Thursday, June 13, 2019

I've Moved




The Wordpress blog has been alive about the same length of time as this one, but my impression as I move forward is Wordpress will be a better fit.  Thanks for the memories Blogger! 

Please visit me there at:

https://firefliesandlaserbeams.wordpress.com/

Friday, December 21, 2018

Primal Alt Rock Favorites


I’ve been listening to a lot of 80s alt rock and 1st Wave alt rock lately and I decided to create a list of my favorite early alt rock bands or songs. Some of these bands were basically one hit wonders and some of them turned into superstars, and some are still actively making new music and touring. I’ve seen other similar lists with other bands, but those other bands simply never struck a chord with me. There might even be a few on here you haven’t heard.

I ended up with 67. Why 67? Well, this is how many I found that met my criteria, of being considered alt rock by someone or on a band comparison to someone else on this list, was before 1995 and wasn’t obviously conventional pop. Some of these songs border on pop or more conventional rock. It was hard to differentiate where to draw the line. Many of these bands have multiple songs that I dig, but I just picked one that I really love by that band. The first on this list is a perfect example. This is also not representative of all of the music I listened to back then. I love metal and straight up rock as well as some bluegrass and some country music, but it is very representative of great alternative rock music from that era. There is some incredible alternative music being made today, but these bands set the stage of what would follow, and it is a pretty diverse set. All of these songs are awesome! Links provided for a YouTube song. There are lots of versions for most of these songs.

U2 – Stories for Boys - I found a really old version of this maybe their first video https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mE7sw7WcLqc
The Smiths – How Soon is Now? https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OztC_7nkAd8
The Cure – In Between Days https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EDMDb8unsIA
Siouxsie and the Banshees – Cities in Dust https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wsOHvP1XnRg
Pet Shop Boys – Two divided by Zero https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1ht9xsdrcoM
The Clash – Rock the Casbah https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bJ9r8LMU9bQ
Echo and the Bunnymen – The Cutter https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nMplIrSlg8E
Violent Femmes -Blister in the Sun https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rswiq4Hi-tc
The English Beat – Mirror in the Bathroom https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SHWrmIzgB5A
Eurythmics – Missionary Man https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0-Q3cp3cp88
Culture Club – Karma Chameleon https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JmcA9LIIXWw
Frankie Goes to Hollywood – Relax https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7WZ33w3B8Hw
Still makes me want to get up and dance!
Modern English – I Melt with You https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LuN6gs0AJls
Oingo Boingo – Dead Man’s Party https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_UbGtjnluyY
Psychodelic Furs - Love My Way https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LGD9i718kBU
Depeche Mode – Enjoy the Silence https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m0AKJMGxwpE
The Cult – She Sells Sanctuary https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZCOSPtyZAPA
The Police – Don’t Stand So Close to Me https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KNIZofPB8ZM
Talk Talk – It’s My Life https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5ixRWvrkUHo
The Call – The Walls Came Down https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vAxg8nuvPKM
The B-52s – Private Idaho https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yXmnmvDl-ao
Naked Eyes – Always Something There to Remind Me https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lVrELhxOFnM

Monday, December 17, 2018

Riding the 1st Wave



 Birth School Work Death
     I was in the car the other day, listening to Siruis/XM radio, channel 33, 1st Wave, which I adore. The song that come on the radio was Birth, School, Work, Death by The Godfathers. It brought back some good memories. I used to own that album on cassette. Here is the YouTube video: Birth School Work Death
     I was really into music in the mid 80s, I even DJed for a brief time in the spring and summer of 1987. It was the end of the first wave of alternative rock, but there was still great music coming out. This album was just one example.
     Sherman, set the wayback machine for 1988. It was early summer and I had just bought the tape maybe a week before, after seeing The Godfathers on an MTV video; they actually played videos back then. My roommate was from Chicago and we were driving up for the weekend to see what we could get into, two young and single dudes. He was in the driver’s seat as I read a paper which he had acquired earlier that detailed all the entertainment that week in Chicago, and we had just gotten into range to listen to his favorite radio station. Birth, School, Work, Death came on the radio and I mused that it would be cool if we could see somebody like The Godfathers that weekend. I turned the page and voilà, like magic they were playing at the Metro that very night. It was an awesome show and a really cool venue.
     We made a lot of trips to Chicago that summer, but nothing topped the serendipity of that concert. St. Elmo’s Fire had been released a few years before that, and were felt like we were living a little bit like those twenty-something’s in the big city. Within a little more than a year, though, we would both be married and our lives would settle into a different trajectory, but the summer of 1988 was my introduction into adulthood in many ways.
     Thanks Sirius/XM 1st Wave for the trip down memory lane and well done!.

Thursday, November 1, 2018

Richard K. Morgan’s new novel, Thin Air, is Hugo Worthy


     I just finished Richard K. Morgan’s latest release, Thin Air. It is gritty SciFi at its finest. Morgan seems to have leveled up in his writing, over already highly regarded and award-winning previous work. Every sentence is crafted with care. It is a Master Class of immersive third person point of view writing.


     I listened to the audiobook version, which was read by Colin Mace, and for me, it was a perfect fit. Mace hit the ball out of the park and became the embodiment of Hakan Veil, the hi-tech ninja of the future and protagonist of what I hope is not a standalone novel. It is a new character and setting of sorts for Morgan. He alludes to his concept of the Mars colony and COLIN (Colony Initiative) in Thirteen, which I have started today. I just downloaded the audiobook.

     This story had me riveted from the word go, and didn’t let go. It is the best science fiction I’ve read since Ancillary Justice, which won the Hugo. This work is certainly good enough to be in consideration, but it has very adult themes (read graphic sex.) Morgan has included this with intention and I hope it doesn’t take him out of the running.

     There is so much to love about this novel. The characters are real and multifaceted. The description is immersive, but not overdone and the word choices are evocative and graphic, and fit perfectly with the landscape of Mars he has painted. Mars itself is a character all its own. It has a well-developed history and a depth that makes it feel authentic, albeit a true frontier and all that comes with that, 300ish years into a colony development that never quite materialized the way the original planners had envisioned. His simile and metaphor are based on these artifices of an old Martian colony and struck the perfect chord to bring the setting to life. The science parts of the fiction are the essence of cool and seemingly plausible, including the pseudoatmosphere of the lamina, a membrane of sorts that covers the dug out Gash, allowing for a localized breathable atmosphere. The prose is wonderful, especially considering that this is a hard-boiled genre fiction piece, great writing implanted within a ruthless noir fiction story.

Friday, February 2, 2018

Review of Altered Carbon on Netflix



I just finished the new series on Netflix, Altered Carbon. Let me say right up front that I loved it!


It is 10 episodes packed full of action, intrigue and awesomeness. Think Blade Runner meets Kill Bill meets Star Trek The Next Generation. But you would have to cross that with something graphic, for both violence and sexual content. It is very R rated, and filled with violence of every sort, including torture, as well as a fair amount of nudity. The series is based on the 2002 novel by Richard Morgan, and the main plot follows the original story relatively closely for those that have read it. The book is really in a genre all its own as an adult SF thriller.


This show looks incredible and really feels like a possible dystopian future. The sets are just amazing. The tech is cool in the extreme. It is set several hundred years in the future, where humans can store their personality in a cortical stack, which basically sits on top of your spinal chord at the base of the brain, and people can have their selves sent all over the colonized worlds at light speed, or have backup stacks and bodies (sleeves), if you can afford it. The good stuff is only available to the very rich, and society has evolved into a caricature of our own in the have and have-nots.


The plot is a noir mystery at its heart, with the main character being the last remaining bad-ass ninja special ops operative from a time in the past that was much more violent. He has been in virtual prison for 250 years for being a rebel terrorist to the Protectorate. He is the last of the legendary Envoys, which were an underground splinter group of operatives specially trained by Quellcrist Falconer. They are a cross between Navy Seals and ninja warriors, that were also hardened in the virtual world, with an unmatched skillset.

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Review Blade Runner 2049



Many people were expecting an opening closer to $45 -$55 million domestically, and it fell far short of that at $36 million. Did the length scare people off? It has received overwhelmingly good reviews from critics and movie reviewers and fans alike. I don’t get it.


Go see this movie before it leaves the theater! You will thank me later. It is maybe the best sequel ever made. The cinematography alone will make the visit worthwhile. Roger Deakins will finally win the Oscar for this film.


It is long, longer than most any movie made these days and the editing is a throwback to another era, when we could actual spend a little time with a scene or a character to absorb what is going on. And with this film I wanted to spend that time. It isn’t edited like a James Bond movie, and I appreciated that. The movie is not pure homage, either. It is subtle. There is complexity to the characters and Gosling’s low-key approach make his emotional outbursts all the more powerful. It didn’t feel too long when I was watching it and I could have gone another hour easily. Director Denis Villeneuve gave each scene room to breathe and there is so much obvious care to stay true to the original vision of Ridley Scott. He takes all the things that worked and made the original so iconic and improved upon them. The city scape is dark and eerie and amazing. Meticulous details, like PAN AM, RCA, Cuisinart, and ATARI still being viable companies in this fictional alternate universe, and references to the Soviet Union with product advertisements, like Soviet Happy, which seems like an oxymoron, but fits perfectly with the ambience of city life in San Angeles. The technology is cool and convincing, and just different enough, and yet real enough to be completely plausible.

Saturday, October 7, 2017

Book Review - Into the Wilderness by Sara Donati

Into the Wilderness by Sara Donati
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

A brilliantly written masterpiece in every way! If you like historical fiction Into the Wilderness is a hallmark example of how to do it right. As a young man, the stories by James Fenimore Cooper captured my imagination, The Leatherstocking Tales: Deerslayer, Last of the Mohicans, The Pathfinder and more. They are set during the French and Indian War, in and around the New York frontier. The writing style can be a bit hard to get into since it is quite old, but the stories are excellent. Into the Wilderness starts a series of books by Sara Donati that follow the offspring of Hawkeye from the original stories and carries us through the decades following the war, through the War of 1812 up to the Battle of New Orleans. Donati has changed the surname of the family but the rest is true to the originals. However, the prose is light years beyond the originals.

This first installment sets the tone and introduces the characters. A well-educated young woman from England, Elizabeth Middleton, has been brought by her father to the small wilderness village on the western edge of the New York frontier, where Hawkeye lives with his extended family of Mohican Indians. His son, Nathanial Bonner is a prominent figure in the region, known for his hunting skill, and his wilderness prowess, which he inherited from his father. To call it a romance story would not be wrong, but it would short shrift the complexity and nuance of this story. It weaves unconventional love with the fate of the Mohawk. This book has everything you could ask for in a story: brilliant prose, colorful characters, exciting setting, intriguing plot, wild adventure, love, sex, betrayal and so much more. It touched me emotionally as I got invested in all the characters. All of them are complex and well-developed and each has their own voice and motives. It is a wonderful example of a character-driven story.

Thursday, December 29, 2016

Passengers. It didn’t suck!

Let me say up front that there will be spoilerish things in this post.














You were warned.






When I saw the initial ads for PASSENGERS I got really excited. Two of my favorite actors in a science fiction drama. What more could I ask for?

Well, I could ask for a lot of things, actually, like good special effects, a good script, and a good finish. Opinions on movies vary about as much as anything on Earth. And I rarely agree with the professional critics, and man oh man were they being tough on this movie.

David Edelstein, a film critic for New York magazine and for NPR's Fresh Air, is the only critic I found (in a very small sampling) that said he actually liked the movie. But even he didn't like the ending. Most of the negativity was relayed to me from my son or from a few articles online. But there seemed to be a general consensus that the movie sucked.

Given all of the naysaying and negativity, I had modest expectations. I went in with a half-open mind, expecting the ending to suck.

I've Moved

The Wordpress blog has been alive about the same length of time as this one, but my impression as I move forward is Wordpress will be a...