2013: Day 15 – Favorite Discoveries of 2012

Well as I still acclimate to this freshly minted 2013, I thought it was a good time to look back at 2012 and reflect on my own personal favorite and new discoveries of 2012. So here is my list in no particular order:

  • Kashi Raisin Bran Breakfast Cereal

  • Discovery of the work of Lord Edwin Weeks at the Richmond Museum of Artedlordweeksml

  • The Walters Art Gallery

  • Texas Roadhouse in Durham, NC

  • The Charlotte, NC skyline

  • The Spider novels and writings of Norvell Page:2012’s Norvell Page obsession , and my mad dash to collect all his books, only equaled by earlier years Cornell Woolrich, Beksinski, Robert Duncanson and Marc Olden obsessions. spidercouncilofevil

    :Browse Norvell Page Books Here!

  • Sidebar Podcast

  • Victoria

  • 11oclock Comics Podcast

  • Spy Smasher movie serialspywithmachinegun

  • And in a rare case of the popular choice actually being my choice, THE AVENGERS was my favorite movie theater experience of the year

  • James Jean Rebus

  • Dark Horse Creepy Presents BERNIE WRIGHTSON

  •   Dark Horse Creepy Presents RICHARD CORBEN

    Browse great Dark Horse Creepy Books Here!

  • Numerous writers, among them Derrick Ferguson and Richard Gavin

  • Rich Yancey’s MONSTRUMOLOGIST series audio books

    :Browse Richard Yancey Books Here!

  • Joe Hill’s Short Story POP ART (from the collection 20TH CENTURY GHOSTS) stands out as one of my favorite, if not THE favorite, short story reads of 2012

  • 20thCentury_hc_c

And these were a few of my favorite things! 🙂

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BOOK OF THE DAY: John Varley’s THE PERSISTENCE OF VISION

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BOOK OF THE DAY: John Varley’s THE PERSISTENCE OF VISION

I’ve been off the science fiction kick for a while, with much of what passes for sci-fi today just not interesting me. But thankfully there’s a lot of brilliant scifi from yesteryear waiting to be discovered.

Enter John Varley’s 1978 short story collection… THE PERSISTENCE OF VISION. I’m still in process, but so far the first story alone, THE PHANTOM OF KANSAS is worth the price of the book all by itself.

The story is just so imaginative, particularly if you consider when it was done, and yet you sense far closer to where we may be going as a society than is comfortable. He jams so many mind-blowing concepts into a story, with throwaway ease.

So hunt up the collection and give it a read. I think it will make a fan of those people who do not care for sci-fi.

WHAT I’M READING: SONG OF THE SILENT SNOW

“Many, many years ago a man told me that to deny my dream was to sell my soul. I was young and did not know that the words were finding their own particular place within me so they would be mine forever, but I do remember blinking my eyes and nodding my head as if the very motion was forcing the truth in what he said deeper within me.”

—OF WHALES AND DREAMS by Hubert Selby

SONG OF THE SILENT SNOW is a 1986 short story collection by Hubert Selby, the author of LAST EXIT TO BROOKLYN, a few stories in and I find the collection both bittersweet and endearing, with a lovely use of language and longing. Recommended.

Song of the Silent Snow (Penguin Modern Classics)

BOOK OF THE DAY: GRAHAM MASTERTON’s FESTIVAL OF FEAR! Plus Food poisoning and hamburgers!

So I almost returned Graham Masterton’s short story collection FESTIVAL OF FEAR to the library, relatively unread. The reason being the first story, PRESS, was just not grabbing me.

It felt very opaque, I couldn’t get into it. A short story, the first couple pages I just found incredibly un-engaging, and found myself rereading them to try to get into the story.

So I was all set to just call it a day, as I have no shortage of books on my towering ‘to-read’ pile, awaiting my attention; so there’s very little reason to force myself to plow through a book that is not grabbing me. However, for whatever reason when I went to take the book back, it ended up coming back home with me.

I think the Library (greatest human invention) was closed. So getting back home, I finally gave that first story a full reading, managing to finish it this time, and it, PRESS, wasn’t great by any stretch of the imagination, ending with one of those ‘O’Henry’ type puns. However, while not great, it was… good. And I do appreciate a good pun.

The second story, THE BURGERS OF CALAIS, was even better, far more insidious and smart, but likewise ended with an almost groan inducing pun, one so old it should creak. But rather than put me off, the seemingly irreverent, tongue-in-cheek nature of the writing… I felt growing on me. And coming as it did right before my bout with food poisoning, the story now seems particularly apt.

So two stories in, FESTIVAL OF FEAR is today’s book of the day. I’ll keep you gals and gorillas apprised as I work my way through the rest. But for right now it is recommended!

************
(The squeamish should avoid the following! You have been warned!)

Regarding the food poisoning, since I said I would mention it, here’s the 2cent version.

To be brief, a hole in the wall pizzeria, 2 slices of cheese pizza, the usual shady/sundry counter types who you are trusting to be clean enough to actually touch/prepare food, and someone who obviously wasn’t clean enough. My body is pretty much well tuned, so to be not too involved, I’m regular and efficient as a swiss clock.

Uhhh, I’ll never look at Swiss clocks the same way again. 🙂

Meaning I’m in and out with precision (how did we get on this subject?). The trains must Roll!!!!

So I don’t get the idea of people who spend enough time in the bathroom that they have time to read.

What the heck is that about?! If you’re on the toilet that long, you need to get yourself checked.

Plus I think any paper in your bathroom should only be for flushing, otherwise it’s nothing but a germ collector going from hand to hand. Could there be anything more disgusting than reading material sitting in a bathroom, use after use, bowel movement after bowel movement, flush after flush?

Answer: No there’s nothing more disgusting. 🙂

You want to read that’s what a bloody library, or your bedroom, or a living room couch is for. Reading material should not be in the bloody bathroom!

SAVAGES!!!!

🙂 (Yes, I am evil)

Anyhow all that to say, when something disagrees with me I notice, and there is no guesswork involved. I think a lot of people don’t listen to their bodies, and they accept as normal, reactions that are screaming to them… huge warnings in large brightly lit neon letters.

So yeah, needless to say that pizzeria joins a list of blacklisted places. a full list of which I’ll be happy to provide. Heh, heh heh!

*****************


‘You’re right, Velma. It’s weird, but it’s not unusual for hamburger meat to be contaminated. In fact it’s more usual than unusual, which is why I never eat hamburgers.

‘I don’t know if I want to hear this, John.’

‘You should Velma. See — they used to have federal inspectors in every slaughterhouse, but the Reagan administration wanted to save money, so they allowed the meat-packing industry to take care of its own hygiene procedures. Streamlined Inspection System for Cattle, that’s what they call it — SIS-C.’

‘I never heard of that, John.’

‘Well, Velma, as an ordinary citizen you probably wouldn’t have. But the upshot was that when they had no USDA inspectors breathing down their necks, most of the slaughterhouses doubled their line speed, and that meant there was much more risk of contamination. I mean you can imagine a dead cow hanging up by its heels and a guy cutting its stomach open, and then heaving out its intestines by hand, which they still do, that’s a very skilled job, and if a gutter makes one mistake — floop! — everything goes everywhere, blood, guts, dirt, manure, and that happens to one in five cattle. Twenty percent.’

‘Oh, my God.’

‘Oh, it’s worse than that, Velma. These days, with SIS-C, meat-packers can get away with processing far more diseased cattle. I’ve seen cows coming into the slaughterhouse with abscesses and tapeworms and measles. The beef scraps they ship out for hamburgers are all mixed up with manure, hair, insects, metal filings, urine and vomit.’

‘You’re making me feel nauseous, John. I had a hamburger for supper last night.’

‘Make it your last, Velma. It’s not just the contamination, it’s the quality of the beef they use. Most of the cattle they slaughter for hamburgers are old dairy cattle, because they’re cheap and their meat isn’t too fatty. But they’re full of antibiotics and they’re often infected with E.coli and salmonella. You take just one hamburger, that’s not the meat from a single animal, that’s mixed up meet from dozens or even hundreds of different cows, and it only takes one diseased cow to contaminate thirty-two thousand pounds of ground beef.’

‘That’s like a horror story, John.’

‘You’re too right, Velma.’
—-THE BURGERS OF CALAIS by Graham Masterton

WEDNESDAYS WORDS

WEDNESDAYS WORDS is a new weekly installment that ranks the most interesting, intriguing books of the week (old, new, reissues, digital, etc). Contributors represent a variety of genres and sources. Each book includes Title and publisher blurb.

A one item, abbreviated WEDNESDAYS WORDS. Enjoy 🙂 :

Collected Stories of Ray Bradbury: A Critical Edition : 1938-1943

Book Description
Publication Date: February 21, 2011 | Series: Collected Stories of Ray Bradbury
Inaugurating a critical edition of one of America’s most popular storytellers

In the past, collections of Bradbury’s works have juxtaposed stories with no indication as to the different time periods in which they were written. Even the mid- and late-career collections that Bradbury himself compiled contained stories that were written much earlier–a situation that has given rise to misconceptions about the origins of the stories themselves. In this new edition, editors William F. Touponce and Jonathan R. Eller present for the first time the stories of Ray Bradbury in the order in which they were written. Moreover, they use texts that reflect Bradbury’s earliest settled intention for each tale. By examining his relationships with his agent, editor, and publisher, Touponce and Eller’s textual commentaries document the transformation of the stories–and Bradbury’s creative understanding of genre fiction–from their original forms to the versions known and loved today.

Volume 1 covers the years 1938 to 1943 and contains thirteen stories that have never appeared in a Bradbury collection. For those that were previously published, the original serial forms recovered in this volume differ in significant ways from the versions that Bradbury popularized over the ensuing years. By documenting the ways the stories evolved over time, Touponce and Eller unveil significant new information about Bradbury’s development as a master of short fiction.

Each volume in the proposed three-volume edition includes a general introduction, chronology, summary of unpublished stories, textual commentary for each story, textual apparatus, and chronological catalog. The Collected Stories of Ray Bradbury is edited to the highest scholarly standards by the Center for Ray Bradbury Studies and bears the Modern Language Association’s seal of approval for scholarly editions.

I have my doubts in regards to people dusting off early, arguably rough draft versions of Bradbury’s stories and compiling these as if they are offering something significantly new. However the statement that these stories, have not been collected before is intriguing.

Though perhaps the reason they have not been collected is because, they were the imperfect forms of stories that Ray Bradbury went on to perfect.

So beyond the obvious… he got better, I’m unsure what, of value, can be mined from this approach. And what critical analysis one can offer on Bradbury’s stories, that are not inherent in a/the stories themselves or b/ Bradbury’s discussion of his stories that thankfully the great man left us with, in multiple forms, from books, radio, television, and even film. Bradbury being perhaps one of the most consulted and interviewed writers of our time.

Rather than a best of compilation, or even a chronological compilation, the selling point of this book would seemingly be… this is the rough draft compilation.

I’m not sure if that’s the collection, that any writer wants of their work.

But this is all guesswork. I’ll withhold final judgment till I can get a reading copy. And the fact that I’m intrigued enough to give this a look means it is… WEDNESDAYS WORDS material.


The WEDNESDAYS WORDS column is a new blog feature, appearing (you guessed it!) every Wednesday. Come back next week to see which books make the list!

If you’re a publisher, writer, or other creative representative looking to submit items for WEDNESDAYS WORDS, just leave a comment on this post with your email/contact info, comments don’t get posted they come right to me, and I’ll reach out to you with the snail mail details.

And as far as readers, if you see items on WEDNESDAYS WORDS you’re considering purchasing then, if you are able and would like to support this blog, please utilize the attached links.

Your helpful purchases through those links, generates much appreciated pennies to keep this blog running. Your feedback and support… just way cool, and way appreciated. Thanks!

Sponsored by Ebay Store: Deals of the Day!

WEDNESDAY WORDS! TOP BOOKS OF THE WEEK!

WEDNESDAYS WORDS is a new weekly installment that ranks the most interesting, intriguing books of the week (old, new, reissues, digital, etc). Contributors represent a variety of genres and sources. Each book includes Title and publisher blurb.


How Your House Works: A Visual Guide to Understanding and Maintaining Your Home, Updated and Expanded (RSMeans) by Charlie Wing. Understand how to maintain everything in your home—including the kitchen sink

How Your House Works, Second Edition reinforces the fact that it pays to be an informed consumer. Knowledge of your home’s systems helps you control repair and construction costs and makes sure the correct elements are being installed or replaced. How Your House Works uncovers the mysteries behind just about every major appliance and building element in your house. Clear, full-color drawings show you exactly how these things should be put together and how they function, including what to check if they don’t work.

Covering topics such as electrical systems, heating and air conditioning, plumbing, major household appliances, foundation, framing, doors, and windows, this updated Second Edition has considerable additional information, with new chapters related to sustainability in and outside the house, as well as new topics, including clock thermostats, ventless gas heaters, moisture and mold, and passive solar heating.

Jazz Age Josephine: Dancer, singer–who’s that, who? Why, that’s MISS Josephine Baker, to you!
Jazz Age Josephine [Hardcover]- A picture book biography that will inspire readers to dance to their own beats!

Singer, dancer, actress, and independent dame, Josephine Baker felt life was a performance. She lived by her own rules and helped to shake up the status quo with wild costumes and a you-can’t-tell-me-no attitude that made her famous. She even had a pet leopard in Paris!

From bestselling children’s biographer Jonah Winter and two-time Caldecott Honoree Marjorie Priceman comes a story of a woman the stage could barely contain. Rising from a poor, segregated upbringing, Josephine Baker was able to break through racial barriers with her own sense of flair and astonishing dance abilities. She was a pillar of steel with a heart of gold—all wrapped up in feathers, sequins, and an infectious rhythm.

Mekanika – ‘Mekanika,’ issued in 2000, is the first collection of work from this Argentinan born artist. Almost all the work here dates after his decision to relocate to Europe, which seemed to trigger a creative flowering… The reader will find both published and unknown work here plus an interesting discussion by the artist himself. If you are a lover of works of the imagination this is a collection that is required reading, and has become hard to find.’-AMAZON Review

King: A Comics Biography, Special Edition
King: A Comics Biography, Special Edition [Hardcover] – A special expanded edition of a Fantagraphics classic. “Anderson uses a film noir style, with a Wellesian mastery of shadows and moods.”—Vibe
Ho Che Anderson has spent over 10 years researching, writing, and drawing King, a monumental graphic biography that liberates Martin Luther King Jr. from the saintly, one-dimensional, hagiographic image so prevalent in pop culture. Here is King—father, husband, politician, deal broker, idealist, pragmatist, inspiration to millions—brought to vivid, flesh-and-blood life.

Out of print since 2006, King is Fantagraphics’ most-requested reprint. In recognition of the advances made in American social equality that has made it possible to elect America’s first black President, Fantagraphics Books is publishing King: The Special Edition, a newly designed volume that includes the original 240-page graphic biography, as well as nearly a hundred additional pages of “extras,”.


T. E. LAWRENCE AND THE ARAB REVOLT: An Illustrated Guide

Guerrilla Leader: T. E. Lawrence and the Arab Revolt [Hardcover]
James Schneider (Author) – Publication Date: November 8, 2011
Reclaiming T. E. Lawrence from hype and legend, James J. Schneider offers a startling reexamination of this leader’s critical role in shaping the modern Middle East. Just how did this obscure British junior intelligence officer, unschooled in the art of war, become “Lawrence of Arabia” and inspire a loosely affiliated cluster of desert tribes to band together in an all-or-nothing insurgency against their Turkish overlords? The answers have profound implications for our time as well, as a new generation of revolutionaries pulls pages from Lawrence’s playbook of irregular warfare.

Blowing up trains and harassing supply lines with dynamite and audacity, Lawrence drove the mighty armies of the Ottoman Turks to distraction and brought the Arabs to the brink of self-determination. But his success hinged on more than just innovative tactics: As he immersed himself in Arab culture, Lawrence learned that a traditional Western-style hierarchical command structure could not work in a tribal system where warriors lead not only an army but an entire community. Weaving quotations from Lawrence’s own writings with the histories of his greatest campaigns, Schneider shows how this stranger in a strange land evolved over time into the model of the self-reflective, enabling leader who eschews glory for himself but instead seeks to empower his followers. Guerrilla Leader also offers a valuable analysis of Lawrence’s innovative theories of insurgency and their relevance to the ongoing turmoil in the Middle East.

With insights into Lawrence’s views on discipline, his fear of failure, and his enduring influence on military leadership in the twenty-first century, Guerrilla Leader is a bracingly fresh take on one of the great subjects of the modern era.


The Works: Anatomy of a City
The Works: Anatomy of a City [Paperback] by Kate Ascher – A fascinating guided tour of the ways things work in a modern city. Have you ever wondered how the water in your faucet gets there? Where your garbage goes? What the pipes under city streets do? How bananas from Ecuador get to your local market? Why radiators in apartment buildings clang?

Using New York City as its point of reference, The Works takes readers down manholes and behind the scenes to explain exactly how an urban infrastructure operates. Deftly weaving text and graphics, author Kate Ascher explores the systems that manage water, traffic, sewage and garbage, subways, electricity, mail, and much more. Full of fascinating facts and anecdotes, The Works gives readers a unique glimpse at what lies behind and beneath urban life in the twenty-first century.

Beneath the Metropolis: The Secret Lives of Cities
Beneath the Metropolis: The Secret Lives of Cities [Paperback]- The pulse of great cities may be most palpable above ground, but it is below the busy streets where we can observe their rich archaeological history and the infrastructure that keeps them running.

In Beneath the Metropolis journalist Alex Marshall investigates how geological features, archaeological remnants of past civilizations, and layered networks transporting water, electricity, and people, have shaped these cities through centuries of political turbulence and advancements in engineering — and how they are determining the course of the cities’ future.

From the first-century catacombs of Rome, the New York subway system, and the swamps and ancient quays beneath London, to San Francisco’s fault lines, the depleted aquifer below Mexico City, and Mao Tse-tung’s extensive network of secret tunnels under Beijing, these subterranean environments offer a unique cross-section of a city’s history and future.

Stunningly illustrated with colorful photographs, drawings, and maps, Beneath the Metropolis reveals the hidden worlds beneath our feet, and charts the cities’ development through centuries of forgotten history, political change, and technological innovation.

The WEDNESDAYS WORDS column is a new blog feature, appearing (you guessed it!) every Wednesday. Come back next week to see which books make the list!

If you’re a publisher, writer, or other creative representative looking to submit items for WEDNESDAYS WORDS, just leave a comment on this post with your email/contact info, comments don’t get posted they come right to me, and I’ll reach out to you with the snail mail details.

And as far as readers, if you see items on WEDNESDAYS WORDS you’re considering purchasing then, if you are able and would like to support this blog, please utilize the attached links.

Your helpful purchases through those links, generates much appreciated pennies to keep this blog running. Your feedback and support… just way cool, and way appreciated. Thanks!

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