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Book Reviews

Review: A Scanner Darkly by Philip K. Dick

Blurb:

Bob Arctor is a junkie and a drug dealer, both using and selling the mind-altering Substance D. Fred is a law enforcement agent, tasked with bringing Bob down. It sounds like a standard case. The only problem is that Bob and Fred are the same person. Substance D doesn’t just alter the mind, it splits it in two, and neither side knows what the other is doing or that it even exists. Now, both sides are growing increasingly paranoid as Bob tries to evade Fred while Fred tries to evade his suspicious bosses.


Like a snake eating its own tail, A Scanner Darkly delivers a humorous but paranoid tale of Bob Arctor’s downward spiral through being the prey and the hunter at the same time. Seemingly, no one else besides Arctor falls and because of that, Arctor falls himself into a pit of despair and a classic case of reaping what one sows.

A Scanner Darkly is the second full length book by PkD I’ve read and it worked really well for me, just as expected with paradoxical content that is easy to read, but themes that are muddy to say the least and could be confusing to some readers.

Personally, having watched the film several times ( and it being a favorite ), this was an easy read for me and my familiarity with the story made it just that much better. Like most book to film adaptions, this 300 odd paged book delivers more content than the movie with added scenes and insight into the story PkD writes for us. If I could pick one thing that makes me mad about this story is how the people around Bob Arctor simply let him fall the way he did. However in same sense he became what he wanted to.

If you ever wonder what people act like when under the influence, several scenes in A Scanner Darkly I’m assuming, paint an accurate picture and a humorous one at that. At the back of the book, Dick dedicates the book to his friends that either have died from drug use or suffer permanent, detrimental effects from “playing” in the game and admits to having played himself at times.

Recommendation:

As a distinguished piece of American culture, A Scanner Darkly explores topics surrounding a game of drugs where the hunted and hunter are the same person. The story follows a path of self destruction that should prove a moral of the story consisting of “Drugs are bad. M’kay.” and “You should be number one in your own life”.

Drugs are bad, m’kay

★★★★★ – Five stars out of five for A Scanner Darkly by Philip K. Dick and if you like mind twisting tales, I think you’d agree.

Guys and gals, until next time – may you find all the happiness that your life can fit in it’s happy spot – S.D. McKinley.

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Book Reviews Other Reviews

Review: Big Damn Sin City: The Hard Good Bye: Part #7 and #8

All images are © 2014 Dark Horse Books / Frank Miller, All opinions are my own.

Introduction:

Previously, we covered Part 5 and 6 of The Hard Goodbye. Now, we have a continuation with Part #7 and #8

WARNING: This book most certainly is NSFW and only for adults. I will do my best to leave the vulgarities out of it so that everyone can enjoy. Although, if you can stomach the madness to achieve the full effect, a proper purchase of the source materials is recommended.

WARNING: Spoilers ahead: In depth review including respectable, occasional snaps of the art work and surrounding thoughts.

Big Damn Sin City: The Hard Goodbye: Part 7

Part number seven starts out at the farm we were introduced from part six, where Marv and Lucille are still trapped in the tiled basement. Marv’s efforts to break free aren’t working, at least so far.

Marv trying to escape the basement.

Finally Marv knocks down the door and they are free. Marv makes a mental note that Lucille almost seems scared to leave. A helicopter approaches. It’s the police! Marv finds his gun ( sweet Gladys ) and cocks it. The police exit the helicopter, but don’t see Marv and Lucille.

Sweet “Gladys”, the gun.
The police, stepping off of the helicopter.

Marv tells Lucille the police are done checking the house, but are coming their way and he says “I’ll show them . . .” Lucille tells the police not to shoot Marv and then he grabs the axe out of the stump to bring it to the gun fight, with the cops.

He takes out all the cops except for the one with the mark on his face. Marv tells the cop that he has a nice coat on.

Marv chases the police officer with the mark on his face with the hatchet and laughing at the same time.

Lucille is dead with the cops.

Big Damn Sin City: The Hard Goodbye: Part 8

Marv

Marv talks about Sin City’s relation to rain and it barely rains most of the time, but sometimes a torrential down pour comes from the desert. Marv likes the rain, it helps him think things through, helps him look at the big picture. He is on alert for more cops. He thinks of what the preacher told him, the name “Roark”.

Every part of him wants to escape his troubles and just run away. He tells himself “I’m as good as dead”. He claims to himself that he is no hero, but he just can’t let Goldie go and he is more scared of dying than living now. He reasons with himself that Goldie knew her life was in danger and that’s why she hooked up with Marv. He feels bad for letting her die in his drunken stupor.

We learn that the “Roark” family has owned Sin City for a long time. Marv wants to kill Patrick Henry Roark. He shoots into the distance.

Finally, he questions himself that he could be wrong about the whole thing. He gets confused and with Lucille dead, he can’t get his medicine now. He tells himself he may be imagining things. Has he turned into a maniac killer? What everyone said that he would?

So, he is going to do something to make sure he is headed in the right direction. He is going to “Old Town” that is alive and bustling by the time he arrives. Old Town was made like it is with lots of dirty business by Roark’s grandfather. Marv asks around about Goldie. There is hookers in old town, so he should be able to find some things out. He sees the mysterious woman that looks just like Goldie and she shoots Marv and the bullet clips his head.

Now Marv is tied to a chair.

One of the other women calls the person that looks like Goldie, they call her “Wendy” and tell her to hit him again. Marv calls her Goldie. Marv questions why someone called her Goldie. Wendy tells Marv that Goldie is her sister. The women think that Marv is lying about Goldie and they think that Marv killed her. He defends himself with talk.

The women that Marv ends up with in Old Town Sin City.

The women level with him and now believe that Marv didn’t kill Goldie.

My Thoughts:

I can’t believe it took Marv this long to question his actions. Wow. I mean, you are avenging the death of someone you just met. Ridiculous. What is the chance that Wendy is lying and she is really Goldie and they have set Marv up? This is muddy, for sure.

Now that he has someone of use on his side, namely Goldie’s. The way the women from Old Town Sin City just start to believe Marv, that transition in the story was a bit cheesy, seemed unnatural, but I think that comes with the territory on this dark comic omnibus.

Let’s see what happens next time after Marv has found and leveled with Goldie’s sister . . .

Guys and gals, until next time – may you find all the happiness that your life can fit in it’s happy spot – S.D. McKinley.

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Book Reviews

Dual Review: Flow My Tears, the Policeman Said by Philip K. Dick

I’m excited to announce, in cooperation with Tales From the Neon Beach, I present you with our dual review of Flow My Tears, the Policeman Said:

Sneak peak at dual review of Flow My Tears, the Policeman Said by Philip K. Dick.

It was a great honor to complete this study with Tales. He was excellent to work with and made the experience that much better seeing this work of art from another side.

Guys and gals, until next time – may you find all the happiness that your life can fit in it’s happy spot – S.D. McKinley.

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Music Resources

Friday Fun Trifecta #16

If you remember a while back, we did a segment here on SDMcKinley.com called Friday Fun Links. Fun links have evolved into Friday Fun Trifecta, where I will feature one thing of each – music, book and visual arts. Welcome to Friday Fun Trifecta #16, in appreciation for artwork.

Music:

Tennis Court by Lorde, remixed by Flume – lyrics @ Genius.com

Visual:

house m.d. by mart-art

Book:

Prey by Michael Crichton

“They didn’t understand what they were doing.

I’m afraid that will be on the tombstone of the human race.”

― Michael Crichton, Prey

[ Quote Source: goodreads.com ]

Guys and gals, until next time – may you find all the happiness that your life can fit in it’s happy spot – S.D. McKinley.

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Book Reviews

Review: The Haunting of Tram Car 015 by P. Djèlí Clark

A finely illustrated cover with creative spark and energy that mostly matches the book’s interior.

Blurb:

Cairo, 1912: The case started as a simple one for the Ministry of Alchemy, Enchantments and Supernatural Entities ― handling a possessed tram car.

Soon, however, Agent Hamed Nasr and his new partner Agent Onsi Youssef are exposed to a new side of Cairo stirring with suffragettes, secret societies, and sentient automatons in a race against time to protect the city from an encroaching danger that crosses the line between the magical and the mundane.


Overall, The Haunting of Tram Car 015 worked well for a ghost hunting story, novella in size. I was surprised at the listing of the book @ 144 pages. It fell short of that size with the last some odd pages being a preview for another book, totaling in at around 75 pages. But, with The Haunting of Tram Car 015 being my second read by this author; It didn’t work as well for me as A Dead Djinn in Cairo ( both these books reside in the same fictional universe ).

Why didn’t it work as well? Simply put, The Haunting of Tram Car 015 didn’t work as well as well as the other book I have read by Clark because it lacked poetic form and mostly just explained things verbosely without much style at all. While some readers prefer the more verbose, I do not and rather to have some abstract thoughts thrown in here and there, just to make sure I’m paying attention.

The only thing that saved this book for me was it’s mention of lore and things specific to the universe and it’s ties into Agent Hamed’s crew and collogues in the adventure to find out what exactly was wrong with tram car 015. ★★★✬☆ Three and half stars out of five for The Haunting of Tram Car 015.

Guys and gals, until next time – may you find all the happiness that your life can fit in it’s happy spot – S.D. McKinley.

Categories
Book Reviews

DNF Review @ 41%: And the Hippos Were Boiled in their Tanks by Burroughs and Kerouac

I’d say this cover matches the inside of this book. Blah.

Blurb:

In the summer of 1944, a shocking murder rocked the fledgling Beats. William S. Burroughs and Jack Kerouac, both still unknown, we inspired by the crime to collaborate on a novel, a hard-boiled tale of bohemian New York during World War II, full of drugs and art, obsession and brutality, with scenes and characters drawn from their own lives. Finally published after more than sixty years, this is a captivating read, and incomparable literary artifact, and a window into the lives and art of two of the twentieth century’s most influential writers.


The occasional internal laugh is what kept me reading this through the beginning and in hopes that the noise would materialize into a great story . . . but, it kept going on and on with what seemed to be the continuation of well, just more noise. I realize that this book stands for these influential author’s collaboration before they were even famous, but the problem is that I haven’t read anything by Kerouac before and only one book by Burroughs, in which I only remember one thing from the whole book and do not remember the title. My tolerance is 100 pages of noise before something drops to get me hooked and this book, and I either missed the boat altogether or it’s just plain noise and it gets ★★☆☆☆ two out of five stars for what I happened to read.

Guys and gals, until next time – may you find all the happiness that your life can fit in it’s happy spot – S.D. McKinley.

Categories
Music Resources

Friday Fun Trifecta #15 – Shadow Edition w/ Book Haul

If you remember a while back, we did a segment here on SDMcKinley.com called Friday Fun Links. Fun links have evolved into Friday Fun Trifecta, where I will feature one thing of each – music, book and visual arts. Welcome to Friday Fun Trifecta #15, in appreciation for artwork.

It’s Friday again. How am I doing? Today, I feel great. I went through my hospital stent and it ended up being a sort of vacation as well, just to get away from everything for a little while, which was a silver linings of sorts. I am looking forward to getting back into the web serial soon. So I need some good vibes / prayers to write something you and others can get something out of while also enjoying what you are looking at.

What does your shadow mean to you?

From one perspective, the shadow “is roughly equivalent to the whole of the Freudian unconscious;” and Carl Jung himself asserted that “the result of the Freudian method of elucidation is a minute elaboration of man’s shadow-side unexampled in any previous age.” Contrary to a Freudian definition of shadow, however, the Jungian shadow can include everything outside the light of consciousness and may be positive or negative. Because one tends to reject or remain ignorant of the least desirable aspects of one’s personality, the shadow is largely negative. There are, however, positive aspects that may also remain hidden in one’s shadow (especially in people with low self-esteemanxieties, and false beliefs). “Everyone carries a shadow,” Jung wrote, “and the less it is embodied in the individual’s conscious life, the blacker and denser it is.” It may be, in part, one’s link to more primitive animal instincts, which are superseded during early childhood by the conscious mind.

Visual:

Shadow by MoishPain

Music:

Breathe No More by Evanescence – lyrics @ Genius.com

Book:

Shadowmarch by Tad Williams

“That is the problem with rumors,” said Avin Brone. “It is very hard to prove that things are not true—much more difficult than proving they are.”

― Tad Williams, Shadowmarch

“Perhaps a heart was indeed like a piece of dry birchwood, and could only take fire and burn brightly once—that any fire that came after would be only an ember, smaller and cooler.”

― Tad Williams, Shadowmarch

[ Quote Source: goodreads.com ]

Book Haul, courtesy of Mr. Bookstooge’s Giveaway:

A special thanks goes out to Mr. Bookstooge this week for hooking me up with these lovely books via his giveaway. I’m quite busy today, so I won’t be putting images or links, but hopefully sometime soon you can get my two bits in the form of a review. With this and my Christmas haul, I sure don’t need to be buying any books anytime soon!

Guys and gals, until next time – may you find all the happiness that your life can fit in it’s happy spot – S.D. McKinley.

Categories
Book Reviews Other Reviews

Review: Big Damn Sin City: The Hard Good Bye: Part #5 and #6

All images are © 2014 Dark Horse Books / Frank Miller, All opinions are my own.

Introduction:

Previously, we covered Part 4 of The Hard Goodbye. Now, we have a continuation with Part #5 and #6

WARNING: This book most certainly is NSFW and only for adults. I will do my best to leave the vulgarities out of it so that everyone can enjoy. Although, if you can stomach the madness to achieve the full effect, a proper purchase of the source materials is recommended.

WARNING: Spoilers ahead: In depth review including respectable, occasional snaps of the art work and surrounding thoughts.

Big Damn Sin City: The Hard Goodbye: Part 5

Marv is sleeping. Restlessly. He cannot sleep because he is excited. Thinking about how he hates being seen in the sun of day and there is nothing to do until the sun comes out, he then explains his perspective of the day riders.

Taking to the streets, he gives some guy named Tommy a swirly, looking for more information about Goldie’s death. He personifies Sin City like the place is a “she” and thinks about how great it is to be alive. Another unnamed person gets slammed onto the pavement while Marv is in a car.

Now, he goes to church, but not to pray and what seems to be confession time:

What seems to be a confession, turns into an interrogation of the preacher. about Goldie. The preacher gives a name of “Roark”, which is either a lead or a direct reference to the people responsible for Goldie’s death. Marv isn’t sure of the validity of the preachers information. The preacher reassures Marv it is good information and there is a farm he can go to to find out more, and he also asks Marv if Goldie is worth dying for. Marv kills the preacher with three shots and says, “Amen”, lights a cigarette and steals the preacher’s Mercedes vehicle, stating that all modern cars look like “electric shavers”.

A car approaches. The driver looks like Goldie, the mysterious woman from the end of Part 4 and hits Marv a couple of times with the car and shoots a couple of times.

Marv escapes and continues to drive up the hill, to the farm. He thinks about how the woman looked just like Goldie, but no, it couldn’t have been her. He forgot to take his medicine and that’s why he is “seeing things”. It’s bad when you forget to take your medicine when you have a “condition”.

Big Damn Sin City: The Hard Goodbye: Part 6

The Mercedes gets parked at a diner, about two miles away from the farm, taking to the woods. Marv is scared of the woods and not much else.

Now at the farm, Marv gets a cold sensation in hit gut and he always trusts it because it hasn’t failed him in the past. People have died wrongly here. A wolf comes snarling and Marv fights the “pooch” out of lack of options to avoid it.

There was blood on the wolf’s breath and Marv knows it well. A stranger appears behind Marv as he finds a human bone. The man is wearing Chuck All-Stars and kicks him in the neck swiftly. Marv has great trouble in this fight and ends up getting sledged by a hammer. Marv suspects this is the man responsible for Goldie’s death and then Marv is knocked unconscious:

Marv sees the light at the end of the tunnel, but awakens on a tiled floor.

A woman is here with him. Taxidermized heads hang on the wall, on with a rose tattoo on one of the victim’s jawline. Evidently the man who owns the farm is a cannibal. The woman in the room is Lucille, his parole officer. They conversate about the situation, Lucille is telling Marv that the farm owner is, in fact a killer. The man has already deduced Lucille’s hand and he made her watch him do it. Horrible. Lucille screams about it. Marv gives Lucille his coat for comfort.

Lucille tells Marv that he “has brought big trouble this time” and that “Whoever is behind this has got his connections– right in the department.” Marv is trying to rip the grate out the window to escape.

They conversate some more and Lucille isn’t buying it that someone named Roark is behind all this. Lucille tells Marv that Goldie was a “hooker” and a top dollar one, but he didn’t know that. A car pulls up at the farm, a car with a V8 engine. The car calls out to “Kevin”, and to come quickly. Marv hears Kevin’s name which is the killer.

My Thoughts:

I really didn’t like that Marv killed the preacher, but my suspicion is that when the preacher asked Marv if Goldie was worth dying for, that he heard a death threat and / or made an example out of him. But then again, how does the preacher know about the killer previously? Strange, very strange, indeed.

I’m still partly hung up that Goldie never did die and am looking for an indication that the mysterious woman is or is not, in fact Goldie. There are many convoluted things going on!

Guys and gals, until next time – may you find all the happiness that your life can fit in it’s happy spot – S.D. McKinley.

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Book Reviews Other Reviews

Review: Brandon Sanderson’s Dark One Vol. 1 – Graphic Novel

Splendid cover here representing the true heart of this material.

I completed this graphic novel review in exchange for a free digital copy via NetGalley.com.

Blurb:

From #1 New York Times Bestselling, Hugo Award-winning author, Brandon Sanderson (The Mistborn Trilogy, The Stormlight Archive series), along with Nathan Gooden, Jackson Lanzing, and Collin Kelly, comes Dark One, the first book in a series of original graphic novels, from Vault Comics.

Some worlds are made to be broken.

Paul Tanasin is a young man haunted by visions of a dark and fantastic world visions he initially believes are hallucinations. But when he discovers they are prophecies from Mirandus, a world in which he’s destined to become a fearsome destroyer, he’ll have to embrace the fear, rise up as the Dark One, and shatter everything. Dark One examines the dual roles we often take on in life―the ability to be a savior as well as a destroyer.


Lets start this out by talking a bit about mental health, which is what our protagonist starts out believing his ( Paul ) hallucinations are a product of his own mind and is seeing a shrink about it. Yes, he hides the delusions at first, possibly embarrassed about what people might think because of his supposed delusions. He doesn’t even tell his shrink. Things like this can fester into an uncontrollable flame if not talked about: but we should hold discretion about who we talk to about it. What makes me especially mad is when people intently fester someone’s mental health flame in the completely wrong way in order for some sort of domination. Fun fact: very little known species outside of humans antagonize out of joy or get laughter from other’s misfortune. If you’ve watched bloopers or funny videos on YouTube.com where people get hurt, then you laugh you have participated as well. Don’t worry, it’s a natural reaction as I have as well; I only aim to get your gears turning . . . I mean, think about it. Don’t get me wrong: a bit of pressure is a good thing, if applied properly – so the line is not very black and white which leads to the main theme in this book along with a contrast between what might be considered a sort of utopian society where black and white is clearly drawn:

A clear contrast between our world and the world beyond in The Dark One Vol. 1

The good ‘ol debate of good and evil, the yin and the yang is what this book hammers into the ground. Brandon Sanderson’s The Dark One Vol. 1 sincerely addresses these lines about how what is good and what is evil exclaims the fact that it is never as easy as black and white and does a stellar job at it by addressing something called the narrative which is a predestine story across two different lands.

If you had to pick a side and the sides were called darkness and lightness, do you know which you would pick? If the narrative was pre-destined would that change your answer? This is deeeeeeeeeeeeep.

Paul is followed by a ghost named Nikka that is his sister, but Paul claims he doesn’t have a sister. Upon reading the book, this becomes clear in the story and Brandon Sanderson and the artists do a splendid job covering the issue of good vs. evil in regards to pre-destiny that is completely re-written as the story closes. Even though I received this for free, I do plan on buying a copy at some point. It was just that good.

I haven’t read any of Sanderson’s other work, but this book leaves me wondering if his other words stand up to this at all.

Recommendation:

While not particularly cutting edge in the realm of good vs evil, Sanderson employs modern story telling techniques in order to contrast our world, which is not so black and white with a otherworld where black and white is very cut and dry, leaving us with a the grass is not always greener on the other side mentality, which is great and refreshing at the same time. ★★★★★ Five stars out of five all day, every day.

Do you think there is such a thing as good and evil? Do you know anyone that you believe is completely evil or completely good?

Guys and gals, until next time – may you find all the happiness that your life can fit in it’s happy spot – S.D. McKinley.

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Resources

New Side Hobby: Ham Radio

Featured image source: spectrum.ieee.org

With all the apocalyptical things going on, there’s no better way to equip yourself than with the primal. I have chose to do this by buying primitive things such as camping supplies and getting to know the ins and out of ham radio.

What is Ham Radio?

Amateur Radio (ham radio) is a popular hobby and service that brings people, electronics and communication together. People use ham radio to talk across town, around the world, or even into space, all without the Internet or cell phones. It’s fun, social, educational, and can be a lifeline during times of need. [See also: ARRL on the Purpose of Amateur Radio.]

From: arrl.org

Anyone can listen on ham radio, but in order to communicate you need a license. How am I prepping for the license you ask? With the official ARRL Ham Radio License Manual, of course:

I’m just getting into it now, learning about the frequency ranges for pre-defined spectrums (VLF, LF, HF, etc. ) and taking my sweet time with it, so don’t expect me to be a licensed tech or expert any time soon.

What equipment did I start out with? That’s another great question. While this device is not equipped to go more than around 10 miles without an aftermarket antenna upgrade, it will let me get used to pushing buttons, because that is what I do best:

Image source: radioddity.com

A special thanks goes out to my mother for getting this for my birthday!

Guys and gals, until next time – may you find all the happiness that your life can fit in it’s happy spot – S.D. McKinley.