New WKAR Book Review: Above Us Only Sky by Michele Young-Stone

Current StateRecently on WKAR’s Current State, I reviewed the new novel by Michele Young-Stone. It is called Above Us Only Sky and is filled with Beatles references. Actually, my review is filled with them too.

You can listen to my review here: http://wkar.org/post/book-review-michele-young-stones-above-us-only-sky

If you would rather read my review, you can do so below.

Hey, did you know Current State has a podcast? If you subscribe, you can download episodes and segments (and you can find me every other Thursday). Here is a link to find it on iTunes- https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/wkar-fm-current-state/id594609653?mt=2

You can find the novel on Amazon.com here. If you want to check out my other book reviews for WKAR’s Current State, you can do so via links on this page. Continue reading

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Movie Review: Good Ol’ Freda

Good Ol' FredaI’m a Beatles nut.

It’s one of my things. Nearby me as I write this is the bootleg complete recordings of The Beatles BBC sessions (9 discs full), on the wall is a collection of rare photographs of The Beatles performing in Detroit, and then there are my instruments for Beatles Rock Band in the corner (doing all of Abbey Road is wonderful). And then there are my shelves and shelves with books on them, and the mountain of DVDs… Oh, and the boxset of their complete CDs. I, of course, have the music.

So whenever a new documentary or book on The Beatles comes out, I know all about it; definitely before some friend on Facebook or Twitter sends me a message saying “Did you know about this?”

“Yes… Yes. I did.” I always reply. Sometimes I pretend to be ignorant, but I never am.

And if one of these books or documentaries reaches a certain level of expertise it will probably join my “resource library.” I like to think of it as an honor. For example, the insightful Geoff Emerick’s book made it; the bad book by Bob Spitz (and it’s pile of errors) did not.

I’ve written on my love of The Beatles a few times on this site (like here and here). They are part of my makeup, what makes me “me.” And, I’m sure, that if a doctor was to check my pulse my beats would be perfectly in sync with the “Na’s” in Hey Jude.

Oh, and I have a Beatles tie. Did I mention The Beatles tie? Continue reading

How to Walk the Equator on Planet Books

globeOn Friday night, with a few drinks and snacks nearby us, my wife and I were discussing the states of our artforms. (Yeah, this is what we do on weekend nights.) For my wife it is dance and she struggles between the world of dance you see on TV and the artistry and importance of modern dance (she writes a lot about this on her own blog- educatingdancers.com). For me, it is the state of writing and books.

My wife has heard these arguments before (and I love her more each time she doesn’t yawn) as I continue to wonder where my artform is going and why there seems to be such a thick and foreboding wall between the pop writing you see filling the stores and the more literary creations you see winning the acclaim.

See, for me it feels unnatural that some books are written solely for entertainment and others are considered more important, but can be an endeavor to read even for us educated readers. What many don’t know is that this line, this equator, wasn’t always around and there is a way to create novels that do both.

On this night, my wife laughed and said, “You know who you are? In your posts and on your site? All those articles about books and writing? You, hubby, are the Great Mediator.”

The Great Mediator? Yup, that’s me. And I guess that makes me the lamest member of the Justice League (I’m assuming my chest plate would be the image of a perfectly-balanced scale). I’ve also been probably known to say after a battle with bad guys, “Wait, dudes, let’s hear the Legion of Doom out on this one first before we jump to judgement.” I’m the action figure no kids wants to play with.

Whatever the case, as the world of books gets more and more fractured into different genres and accessibility, I want to bring everything back together.  Continue reading

Which Beatle am I? I have no idea anymore

I have always identified myself with The Beatles.  There was something about their energy, their creativity, and their artistic exploration that called to me.

I know this is not a unique thing.

Almost everyone feels some kind of connection to the fab four, but for me, I would mark my time based on theirs or I would relate myself to at least one of them from time to time, thinking something like “Wow that is just like John,” even though I knew it was never really the case… but it just made everything feel a little more important.

When I was a young struggling writer, I saw myself as a young John Lennon. I wore a sailor cap like he did all the time and wrote comic short stories. Yes, I connected to this early John in a major way.   I even dressed as him for Halloween once with the sailor cap just so over my bangs… strangely (thanks probably to my blonde hair) most thought I was the Dutch Boy from the paint cans as compared to the young rock god. Continue reading

Talking About Some Deaths in Literature

Death is kind of on my mind a lot recently. My grandfather (who I wrote about here), died on February 9 and the loss of him and how it has impacted my every day thoughts had really made me think about death in relation to a lot of things around me. In my author-esq head, it’s not surprising that literature found its way into the mental ramblings (or should we just be honest and call them distractions from reality?).

It seems many times we don’t take “dead” very seriously in literature. Unless it is gruesome (Hi, George R.R. Martin!), or the other characters are seriously changed because of it for the worse (Seriously, why did Little Nell have to snuff it?), many times it seems to float past us as a plot device. Is it because we have a long history of people returning to life in books so it doesn’t feel as final? (Aslan, Gandalf, every comic book character, and most religious stories, etc.) The corpse is rarely there in a story, unless it has just happened; that could be part of it as well.

Death in writing is a plot device. It is a tool both sharp as a knife and as a blunt as a sledgehammer.  We cheer when bad guys die. We look at a death sacrifice as heroic, not thinking of the final end that just happened to a character.

Is it simply because we don’t see characters as “human?” So maybe it is more a fault of us writers that a readers feels, or doesn’t feel, the loss. There might be something to it. I wrote a book, MEGAN, that is built around a death and I tried to show a character from being told of the death of another with all the initial stages of acceptance over the course of a day. Hmmm… Probably why the work isn’t as popular on amazon.com than my time-traveling adventure, My Problem With Doors. So clearly, death is not a selling point.

There is a lesson there  I learned that you will not need to now. You can thank me later.

Sometimes a death can slip right by, almost as an afterthought. My favorite example of this is the first Harry Potter book. One thing I love to point out to people is that Harry Potter begins with a double homicide. Yes, we see the scene later in the series (We get a little description in the first book, just a taste). And while JK Rowling does her best to take a light approach to that first chapter (Vernon in all his heavy-set foolishness), it doesn’t change the fact the story really started the evening before when Voldemort went into the home of the Potters and slaughtered them gleefully. Continue reading

John, Paul, George, Ringo, and Your Children

While it is not surprising I have written an editorial on The Beatles and parenting for Green Spot Blue, it IS surprising that it took me a year to get around to doing it.

Here is the beginning of my article:

John, Paul, George, Ringo, and Your Children

When you think of The Beatles today, it’s hard not to get lost in the image of the innocent and sweetly sarcastic four moptops running around while “Can’t Buy Me Love” plays loudly.  Yet, The Beatles were more than that; they probably were the most important artists to come out of the last century.  In only ten years, they created a wealth of music and cultural influence that is still impacting and inspiring people today… Basically, I am not saying anything here we haven’t read or heard before since their break up almost forty years ago. Continue reading