Sunday, February 14, 2010

My Reading List Over the Past Month

Amazing book. I've long been a fan of Babylon Five and in particular a fan of Michael Garibaldi. Imagine to my pleasant surprise I find out that not only is Jerry Doyle a Conservative but that he has had his own radio show for a while now (I don't listen to the radio, I love metal and no one ever plays good metal on the radio).
This book covers all the bases and then some. It's rare that I read a book and genuinely learn something. I'm not talking about aspect's of an actor's/author's life or anything like that. I'm talking about real world stuff and this book delivers. The freakin' bibliography is almost as big as the book. This man has done his research.
There are things in this book which will make laugh, make you feel sad and then there are the things that will undoubtedly piss-you-the-frag-off! Wake up call, indeed. This is probably one of the best political books I've read in a while and I highly recommend it to anyone who wants a few answers about where this country is headed and how to affect some REAL change. Jerry Doyle is a true American and a damn fine author to boot.

Another truly punch-you-in-the-gut book. This is the autobiography of Ranger H. Joaquin Jackson (with some help from David Marion Wilkinson).
Ranger Jackson has led a truly remarkable life. From his roots in an impoverished Texas town to his eventual rise to become one of the greatest Ranger's ever to wear the badge. The story is told with much humility and grace. It covers an incredible span of Texas history as well as the history of the Rangers.
An excerpt:
"Every day I wore the star was a great day. I made mistakes. I had my disappointments. I got my heart broken more than once. I got shot at and I shot back. I encountered ingratitude. I experienced betrayal. I saw a lot of tragedy. I endured a lot of personal pain. But I would go through all of it again if I could be that Texas Ranger I was back in 1966, riding beside a living legend, Captain Alfred Y. Allee Sr., driving 110 miles an hour through country we both loved on our way to a riot."
The story of the Colorado Canyon Shootings is in particular a very intense and frightening story. Ranger Jackson was on the ground for the investigation and brought the murderers to justice. Just one of the amazing stories this book has to offer.

Like I said earlier, I love metal. And as all metal fans know there is one reason that metal even exists; and that reason is Black Sabbath. And the man who was the voice of Black Sabbath is and always will be, Ozzy Osbourne.
I will tell all of you this one time. Black Sabbath is NOT Black Sabbath without Ozzy. But what about Dio? Stop right there. What did I just say?
This book is hysterically funny and hysterically sad at the same time. Ozzy really opens up in this autobiography (well, autobiography may not be exactly correct considering that Ozzy himself admits to not remembering a large portion of his own life).
After the dedication and contents there is a page that simply reads, "All I have to do now is remember something..." The 2nd page after that reads, "Bollocks. I can't remember anything."
Ah, the life of a rock star.
It's all here. His early home life, the time in prison, his first band, the 'Ozzy Zig needs a gig,' and the formation of the most powerful metal band in the history of the known universe. Followed with his being fired from said band, starting his own very successful solo career and then ending up on MTV with his own reality show. Ozzy (and the folks helping him remember these events) are very honest.
I will say that if you are offended by bad language, tales of sex, drugs, rock & roll, alcoholism, biting heads off of doves or pissing on the Alamo (which was a complete mistake by the way) then this is not the book for you. But if you like an entertaining, honest read, then you should pick it up.

I thought it was time to take a break from real life so I decided to revisit the world of the Star Wars Extended Universe. This book didn't let me down.
The story picks up directly following the events of Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith. Anakin has become Vader and is continuing his path to the Dark Side.
Along that path we learn a lot about his character and what it means to truly be someone else's puppet, which Vader is. The important thing is that he realizes it and simply uses it as a means to further his knowledge of the Dark Side, which in turn will lead him to what he wants; ultimate power.
When I was young and saw (what was then simply known as) Return of the Jedi, I remembering being very angry at the fact that they had the nerve not only to allow Vader to become a good guy but they allowed his face to be seen when Luke removes his helmet. My thinking, "How in the heck do you take what might very well be the greatest single bad guy ever created and turn him into a good guy with an old man's face?!?"
It wasn't until the three prequels came out that I realized why this had to be done. It is the perfect story of redemption.
Anakin is a bright little boy who only wishes to help others. He loves his mother and is content, for the most part, with his life. Yeah he's a slave but he ain't exactly living a hard life. One day this Jedi shows up, promises to make him a Jedi, whisks him away from his mother and then dies on him at the hands of a pointy headed, double lightsaber having, Kung Fu Sith. Now the kid is turned over to this dude named Obi Wan and the Jedi Temple. That's alot of stuff to heave on a little kid's shoulders. Not to mention the fact that he has fallen in love with a girl that is 10 years older than him and that that's not allowed. Now let that sink in for a minute. He's told to leave his mother whom he loves and to forget about her. He finds a pretty girl but is told he can't love her either. And that his master (all of about 2 days worth) just dies and he's supposed to be emotionless about all this?!? That's gonna mess a kid up. So, flash forward to Episode II. He's a grown young man and the hormones are running wild. He thinks she's gonna die and the old man who has taken him under his wing and shown genuine (at least in his eyes) affection for him offers him a chance to save her life. Holy crap, what the hell else can he do.
So he turns to the Dark Side (yes, I know that is a very condensed version but unless you've been living under a rock for the past 30 years I would hope that you at least know the basics of the story). So here it is, the end of the saga... It HAS to end with him killing the emperor, saving Luke and in the process saving himself.
Anyway, back to the book. The story goes on to tell of the emotional struggle going on between Anakin and Vader and throws in a pretty good "b" story as well. If you are a Star Wars fan, pick it up.

As my wife and two sons will, embarrassingly, attest to; I have long stated that, "If I were a woman, I'd want to have William Shatner's babies."
I love William Shatner. Always have, always will. Captain James T. Kirk is the single greatest TV character ever created and William Shatner is responsible for bringing him to life. I never thought that there would ever be a character that matched the flair for life that Kirk had until I met Denny Crane. And guess what?!? William Shatner plays him too!!!
I read Star Trek Memories when it first came out. I then read the follow-up, Star Trek Movie Memories. This book, while mentioning Star Trek, is not a Star Trek book. This is his autobiography and fills in all the blanks that the first two books leave out. It covers his early life, his move to the US (he paddled a canoe from Canada to NY), his early stage/film/TV career and some of the tragic points in his life. It can sometimes be a bit choppy, as he wanders away from the story for a paragraph or two then comes right back to it. But as far as the information goes it is extraordinary. Who would have guessed that after Star Trek he'd be living in the back of his pickup truck underneath a campertop with his dog? Not me, but it happened. Or that he was to play Alexander the Great in a TV series (it didn't get picked up).
All in all a very cool read, especially if you think he's as cool as I do.

1 comment:

  1. Only Bill could play Denny Crane. Kind of like closing the circle of "Only Nixon could go to China."