Fireflies & Laserbeams

Who are your 3 dream Music Festival Headliners?

Sunday August 22, 2021 | By Hieronymus Hawkes | music | Leave Comments

I am picking Bread, The Police, and Bee Gees.

None of these are touring anymore, so that makes it kind of special.

If I had pick 3 that still touring I would pick:

Alter Bridge, Foo Fighters, and Wolf Alice.

We are going to RIOT Fest in Chicago in a few weeks and will get to see a huge number of bands. It will be my first one and I'm very excited.

Chime in with your top three!

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Free Guy!

Sunday August 15, 2021 | By Hieronymus Hawkes | TV and Movie Review | Leave Comments

Over the weekend we went to see several movies, including Free Guy starring Ryan Reynolds. I loved this movie so much! Was it original? Not really. I think Disney's Tron was probably the first to do the plot of somebody stole my game code and made a lot of money on it. But there was enough new takes on the genre to keep my interest, and of course Ryan Reynolds was playing himself again, which I never tire of. Seems like fans love it and critics are not enamored. That's why I rarely look for an actual critic's opinion on any movie I want to see.

Millie is trying to find evidence that an ex-partner stole their code to make his game and never paid them. Inside the game, an NPC named Guy, a teller in a bank that gets robs multiple times a day, gets his agency triggered by seeing Millie's ingame character. He starts leveling up like an actual player and go viral outside of the game for doing good deeds instead of bad ones, which the game invites. When Millie runs into a brick wall, she ends up enlisting Guy's help. It is sweet and funny and filled with crazy action sequences.

The thing that really set this one apart was Jodie Comer. Also the surprising romantic nuance. Joe Keery's best role to date as well. But Comer really brings it and stole the show. I walked out of the theater smiling ear-to-ear. Best movie I've seen so far this year. Highly recommended!

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Bird by Bird

Thursday August 12, 2021 | By Hieronymus Hawkes | book review | Leave Comments

Anne Lamott's book with "some instructions on writing and life" was an enjoyable read. This is the twenty-fifth anniversary edition, which came out two years ago. It is quirky and funny and filled with advice that she shared with her writing students when she taught writing.

She has been fairly prolific in the non-fiction category and also has some fiction books, but I was only peripherally aware of her. She is neurotic in the extreme, but it made her a very good camera for taking in the details of life and of people. She has a somewhat skewed view of people but it makes her books interesting. She shared a lot about herself and raising a son, and some of the stories are uproariously hilarious.

She has a wonderful sense of humor and the writing advice she gives is on the money. I enjoyed one tidbit that I am going to try to employ for short story writing.

Highly recommended!

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Glorious Glory Road!

Monday August 9, 2021 | By Hieronymus Hawkes | book review | Leave Comments

I read Heinlein for the first time many moons ago. 1981 I believe, and it was Stranger in a Strange Land. I can't remember anything about it other than the main character having special powers. (I am rereading it now and loving it) I wanted to give it another try as these books were popping up on my feed. I had never even heard of this book before a few weeks ago. Turns out Glory Road was Heinlein's one foray into fantasy and was originally serialized in The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction back in 1963, and was then released in Hard Cover later that same year. Glory Road was nominated for the Hugo, losing to Way Station by Clifford Simak.

Heinlein graduated from the US Naval Academy in 1929 with a degree in Engineering and ranked 5th in his class academically. He was a brilliant man and it shows in his writing. I was familiar with a lot of his work and had read several books but I was not well-educated on the craft of writing at the time. Heinlein was the first Science Fiction Writers Grand Master in 1974 and is highly regarded among the elites of the genre. Heinlein is definitely the best writer of his genre from that era. He won four Hugo Awards outright and 7 more Retro-Hugos for works that were published before the Hugo Award existed. Something else I didn't know was that he wrote under multiple pen names: Anson MacDonald, Lyle Monroe, John Riverside, Caleb Saunders, and Simon York.

Glory road is a romp in every sense of the word. It is a portal story where a war veteran is charmed into taking on a job to help a beautiful damsel. Several things set it apart. First and foremost is the writing. He is versatile and gifted with the turn of phrase. He can write poetry as well as create a mouthy swashbuckling hero with equal measure of skill. I was blown away by how good his prose are.

Another thing that sets this particular story apart from other heroic tales is that he keeps going after the journey is over, where most would end with the victory. We find our hero with everything he could possibly want and yet he is bored and unhappy. He determines to find a solution and ends up back on the Glory Road when all is said and done.

This book was written in 1963 and the mores of his generation are very present. He is well known for going against the grain in a lot of subjects. He is big on social responsibility and self-reliance and wrote a lot about politics and religion. I honesty think if he were alive today he would be a progressive, but he was shaped by his military experience, as am I. But his glaring viewpoints on gender stood out. Although he believed in a lot of women's rights, it's pretty clear that the heterosexual paradigm was something ingrained in him. I think it holds up pretty well, simply because his characterizations and prose are so damned good.

I really enjoyed the book and highly recommend it!

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Max Barry does it again!

Friday July 23, 2021 | By Hieronymus Hawkes | book review | Leave Comments

The 22 Murders of Madison May by Max Barry

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Scary start had me wondering. But I'm glad I kept going.
I have every Max Barry book. I love most of his books, but the last one, Providence, was just okay for me. I was hoping for a return to form in this one.
It opens with a difficult and harrowing scene that set the tone for a story that was going to be hard for me to listen to. (I have the audiobook version) I wasn’t sure this was going to work for me, but by the end of the next chapter he had me hooked.
Max wrote some fairly graphic murder scenes in this book, and that is not my normal genre of fiction, but the story turns out was not really centered on the titular character of Madison May, but on Felicity Staples, the reporter that falls into the plot by accident.
It follows her on an adventure to try to save Madison May, repeatedly. I won’t spoil it for you, but suffice to say the story pulled me in and kept me on the edge of my seat all the way through to the ending, which came to a satisfying conclusion.
Helen Laser did a great job narrating and was the perfect Felicity and Maddie. Highly recommended!

View all my reviews

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What is your favorite worst movie ever?

Wednesday July 14, 2021 | By Hieronymus Hawkes | TV and Movie Review | Leave Comments

Watched a movie on a weekend when I was in college, many moons ago, more out of boredom than anything else. Hard to imagine having so much time on my hands these days, but we ended up going to the watch what I consider one of the worst movies of all time. Night of the Comet. It is a cross between Valley Girl and Night of the Living Dead, but not nearly as good as either one.

The cast is actually pretty good, with Robert Beltran, best known as Chekotay from Star Trek Voyager, and Catherine Mary Stewart, who played in The Last Starfighter that same year, and if you read the premise it doesn't sound horrible, but because it came out in 1984, in the midst of big hair and big drama, it just comes off super campy.

The same comet that killed of the dinosaurs comes back around and drops some red dust on the planet that turns everyone it contacts into zombies. Our heroes are safe because they stayed inside a steel room on the night it passed. I won't ruin the plot for you, it didn't get lambasted too hard on IMDB or Rotten Tomatoes. It does have the 80s vibe for sure.

What is your favorite bad movie?

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Would you believe Stephenie Meyer wrote a Thriller, and it’s Really Good?

Monday July 12, 2021 | By Hieronymus Hawkes | book review | Leave Comments

The Chemist is not your daughter's Stephenie Meyer. I'm well aware of how some people have issues with her writing, and the nature of some of the sequences in Twilight, but this is not in the same genre. It is so far removed from Twilight as to be unrecognizable. If you go into this thinking it will be another cozy story for girls, you will be shocked and frankly disappointed if you only read those types of books.

I'll admit right up front that I actually like Stephenie Meyer. I've read the Twilight books, even Life and Death, which I reviewed back in 2015. I have only skipped one, Midnight Sun, which is simply the retelling of Twilight from Edward's POV. I enjoyed The Host, as her entry into SF. But I can say definitively that I wasn't expecting The Chemist. I for one have always enjoyed her style. She is big on emotional impact and good storytelling and that always trumps prose.

I've had this book in my possession for years, but finally got around to buying the audiobook version, and I have to say that from the word go she had my attention. The protagonist is a former Interrogator for a clandestine government organization. Her former employer has tried five times to kill her and so she is justifiably paranoid. The author makes us believe how desperate the main character is from the very beginning, but even though a lot of it is technical she doesn't bore us with it. She is extremely capable and brilliant, a very strong female who will do whatever it takes to get the job done. People underestimate just how good she is at what she does. Her rep in the company before her downfall, was as the the very best interrogator in the business. She never failed to get the information extracted. A 100% success rate in a line of work that usually falls well short of that.

When her employer finally reaches out to her with an olive branch to help them stop a ruthless terrorist, it appears that things may have changed. She would love to have a life again. She sleeps in the tub with a gas mask on every night and can't trust anyone. She is incredibly lonely, but does not give in to it. She skeptically agrees to meet, but does so on her terms and moves forward with plans to follow through.

Things go sideways, as she anticipated, but the plot unravels in a way that keeps you on the edge of you seat. Just enough twists to keep it interesting, and it moves fast.

There are touches of romance in here, but I think that is real life, and adds spice to any story. I have to say that the love interest is not exactly what I expected but it is a satisfying conclusion and she closes with an interesting denouement.

This is firmly positioned in the Thriller category. It's true to that form and is an exciting and easy read. I loved it! Good for you, Stephenie! The writing is tight and and the prose well done. I highly recommend it!

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