J.J. Abrams's rebooted Star Trek is back with Into Darkness. Star Trek fanboy Thomas McKenzie assess the Darkness and lets you know if it's worth stepping into.
There is a moment in Chapter 4 of The Bark of the Bog Owl that makes me cringe a little bit. Aidan and Dobro have gotten mixed up with a panther, which "bared its fangs and wailed a deep rumbling moan that became a piercing scream." It's not a bad description, but it's not what I wrote. The panther wasn't supposed to wail. Panthers waul. It's the perfect verb for what panthers do. But a well-meaning editor at B&H publishing group changed waul to wail (just as my computer's auto-correct did just now), and I didn't notice until after the book was published. So since 2004 that poor panther has been going against his own nature, wailing instead of wauling for nine years. I have good news for the panther. The rights to the Wilderking Trilogy recently reverted to me after a period in which the books were effectively (though not technically) out of print. The Bark of the Bog Owl, The Secret of the Swamp King, and The Way of the Wilderking are coming back with a new publisher: Rabbit Room Press. And I have been able to fix some of the little things that have been bothering me about the published versions. The new and improved Kindle versions of the three books are already available, in fact. And in the Rabbit Room edition the panther wauls (though--spoiler alert--he still doesn't survive Chapter 4). I am thankful for B&H's support of the Wilderking in years past; I long ago recovered from the shock of having a B&H salesman suggest that I make Dobro Turtlebane a girl (girls read far more than boys, he reasoned, and they needed a character to relate to). Still, bringing Aidan and Dobro and them to the Rabbit Room Press feels like a kind of homecoming. And Pete Peterson has never once suggested that Dobro should be a girl. For an unspecified (but limited) time, the Kindle version of The Bark of the Bog Owl is only 99 cents. If you aren't familiar with the Wilderking Trilogy, this is an easy way to introduce yourself. If you want to pick up The Secret of the Swamp King and The Way of the Wilderking while you're at it, that will be all right too. The plan is to have paperback versions of all three books by the end of the summer; we'll soon be back in touch with ways you can help make that happen. Meanwhile, if you're a Kindle reader, you might check out the e-books. Here are those links again: The Bark of the Bog Owl The Secret of the Swamp King The Way of the Wilderking
[In the summer of 2007, I launched a music site called Stereo Subversion for the sole purpose of helping to promote and explore what I termed "Meaningful Music." The goal was to highlight artists crafting substantive content and/or imaginative concepts. Six years later, the same is true. Here's a recent interview that illustrates just that.] For those who tried to read between the lines on Hem's latest album, Departure and Farewell, you likely hit the nail on the head. Over the last decade-plus, the Brooklyn-based band has released several beautiful folk albums to great acclaim. But everything has a life cycle, and Hem nearly completed their own. Death, it seems, was a necessary consideration to bring new life, and Departure and Farewell is a goodbye in name only. Hem's Gary Maurer and Dan Messe recently sat down with Stereo Subversion to discuss the latest album and how they nearly walked away from it all. SSv: It’s been a long time between records, what has happened in that time? Dan: Well, I think what happened was, we were thinking Hem had run its course after Twelfth Night(2009’s record of instrumental accompaniment to a Shakespearean production) and were just interested in wrapping things up in a big bow. And so we decided to call the recordDeparture and Farewell. Really making something that was a good summation of our career. And in the course of making this “ending,” I actually started using pills, I actually got addicted to them. And the band completely exploded. I basically poisoned the entire well where we couldn’t even finish the final record. We were just going to walk away at one point. That’s true right Gary? Gary: Yes, clearly for several months [the record] was not going to get done. Dan: And it languished like that until I hit bottom and asked for help, then the band started to heal. And all of the sudden there was a rebirth, not just in terms of my own health but also in terms of the love we have for each other and the love we have for the music we make together and how grateful we are. It started out as a swan song and became a rebirth. SSv: Is it strange or painful to make this a part of the new record’s story, or are you comfortable talking about it? Dan: I’m not comfortable talking about it at all, but it’s such a part of the album. We write songs that are not confessional but they are autobiographical. So we tend to write in metaphor about experiences that we go through in our life. We could have taken this part out and just been vague about it: ‘We had troubles and we got over it.’[Laughs] Gary: It would have been easy to make up a whole other story because there actually have been a lot of other changes since (2006’s) Funnel Cloud. We could have just pretended, like Dan said. Dan: I think in the spirit of this second chance, it really is a miracle, and I wanted to honor that. And also, you are able to recover—or find recovery at all—when you are at a point when you’re completely hopeless and lost everything. And you want to share the story so that someone else might hear it and find their own way back. You feel responsible for other people going through it. So we just decided, as a band, it would be ok to talk about. You can read the rest of the interview over at Stereo Subversion.
At Hutchmoot 2012 Andrew Peterson and Travis Prinzi led a session titled "Tales of the Fall." Here in part two, Andrew discusses the ways in which sadness plays an important part in our literature and our lives. [audio:Episode41.mp3]
Note: If you’re running behind schedule on your reading, no worries. Feel free to comment on prior posts as you catch up. There’s no reason the conversation can’t continue! Discussion Introduction Week 1: "A Thousand a Day" Week 2: "The Old Desperate" Week 3: "Jack Waits" Week 4: "The 101" Welcome to Week 5---“The Fiery Siringo"---In which we witness a showdown.
“And so it came down to a farmhouse. As it so often does.”Siringo and Becket have a complicated relationship. They are simultaneously archenemies and closely-tied traveling companions. 1) In what other stories is there an antagonist who reminds you of Siringo? A protagonist who reminds you of Becket? Archenemies with similar dynamics? After exposing Becket’s lack of attention to detail when they encountered the boy (whose father had promised to take him to the ocean) in Ingersoll, Siringo chides, “Well, heavens, Becket! No wonder your medicine’s all dried up.”---p.166 And then in the following paragraph, Becket proceeds to describe in great detail the plants, homes, and people he encounters in the town. 2) What do you think Enger was trying to achieve with the juxtaposition of Siringo’s comment and Becket’s astute observations?
“That’s the failure of most people,” he declared. “They don’t want the bad news. Everything’s got to be good news! So they’ll subscribe to the Proverbs, which feel nice and hopeful, and ignore Ecclesiastes, where old Sol is wiser than ever and has finally figured out what all those instructions of his are actually worth.” Siringo---p.166
“All the same,” I ventured, “since we haven’t a choice but can only make the best of things as given, I would rather live among people who try to uphold the Proverbs.” Becket---P. 1773) What do you make of Siringo’s take on Ecclesiastes? Do you think it’s accurate? 4) How do these two viewpoints set up an important dichotomy between Siringo and Becket? Do you see similarities between the two men?
“Most men are hero and devil. All men.”---p.1905) Where do you see both hero and devil in Siringo, Becket, Glendon, and Hood? Can you think of a believable story in which this principle isn’t accurate?
“Twenty people are enough to make a legend.”---p.2106) Where in the book does the presence (or absence) of a crowd become relevant? What other factors contribute to making a legend? Bonus question: Where did the title “So Brave, Young, and Handsome” come from?
This is the One Minute Review of The Great Gatsby. Baz Luhrmann brings his unique sensibility to one of the great American novels. Does he bring Gatsby to life, or suck the life right out of it? After you've checked out this review, got to www.OneMinuteReview.com for reviews of Iron Man 3, Mud, and much more. One Minute Review: The Great Gatsby from Thomas McKenzie on Vimeo.
Jellybean Highfive stood in front of the back of a room, his back to the front of the wall. Directionally near to him sat a youth pastor on a stool. “It’s going to be epic,” the youth pastor said, raising his eyebrows, which were thin and trimmed and raised. "Really?” Jellybean asked interrogatively. “Fo’ sho’ bro,” he said, grinning sideways and scrunching up his eyes beneath a wide-brimmed hat featuring a baseball logo of a baseball team called the Yankees.
On July 4th, 2013, Under the Radar will host its first-ever music festival. It's called Escape to the Lake and it's got more than a little of the Hutchmoot vibe to it, so we sat down with UTR's founder, Dave Trout, and talked with him about the genesis of both the UTR radio show and the Escape to the Lake weekend. [audio:UTRinterview.mp3]
A cowboy doesn’t ask for much, that’s my observation. A flashy ride, pretty girl, momentary glory – for a day or two, I’m glad to say, Hood Roberts had them all.” – p. 145Not a bad recap of “The 101”---equal parts legend, tragedy, comedy, and tall tale, sprinkled with a dash of romance.
I thought my question might be a dangerous one – who doesn’t dread what God might be up to in our pivotal moments?” – p. 1091) What have the pivotal moments been in the story thus far? How have the characters changed as a result?
Now comes the distressing part of the story, and not just because Charlie Siringo shows up. As Glendon said later, Charlie had to show up – it was necessary for Charlie, for Glendon himself, and even, finally, for me, that Siringo wash into the Hundred and One on the edge of the coming deluge. . . No, the distress was all Hood’s.” – p. 1262) How was Siringo’s arrival on the scene “necessary” for Siringo himself? For Glendon? For Monte? 3) Given that Siringo was pursuing Glendon, why was the distress “all Hood’s”? 4) How is Darlys DeFoe pivotal in the story?
My wife got so she couldn’t see me anymore,” said an old man in a corner. “She could see everyone else. Just not me. . . It’s the truth. I walked into the house one day saying Darling it’s me, and she couldn’t hear nor see me. If I touched her she’d see me again, but pretty soon, out I’d fade.” – p. 1375) The quiet, exposing confession of Siringo seems out of step with his character. What do you make of that? 6) Why do you think Monte stays with Siringo? Bonus Question: What’s the history of the real “101 Ranch”? What aspects of the story seem to be true to life? Where in the life cycle of the actual 101 Ranch does the story take place?
...wouldn't you want to? I certainly would. He may have died long before I was born, but his books came to me like letters from a kind and witty and child-hearted godfather. Narnia companioned my childhood. Cair Paravel became a home within my thought that I roamed in imagination. The Pevensies were comrades in my play and challenged me to bravery. Talking stars and valorous mice and dryads peopled my dreams. When my siblings and I rigged up the oak tree in our front yard and called it a ship, it was the Dawn Treader I considered myself to be sailing. And it was Aslan's country I desired to find. Ah, Aslan. Bold and beautiful, never tame. Who can fathom the power of a story in which Christ bounds in, unfettered by the usual assumptions and in a form so wondrous and wild? I loved Aslan. And even as a little girl, I knew it was God I was learning to love through him. When I grew up and began to wrestle with the reality of that God, again Lewis (and the old picture of Aslan) came to my rescue. I have read letters that Lewis wrote to his actual godson, and the kindly, bracing advice, the take-yourself-lightly tone and the urge to throw one's whole self into the loving of God were familiar to me. I had already encountered that eminently insightful voice in Lewis's spiritual and apologetic works. Like the kindly godfather he was, he walked me through doubt, assuaged my frustration; his words pulled me back from the brink of disbelief. And the stories that came from that vivid imagination of his taught me to hope that every longing of my heart would one day find its home. So yes, if Lewis were anywhere on earth, I'd trek my way to him, shake his hand, and say the thanks that's been years in the making. I can't wait to do it in heaven. But I can make a down payment on that thanks right now. And I simply have to tell all of you about this rather momentous opportunity. I know this is a place where C.S. Lewis is greatly loved, so... perhaps you'd like to join me?