devolution: A Firsthand Account of the Rainier Sasquatch Massacre

Devolution: A Firsthand Account of the Rainier Sasquatch Massacre Devolution: A Firsthand Account of the Rainier Sasquatch Massacre by Max Brooks
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Max Brooks is at it again, first he told us how to survive a zombie apocalypse, now he's telling the harrowing story of a Bigfoot attack on an isolated "modern" colony. The story is told in a fashion much like the found footage horror films, such as "The Blair Witch Project," "Unlisted Owner," and "Paranormal Activity." Instead of found film/video the journals of Greenlop resident Kate Holland are turned into a pretty cool horror/survival story. From the beginning the reader (or listener in the case of the audiobook) knows no one survives because the journals are said to have been found in the burned out ashes of what remains of Greenlop, but as the story progresses, that is forgotten and the reader finds hope.

Greenlop is an experimental colony where a bunch of rich/progressive folks want to start a community that is 100% off the grid. Their food and supplies are dropped in by drone on a regular basis, their homes are solar powered and very modern. The even have wi-fi. This is all pretty nice until nearby Mt. Ranier decides to become an active volcano and blows. All wildlife flees and the colony is suddenly cut off from civilization. The volcanic explosion destroys all communication access, the drones stop coming and the colony must learn survival skills. Many are rich pretentious folk that couldn't successfully camp out in a four star hotel, without a staff.

Kate, is determined, she soon starts the greenhouse and begins growing some of their food. Her bordering-on-depression husband soon finds a purpose, by helping to clear the solar panels of ash from the volcano. Things seem to be going fairly well until the colony discovers wild animals are attracted to their compost. Could be bears or large cats, either way it is a danger to the people. Soon one of the colonists realizes there have been no wild animals in the area for several days.

The culprit is soon discovered to be a "tribe" of Sasquatch. With all the wildlife gone from the area, due to the volcano, and ash covering everything, the Sasquatch begin a war against the humans for Survival.

Instincts kick in and the colony prepares for war.

The audiobook cast bring this book to life, making it seem even more like a found footage horror story.

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Wednesday, January 27, 2021

Review: This Is Our Youth

This Is Our Youth This Is Our Youth by Kenneth Lonergan
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

“This Is Our Youth”

By Kenneth Lonergan

Narrated by: Mark Ruffalo, Missy Yager, Josh Hamilton

Length: 1 hr and 41 mins

Published September 25th 2009 by LA Theatre Works

This almost could have been me. I was a teen in the Reagan 80s, and well smoking pot was the thing to do. I didn't live in a big city, my dad wasn't rich and well, I guess maybe this couldn't have been me. I never got the chance to steal $15k from my dad when he kicked me out, Instead I joined the Navy. It's official, nope not me.

However I do know these people in this play. But first let's talk about the actors in this performance from L.A. Theatre Works. This is Mark Ruffalo before he was the Incredible Hulk in those Marvel movies. In fact, this production is a reunion of sorts. The original cast from the off broadway original production got back together with the original director to do this show for LATW. I'm sure that when originally performed back in 1996 the actors were closer to the age of the teenagers they portrayed than when getting back together for this performance, but I can tell you that they seemed to fit right back in with those characters.

Warren (played by Ruffalo) is kicked out of his rich dad's house. To get revenge he steals $15,000 from his dad and heads to his friend, Dennis' apartment. The two potsmokers decide they need to get the money back, but Warren has already spent a sizable chunk of the cash. Now they need to get back the money so they can sneak the original amount back into Warren's dads house. The plan is to buy some cocaine and sell enough to make back their money plus the missing amount and do the rest themselves.

While Dennis is out getting the coke, Warren gets a visit from Jessica. Jessic and Warren take another chunk of the money and party on the town, even renting out a ritzy hotel room. This just makes it harder to make the money back so the scheming begins.

I strongly feel this play could be performed even today and still be relevant. If you want a cool theatre audio experience this would be a great choice. If you want to perform a play touching out today's youth, this play would still be a great choice.

Once again LATW has brought to life a play to the audio audience that will put you in the middle of the performance.

Publisher's Summary

Starring Mark Ruffalo, Josh Hamilton and Missy Yager, the original cast was reunited for this exclusive L.A. Theatre Works performance of This is Our Youth.

In 1982, on Manhattan's Upper West Side, three pot-smoking teenagers are resoundingly rejecting the 1960s ideals of their affluent parents. In hilarious and bittersweet detail, This is Our Youth follows 48 turbulent hours in the lives of three very lost souls at the dawn of the Reagan Era.

©2009 L.A. Theatre Works (P)2009 L.A. Theatre Works

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Friday, January 22, 2021

Review: The Explorers Club

The Explorers Club The Explorers Club by Nell Benjamin
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Narrated by: Jennifer Westfeldt, David Furr, Lorenzo Pisoni, Carson Elrod, John Getz, Martin Jarvis, David Krumholtz, Matthew Wolf
Length: 1 hr and 56 mins
Published June 15th 2014 by LA Theatre Works

I did not expect this to be funny, I was thinking it was some sort of historical play from L.A. Theatre Works. Maybe it was in a way, but I found myself laughing out loud several times and thoroughly enjoyed this performance.

The gist of the play is that it is the late 1800s and a group of snooty explorers have their lodge to go and smoke cigars and drink brandy, oh, and brag about their adventures. (This play also had me craving cigars and brandy.) The traditions are rattled when Phyllida Spotte-Hume wants to join. A woman? A woman in the he-man women hater's club? It is hilarious when they send her out of the room to have cigars and brandy (one of the many times) and to discuss whether she should be allowed. She keeps stepping in talking about how boring the hallway is. This section of the performance had a very Monty Python feel to it and I found some great belly laughs during this scene.

Phyllida has discovered a lost tribe and has brought a male representative to meet the Queen and to back her findings to get into the club. Well the native is allowed to have cigars and brandy, not Phyllida because she is a woman.

Soon the mayhem begins with the native striking the Queen as she offers her hand to help the bowing native. Can the Explorer's club survive? Well one of the members is out to find the East and West poles, so there's that.

Do yourself a favor and at the very least listen to this audio performance of “The Explorer's Club.” A really good live performance would be preferred, but as with all other LATW productions, this one is the next best thing to being in the audience.

Publisher's Summary
It's London, 1879, and the hapless members of the Explorers Club must confront their most lethal threat yet: the admission of a woman into their hermetically-sealed ranks. But the intrepid Phyllida Spotte-Hume turns out to be the least of their troubles, in this hilarious farce starring members of the original Broadway cast.
An L.A. Theatre Works full-cast performance featuring Jack Cutmore-Scott, Carson Elrod, David Furr, John Getz, Martin Jarvis, David Krumholtz, Lorenzo Pisoni, Jennifer Westfeldt, Matthew Wolf. Directed by Kate McAll. Music composed and orchestrated by Laurence O'Keefe. Recordings produced by Mike Croiter and Laurence O'Keefe at Yellow Sound Lab for L.A. Theatre Works. Includes a conversation with essayist, novelist, and cultural critic Eileen Pollack.
The Explorers Club is part of L.A. Theatre Works’ Relativity Series featuring science-themed plays. Major funding for the Relativity Series is provided by the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation to enhance public understanding of science and technology in the modern world.
©2013 Nell Benjamin (P)2014 L.A. Theatre Works

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Tuesday, January 12, 2021

Review: The Busy World Is Hushed

The Busy World Is Hushed The Busy World Is Hushed by Keith Bunin
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

“The Busy World Is Hushed”
By Keith Bunin
Narrated by: Jill Clayburgh, Hamish Linklater, Luke Macfarlane
Length: 1 hr and 48 mins
Published October 1st 2007 by LA Theatre Works (first published January 31st 2007)

There is a lot unfolding in this play. Religion and relationships seem to be the biggest so I'm going to try to focus on those, however there are a few other topics/feelings/philosophy that I may touch on. Just keep in mind this is a very heady play. I'm probably going to revisit this one soon. Next time I may read the hard copy of the play rather than listen to a performance, but only because there is so much to absorb.

There is absolutely nothing wrong with this audio production. Of course it is an L.A. Theatre Works production, and I don't recall ever hearing a bad production from them. The actors are always top notch and the production places the listener right in the middle of the audience. This time around the performance features two of my new favorite actors, Hamish Linklater (I became a fan of his after watching the series “Legion”) and Luke Macfarlane (I bacame a fan of his after watching “Killjoys”). I don't think I ever thought I would picture them doing a love scene together, but surprises are good. Okay it wasn't a love scene but rather an intimacy scene.

This play is full of ups and downs on the emotional rollercoaster and very smart conversations on religion. Jill Clayburgh plays Hannah a minister researching the gospels. She's working on a translation when she hires an assistant, Brant (played by Linklater). Brant notices her work needs some organizing, she doesn't even have bookshelves, and is pretty much hired on the spot. A relationship between Brant and Thomas, Hannah's son (played by Macfarlane). In what in actuality is really a pretty short play, some intense conversations about life, love, religion and purpose are discussed.

My only problem with this play is that it was too short. I was left with a feeling of “Is that all?” But at the same time I enjoyed the conversations and the level of intellect those conversations covered in the play. I would say that there were at least 30 plays that could be developed out of the many topics this one play covers, and I just wanted more.


Publisher's Summary
With wisdom, humor and insight, The Busy World Is Hushed examines the contradictions we find in our faith, our families, and ourselves. Hannah, a widowed Episcopal minister, is hoping to translate a long-lost gospel when she is challenged by both her scholarly assistant and her wayward gay son. But when family secrets are revealed, only the intercession of a stranger can help Hannah find peace.
(P)2007 L.A. Theater Works

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Tuesday, January 05, 2021

Review: Stick Fly

Stick Fly Stick Fly by Lydia R. Diamond
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Stick Fly

By: Lydia Diamond

Narrated by: Justine Bateman, Dule Hill, Michole Briana White, et. al.

Length: 1 hr and 50 mins
Published February 1st 2008 by LA Theatre Works

In my latest trend of reading/listening to plays I've been trying to find some that are timely and have a theme that would reflect the current themes we've been forced too endure for the wreck of a year that was 2020. One of those themes is race relations. This play at first seemed to cover this but had a bit of a twist. The race relations are within a single upper-class African-American family. It wasn't quite what I was looking for but it was entertaining none-the-less.

One of the features of this performance that kept me going even though I soon discovered it wasn't what I was looking for was that it was yet another example of the outstanding productions from L.A. Theatre Works. The actors are top notch and the production once again will place the listener in the middle of the audience in a great theatrical performance.

I think one of the funniest parts is that one of the brothers (Flip) brings his girlfriend to the family home and before she arrives tells everyone she's Italian. I got the feeling that Flip was a bit conscientious about the fact his girlfriend is white, so to prepare the family he keeps saying she is Italian when someone says she's white. Flip's family members are all highly education people and when the girlfriend arrives, they all speak to her in Italian. This makes for an awkward hilarious scene.

As for the rest of the story, it finds that there is more to the family than the surface reveals. Strap in for the second half, that's when all secrets are revealed and well I kinda wonder whether this family is strong enough to endure the devastating secrets. I won't go into too much detail because of spoilers, and I really think this play needs to be experienced for one's self not just a simple review/summary.

Review: entertaining, funny, tragic and worth the two hours spent listening.

Publisher's Summary

How well do you know your family? Your social class? Your race? Sensitive "Spoon" LeVay and his brother "Flip" see their weekend at the family home on Martha's Vineyard as a perfect opportunity to introduce their girlfriends to their upper class African American parents. Instead they stumble into a domestic powder keg that exposes secrets of prejudice, hypocrisy, and adultery. This fantastic new play comes from the pen of one of the country's most provocative new playwrights!

©2007 L.A. Theatre Works (P)2007 L.A. Theatre Works

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Wednesday, December 30, 2020

Review: Steel Magnolias

Steel Magnolias Steel Magnolias by Robert Harling
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Steel Magnolias

By: Robert Harling

Performed by: Frances Fisher, Shannon Holt, Amy Pietz, Brittany Snow, Jocelyn Towne, Josh Clark, Jeanie Hackett

Length: 1 hr and 51 mins

Published January 13th 2016 by L.A. Theatre Works

(first published January 1st 1988)

I normally don't re-read a book or play. Every so often I may re-visit a classic just to see how it (or I) has aged. Some of the time I pick up something new or intriguing that I missed before, especially if it is one of those classics we HAD to read in school, I missed a lot in those because most of the time I faked it or skimmed over it.

I'm not sure if I would call this play a classic yet, but maybe it is, but I saw the movie (different ending than the play, fyi) and read the play back in college. I saw this on my list of plays I had made for myself to look over and kept passing over it, because, well, I thought I had got what I was going to get out of it already. I found out that was not the case. In the past I had really just taken it in as an ensemble cast and just thought this was a bunch of women in the south and how their lives were interlinked. It is that but really there is more.

Having a son that has Type 1 diabetes, this time around I really focused in on the character of Shelby. I also have worked in a number of years now since first reading this play and the focus of the radio Shelby brings into the salon grabbed my attention. I soon put together how the two were related.

The author of this play actually wrote the play after the death of his sister due to complications of diabetes while she gave birth. I found that early in the play when Shelby brings in the radio she is relatively healthy and fine, the radio works fine. Later as she decides to have a baby even though there are risks for a diabetic the radio kinda fades in and out. Finally the radio goes out. (stopping here due to spoilers). So with that all in mind this play came from a different angle to hit me emotionally that I wasn't expecting.

In summary; go ahead and re-read those stories, you never know how it will affect you the second or third time around.

By the way, this was yet another great performance/production from L.A. Theatre Works. They really do put you right into the audience.

Publisher's Summary

Within the walls of Truvy's beauty shop are six women whose lives increasingly hinge on the existence of one another. Together, they absorb the passing seasons, just like the weathered wooden structure of the salon "home" that they share.

An L.A. Theatre Works full-cast production, starring Frances Fisher, Jeanie Hackett, Shannon Holt, Amy Pietz, Brittany Snow, and Jocelyn Towne. Additional voices by Josh Clark. Directed by Jessica Kubzansky and recorded before an audience by L.A. Theatre Works.

©1987 Robert Harling (P)2015 L.A. Theatre Works

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Tuesday, December 29, 2020

Review: Please Continue

Please Continue Please Continue by Frank Basloe
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Performed by: Tara Lynne Barr, Will Brittain, Jake Green, Taj Jegaraj, Rob Morrow, James Scully, Mark Jude Sullivan, Matthew Wolf

Length: 1 hr and 53 mins

Published April 4th 2019 by L.A. Theatre Works

Well, it looks like I'm going to be closing out 2020 with a bunch of plays. Not a bad way to end a bad year. This time around it is “Please Continue” by Frank Basloe. This play tells the tale of psychologist Stanley Milgram's studies/experiments on obedience in the 60s.

The gist of the studies/experiments is that a student is told to administer an electric shock to a student when a wrong answer is given. The shocks become more powerful as more wrong answers are given. With the test subject screaming in pain in the next room, the actual test subject is told to, “Please Continue” if they hesitate on giving the next shock. These experiments really do expose a lot about the human psyche.

This play also weaves in the story of Francis, a grad student assigned to Milgram who was involved in a gang rape of a 14 year old girl at his previous college. Francis was not named in the hearing on that case but he knows he took part. As he is conducting the experiments for Milgram his guilt is triggered and comes to the surface. He seeks out the advice from a local clergy who convinces Francis to seek out atonement not forgiveness. That is the big hole in this performance. We never really find out what that atonement is or whether it was the right advice.

That lack of finality in the story really left me hanging in the story and pretty much ruined the entire play for me. Something was just missing. The performance and production were high quality, it's just that the story was missing something, some closure. Otherwise it was pretty interesting to hear the outcome of the original experiments where other humans were prone to keep administering the punishment no matter how guilty they started to feel. I think this could have been explored more and just leave out Francis' story. At one point in the play there is the statement where the men of Yale would of course keep punishing their fellow students, because they are self-centered seekers of power. (I paraphrased, but that's the gist of it.) So was it human nature or just the nature of certain humans attracted to the idea of becoming a “Yale Man”?

Publisher's Summary

Based on the true story of renowned social psychologist Stanley Milgram, Please Continue recounts the infamous obedience experiments at Yale in the 1960s. In that study, participants were asked to administer strong electric shocks to a subject who gave the wrong answer to a question, not knowing that the shocks were fake, and they were the real subject of the study. The play examines how the experiments gave insight into the nature of authoritarianism and individual morality.

Includes an interview about science and ethics with Mary Helen Immordino-Yang, a Professor of Education at the Rossier School of Education, a Professor of Psychology at the Brain and Creativity Institute, and a member of the Neuroscience Graduate Program Faculty at the University of Southern California.

Please Continue is part of L.A. Theatre Works’ Relativity Series featuring science-themed plays. Major funding for the Relativity Series is provided by the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, bridging science and the arts in the modern world.

Directed by Rosalind Ayres.

An L.A. Theatre Works full cast performance featuring:

Tara Lynne Barr as Margaret Hopson

Will Brittain as James Sanders

Jake Green as Saul Dashoff

Taj Jegaraj as Harold Burden

Rob Morrow as Reverend William Sloane Coffin, Jr.

James Scully as Mitchell Halverson III

Mark Jude Sullivan as Francis Dunleavy

Matthew Wolf as Dr. Stanley Milgram

Sound Effects Artist: Jeff Gardner. Script Supervisor, Nikki Hyde. Music Supervisor, Ronn Lipkin. Associate Artistic Director, Anna Lyse Erikson. Recording Engineer, Sound Designer and Editor, Erick Cifuentes. Mixed by Mark Holden for The Invisible Studios, West Hollywood.

Recorded at The Invisible Studios, West Hollywood.

©2019 L.A. Theatre Works (P)2019 L.A. Theatre Works

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Tuesday, December 22, 2020

Review: Of One Blood (Library Edition Audio CDs)

Of One Blood (Library Edition Audio CDs) Of One Blood (Library Edition Audio CDs) by Andrew White
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

“Of One Blood”

by Andrew White

Narrated by: David Schwimmer, Lee Arenberg, John Cothran Jr., Judyann Elder, Arye Gross, Valerie Landsburg, Macon McCalman

Length: 1 hr and 23 mins

Published November 1st 2009 by L.A. Theatre Works

So what is the difference between today's civil rights movement and the civil rights movement of the 60s? I think the best answer is that today we are just tired of it. Years have gone by, voices have shouted, been shouted down and even silenced through violence but has anything really been done? Yes and No. At least now we don't have separate water fountains, bus seats and schools, so yeah progress has been made. Has it been enough? I grew up in the south and know firsthand that up until the mid 80s racism was still the norm (that's when I moved to the midwest U.S. and can't provide the firsthand experience for what goes on now).

I have lived throughout the south during the 70s and 80s (Montgomery, AL, Yazoo City, MS, Meridian, MS, et. al.) In Yazoo City, MS in the early 80s they still had seperate school buses for blacks and whites. Same pickup location same dropoff location, just different races allowed. I found this out by accidentally getting on the “black” bus my first day. One guy said I was on the wrong bus, but not in a threatening manner, but once I arrived at the school and was the white boy on the black bus, I was shunned by nearly all whites at that school from then on. In Montgomery, AL a black student (friend of mine) was called “boy” and physically abused by a science teacher, when we brought this up to the principal, he simply said he was sure we were mistaken. When my black friend left the principal told me that I should keep my northern attitude back up north while attending Jefferson Davis High School. We held a protest only a few kids showed up but it got nowhere. So yeah the civil rights movement of the 60s did great in the north but the south stays the same.

To this day I shed a few tears and get lumps in my throat when I hear of all this still going on. This play I knew was gonna be sad, but it should be. In this play the author mixes some poetic moments with historical moments to create what really should be an eye opener. The three civil rights workers, James Chaney, Andrew Goodman, and Michael Schwerner (2 Jews and a Black) weren't rabble rousers, they were only talking with people and gathering evidence about a church burning. The folks in Mississippi simply saw anyone who worked with blacks and blacks themselves as creatures not worth living. There were numerous people that could have helped and saved these 3 young mens lives, instead the south is gonna south. This play not just covers their historical deaths, but also seeks to show them as simple human beings just wanting to stop the senseless violence in a non-violent way.

I really think this play should be added as part of middle school or at least high school curriculum. The lessons learned are needed today, probably more so.

There isn't one person today that can say racism is dead. All you have to do is drive through the south or heck, even in the midwest we have idiots waving their confederate flags, knowing full well how racist that flag is. That flag represents a sect that wanted blacks to remain slaves and never be treated as human beings. That flag also represents a country that lost a war. That is not the only similarity shared with the Nazi flag.

I heard a black comedian once say that the confederate flag is very useful, it tells him what businesses or homes not to enter.

I will once again highly recommend this L.A. Theatre works production of this play. The actors make this reality even more real.

Publisher's Summary

Of One Blood is a poignant and disturbing play about the infamous murder of three civil rights workers - James Chaney, Andrew Goodman, and Michael Schwerner - in Mississippi in 1964.

©2009 L.A. Theatre Works (P)2009 L.A. Theatre Works

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Friday, December 18, 2020

Review: Moving Bodies

Moving Bodies Moving Bodies by Arthur Giron
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Moving Bodies

By: Arthur Giron

Narrated by: Alfred Molina, Mark Harelik, Jenny O'Hara, Kathryn Hahn

Length: 1 hr and 57 mins

Published February 1st 2008 by LA Theatre Works

Yes I'm still on my reading plays kick/play research. This one intrigued me first because the actor Alfred Molina (Doc Ock from the Spider-Man movie). I love his work and will pretty much stop all I'm doing to watch a movie with him. Seeing he is cast as the lead role in this was what locked in this play in my sites. The second thing is that it involves science and physics. I have a secret passion for physics while never practicing I love the concepts and that all answers can be arrived at through physics. Yes all, but I don't have time to explain that right now.

So being another LA Theatre Works production was the third factor which cemented that this play was one I had to hear in audiobook form. Once again LATW have the perfect production/performance and with the cast in this one, definitely worth absorbing. If you've never read one of my reviews of a LATW production, the casts are always great, the sound production is so perfect that if you close your eyes you are placed right smack dab in the middle of the live performance. My advice to you, never turn down a LATW production.

So about this play. This play follows the life of Nobel Prize winner, Richard Feynman. Feynman was instrumental in the creation of the atomic bomb and was the witness for the space shuttle Challenger disaster investigation. In fact Feynman was the one to actually discover and demonstrate that the O-rings were the culprit in the explosion.

Through out the play we discover many interesting aspects of Feynman's life, such as his dad was an amateur scientist and is the one that led Richard Feynman and his sister to become scientists. There are several humorous moments in the play that make a play about science a bit easier for those to follow who aren't necessarily nerdy about science. In fact Richard Fineman was well-known to be a practical joker. I'm pretty sure that can also be attributed to his father.

After the bombs were dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Feynman regretted that he was responsible for so many deaths and this affected his life in many ways. This play explores all that and more. Arthur Giron captured a life worth learning about and more in a mere 2 hours.

Publisher's Summary

Moving Bodies is a chronicle of the brilliant life of Nobel Prize-winning scientist Richard Feynman. From his role in the development of the atomic bomb to his controversial testimony at the investigation of the Challenger disaster, Feynman casts a long shadow across the worlds of physics and mathematics. Through playwright Arthur Giron's eyes, we see how Feynman became one of the most important scientists of our time.

Includes a bonus feature with Ralph Leighton, the co-author of Richard Feynman's "Surely You’re Joking, Mister Feynman!", a best-selling collection of autobiographical stories and reminiscences.

An L.A. Theatre Works full-cast performance featuring Emily Bergl, Jessica Chastain, Jill Gascoine, Matthew Gaydos, Harry Groener, Arye Gross, Kathryn Hahn, Mark Harelick, Katharine Leonard, Mary McGowan, Alec Medlock, Alfred Molina, Jenny O’Hara, Raphael Sbarge, Joe Spano and John Vickery.

Moving Bodies is part of L.A. Theatre Works’ Relativity Series featuring science-themed plays. Major funding for the Relativity Series is provided by the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation to enhance public understanding of science and technology in the modern world.

©2008 L.A. Theatre Works (P)2008 L.A. Theatre Works

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Tuesday, December 15, 2020

Review: Puffs the Play: or 7 Increasingly Eventful Years At A Certain School of Magic and Magic

Puffs the Play: or 7 Increasingly Eventful Years At A Certain School of Magic and Magic
by Matt Cox
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

“Puffs the Play: or 7 Increasingly Eventful Years At A Certain School of Magic and Magic”

by Matt Cox

Publisher : Independently published (December 10, 2018)

Paperback : 132 pages

I'm still reading a bunch of plays for “reasons.” But this play I'm reading for another reason. That reason is; a couple of years ago our local college/community theatre performed this play. I wanted to be in the play but I was just simply too old to be in the cast. The play doesn't require the young to play the parts, but in order to be consistent it is good for the director to keep the cast within the same age range. They are all playing kids from ages 10-18 years old. So I didn't pass the audition. I wonder if it was because I wouldn't shave my Van Dyke beard. My son got a part in the show, so I was happy and went to all 4 performances.

So this play is what happened to the other kids at that famous school for wizards and magic. The Puffs. The student's who were going for third place or nothing (out of 4) Basically this was like the “Breakfast Club” but nerdier, more pitiful at times, and waaaaayyyyy funnier. The one thing I completely enjoyed about this play is the allowance for or rather demand for improv moments. I love Improv and love watching it done right. The actor I saw play the character of Zach Smith was so funny. Each performance he had a different improv for his big improv moment. One of the nights he managed to sum up the last 2 years worth of performances at the college/community theatre into one story that just had me rolling.

If you are a fan of those Harry Potter books, please do yourself a favor and either read this script or go find a performance of this play. The inside jokes are worth the price of admission alone. Matt Cox is a fan of the wizarding series and especially a fan of the 90s. This comes to fruition in this play that is chock full of fun, pop-culture references that is sure to keep any audience entertained. The copy I read and the one I saw performed had some language that may restrict where the play is performed, however, I understand Matt Cox has written a younger version of the play in order to make it safe for all ages.

Matt Cox not only has written a funny pop-culture play, but he creates characters that drag you into the story more so than J.K. Rowling. When reading the original books, there were times I would just say these kids are stupid. But in Matt Cox's play I was involved. I wanted to know what they were doing at all times, especially the 3 main characters; Oliver, Megan, and Wayne. In fact throughout the play there were times when I had tears in my eyes from laughter and I was thankful because a scene or 2 later there would be tears from sadness and I didn't want to seem like a crybaby.

My experience after watching 4 performances and now reading this play is one I will cherish. I was moved several times between laughing out loud to drying the tears from sadness. After talking with the cast of this show (besides my son, there were many in the cast I am friends with) I found the same happened to them, in fact to this day the cast cherish their time in “Puffs.” The only other time I have seen such bonding in a play was a 2 week run of “Godspell.” The cast became the closest of friends from there after same as with “Puffs.” So,yeah, “Puffs” has a bit of a religious experience to it.

Thank You Matt Cox for such a great emotional rollercoaster!!!

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Monday, December 14, 2020

Review: Mizlansky/Zilinsky

Mizlansky/Zilinsky Mizlansky/Zilinsky by Jon Robin Baitz
My rating: 5 of 5 stars


By Jon Robin Baitz

Performed by: Nathan Lane, Paul Sand, Grant Shaud, Rob Morrow, Julie Kavner, Richard Masur, Harry Shearer, Kurtwood Smith, Robert Walden

Length: 1 hr and 46 mins

Produced by L.A. Theatre Works

Release date: 05-07-08

This time around in my play research, I'm looking for something a little light-hearted. Going to my reliable source for play productions I look at L.A. Theatre Works for something. LATW always comes through with some great plays with stellar casts and outsanding production that puts you right smack dab in the middle of the audience. So, knowing, this will be a play I want to hear I start looking. (I'm still reading a couple of plays in book form, so I needed something to fill those downtimes.)

The first thing that grabs me with this production is the cast. Two of the members of the cast are regular voice actors on “The Simpsons,” Julie Kavner and Harry Shearer, I already love Nathan Lane and Rob Morrow, so I think immediately this will be fun. And fun it is...actually fun is a bit of an understatement.

Nathan Lane plays Davis Mizlansky a Hollywood producer trying to avoid the IRS. He's now in the business of selling tax shelters in the form of Bible stories on tape. When a big Oklahoma money man, Horton De Vries, played by Kurtwood Smith (Red Forman from “That 70s Show”) has some potential buyers things get interesting, especially since Horton seems to be an anti-semite unknowingly working with the Mizlansky/Zilansky jewish duo.

That being the meat of the story in my opinion the funniest bits are between Davis and his assistant. Some funny stuff there. Check this out. Now if I can find a stage to perform this I think more laughs can be found.

Publisher's Summary

Italian shoes, a house in the hills, a gift for stretching the truth, and a petulant assistant to pick the scallions out of his Szechuan noodles - Hollywood producer Davis Mizlansky has it all. But he's about to lose it to the IRS unless he can pull off one more deal. A stellar cast performs this hilarious send-up of modern-day Hollywood.

©2007 L.A. Theatre Works (P)2007 L.A. Theatre Works

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Wednesday, December 09, 2020

Review: Fake

Fake Fake by Eric Simonson
My rating: 4 of 5 stars


By: Eric Simonson

Narrated by: Francis Guinan, Kate Arrington, Coburn Goss, Alan Wilder, Larry Yando

Length: 2 hrs and 5 mins

Published June 1st 2010 by LA Theatre Works

I have been looking into several plays lately (for reasons yet to be discussed) and having know the quality works put out by L.A. Theatre Works, I've been diving into several of their productions. This is one of the them and I'll let you know the acting and audio production is superb as always. This manner not only gets me familiar with plays it also lets me know how talented individuals have translated these plays.

I'm not looking for any specific type of play, just wanting to know more of what's out there. My reviews here are a bit short, since I am just looking for a summary for now, some plays have stood out and I have a bit more to say, so just bear with these performance reviews, and know there's a reason to my madness. I'm still reading and listening to regular prose books/audiobooks, so they'll be interspersed with the other reviews. (eventually)

This play discusses the events that led to the debunking of “The Piltdown Man” In 1912, archaeologists in Piltdown, England discovered a skull purported to be from a creature providing the missing link between man and ape. In 1953, the Piltdown skull was debunked as fake. Simonson spends the play time to try to figure why and whether well known author Sir Arthur Conan Doyle was involved.

Intermingled with discussions of politics and religion the answer is never really discovered. However, listening to this performance the audience does get the chance to wax philosophic. Entertaining and even thought provoking this looks like it may be a fun play to produce. I'm putting this toward the top of my list.

Publisher's Summary

Oscar-winning and Tony-nominated writer and director Eric Simonson explores the most famous archeological hoax in history. Alternating between 1914 and 1953, journalists and scientists set out to uncover who planted the Piltdown Man skull. Everyone's a suspect, including legendary Sherlock Holmes author Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.

An L.A. Theatre Works full-cast performance featuring Kate Arrington, Coburn Goss, Francis Guinan, Alan Wilder and Larry Yando.

Fake is part of L.A. Theatre Works’ Relativity Series featuring science-themed plays. Major funding for the Relativity Series is provided by the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation to enhance public understanding of science and technology in the modern world.

©2010 L.A. Theatre Works (P)2010 L.A. Theatre Works

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Tuesday, December 08, 2020

Review: Dinah Was

Dinah Was Dinah Was by Oliver Goldstick
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Dinah Was

by Oliver Goldstick

Length: 1 hr and 43 mins

Published January 1st 2003 by LA Theatre Works

Whenever I listen to an audiobook that is a biography or autobiography of a musician I always end up getting perturbed when they talk about a song or the writing of a song and I cannot hear that song immediately. I think audiobooks in particular should at least have a clip of that song in the audio recording. But it rarely happens, and thus I have to stop where I am in the story and seek out that song. It helps the story to make sense. I once read a book about Bruce Springsteen's music with my phone and a blue tooth speaker handy just so I could hear each song being discussed. It was pure heaven.

That being said, you don't have to worry about this audio production of the play, “Dinah Was” by Oliver Goldstick. First of all it's another L.A. Theatre Works production so the production and acting is all superb. The role of Dinah Washington in this production is played by Yvette Freeman. Ms. Freemen does an awesome job singing the songs and all in the right place, in otherwords where I would normally have to stop and go find the song.

So now you just have to sit back and listen to a beautiful performance about the life of “The Queen of the Blues,” Dinah Washington. I love the scene in the opening of the play where she is booked to play a Las Vegas hotel but being black she is not allowed into the hotel proper. I hate that our society was once that bad, I would like to say we are getting better and from then to now improvements have been made in our society, but we still need work.

This play condenses the short life of Dinah Washington and her influence on the music biz. If nothing else the music is delicious. Go and consume this production from LATW, it will be worth it.

Publisher's Summary

In a white fur coat, ‘The Queen of the Blues’ sits on her luggage outside a Las Vegas hotel. It’s 1959—the legendary star can’t enter the hotel without a white escort. So Dinah Washington, in her inimitable style, takes a long pull from her flask and starts kicking up a fuss. Yvette Freeman reprises her OBIE Award-winning performance in this passionate play by Oliver Goldstick that reminds us “What a Difference a Day Makes”. Features songs made famous by Dinah Washington and performed in the play by Yvette Freeman.

Original orchestrations and arrangements by Jason Robert Brown; performed by Lanny Hartley on piano, Leroy Ball on bass, and Washington Rucker on drums.

Includes a conversation with playwright Oliver Goldstick.

Recorded before a live audience at the Skirball Cultural Center, Los Angeles in May of 2002.

Directed by Gordon Hunt

Paul Eiding as Spinelli/Sam Greenblatt

Yvette Freeman as Dinah Washington

Adriane Lenox as Maye/Mama Jones/Violet

Bud Leslie as Frick/Rollie

Darryl Reed as Boss/Chase Adams/DJ

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Monday, December 07, 2020

Review: Are You Now or Have You Ever Been?

Are You Now or Have You Ever Been? Are You Now or Have You Ever Been? by Eric Bentley
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

“Are You Now or Have You Ever Been?” By Eric Bentley

Are You Now or Have You Ever Been?

By: Eric Bentley

Narrated by: René Auberjonois, Edward Asner, Bonnie Bedelia, Richard Dreyfuss, James Earl Jones, James Whitmore, Michael York

Length: 1 hr and 27 mins

Published January 25th 2016 by L.A. Theatre Works (first published 1972)

Politics. Am I right? Who needs 'em. I've always hated political anythings. As we have found here in the last part of the year 2020, politics can make enemies out of good people. That's pretty much what is told in this story. Back during the red scar of the mid 50s people were reporting their neighbors for stuff that may or may not have had anything to do with communism, but it didn't matter the government was on the scent and would not break off the hunt.

The worst of this was seen in the treatment of Hollywood. Many folks in the biz never recovered from this witch hunt and careers were ended. This play focuses specifically on the Hollywood aspect of the red scare. Just name names an you will be off the government's list, but that means that you may turn others against you.

I would like to think in this day and age that a person simply curious about how communism runs or doesn't run would be safe to seek out that info. But alas, we have not learned our lesson and at the mere mention of anything social (social medicine, social healthcare, social education, social security) the screaming words of the other side calling another side communist still happens today. I'm not sure why or how but religion and politics are the two subjects / fields that you have to believe like everyone else or be prepared to have your head on a pike. I would also like to say give this play a listen / watch / read and learn, but humanity never learns.

On the positive side, the performances in this L.A. Theatre works production are once again stellar. Ed Asner steals the show for me he just makes the performance real. As usual with LATW productions the production quality is superb. So, at least enjoy a brief and entertaining history lesson. It may not change the world, but we can always hope.

Publisher's Summary

In the mid-1950s, the House Un-American Activities Committee began investigating the communist influence in the entertainment industry. This searing docudrama from actual transcripts of the hearings reveals how decent people were persuaded to name names - and the steep price paid by those who refused.

An L.A. Theatre Works full-cast performance featuring: René Auberjonois, Edward Asner, Bonnie Bedelia, Jack Coleman, Bud Cort, Richard Dreyfuss, Hector Elizondo, Robert Foxworth, Harry Hamlin, James Earl Jones, Richard Masur, Franklyn Seales, Joe Spano, James Whitmore, Michael York, and Harris Yulin.

©1999 Eric Bentley (P)1997 L.A. Theatre Works

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Wednesday, December 02, 2020

Review: And the Sun Stood Still

And the Sun Stood Still And the Sun Stood Still by Dava Sobel
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

And the Sun Stood Still

By: Dava Sobel

Narrated by: Robert Foxworth, John Vickery, Kate Steele, Michael Kirby, Gregory Harrison

Length: 1 hr and 50 mins

Audiobook, Dramatization with full cast

Published June 16th 2015 by LA Theatre Works

Science! It seems to have the answer to everything. But how do those answers get discovered? Sometimes a discovery is made an voila! all is understood. Sometimes however a discovery is made and current science cannot support so the new discovery meets with some resistance. What's even worse is when science goes against religion. Then not only is there resistance, but possible punishment for trying to make the religious folk wrong. More so in Copernicus' day than now, but every so often one finds that religion is the biggest hurtle to get over to promote fact.

This play brings to life the time when Copernicus discovered that the Earth is not the center of the Universe. Copernicus was hesitant to publis because of religion and even a little self-doubt. Rheticus comes in from Germany and pushes Copernicus to publish because the world needs to know. This play is about that struggle.

This production is produced/published by L.A. Theatre Works and once again LATW delivers. As always the production values puts you smack dab in the middle of a production and you feel as if you were sitting in the center of the theatre for this production. The sound effects and music are perfect, but what makes this even more believable is the calibre of actors. As with every LATW production the actors bring their all to make this production come to life in an audiobook form.

Publisher's Summary

Dava Sobel’s thoughtful play brings to life the story of Nicolaus Copernicus, the Renaissance astronomer, and mathematician who proposed the heliocentric model of the universe in which the Sun stands at the center. Plagued by self-doubt and threatened by religious censure, Copernicus resisted the publication of his work until just before his death in 1543. The play follows Copernicus in those final years as he works to complete his research with the help of Georg Rheticus, a young disciple from Wittenberg, Germany.

Includes a conversation with playwright Dava Sobel, author of A More Perfect Heaven: How Copernicus Revolutionized the Cosmos.

Recorded at The Invisible Studios, West Hollywood in February, 2015.

And the Sun Stood Still is part of L.A. Theatre Works’ Relativity Series of science-themed plays. Lead funding for the Relativity Series is provided by the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, bridging science and the arts in the modern world.

Directed by Rosalind Ayres

Producing Director Susan Albert Loewenberg

Robert Foxworth as Copernicus

Gregory Harrison as Giese

Michael Kirby as Rheticus

Kate Steele as Anna

John Vickery as Bishop Dantsicus

Associate Producers: Anna Lyse Erikson, Myke Weiskopf.

Recording Engineer, Sound Designer, Mixer: Mark Holden for The Invisible Studios, West Hollywood.

Editor: Wes Dewberry

©2015 L.A. Theatre Works (P)2015 L.A. Theatre Works

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Tuesday, December 01, 2020

Review: We're Alive: Goldrush

We're Alive: Goldrush We're Alive: Goldrush by K.C. Wayland
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

We're Alive: Goldrush

by K.C. Wayland

(We're Alive #6)

Audiobook, Audio Show

Published September 10th 2019 by Wayland Productions

Not sure if this really qualifies as a book, but I do know that the previous “seasons” of “We're Alive” have been published as audio books. Originally produced/released as a podcast, the “We're Alive” series is the brainchild of K.C. Wayland.

Wayland took some time out of school to go defend our country when he was called up for duty in Baghdad in the U.S. Army. He was already seeking a career in film and would have been there anyway, but I believe the Army is what brought the “We're Alive” series out of his brain and into our ears. The series is about survival during a zombie apocalypse. As with any good zombie apocalypse story the zombies aren't the focus of attention, it is the people and their ways to survive. K.C. Wayland has created a community of survivors that the listener will soon love and some may even be hated. Now, don't get me wrong, Wayland's zombies are just as much characters as the survivors, in fact, some of Wayland's zombies are very unique and create a different zombie atmosphere compared to some of the others in the genre.

This installment into the “We're Alive” universe actually has very few zombies. In this story, we get to revisit a few characters that I enjoyed but never got to see develop further. Now the soldiers; Greg Muldoon, Anthony Robbins, Carl Thomas, and Samuel Puck are off on their own adventure to find some stolen gold bars. At first I asked, what are they going to do with gold bars in the middle of an apocalypse? I soon learned that that wasn't important because a new story develops. On top of that people will be people and the writing of the characters prove that it doesn't matter that the world's financial system is in ruins, people still love shiny things.

The soldiers are out to film a spaghetti western type movie, you gotta do something to entertain yourself, and in the process find out about a cache of gold. The story unfolds as an aging General Puck confides this story to Alex Robbins, the son of his former teammate and friend, Anthony Robbins. So not only do you get a cool western, survival and zombie story, but also an opening for KC Wayland to explore other stories in the We're Alive universe.

The zombie genre is not quite dead (or undead).

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Thursday, November 19, 2020

Review: Peace Talks

Peace Talks Peace Talks by Jim Butcher
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Peace Talks

By: Jim Butcher

Narrated by: James Marsters

Series: The Dresden Files, Book 16

Length: 12 hrs and 52 mins

Published July 14th 2020 by Penguin Random House Audio Publishing Group

16 novels and numerous short stories in the Dresden Files and I still can't wait for the next one. If you're not familiar with the series, allow me to introduce you to your next favorite supernatural adventures that doesn't pander to kids, no lightning bolt scars, no shiny vampires and well no mind ready half fairy narrators. This is the real and gritty world of another wizard named Harry. I say real because the writing style of Jim Butcher just makes it all believable.

Now there are some negative notes floating around about this book. Those are somewhat legit complaints, however, I'm just glad we got another book, and really there is nothing wrong with this book. It seems, though, that Jim Butcher borrowed from J.K. Rowling's playbook and turned what looks to be a last very long book into two books. The big complaint is that we waited about 6 years for another book and it turns out to be half a book with another on the way soon. (It's out now I believe.)

Yeah the end of the story really leaves you hanging and you can tell it is the first part of something to follow, but I'm just happy we got the book.

This time around Harry is part of a security team that is making sure that peace talks between all the supernatural entities is safe. Apparantly not, because a Celtic Titan, Ethniu, breaks in to one of the gatherings and destrys Mab (Winter Queen of the Fae), and that is no simple task.

Harry knows a war is on but first he has to make sure his family and friends are safe before he can fight what feels like his final battle. There is an impending doom feeling throughout this book, whether it is simply a close to the Dresden series of books or maybe Harry's final Death (he's died already), I'm not sure, but this book is perfect Harry Dresden. Harry is making sure everyone else is safe while gearing up to put himself in danger, not even thinking to ask for help. But they will help, I just know it.

No spoilers in this review, I can't wait to get my grubby paws on the next one.

Publisher's Summary

Harry Dresden is back and ready for action, in the new entry in the number-one New York Times best-selling Dresden Files.

When the supernatural nations of the world meet up to negotiate an end to ongoing hostilities, Harry Dresden, Chicago's only professional wizard, joins the White Council's security team to make sure the talks stay civil. But can he succeed, when dark political manipulations threaten the very existence of Chicago - and all he holds dear?

©2020 Jim Butcher (P)2020 Penguin Audio

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Wednesday, November 11, 2020

Review: Thor: Son of Asgard

Thor: Son of Asgard Thor: Son of Asgard by Akira Yoshida
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Thor: Son of Asgard

by Akira Yoshida (Pseudonym), Greg Tocchini (Artist), Adi Granov (Illustrator), Jo Chen (Illustrator), Jay Leisten (Illustrator), C.B. Cebulski

compiles Thor: Son of Asgard #1-12

Paperback, 296 pages

Published September 8th 2010 by Marvel Comics (first published May 2004)

So you like them comic books? I have been a comic book fan for around 40 years or so, while I have read some DC comics releases, I have always been a Make Mine Marvel kind of guy. I've also been a fan of Thor, so much so that I convinced my wife to make my son's middle name Thor. Before all those Marvel movies came out. So I guess in a way I'm a Marvel Hipster.

Anyway, let's talk about this book. This trade Paperback collects issues 1-12 of “Thor: Son of Asgard” which ran back in 2004-2005. The story is of a young Thor, Sif and Balder, oh and of course Thor's trickster brother Loki and how the first three are sent on a group of tasks by Odin and how at first Loki is there (always ahead of the trio) to keep them from completing their tasks. Eventually this leads to the moment when Thor is worthy of Mjolnir.

Young Thor is attempting to lift Mjolnir, but he is not yet worthy. His friends Balder and Sif and laughing at the silly looks on his face as he strains himself, but Loki watches from the rafters. He causes three spiders to grow gigantic through magic, but by working together, the three young heroes destroy the monsters. Odin then decides to send the three young warriors on a quest to gather four elements that he will use to forge a new sword.

Thor, Balder, and Sif search the Hidden Hills for the dragon Hakurei. Their first task is to get one of his scales. Thor, Balder, and Sif then go to Jotunheim, to find Gnori and retrieve one of his feathers, as part of the quest of Odin. They are both still angry at Thor for accepting the quest without asking them first, and they are caught in a blizzard. Suddenly, they are attacked by Ice Elementals, but they manage to defeat them. Then Gnori arrives and grants them one of his feathers, along with a few wise words of warning.

The three friends find their way to the Mines of Jennia to retrieve one of the jewels and are attacked by the Jennia, small creatures that feed on emotions. Loki is trapped too, but he is rescued by Karnilla, who has been watching them the whole time.

Thor, Sif, and Balder are on their way to the Lake of Lilitha when Loki arrives and tells them of Karnilla's plan to attack Asgard. They decide that Sif and Balder will return to Asgard, while Thor continues to the lake to draw a vial of water - the final element needed. On his trek, he is attacked by Leviathan, but Thor defeats him. Thor finally arrives at the lake only to find it dried up and dead. He then returns to Asgard as the battle is going on. The Asgardians finally win the battle, but unseen, Karnilla lands on a tower and fires an arrow into Thor's chest.

Odin manages to defeat Karnilla and uses the magic sand from the Lake of Lilitha to restore Thor to life. He then has the sword Svadren forged from the four mystic elements and presents it to Balder the Brave.

That quest complete you would think Thor would be able to rest, but no. Both Sif and Amora vie for Thor's affections, when a new girl arrives in school – Brunnhilda. Fed up with the competition of the two blondes, Amora and Brunnhilda, in her quest to have Thor fall in love with her, Sif steals the Mirror of Mycha with the help of Loki. But after the spell is cast, Amora steals the mirror and uses it to make Thor love her. But hey you can't work with Loki without being tricked, right?

Sif is now enraged to find out she's been tricked. She and Brunnhilda make peace and decide to get back at Amora and Loki. During their confrontation, the Mirror of Mycha is broken and with it, the spell over Thor.

Thor goes to see the Fates concerning how to become worthy of Mjolnir, and they tell him that he must first face death. Upon his return to Asgard, the Storm Giants have attacked and kidnapped Sif. Odin tells Thor that he must remain behind and they will go rescue her. Thor decides that he is going to go as well, and find himself worthy to finally lift the enchanted hammer.

Trade paperbacks are really the way to go when you want to read a story as a whole. There were times when I would get frustrated waiting month to month for the next issue. Once I discovered if I had patience I would be rewarded with a TPB to add to my collection. I recommend the same to anyone. However there is still no replacement for going to the local comic book store every Wednesday when the new books arrive and grabbing a handful.

Keep reading true believers.

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