I do not think that there can ever be enough books about anything and I say that knowing that some of them are going to be about Pilates.The more knowledge the better seems like a solid rule of thumb, even though I have watched enough science fiction films to accept that humanity’s unchecked pursuit of learning will end with robots taking over the world.-Sarah Vowell

Tuesday, May 31, 2016

What If?: Serious Scientific Answers to Absurd Hypothetical Questions by Randall Munroe

This absolutely fascinating book examines the most bizarre questions that people can come up with and actually answers them.  Included are questions about what would happen if you could throw a baseball at the speed of light to a hitter, what would happen; what if everyone actually had a random soul mate in the world; what if everyone disappeared from the earth, how long before the last artificial source of light would go out; is it possible to build a jetpack using downward firing machine guns; from what height would you need to drop a steak for it to be cooked when it hit the ground; if someone's DNA suddenly disappeared, how long would that person last; how much force power can Yoda output; if a woman were to have sperm cells made from her own stem cells and impregnate herself, what would happen; how many unique tweets are possible and how long would it take for the world to read them all; when will Facebook contain more profiles of dead people than of living people; and what if everyone who took the SAT guessed on every multiple choice question, how many perfect scores would there be.

If you did have a single soul mate in the world, the question would be would you ever meet.  What if you also took out the part that they may have already lived and died out of the equation, as well as huge age differences, cultural and language differences.  "The odds of running into your soul mate would be incredibly small."  Basing finding a soul mate on making eye contact and "knowing", suppose you see a few dozen strangers a day, "if 10 percent of them are close to your age, that would be around 50,000 people in a lifetime.  Given that you have 500,000,000 potential soul mates, it means you would find true love only in one lifetime out of 10,000."  Even if you put a Soul Mate Roulette website and watched it twelve hours a day, everyday, there would still only be a small amount of people who would ever find true love.

 Believe it or not the Russians have actually tried to build a jetpack using downward firing machine guns.  The idea is simple.  When you fire a gun, the recoil will send you backward.  The thing you would have to look into would be the thrust-to-weight ratio, or how much less the object has to weigh before being able thrust backward the farthest.  The AK-47 has one of a 2 and could "rise into the air while firing."  But not all machine guns can do this.  You also have to take into account the weight of shell casings and ammo.  "If each gun [AK-47] can lift 5 pounds more than its own weight, two can lift 10."   The other problem is ammo.  You would need enough ammo to lift yourself off the ground high enough and that adds weight, which means adding more machine guns.  "Each bullet weighs 8 grams, and the cartridge (the "whole bullet") weighs over 16 grams.  If we added more than about 250 rounds, the AK-47 would be to heavy to take off."  You would need an optimal amount of 300 guns with 250 rounds of ammo each to reach a half a kilometer in the air. 

A human contains two sets of DNA, one from the mother and one from the father.  If a woman could take one of her stem cells and turn it into a sperm cell (they are close to doing this in the lab) she could impregnate herself with her own eggs and have a daughter.  The only problem with this is the inbreeding.  The child would be born with so many abnormalities, it might not survive for very long, if at all.  The inbreeding would be like a brother and sister from four generations producing offspring.

He also includes some dumb questions that he usually doesn't give an answer to, such as: would dumping anti-matter into the Chernobyl reactor when it was melting down stop the meltdown; is it possible to cry so much you dehydrate yourself ("Karl, is everything ok?"); if people had wheels and could fly, how would we differentiate them from airplanes; would it be possible to stop a volcanic eruption by placing a bomb (thermobaric or nuclear) underneath the surface; how fast would a human have to run in order to be cut in half at the bellybutton by a cheese-cutting wire; In Thor the main character is at one point spinning his hammer so fast that he creates a strong tornado, would this be possible in real life; could you survive a tidal wave by submerging yourself in an in-ground pool; what is the possibility that if I am stabbed by a knife in my torso that it won't hit anything vital and I'll live; what if everyone in Great Britain went to one of the coasts and started paddling, could they move the island at all ("NO"); and what if I swallow a tick that has Lyme disease, will my stomach acid kill the tick and the borreliosis or would I get Lyme disease from the inside out ("Just to be safe, you should swallow something to kill the tick, like ...a tropical fire ant.  Then swallow a...fly to kill the ant.  Next, find a spider...").

This is a great and fun read.  I am a kind of science idiot when it comes to physics and chemistry, but he made it so easy to understand and he includes stick-figure drawings to illustrate his point.  As a matter of fact, he left his job with NASA to draw a stick-figure comic on-line and answer bizarre questions, like the ones seen here in this book.  I found this book to be a smart and educational book (but in a good way) that answers questions I didn't even know I had.

Link to Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/What-If-Scientific-Hypothetical-Questions/dp/0544272994?ie=UTF8&keywords=what%20if%20serious%20scientific%20answers%20to%20absurd%20hypothetical%20questions&qid=1464708883&ref_=sr_1_1&s=books&sr=1-1

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

The Book Thief by Markus Zusak

For those of you who cry at books, grab the box of Kleenex, you will need every one of them. Zusak uses a very creative choice for his narrator: Death. Set during the time of World War II, the book opens on a train heading for a small town in Germany (where it came from is a mystery). Death has come for Liesel Meminger's little brother and finds himself fascinated in Liesel who, when they bury her brother, steals a book on the ground, likely to remember her brother by, as she cannot read. The book is called The Gravedigger's Handbook. Her mother was taking them to live with a couple, Hans and Rosa Hubermann who live on Himmel Street (which translates as Heaven Street), as she cannot take care of them anymore since her husband, a Communist, "disappeared".  Liesel, of course has a hard time getting out of the car to meet her new family or to take a bath.

Both Hans and Rosa love Liesel and show it in different ways. Hans is there in the middle of the night when she has nightmares and plays his accordion for her. He's also the one to teach her to read. Rosa is a tough woman who has an ongoing feud with a neighbor who spucks on their door and yells "Schwiene!" Neither woman seems to know what the original argument was about. At school, Liesel is picked on at first for her ignorance, but the local boy, Rudy Steiner, with the lemon-colored hair and blue eyes, falls for her and becomes her friend, when she blocks a kick, as goalie, in a street game of football [soccer]. The night Jesse Owens won his medals, Rudy, also an athlete, rubbed himself in charcoal, and pretended to be Jesse Owens by running in the streets, which got him into a spot of trouble. He is also always chasing Liesel for a kiss.

Hans makes a living as a painter during the season, but plays his accordion in local bars and such in the winter to make money. Rosa does washing and ironing to bring in money. Liesel takes the laundry to and from the houses and gives a detailed response to how the clients reacted. One of them, Ilsa Hermann, the wife of the Mayor of Molching, is one of Rosa's clients. Ilsa is beyond depressed over the death of her son in the previous war and she has a beautiful library, that she ends up letting Liesel use. As their relationship, a rocky one at first, as Liesel does not know what to make of her, grows and blooms like a flower, Ilsa comes out of herself and Liesel enters the world of books. Ilsa gives her a journal to write in. It is Ilsa's husband that has the book burning where Liesel is forced to toss in a book given to her, but later after everyone has gone, she steals a hot book from the pile to take with her.

Max Vanerburg comes to stay with the Hubermann's because as a Jew, he is in danger. Max's dad and Hans served together in World War I (where Hans gave death the slip, but he got Max's dad). While he is there, he helps with Liesel's reading and he even takes a copy of Mein Kemp and paints the pages white and writes her two books. When the Nazis come to do an inspection, they somehow hide him from them and are told that they need to make improvements to their basements as it does not meet their standards.

I could go all English minor on you and talk about the themes of Death, Love, and Reading, and how important colors play a role, but I won't.  Death  says it is "haunted by humans" and maybe that is perhaps because of how we can go from love to hate on a dime. Liesel is special to him, because she is different. Having Death as the narrator means you get to find out when and why someone dies,  which you may, or may not, like. The author also includes, what I enjoyed but others may not, some very interesting definitions intermittently throughout the book. Zusak wrote the book because he felt it was important to know that not every German was a Nazi. Not every German was an evil person. Some were sweet kids with lemon-colored hair who had no interest in Hitler and loved Jesse Owens.  Some hid Jews in their basements. A lot of them just lived their lives. If you've read my book review on Ravensbruck, then you've heard me talk about people being various shades of gray, not black and white. Which makes books like this so important to remind us of our humanity.

Link to my Ravensbruck Review: http://nicolewbrown.blogspot.com/2016/01/ravensbruck-life-and-death-in-hitlers.html

Link to Amazon: http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/51LK1NgAk6L._SX317_BO1,204,203,200_.jpg

Friday, May 20, 2016

Lock In by John Scalzi

A Great Flu pandemic sweeps the globe killing more than 400 million people and named Haydens after the first lady who had the disease.  The symptoms, which were slow to show up, caused people who had it to spread it without even knowing they had it.  The first stage of the flu, causing up to 75 percent of the deaths, was followed by viral meningitis.  Those who survived the second stage suffered no long-term problems, but at least 1percent suffered from "lock in" where they were aware of their surroundings, but could not communicate or move.  An even smaller number, 100,000 had their brains rewired and were able to become integrators, or those who could hold the consciousness of a Hayden sufferer and allow them a body to walk in.  Those suffering from lock in could use robots to get around in and be called "threeps" after C3PO.  A virtual world called Agora, was created for those with this disease so that they could communicate with others.  Trillions were initially spent on finding a cure and the treatment of those suffering from it.  Then after decades of this, the Abrams-Kettering Bill was passed, cutting funding for those suffering from this disease, despite the fact that on average 30,000 people would suffer from lock in annually in the US alone.

Agent Shane, the poster child for Haydens when she was a girl growing up, has left the limelight and joined the FBI and is paired with an integrator, Agent Vann, as part of a new task force.  They arrive on the scene of a murder where an integrator, Nicholas Bell, the brother of the famous Cassandra Bell, who is stirring trouble in the Hayden community, is standing over a dead body, with blood all over himself.  Unable to charge him with anything, they are forced to let him go.

At a business dinner at her father's home, Shane, meets Bell again, only with a CEO of a computer company occupying his body this time, and his lawyer, occupying a different body because the body he usually uses is driving a bomb, while under the influence of a Hayden scientist, into the Pharma Lab, the major company researching Haydens and the one closest to a cure.

Now its seems that someone is taking over integrators against their will and leaving them "locked in" their own bodies while someone is at the wheel.  Something that is impossible to do.  Every integrator remains conscious during these sessions and has the ability to step in at any time, to help with a misstep, or to keep the Hayden from doing something wrong.  But someone has found a way around this.

Shane moves her threep into a type of Hayden commune in a walk-up; her actual body is at her parent's house being watched after by nurses.  One of her new roommates, is a computer programmer, who works on making patches for the different threeps to update them.  He finds out that the dead man, a Native American, who was intellectually challenged, but also an integrator, contained a new machine in his head that he has never seen before.  They also discover that the man committed suicide while being taken over by someone.  Other integrators are at risk, and another one dies, but not before regaining consciousness and providing Shane with a clue as to who was inside her.

Cassandra is planning a large protest rally, where many Haydens will be in attendance, and Shane and Vann believe her life is in danger.  The problem is, no one has ever seen Cassandra.  She only exists on Agora.  As Shane digs into the mystery, she ends up fighting off the enemy and damaging four suits in one day.  Luckily she's rich and is able to buy a new suit until her good one is fixed.   Its a race against time to find out who would want to destroy the Lab and who is buying up all the threep companies that are going out of business, due to the fact that there is a smaller market with fewer people needing them and the new bill going through, making it so that poor Americans cannot afford a threep.

This book just flew through my hands as I read it.  It was so realistic, in that our worst nightmare and possibility, is just such a pandemic.  There are also the secrets being kept by Vann about her years working as a integrator, which she quit to join the FBI.  The techno-speak is easy to follow if you pay attention and the author does a good job of explaining things to you.  I hope he writes a sequel to this amazing work of science fiction and soon.

Link to Amazon:  https://www.amazon.com/Lock-Novel-Near-Future-ebook/dp/B00IHCBE1C/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1510061351&sr=8-1&keywords=lock+in+john+scalzi

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

The Greatest Zombie Movie Ever by Jeff Strand

This book opens with a warning. It is indeed about making The Greatest Zombie Movie Ever. And there will be zombies. Just not real ones. And no one turns into anything. It is a book about a group of teenage boys making a movie. So don't throw the book (or electronic reading device) "across the room, hitting an innocent gerbil. Gerbils don't deserve this." I myself, have flung books across rooms (ahem, Faulkner). This book is sitting happily on my kindle. Yes. It was so good, I bought it. And it was on sale.

Justin, Gabe, and Bobby are three longtime friends living in Florida, who have dreams of being filmmakers. They have been making movie shorts for a while now on various horror topics, such as vampires, werewolves, and mummies. One day, a month before school lets out for the summer they get the idea to make THE GREATEST ZOMBIE MOVIE EVER! Their first movie and they are going to go for broke.  First, of course, is the discussion of whether to have fast zombies or slow zombies. Justin settles the dispute between Gabe and Bobby by deciding to have both. It will make their movie different and stand out. Justin will direct. Gabe will be the cameraman. And Bobby will handle sound and lots of abuse. All three will take a third of the script and they will put it together and see what happens. They only have a month to do this in, as Gabe will be going to Indiana for the summer right after school ends, so time is of the essence.

Bobby decides that Justin's crush, Alicia would make the perfect female lead to their movie. He has been moderately in love with her for years and has had three conversations with her that consisted of a total of eleven sentences. The last thing he wants is for Bobby to call Alicia. When he does and pushes the phone in Justin's hand, he comes up with the backbone of their movie on the spot. He tells her the movie is tentatively called "Zombies With Flesh Stuck in My Teeth" and that the name of her character was going to be "Veronica Chaos, and she's in a post-apocalyptic world... with mutant zombies everywhere and she has to find the lost" --Medallion? Skull? Child? "book that can save humanity. She carries a" --Sword? Chainsaw? Lightweight lawn mower?--"cat and wears a"-Cloak? Corset? Chain and bikini?--"tattered white wedding dress." Alicia is very interested in being in their movie.

They also need some money to make this movie. They have equipment (some borrowed from the school and elsewhere) but they will need zombie special effects and stuff. So, they go to Justin's very interesting grandmother who loans him the $5,000 if he guarantees her a 12% return on her investment. Most of this is used to buy zombie special effects from Bobby's Uncle Clyde, a man in the business, and just as unusual as Justin's grandmother. He also has a basement that he works out of, which, for those of you who don't live down in Florida, people who live in Florida generally don't have basements because of the flooding.  Uncle Clyde's whole house is weird, but not in the way you would expect.

Justin fails to get permission from the school principal to shoot footage on school property, but he tells no one, thinking that maybe he can change her mind later, as that will be the last thing they shoot. The first day of shooting in the park scenes and everyone arrives early. Alicia, who is going to be sporting a purple Mohawk and her friend Daisy and Christopher, who will be playing Runson Mudd, the male lead, along with his little brother, Spork, who has brought along a camera to document a behind-the-scenes video on the making of the movie. Everything is going great (With the exception of Alicia's crying and fact that Bobby is sick, and makes a near-fatal error of accidentally dropping the boom mic on Alicia, who insists on being called Veronica Chaos for the entire shooting. Actors!), until a kiddie party arrives. With a very annoying clown. But there are ways around this. And revenge can be sweet.

But an accident causes the camera to break. Which also causes a break between Justin and Gabe. Justin has been slowly going off the rails with this movie. He has been making changes and doing anything just to get the movie made. And he is ready to sacrifice his friendship too. Gabe walks off the set, and Justin decides to continue shooting the movie with the camera on his phone, making it a "lost video" type of movie instead. He's not making a lot of sense. But will he come to his senses in time? Will they complete the movie or will grandma have someone come over and break their legs, or arm, as the case may be? Just how important is friendship? If your best friend is not there with you making the movie of your dreams, is it worth it?

This book, if filled with many laugh out loud, laughs. I was very careful NOT to read it close to bedtime, as I needed my sleep and I knew it would keep me up all night. This book explores not just following your dreams, but also the importance of friendship and how they will stick by you, especially when the chips are down. Definitely, go out and check this book out or buy it! I'll probably be re-reading it, myself. I've already given it away as a birthday gift and bought the other two books he has written because they sound quite interesting as well. Strand is one to watch.

Her body was like a goddess mixed with an angel mixed with a female superhero.
-Jeff Strand (The Greatest Zombie Movie Ever p 13)
But when Justin put his mind to something, whether it was getting one hundred percent on a chemistry test or watching forty-eight hours’ worth of horror movies in a row, he always succeeded. Okay, that wasn’t completely true. When he was eleven, he’d set his mind to being the ultimate Hollywood stuntman, and four years after the cast came off, he still couldn’t lift his right arm all the way. Last year he had set his mind to stop being afraid of the neighbor’s pit bull and to befriend the animal instead. That hadn’t worked out in the best possible manner either.  In fact, now that he was thinking about it, there had been many, many, many instances in which he’d put his mind to something and the end result had been pain, humiliation, or a combination of the two. But Justin was fine with that. Pain was temporary.  On his third movie he’d been conked on the forehead by a baseball bat that had slipped out of his lead actor’s hand during an intense “bash the mummy with a baseball bat” sequence, and the pain had gone away after only two days. Perhaps brain damage was forever, but pain was temporary.
-Jeff Strand (The Greatest Zombie Movie Ever p 15)
  “Fast zombies or slow zombies?” Justin had asked. “Slow zombies,” said Gabe. “Fast zombies,” said Bobby. “Slow zombies are scarier.” “No, they’re not. Fast zombies are scarier because they’re fast.” “Fast zombies aren’t realistic.” “Zombies aren’t realistic.” “If you were a corpse that came back to life, you wouldn’t be moving fast,” Gabe insisted. “It doesn’t make sense. Decomposed muscles are slow.” “You can just walk away from slow zombies,” said Bobby. “Just la-di-da, strolling along. Ooops, that one is kind of close. I’d  better veer slightly to the left. Uh-oh, there’s another one. I suppose I’ll have to shove it over.” “Until you’re overwhelmed by their sheer numbers,” said Gabe. “That’s the whole point of zombies. They don’t seem like a huge threat until suddenly you’re surrounded and there’s no way to escape. You’re doomed.” “You’re more doomed if you’re surrounded by fast zombies.” “Shaun of the Dead has slow zombies.” “Zombieland has fast zombies.” “Lucio Fulci’s Zombie has slow zombies.” “28 Days Later has fast.” “Those aren’t zombies. Those are infected.” “Stop being such a zombie snob.” “I’m not a snob. I’m being accurate.” “Dawn of the Dead has fast zombies.” “No, Dawn of the Dead has slow zombies.” “It has fast zombies,” said Bobby. “I watched it last week. We’ll put in the Blu-ray.” “Which one are you talking about?” “Dawn of the Dead.” “No, which version?” “I’m talking about the remake.” “Well, I’m talking about the original.” “The remake was better.” “Get out of my house,” said Gabe. “I mean Justin’s house.” “I’m allowed to express my opinion.” “Okay,” said Gabe. “If we’re going to try to make the greatest zombie movie ever, then we need to pay homage to the original classic, Night of the Living Dead. Therefore, we need to go with slow zombies. Case closed.” “The first zombie in Night of the Living Dead chased after Barbara in her car, so technically it had both fast and slow zombies. Ha! Logic fail!” “That’s it!” said Justin. “We’ll have the best of both worlds. Our movie will have both fast and slow zombies. Guaranteed mass appeal!” “What about talking zombies?” asked Bobby. “No talking zombies,” said Justin and Gabe, almost simultaneously. “Return of the Living Dead had talking zombies.” “Shut up,” Justin and Gabe said.
-Jeff Strand (The Greatest Zombie Movie Ever  p33-35)
Justin’s mom was an overprotective parent in a lot of ways, but she didn’t restrict his movie watching as long as he continued to demonstrate that he could tell the difference between fantasy and reality. Though she was not a fan of his enthusiasm for horror movies, she knew there were much worse things he could be doing with his friends, like vandalism or treason.
-Jeff Strand (The Greatest Zombie Movie Ever p 38)
That zombie stuff gives me nightmares. As far as I’m concerned, when you die, you should stay dead. All of that rising from the grave and walking around and biting nice people on the arm…it’s rude is what it is. Flat-out inconsiderate.
-Jeff Strand (The Greatest Zombie Movie Ever p 43-4)
Justin snapped awake. He needed another Red Bull. He needed wings. He went to the kitchen, got another Red Bull out of the refrigerator, and gulped it down. Oh yeah. He could feel the creativity flowing through his veins already. Every blood cell, both white and red, was electrified with pure energy…His right pinkie was twitching. Good. It could tap the keys faster. Ah, so that’s what a rapid heartbeat felt like! He’d always kind of wondered. This project was giving him the opportunity to enjoy all sorts of new experiences…Space bar. He had to remember to use the space bar. Despite all of this awesome energy, Justin still felt exhausted like he’d been running for several miles but couldn’t stop because some guy with a machete was still chasing him. He couldn’t figure out if his body was awake and his brain was tired or vice versa. Now his pinkie was twitching. That would help balance things out…The zone was crucial if they were going to finish this screenplay before school tomorrow. Before school today, technically. Those blankets on his bed sure looked enticing…Warmer. Fluffier. Comfier. Has his blanket just moved? Justin swore the blanket had turned down a bit at the corner, inviting him underneath the covers. No! He had to resist! He’d been in this situation many times. “Oh, why didn’t I start studying for that test a week ago?” he’d often wail. “I could’ve studied for a mere fifteen minutes a day and my life would be wonderful! But now…oh, the misery of my existence!” But he always got the studying done. And this was for something that he liked a lot more than math…You don’t need to write that script tonight, his bed said in a low purr. We haven’t been spending enough time together. Don’t you love me anymore? Just slip between the sheets and close your eyes, and the script will be magically finished when you wake up. His bed was lying to him. Justin would not be fooled. I would never lie to you, his bed assured him. We’re the best of friends forever. You know you’re sleepy, and I’m as cozy as snuggling with a hundred kittens. Come on, Justin. I have your best interests at heart. Trust me. You can totally trust him, said the pillow. Just one hour of sleep. That’s all you need. Think how much more productive you’ll be if you get in that on short hour. I’m the softest, most wonderful pillow in the world. Why would you want to break my fluffy little heart? Justin was not going to let them win this battle of wills. You’ve just made a powerful enemy, his bed said with a snarl. You’ll regret your disloyalty! The next time you get in me, I’m going to bite you in half! Right in half with my sharp, glistening fangs! Ha-ha-ha-ha! By the way, there’s a scary clown in your closet. At least his pinkies weren’t twitching anymore. No, wait. Maybe his eyeballs were twitching, and that just made his pinkies look normal.
-Jeff Strand (The Greatest Zombie Movie Ever p 54-7)
“Test?” “The history test. Today. First period.” Justin suddenly wished there was a nearby bunker where he could hide away for a few minutes and scream. “I completely forgot to study for that! Why didn’t you remind me?” “I studied last week.” “Studying last week doesn’t count! People only remember stuff if they look at it the night before!” Justin wanted to weep, but again there was no bunker. “I guess I just assumed that you wouldn’t spend all day yesterday working on the script if you didn’t feel prepared for the test.” “Oh, really? You didn’t think I’d make a poor decision? You know me better that that! We’ve been friends for a hundred and fifty years!”
-Jeff Strand (The Greatest Zombie Movie Ever p58-9)
Hollywood and the FBI work in similar ways.
-Jeff Strand (The Greatest Zombie Movie Ever p 83)
“All right, Duane, read the lines off the sheet.” “Look out behind you! There’s a—“ “This isn’t a musical.” “I know that.” “You were singing the line.” “Oh, I didn’t realize that.” “It’s okay. Try again.” “Look out behind you! There’s a—“  “Still singing.” “Could the character sing maybe?” “No.” “Look out behind you! There’s a zombie!” “That’s better, but you’re still doing it in a singsongy tone. What we’re specifically looking for in our male lead is dialogue that’s not in a singsongy tone.” Duane cleared his throat and nodded. “I can fix that. Just give me a second.” “Take your time.” “La la la la la la.” “The La la la’s probably aren’t going to help.” “I’m sorry. I’m used to audioning for musicals.” “It’s okay.” “Look out behind—“ “Still singsongy.” “Look—“ “Singsongy.” “What if I just play a zombie instead?” “That’s fine.” “Maybe we could have singing zombies,” suggested Bobby. “Don’t talk during the auditions, “ Justin told him.
-Jeff Strand (The Greatest Zombie Movie Ever p 88-90)
Every single tooth was glistening white, perfectly straight, and it the exact quadrant of his mouth where it belonged. His eyes—oh, his eyes—had such a glorious shade of blue. It was like he had twin miniature earths wedged into his eye sockets…His hair was always perfect too. It looked as if he’d cut it three times a day. Top physicists would be baffled by it’s ability to remain perfect in all weather conditions…His arms were muscular, perfect for removing zombie limbs. He was an excellent speller. He’d never won a spelling bee, but when he lost, it was on words like ukulele, which was impossible to spell anyway.  And he was a nice guy. His aura of charisma was so intense that he could probably be a complete jerk and you’d still want to be by his side as he fled from a herd of rampaging bulls. Though he was bad a geography, he was bad at it an endearing way, and that one flaw made all of his other strengths shine that much brighter.
-Jeff Strand (The Greatest Zombie Movie Ever p95)
Justin Hollow was ready for anything. “What history test?” “I texted you a reminder last night,” said Gabe. “Didn’t we just have one?” Justin asked. “How much history is there for Mr. Dzeda to test us on?” “Did you study at all?” “I can’t do everything. Oh well. I guess I don’t get to be a famous historian now.” “Don’t be sarcastic. If we called Steven Spielberg, he’d tell you that you should’ve studied for the test.” He was right. Spielberg would be polite but firm. Justin needed to maintain his focus on academics, or the only movie he’d be making would be a documentary about living in a cardboard box in an alley, scavenging half-eaten lizards for his dinner, and burning his hair to stay warm.
-Jeff Strand (The Greatest Zombie Movie Ever p 106)
Dead’s Cool isn’t a bad title actually, though I don’t like it as much as Dead Skull.” “What about Dead is Cool without the contraction?” asked Gabe. “I’m not sure our movie has any evidence that being dead is cool,” said Justin. “Killing zombies is cool, yeah, but being dead is kind of a miserable existence. You’re all rotted and stuff, and people are always  trying to shoot you in the head.”
-Jeff Strand (The Greatest Zombie Movie Ever p109)
“Green bedsheet?” “Check.” “Clothespins?” “Check.” “Laptop computer?” “Check.” “Browsing history deleted?” “Check.” “Waffle iron?” “Check.” “Tape measure?” “Uh-oh.” “It’s okay,” said Gabe. “I’ve got three.” “Why do you have three?” “People like to walk off with tape measures.” “Oh.” “Squirrel food?” “Why do we need that?” “In case squirrels swarm us. We discussed this, Justin.” “If squirrels swarm us, we’ll just break up one of the sandwiches and throw it.” “If squirrels swarm us, it’ll be because we have sandwiches lying out. We spent like twenty minutes working out this contingency plan.”  “Okay, we’ll just have to go into filming unprepared. If squirrels force us to cancel you can punch me in the face. But not hard. Maybe not in the face. You can punch me in the stomach. Also not hard. Actually, having to cancel the shoot will be punishment enough. Don’t punch me.”
-Jeff Strand (The Greatest Zombie Movie Ever p 114-15)
“You know what?” Alicia said. “I think I just freaked out because I’m nervous about being on my first movie set. I want the Mohawk. I really do.” Justin gaped at her. “But you…but you just…but just said…but you just said that—“ “She does this kind of thing all the time,” said Daisy. “Let’s finish this,” said Alicia. “I’m ready.” “Wait. No, wait,” said Justin. “I mean, we have a lot to shoot today. We don’t have time for you to get emotional again.” “Are you calling me emotional because I’m a woman?” “What? No. You were crying fifteen seconds ago! Your cheeks are still glistening!” Justin couldn’t figure out what was happening. Maybe the reason he’d never had a girlfriend was to protect his sanity.
-Jeff Strand (The Greatest Zombie Movie Ever p 124)
Justin was not actually concerned about the time that they might lose by pronouncing two extra syllables, but it was a bit early in the process to allow the cast to start dictating the approach to characters that he’d created. It would start with Alicia insisting that she always be called Veronica Chaos, and it might end with the demand that the character communicate entirely by mooing. “Can we have a brief conference” Justin asked. “Sure,” said Gabe. The two of them stepped out of earshot, and then Justin shared his theory about the mooing. “I agree that we need to keep control,” said Gabe. “But in this case I think it’s more important to choose our battles. Give her the Veronica Chaos thing, and then when there’s a disagreement that actually matters, you can say, ‘Do it may way because I bent to your will that other time.’” “That makes sense.” “Most things I say do.”
-Jeff Strand (The Greatest Zombie Movie Ever p127)
“I guess it’s safe to make your move.” “I’m not making any move.” “You might as well.” “I have no interest in Daisy.” “Yeah, I’m sure.” “I don’t!” “I saw the way you were looking at her.” “How? With my retinas? How else am I supposed to look at her? Did you forget about how I feel about you-know-who?” Gabe glanced over at Alicia. “Still?” “Yes!” “Seriously?” “Yes!” “She’s kind of a nutcase.” “I know. I don’t care.” “You should probably care a little. It’s useful information.”
-Jeff Strand (The Greatest Zombie Movie Ever p 148)
“You’re going to be one of our slow zombies,” Justin explained. “Do a practice walk for me.” Duane walked across the basement. “Okay, that’s more like a dance.” “I don’t feel like I’m dancing.” “Maybe you’re not dancing, but you’re walking with musical rhythm. Are you thinking of a song?” “I’m always thinking of a song.” “Well, try walking without a song in your head.” Duane walked across the basement again. “See, the problem is that you’re bouncing a little. You’re bobbing your head, and you’re snapping your fingers.” “I was snapping my fingers?” “Yes.” “That’s interesting. I didn’t realize that about myself.” “So what I’d like you to do is sort of shuffle and not dance like a theater student.” “Will do.” Duane walked across the basement once more. “Better,” said Justin. “Still snapping your fingers though. “I swear I’m not aware that that’s happening.” “It’s no big deal. How about when you walk, you look down at your hands, and if you see your fingers starting to snap, you can make them stop?” Duane walked across the basement for what Justin suspected would not be the last time. “Okay,” said Justin, “the fingers have stopped, but the head-bobbing is still very much a thing.” “It’s just so strange. I’m surprised that nobody has mentioned this to me before.” “Well, unless they were directing you how to walk like the living dead, it probably wouldn’t have come up.” “That makes sense.” “What I want you to do is think of your absolute least favorite song, something you can’t dance to, and I want you to sing it your head while you’re walking.” Duane nodded. Then he walked across the basement slowly and sadly with no rhythm. “Yes!” Another directing challenge overcome!
-Jeff Strand (The Greatest Zombie Movie Ever p 180-1)
 “I still want to make this movie, but I can’t have you acting all Captain Ahab from Moby-Dick the whole time. Ahab was not a well-adjusted man. This movie can’t be your white whale.” “I understand.” “And yet at the same time, I need you to be more like Ahab because what you were doing is like if he said, ‘I must kill the white whale! I must kill the white whale! Actually no, I’ll just kill a halibut instead.’…. I want you to be like Ahab if his goal wasn’t something ridiculous like to catch that specific white whale out of all the whales in the oceans, but he still wanted to catch something awesome. Like maybe a great white shark.”
-Jeff Strand (The Greatest Zombie Movie Ever p 191-2)
Doofy, the stuffed bear he had gotten for his second birthday, was not going anywhere. Forget that. Production of Doofy’s has been discontinued when their noses were found to be a safety hazard to young children, and they fetched a lot of money in online auctions, but…no way. Doofy stayed. Justin hated to sell all of his stuff, but he was too young for a credit card. He had three more years before he could get into crippling debt on his own…The doorbell rang. When he went downstairs and answered it, Gabe and Bobby were standing there on his front porch. Each of them was holding a cardboard box. “What’s that?” Justin asked. “Star Wars figures,” said Bobby. “Unopened.” “Aren’t those your dad’s?” “Yes. Someday I will suffer for this. Let’s make it worth it.” “I’ve got Simpsons figures,” said Gabe, “and a bunch of comic books.” “You guys don’t have to do this,” said Justin. “Yes, we do,” said Gabe. “We’re in this together. Maybe we’re spiraling into disaster, but is so, we’re spiraling into disaster as a team.”
-Jeff Strand (The Greatest Zombie Movie Ever p 206-7)
Look, there are advantages and disadvantages to both, but there is no realistic world in which slow zombies and fast zombies would coexist. You have to choose your side. When you watch the Super Bowl, you don’t get to root for both teams. You pick one, and you hope that the other one gets destroyed.
-Jeff Strand (The Greatest Zombie Movie Ever p215)
This scene would work. It had to work. “It’ll work,” said George A. Romero, director of Night of the Living Dead. Justin could see right through him like Obi-wan Kenobi. “You just have to believe in yourself.” “Are you sure?” asked Justin. “A lot of my problems seem to be because I believed in myself too much.” “You can do this,” said Sam Raimi, wearing a transparent Army of Darkness T-Shirt. “I don’t say that about everyone. Some people can’t do it. And I tell them that to their face, and then I laugh at their tears. But not you, Justin. Not you.” “There’s no way you’ll mess this up,” said a conjured Peter Jackson. “When I made Dead/Alive all those years ago, nobody thought I’d go on to make a multibillion-dollar hobbit franchise. Now I could have all my enemies killed if I wanted. And I do want. And I have. But you shouldn’t because it’s wrong.”
-Jeff Strand (The Greatest Zombie Movie Ever p 246-7)
“When will you find out how you did?” Alicia asked. “I already know how I did,” said Justin. “It’s weird. When you study and know the answers, it’s a lot easier to gauge how well you did on a test.”
-Jeff Strand (The Greatest Zombie Movie Ever p 260)

Link to Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Greatest-Zombie-Movie-Ever-ebook/dp/B017HX13L2/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1508243567&sr=8-1&keywords=greatest+zombie+movie+ever

Monday, May 16, 2016

If Someone Says "You Complete Me," RUN! Whoopi's Big Book of Relationhip's by Whoopi Goldberg

I have a couple of confessions to make. When I picked up this book, I assumed (yes, I know) that it was a humor book, as Goldberg was the author. I got it at the library on the new bookshelf and I'm afraid I never pay attention to where the book is on the shelf. Of course, I could have looked at the good ole Dewey number on its spine, but I didn't. What I'm trying to say, is that this is, in fact, an actual book giving advice on relationships. That being said, its a really good one and, of course, a funny one. She's a sight better than any of the doctors or "therapists" who write such drivel out there. Second confession. I only got a bit over half-way through. I skimmed the rest. I still feel confident telling you that this is a great book, it just happens that she was getting into stuff that I already knew or didn't apply to me.

Her second Chapter, I Want To Know What Love Is, deals with separating the reality of love and relationships with the fantasy we get from music, movies, television, and books. Do you really want to be married to a vampire? Life is not a fairytale and you are not Cinderella.  Those love songs we all heard growing up can give one a real false sense of what to expect from a relationship. It would be nice if our love life could be like a Beatles song, or John Legend's "Good Morning". Or as she says about the movies: "An Officer and a Gentleman. Pretty Woman. Fifty Shades of Grey…Footloose. The Enchanted Cottage. Grease. Twilight. Can’t Buy Me Love. The Notebook. (Or any fucking book or movie by Nicholas Sparks.) Then there’s Rhett Butler and Scarlett O’Hara in Gone With the Wind, Maria and Tony in West Side Story. Really? You’re going to die for love after knowing each other for less than twenty-four hours? I love that movie, but come on! “But its true love!” some will say. But it ain’t real, people. It’s a movie."  Real life is waking up to that person every day for the rest of your life (or at least a very long time), snoring, drooling, stealing the covers, and doing all the other things that are going to irritate you and that other person dealing with all the things that you do that will irritate them and saying I can accept that. 

Another thing that I believe is really rather important is making sure you are actually ready to be in a relationship. Are you willing to put in the time and effort and work required of a relationship? These things aren't magic. It takes elbow grease and lots of hard work to make this happen. As she says" If you’re not willing to do the work, which requires a bridge, requires you to give and for the other person to give to you, if you’re not willing to hear why he’s upset, if you’re not willing to hear all the things that you need to hear in a relationship, then maybe it’s not for you. That’s why I’m not in one—because I’m really someone who needs to figure out what the cat wants. I spend a lot of time in the cat box." I'm more of a dog person, myself, but you get the idea. 

You also need to think about why you want to be in a relationship. Because it is perfectly OK to be single. And marriage should never be the goal. "So if think getting married is the be-all and end-all of your life, then you really need to think about why you feel that way. If you’re going to do this and get married, really understand yourself and what it is you think it’s going to do for you. If you’re doing this because you’re lonely, don’t do it. If you’re doing this to prove a point, don’t do it. If you’re doing this to get back at somebody, don’t do it. If you’re doing this because your mother wants you to, don’t do it. If you’re doing this because you figure, “What the hell,” definitely don’t do it. It takes some strength and energy to go against all the cultural expectations, but it takes even more to live a lie, to get divorced, to fight with someone every day, to be confused or unhappy or untrue to yourself."

Two other important things are knowing when to reveal which secrets (such as you might have difficult having kids or that you wear a wig will come up at different times) and rules of civility (no texting or talking on the phone at the table or in the middle of a conversation, clean up after yourself, replace the toilet paper roll, use nice words, don't use words that are belittling or disrespectful, always knock on a door before entering, don't talk with food in your mouth, don't interrupt when someone else is talking (you aren't listening if you do), know when and how to apologize, be kind, tell the truth, and most important, treat them like the friends they are). It's amazing that she feels the need to put these things in, but I know for a fact why she does because I've seen plenty of people out there that do not follow some or all of these things.  

When she gets to the chapter on red flags you really need to pay attention. There are always red flags when a relationship is going wrong. I had a relationship that if it was a football field (either one guys) there were so many red flags on it the refs would have been up in the stands taking red ties and scarfs and handkerchiefs from the spectators to throw more on the field. I saw all the red flags. I knew something was wrong, but unlike a lot of people I was not in denial exactly, I was just too frozen to act, which is just as bad. We all know the reasons for ignoring the red flags: I don't want to be alone, what about the kids, my biological clock, or as a friend of Whoopi's said: "I just wanted someone to have dinner with." Ignore these flags at your peril. You wouldn't ignore them if it was your brother, father, or best friend, though, would you?

In the rest of the book, she covers sex, dating when you're over fifty, divorce, prenups, and how to let go of that old relationship to begin a new one.  The Marquis de la Grange once said: "When we ask for advice, we are usually looking for an accomplice." If that is the case, then you could not ask for a better one than Whoopi. She is the best friend, the wise grandmother, smart alacky sister, all rolled up in one. She has lived a lot in this life and has done a great deal of thinking and learning along the way. We can all benefit from her words of wit and wisdom. 

There’s nobody more complicated than a human being. Straight, gay, black, white, or “other”-it doesn’t matter. The position we put ourselves in is incredibly complicated—mostly because we complicate it.
-Whoopi Goldberg (If Someone Says “You Complete Me,” RUN!: Whoopi’s Big Book of Relationships P 6)
Or listen to (“You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman”. Really? There’s someone out there who  is going to make you feel like a “natural woman,” as if you were an “unnatural woman” to start with? Or “As Long as He Needs Me,” from the musical Oliver!, where Nancy sings about Bill Sykes, who has pretty much beat the shit out of her, and she is saying, “This is my man, and I’m going to be with him even though he doesn’t do any of the things that he is supposed to do, just because I think that, deep down, he needs me.” What the hell is wrong with this woman?
-Whoopi Goldberg (If Someone Says “You Complete Me,” RUN! Whoopi’s Big Book of Relationships  p11)
Think about “I say a Little Prayer”: “The moment I wake up/ Before I put on my makeup, / I say a little prayer for you.” Come on. Really? What the fuck? You should be saying a little prayer for yourself, so you can get through the day. If you’re going to take a minute to pray, pray that you get to your job on time without getting hit by a bus or getting mugged, or nothing happens to you on the subway or crossing the street. This idea that you have this love…it’s not really real. It’s kind of wonderful to be in that heightened state, but it’s not real. Maybe I just look at it as a prelude to problems, because at some point you will be sorely disappointed. Which is when you will start saying a little prayer that this person will just go away.
-Whoopi Goldberg (If Someone Says “You Complete Me,” RUN! Whoopi’s Big Book of Relationships   p12)
I blame these songs for messing me up, for setting me up to fail. Don’t get me wrong. They are all great songs. I love these songs. They just send the wrong message: A lot of Stevie Wonder, especially “I Believe (When I Fall in Love, It Will Be Forever.”) The whole album that this song is on, Talking Book, pretty much covers the entire trajectory of a relationship. It is amazing, but you are going to want to break out the scotch when you listen to that one. Any of the love songs from West Side Story, but especially “One Hand, One Heart.” So now we all want to be Siamese twins? “My Girl.” Providing sunshine on a cloudy day and some of these other acts of God the Temptations sing about is a lot of pressure to put on someone. Do you really want to take that on and be that guy’s girl?
-Whoopi Goldberg (If Someone Says “You Complete Me,” RUN! Whoopi’s Big Book of Relationships   p 12-14)
I am a huge movie buff, but that shit can mess you up. In a way, popular culture conditions us to find someone who makes us happy which many of us take to mean “Just find someone, whether they make you happy or not. Just find someone or you won’t be  considered normal.” That’s why so many people rush into relationships that make no sense.
-Whoopi Goldberg (If Someone Says “You Complete Me,” RUN! Whoopi’s Big Book of Relationships  p16)
An Officer and a Gentleman. Pretty Woman. Fifty Shades of Grey…Footloose. The Enchanted Cottage. Grease. Twilight. Can’t Buy Me Love. The Notebook. (Or any fucking book or movie by Nicholas Sparks.) Then there’s Rhett Butler and Scarlett O’Hara in Gone With the Wind, Maria and Tony in West Side Story. Really? You’re going to die for love after knowing each other for less than twenty-four hours? I love that movie, but come on! “But its true love!” some will say. But it ain’t real, people. It’s a movie.
-Whoopi Goldberg (If Someone Says “You Complete Me,” RUN! Whoopi’s Big Book of Relationships  p 19)
And by the way, can anyone explain how vampires, who have no blood in them, get an erection?...Just asking.
-Whoopi Goldberg  (If Someone Says “You Complete Me,” RUN! Whoopi’s Big Book of Relationships p23)
While some of us may think we have a soundtrack to our life, none of us gets our own movie soundtrack. This means that we may have songs that have been important to us at times in our life, our history, but none of us has an actual soundtrack playing in the background. In Manhattan, with Woody Allen and Diane Keaton, you hear Gershwin in the background while they are walking down the street. That’s not happening in real life. No one hears fucking Gershwin when they are out walking. You hear, “Honk, honk, move!” You see dogs pooping. You hear people talking loudly on their cell phones. You’re exposed to all that. In the movies, none of that. That should tell you to be really careful in how movies relate to your real life.
-Whoopi Goldberg (If Someone Says “You Complete Me,” RUN! Whoopi’s Big Book of Relationships  p22)
I’ll just put it to you this way: Girl, you’d better know how to do things yourself. You’d better learn how to protect yourself, and don’t start fights you can’t finish. If you want something hung up on the wall, learn how to handle a hammer. You don’t want to wait for somebody to do it for you. That’s not why you want a relationship. If you want somebody to do stuff for you, get a handyman. It’s cheaper, especially if you’re going to divorce him. Handymen don’t want to get in the bed. He’ll just pee in the bathroom, that’s all, and hopefully in the toilet and not the sink, like some men I have known. The only problem you’ll have with him is he won’t put the toilet seat down. But what man does?
-Whoopi Goldberg (If Someone Says “You Complete Me,” RUN! Whoopi’s Big Book of Relationships  p31)
If you’re not willing to do the work, which requires a bridge, requires you to give and for the other person to give to you, if you’re not willing to hear why he’s upset, if you’re not willing to hear all the things that you need to hear in a relationship, then maybe it’s not for you. That’s why I’m not in one—because I’m really someone who needs to figure out what the cat wants. I spend a lot of time in the cat box.
-Whoopi Goldberg (If Someone Says “You Complete Me,” RUN! Whoopi’s Big Book of Relationships   p 39)
If they complete you, they can deconstruct you as well.
-Whoopi Goldberg (If Someone Says “You Complete Me,” RUN! Whoopi’s Big Book of Relationships p 41)
So I say if you think getting married is the be-all and end-all of your life, then you really need to think about why you feel that way. If you’re going to do this and get married, really understand yourself and what it is you think it’s going to do for you. If you’re doing this because you’re lonely, don’t do it. If you’re doing this to prove a point, don’t do it. If you’re doing this to get back at somebody, don’t do it. If you’re doing this because your mother wants you to, don’t do it. If you’re doing this because you figure, “What the hell,” definitely don’t do it. It takes some strength and energy to go against all the cultural expectations, but it takes even more to live a lie, to get divorced, to fight with someone every day, to be confused or unhappy or untrue to yourself.
-Whoopi Goldberg (If Someone Says “You Complete Me,” RUN! Whoopi’s Big Book of Relationships p 44-5)
When people show you who they are, believe them.
Believe me, Prince Charming will turn into Darth Vader once you get him into divorce court.
-Whoopi Goldberg (If Someone Says “You Complete Me,” RUN! Whoopi’s Big Book of Relationships p 167)

Link to Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Someone-Says-You-Complete-Relationships/dp/0316302015/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1463422329&sr=1-1&keywords=if+someone+says+you+complete+me+run




Friday, May 13, 2016

The Coldest Girl In Coldtown by Holly Black

Even if you have sworn to never read another vampire novel, you should read this one.  Unlike the others where the vampires are sexy with tortured souls who only need to be loved, this one puts the tale in the stark reality of what vampires really are: amoral, bored immortals for whom humans are either a snack or a toy, and surviving means treading a fine line.  If you become bitten by a vampire, you become Cold.  You will know if you are Cold within forty-eight hours and then, if you do not drink blood for eighty-eighty days, you will remain human.  If you do not, you will become a vampire.  Another way to become a vampire is to drink from a very old vampire more than once. 

Once you are Cold, if you're family have not locked you up in the basement for the duration, hoping for your survival, or if you become a vampire, you must go to a Coldtown.  The TV and live video feeds of the most famous Coldtown, in Springfield, Massachusetts, is run by an old vampire named Lucien, where he makes the life of Coldtown appear alluring to those on the outside.  But once you enter Coldtown, infected or not, you need a token to get tested to get out.  You can have others on the outside raise money to provide you with one, or you can get one for turning in a vampire.

At the beginning of this book, Tana wakes up in the bathtub of a farmhouse of a friend, where she had been at a party the night before, only to discover that everyone is dead, except her now ex-boyfriend, who is tied to a bed with a vampire tied in special chains against a wall.  The vampire tries to tell her that Aiden has been bitten and to be careful, but she ignores him and removes the duct tape from his mouth and almost gets bitten.  So when the vampire warns her that there are other vampires in the building still and that she must get out, she takes both of them, Aiden and Gavriel.  She puts the vampire in the trunk to both protect him from the sun and them from him.  On her way  out the window getting them out, a vampire's teeth scratch her leg and she realizes she might be infected.

Tana's mother was infected when she was ten and after hearing her beg for help for thirty-four days, she steals her father's keys to the basement and goes down, only to have her mother begin to gnaw at her arm.  Luckily her dad is there to swing a shovel and decapitate her mother.  You cannot get infected by someone infected, only through a vampire.  This left her and her young sister Pearl without either parent, as her father sunk into a deep depression over the ordeal. 

To save her family and her future plans she has with her remaining friend, she heads to Coldtown.  At the last stop gas station, they meet Midnight and Winter, a girl and boy twins who have been waiting for years to go to Coldtown to become vampires.  Midnight keeps a blog with a video feed.  She is not even scared when Aiden loses it for a moment and takes a chunk out of her throat.  Tana plans on turning Gavriel in, who wants to go there, so she can get a token to get out, when she is clear of the infection. 

But Coldtown is not what it seems.  Its a dog-eat-dog world.  Gavriel gives Tana some money and a very valuable garnet necklace.  She uses the money to buy supplies after escaping the room Midnight and her friends have placed her and Aiden in, hoping that he will feed off her and become a vampire and turn them.  The only reason she goes back is that Aiden has her token.  When she does come back, all hell has broken loose.

With the help of Jameson, a young man who helps others in need, and Valentin, a girl who works in a pawn shop and loves Jameson.  Tana is forced to go to the Grand Ball in Lucien's compound in order to find Aiden and get her token back.  What she sees is horrible acts of violence and depravity of the worst kind.  Somewhere is Gavriel, who turns out to be the Thorn of Istra, a vampire who worked for the master vampire, Spider to rid the world of "accidents" such as those who get infected and must be put down before the world can discover their existence.  This ends when a vampire named Carlos, goes around the United States infecting people left and right, who they in turn infected others, leading to Coldtowns and the discovery of vampires.  Gavriel was put in a prison and tortured beyond anything you can imagine and becomes insane, though he does have his lucid moments.  Gavriel was turned by Lucien and he is seeking payback. 

Tana comes to care for Gavriel and he for her, but both know it's a set up for failure.  By the time you get to the end of this book, and yes it does have an ending of sorts, you will be demanding a sequel.  This book was published in 2013 and I can only hope that Black has just finished a sequel and will be publishing it soon.  You become so attached to these characters and invested in the story that you do not want it to end.  If she does not write a sequel soon, she will be hearing from me, and I hope you as well, because this book demands one.

Link to Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Coldest-Girl-Coldtown-Holly-Black/dp/0316213098?ie=UTF8&keywords=the%20coldest%20girl%20in%20coldtown&qid=1463143450&ref_=sr_1_1&s=books&sr=1-1

Blood Magick: Book Three of the Cousins O'Dwyer Trilogy by Nora Roberts

I have to say that after reading and enjoying quite much the story of Connor and Meara, I was really looking forward to the story of Branna and Fin and the final match against the evil Cabhan.  Sadly I was a little let down.  The tension between the two is still there, as well as the spark.  Across the three books, Branna has been slowly trusting and believing in Fin more and accepting his help.  She has come to believe, as the others, that he is necessary to ending Cabhan.  But she refuses to give in to her desires for Fin because of Cabhan's mark that he wears and what might happen if she does.

In a dream state, the two are taken to Cabhan's hidden cave, back in time, and discover that he has made a pact with a demon, whose power is on a  red stone Cabhan wears around his neck.  The reason they have never been able to destroy him is that the demon heals him and keeps him alive.  They must destroy both.  But how do you destroy a demon and when is the right day to attempt an attack?  They've already tried two magical days, the summer solstice and Samhain, without success.  They also realize they must have the help of Sorcha's children, the original Dark Witches.

Cabhan continues to taunt them and lurk about, attacking them when he can, but quickly escaping when they respond.  When they finally figure out a plan of attack, they must find a way keep Cabhan from knowing of it and so they distract him.  The end game is rather a let down in that it doesn't last very long and is rather uneventful.  After three books, I wanted it to go out in a bang, not a whimper.  Its still a good book, and if you've come this far in reading the series, you have to read it to conclude it.  I just wish I had gotten more bang for my buck.

Link to Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Blood-Magick-Cousins-ODwyer-Roberts/dp/0425259870?ie=UTF8&keywords=blood%20magick%20by%20nora%20roberts&qid=1463142813&ref_=sr_1_1&s=books&sr=1-1

Petty: A Biography by Warren Zevon

Tom Petty is one of those artists that fall into a category of music in my life that has just always been there.  This category also includes Motown, Beatles, Stones, Doors, Who, Zeppelin, Aerosmith, Eagles, etc... Although, with Petty, as is not the case with most of these groups, he is still around making music with (and without) the Heartbreakers, so I have memories of my own about songs when they actually came out.  For example, I remember quite vividly (that being an appropriate word) the video to "Don't Come Around Here No More". I have always been such a huge fan of the books Alice in Wonderland/Through the Looking-glass, and Petty took a great deal of inspiration from it for the video, even going so far as to wear the Mad Hatter's hat himself.  Petty's songs are mini stories and each time you listen to them you get something different out of them than before.  There are precious few who can do this. Bruce, Dylan, Frey/Henley, Croce, Fogerty. It has become a lost art.  Petty was a born storyteller, but being a southerner might have helped a bit.

Petty's grandfather was from Georgia and married a Cherokee woman named Sally. He moved from town to town forced from one job to the next, each worse than the last, due to his marriage.  The two would become migrant workers in Florida for a while before finally getting their own plot of land near Reddick, in Marion County.  Petty's father (he had a twin sister Pearl), Earl, had a very hard time accepting his heritage and skin color.  He really only came alive when he was in the swamp hunting pigs and turkeys and fishing around snakes and gators.   He would leave home the first chance he got, to fight during World War II, and settle in Gainesville, which has been described as an extension of Georgia with a University in the middle of it (the University of Florida).  He was also determined to marry the fairest woman he could find. Katherine Avery fit the bill.  The two met when he was a driver at Eli Witt's Candy and Tobacco.  He would go on to be a salesman; he just wouldn't always have something to sell or be terribly good at it.

According to Earl's world, the only thing Tom managed to do right was to be born blonde. He had no interest in sports, school, fishing, hunting, and when he was older he became interested in art, clothes and wore his hair long and never brought home girls.  For a while, his parents were worried he was gay.  He was dating girls, but Tom kept his home life separate from his social life. This would be a common theme in his life.  Tom never had an interest in school, especially high school.  If he was interested he would get good grades, like in English class, because he loved the reading and putting sentences together.  His mother, of course, couldn't understand how he wasn't studying for his other classes, but the truth was, he never studied.

He was interested in the girls he saw at school.  He remembers all of them, all the way back to kindergarten, but none of the teachers.  One girl, Cindy, he fell very hard for in the seventh grade.  She was chased after by all the boys but she did not return his feelings.  The crash would be damaging.  Petty would say that only now does he realize that he was an overly sensitive child.  When it came to emotional pain, it would hurt so much, the pain would be physical.  He learned to shut himself off from people to protect himself from being hurt.  He would run into Cindy again after graduating High School, at a party and they would hang around for a while, until one night when she took him aside and just told him that it was never going to happen.  He says that it was that night that the song "Even the Losers" came from.

Earl was filled with a great deal of anger over life and drank a lot.  He would often take his anger out on Tom.  Tom's much younger brother, Bruce, who was more dark-skinned, was everything Earl could want in a son.  Despite the age difference, the two brothers have always remained close. Tom's mother did her best to protect her son and help him out when she could, until she began to get sick with epilepsy and later cancer.

Tom had an uncle he found out years later, worked in television, and when he was ten, Elvis came to Ocala to film a movie and his uncle arranged for him and the cousins to meet him.  It changed his world.  Later there would be others, such as the Beatles, to continue what Elvis began.  In 1962 he got his first guitar, an almost unplayable Stella, not "much more than a shape to hold, and idea with a strap." It wouldn't just be on television or the radio, though, that Tom would be influenced.  The University, while still in the Deep South, had a door that let in students from everywhere come, and town and university would mix.  In Gainesville proper, it was a new world, where new music was all around and anyone could, and did, start a band, while a few miles down the road, it was redneck land, and the rules were totally different.  He formed his first band, The Sundowners, at the age of fourteen and it was made up of some local kids. They had a gig before they had even practiced together and at that gig, they got another one.  It started snowballing from there.

In 1964 Tom and Bernie Leadon and their parents would move into the house practically in Petty's backyard.  Tom says that Petty is the only one he understood when he had dinner at their house.  Everyone else's accents were too thick.  Bernie would join the local group the Continentals, with Don Felder (whom he would later join up with in the Eagles after a stint with the Flying Burrito Brothers), replacing Stephen Stills. The Maundy Quintet would be the result.  They would compete in band competitions often against the Allman Brothers who would come over from Georgia.  Tom was two years younger than Petty, and though he was already playing elsewhere, the two would end up playing together (Tom would later play in Linda Ronstadt's back-up band for a while, which is fitting as that is where Glenn Frey and Don Henley got their start.  Rock and roll is so incestuous).   These bands, however, were all "cover bands". At this time, no one played their own music.  It did not even occur to anyone to do so.  They played the songs as close to the record as they could.  It's what the fans wanted to hear, but it's not what would get them a career in music.

This was the late 1960s and the author does mention Petty graduating, how I don't know. Vietnam was going on and boys were being drafted.  There was a salesman going around selling tuition to an "art school", he was selling it like it was an opportunity to learn to draw advertising art, or really, an opportunity to keep your kid out of the war.  So, Petty went to Tampa to school (mainly because he had a girlfriend who lived nearby), but never even saw the campus.  His girlfriend, Jan, got him a job at her father's funeral home in St. Petersburg.

When he came home, his old band, the Epics, that he was in with Tom Leadon, was still limping along and he rejoined them on bass.  Jim Lenahan, who had been in the Sundowners, would join up when the lead singer, Rodney Rucker would quit. He would be a part of Petty's life for the next forty-five years.  This was when the Epics would become Mudcrunch.  "Ricky [Rucker] was a huge guy, and he was real drunk that night," says Lenahan. "He needed a singer. He cornered me and was like, 'Hey, you just joined our band. You don't like it, I'll kick your ass.'  I was like, 'Okay.' That's how I got into that band."  They would have to get a new drummer as Underwood would be heading to Vietnam.  When he left, Ricky decided to leave too, which left the band with only three members.  By the way, in the various bands Tom Petty has been in, he has never been the lead singer.  He has basically played bass and sang back-up vocals and maybe lead on some songs.  This is about to change.

Petty had been writing songs privately, but never thought much about it until he got some advice from Don Felder to only play stuff he had written.  The first person to listen to these songs would be Lenahan.  The only problem was finding more band members. They put up notices and asked around, but had no luck.  A drummer, Randall Marsh showed up with a rehearsal spot (a rented farmhouse).  They heard his roommate running scales in the other room and asked him to come in and play.  "So Mike Campbell comes out with the worst guitar I have ever seen in my life. It looked like it has been cut out of a door.  He was super skinny, just looked unhealthy. He plugged into Leadon's amp. We asked if he could play 'Johnny B. Goode'. He ripped into that opening and our jaws dropped. By the end of the song, we said, 'You're in our band now.' He said, 'No, I'm in school.' But Petty had a powerful gift when it came to fixing problems like that. [Lenahan]" (Campbell's guitar was a gift from his dad when he was stationed in Okinawa, which is why no one he met ever recognized it as a guitar.)  I blame the Allman Brothers for this.  The band began to do long jam session songs, with little singing, leaving Lenahan with not much to do but shake a tambourine for twenty minutes.  Things began to get argumentative and ridiculous, so Leadon would call a meeting and Lenahan would be out as a singer and Tom would be in.

Mudcrutch headlined an unofficial festival held out in the county some dubbed "The Hillbilly Festival". A group of bands would play until the police came and ran them off. It was very popular; thousands would drive there from several states.  They played other festivals too, but they were still having to play at the bars you have to play at to make a few bucks, and it was at one of these that Leadon, after seeing his successful brother earlier that night, lost it, and quit the band.

Around this time, Benmont Tench, who came from rich family, but loved music, especially Mudcrutch and followed them through friends back home in Gainesville while he was in school, got to play a few times with them on organ/keyboard.  When he graduated high school that year, instead of going to Tulane like he was supposed to, he would join the band.  Also at this time, during a Halloween Festival, Tom Petty ran into Danny Roberts, who had played in a band that had opened up for Frank Zappa, the original Fleetwood Mac, The James Gang, and Black Sabbath, but the band fell apart, and the talented bass player was now without a band, so Tom asked him to join theirs.

By now, Tom Petty is practically living in his girlfriend, Jane Benyo's apartment, and is more determined than ever that they are going to get out of Gainesville.  They put together a demo, which they all agree was not very good, but the author insists that it shows what they are to become and the talent growing inside each one, and the fact that Danny Roberts does not fit.  They send the demo out to everybody and get a reply from Playboy records. Danny Roberts, Keith McAllister (a roadie), and Tom Petty would head to L.A., where they would find that the guy who contacted them no longer worked there and when they played them the demo, Playboy was not interested.  They also found out you could walk into any record company and get someone to listen to you and get a meeting. You can't-do that now, of course. At the end of three days, they had three labels interested in them: London Records (they did the Stones), Capital (they wanted them to cut another demo), and MGM (they only wanted a single and Petty only wanted to do albums).

By this time a year had passed for Lenahan, who had been laid off from Disney due to the oil embargo (fewer tourists) and was working at the Magic Market. Tom Petty walks in one night and tells him they have some offers and that he is their stage manager and they were leaving next week.  "Stage manager? For a band with no shows booked? I was like everyone else. If Petty had room in that dream for me, I wasn't going to let reality stand in the way,".  A week before they left, Petty would marry Jane, under protest. She was a nice person who was really behind him and his dream.  On his wedding day, he would bolt before going to the church, but his mother called him and told him to do it "For her sake". He honored her wish.  He had always felt there was some kind of collusion going on between Jane and his mother. Later when they got to L.A., he would find out that Jane was pregnant and that his mother probably knew.

As they were loading up the truck, a call came in from Denny Cordell at Shelter Records (he worked with Joe Cocker and Procol Harum) and he wants to sign them, but they've already agreed to sign with London Records.  Cordell was teamed up with Leon Russell (played on Spector records, Beach Boys, Byrds, Monkees records).  He talked Petty into stopping at their Tulsa studio to talk.  They ended up taking $3,000 for an advance and signed a contract that they had a lawyer look over at Cordell's insistence.

They then went out to L.A. and everything slowed down as Cordell taught Tom about music so he could teach him how to write and how a band is supposed to sound.  They finally cut a song called "Dept Street" which had a bit of a reggae sound, since Cordell was into that at the time, but it sounded rather odd.  He also wrote the song "Don't Do Me Like That", but didn't really like it, so with Cordell's permission, he let him take it to the J. Geils Band, who, thankfully, turned it down.  It would sit around for there a while before anyone would think of it again. Danny at this time was doing things at odds with the band, perhaps because, as the other vocalist in the band, he didn't like Petty being the one singing most of the songs and Petty's songs being liked over his by Cordell.  Cordell has some problems with the drummer, Randall Marsh, so Danny called home and talked to Stan Lynch about joining the band. He talked this over with McAllister, the roadie before he did the band.  Danny ends up quitting and going home to Florida.  There is a lot of rancor and disagreement between the band and Danny over the details, even to this day.

Tom still didn't want to be the lead singer yet, and who would play the bass?  That would not matter now. Cordell sat Petty down and had a talk with him and told him the band was fired, but they wanted to keep him on contract.  The album was taking too much time and too much money.  He convinced Cordell to keep Mike on the payroll, but he was forced to tell everyone else what had happened.  He sent Jane and their new daughter Adria back to Florida to stay with family since he had no idea where his career was going. Petty would spend some odd time hanging out with Leon, while everyone assumed he would have a solo career. That was not, however, what he wanted. Petty wanted to lead a band and be in a band.

By Christmas 1975, Petty would sit down with the guys who would be the original members of Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers (Cordell's idea): Mike Campbell, Benmont Tench, Ron Blair (bass), and Stan Lynch (drums).  He lets them know that this is it. If they want out now is the time.  For a long while, this would be the group. Another person would join the group. Alan "Bugs" Weindel was someone Stan knew that he convinced Petty to hire on as a roadie.  It was probably the greatest thing he did for the band. Bugs was happy just to work backstage, be a roadie and be there for Petty in any way he needed him to be, and he is still doing it today.

Tom would now see the wisdom of hiring a manager and fate placed Tony Dimitriades into his path. Tony started out as a London lawyer but came to America to manage Yes until they broke up. He helped get Petty and the band out on tour to support the first album. They would be doing some Al Kooper shows and opening up for KISS at some shows. At the KISS arena shows, they learned what it was like to be the opening band that no one is really interested in listening to and how there is no room on stage for your gear. At the Al Kooper shows ten people might show up. Their album was getting no play on the radio except in Boston and San Francisco. There is a famous bootleg copy of the show they did in Boston that the radio station there recorded at that time that is still floating around.

Tony knew someone in England who got them to open up for Nils Lofgren, but the record company would not pay for it, so they came up with the money themselves.  Their self-titled album included the hits "Breakdown" and "American Girl", but in the UK, the song "Anything That's Rock n' Roll" was released as a single and was climbing the charts. When they got off the plane there were journalists and photographers to meet them. It was completely surreal.  Halfway through the tour, they were asked to headline their own tour. The record company, ABC, sent someone over with a check. Tom ripped it up. Hendrix had to go to England first before America would notice him. Of, course, part of the problem was the album cover. It was a picture of the band, and for some odd reason, Tom chose to wear a black leather jacket with two straps of bullets wrapped around him. People like to put things in boxes and label them and they labeled them punk rockers because of the cover of the album, and lots of people who would have bought it, didn't.

Luckily, Jon Scott, who had worked for MCA, had once been sent on a drive to the South and given a bunch of cassette samplers to listen to. One of these contained a song by Mudcrutch and Scott would get it played on radio stations in Tennessee and Louisiana. Now he was at ABC and it was eight months after the release of the Heartbreakers' album, which in the business meant it was dead to the record company.  ABC gave Scott six weeks and no money to do what he wanted.  He went to a DJ he knew in L.A. and got him to really listen to it and to come and hear them play at the Whiskey. The DJ was convinced. Then Scott set about turning around the famous L.A. Times critic, Robert Hilburn and succeeded there as well.  One and a half years after release, "Breakdown" entered the top forty.  They didn't have time to celebrate because they were already in the studio working on the next album, You're Gonna Get It!, which contained the hits "I Need to Know" and "Listen to Her Heart", where he got in trouble for a " reference to cocaine. The label wanted it changed to "champagne". "That's not expensive enough," Petty told them. The executives were thinking about radio. Petty was thinking about a song." Cordell would bring on Max and Noah Shark to do the album and have little to do with it and his relationship with Petty started to become more distant. Petty would say he wanted this album to be different than the first, which it is. It's a step up in the right direction. It just didn't satisfy what he knew the band could be.

Elliot Roberts was now a partner with Tony and he sat down with Tom and explained to him that the money could not be split evenly anymore. It would cause major problems down the road. Everyone was not doing equal work and it was Tom's band. He was the one doing most of the work.  When the band found out it hit them hard, but this was what they wanted to do, so they got over it. Except Stan. He still complains to this day about it being all about the money to Petty and how he ripped them off.  The second thing Tony was working on was getting them out of their Shelter contract, where he had lost his publishing rights among other things.

Jimmy Iovine came on for the third album, Damn the Torpedoes. He had just come away from working with Bruce Springsteen. Petty thought he was bringing him on as an engineer, but Iovine worked his way into the producer's chair and hired an engineer and made them pay for it. This would have to one of the craziest ways to make an album ever.  While Petty was in court trying to get out of his contract by declaring bankruptcy (well, he really didn't have any money), the band was making the album that would put them on the map and when they finished for the day, Bugs would take the recordings and hide them somewhere (to this day no one knows where) and bring them back when they needed them.  This book really shows you how to make an album (in so many different ways), which is rather cool. One of the things that seem to be repeated is that drummers and producers, generally have trouble getting along. Cordell hated Mudcrutch's drummer and Iovine hated Lynch. The drummer is the backbone of the band and the drumbeat is the backbone of a song. It holds it down (along with the bass).  If it isn't right, it throws the whole thing off. Iovine and Petty wanted an album heavy on percussion and in Iovine's opinion, Lynch was not delivering.   "Mike Campbell recalls walking out the door, leaving the project for a few days. "On Refugee", he says, "I had a mental breakdown. I just couldn't take it anymore. It was my song, a co-write with Tom, and we kept playing it over and over and over, changing the thing, changing the sounds. It sounded like Nazis marching. There was no groove. We got into this hole of misery cutting that song. And I said, 'I need to get out of this room for a few days. This is not healthy.' It's the only time I've walked out of a session."  Petty would win in court and the album which contained the classics, "Don't Do Me Like That" (which was rescued), "Here Comes My Girl", "Refugee", and "Even the Losers" would be released by MCA.  During the tour for the album, when they stopped in Gainesville, Petty saw his very sick mother for the last time.  He was still on the road when she died. His brother told him that if he came it would turn the thing into a zoo, as the whole town was expecting to see him. He couldn't do that to his mother's funeral, so he didn't go. Grieving would have to wait too.

This was a band of introverts, with the exception of Lynch, and they let no one into their inner circle.  But Stevie Nicks was determined and had finally found a way to work with Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, something she had been trying to do ever since she heard their
 first album (Petty had kept blocking any offers, so she became friends with his wife Jane, whom she would base her song "Edge of Seventeen" on, as she had misheard her when she said they had met at the age of seventeen).  Petty and Nicks would become lifelong friends. He wrote her a song, "Insider", but then told her she couldn't have it. They had already done the song with Nicks and Petty singing together and there was a lot of chemistry between them when they sing--chemistry that lots of people would mistake for something that wasn't really happening.  Iovine suggested he give her "Stop Dragging My Heart Around", a song the Heartbreakers had already laid down. Petty turned the idea down at first, but in the end, gave it to her. Hard Promises came out with expectations of songs like "The Waiting" and "A Woman in Love (It's Not Me) and "Nightwatchman" being hits. None of them were. The hit was "Stop Dragging My Heart Around" and it was on Stevie Nicks album.

Petty had been juggling balls in the air for a long time now: the band, writing, being a husband, a father. He couldn't keep them all in the air all the time. His marriage was not doing well and hadn't been for a while. Jane was drinking and doing coke to escape the loneliness, emptiness, and depression she was feeling. She had friends, but no one seemed to understand. Stevie was always there to listen--and bring coke.  Tom did what lots of people idiotically do in these situations: have another child to fix the marriage. In January 1982, Annakim (I do wonder if someone got high and saw a Star Wars movie and thought Anakin would make a great name for a kid, but altered it because it was a girl. Of course it could be a family name.)  Annakim would never know the good years of her parents marriage, like Adria did, who was there, literally from the beginning.

It was also at this time that Petty made the decision that Ron Blair, the bass player had to go. Truth be told, he was sort of gone already. Blair was a man who was drifting. He took it rather well. He knew what was going on. He went back to Florida and opened a surf shop.  He even called Tom up and thanked him for giving him that time in the band.  Howie Epstein would come on to play bass and he added a backing voice to the band. Lynch and Petty had a remarkable harmony together that they didn't even have to think about. Now the band had a new sound.

Their next album, Long After Dark, was kind of thrown together, but it shows where Petty was mentally and emotionally.  "We Stand a Chance", You Got Lucky", and "The Same Old You" came off that album and they all seem to talk about his marriage and life and the hopelessness of it all.  This album would also be another battle over the drummer with other drummers coming in and then leaving and Lynch coming back. They had spent the last eight years making records and touring straight. After this last tour, they all sort of fell apart. Mike went into the hospital for exhaustion, Benmont entered rehab to begin fighting his drug and alcohol addiction that he would finally kick in 1988, and Tom had surgery on his hand after he punched a wall in a fit of rage. The grief over his mother's death had finally caught up to Tom, among other things.

Many different things came together to give Petty the idea to do a concept album that would be called Southern Accents and I dearly wish I could listen to the album he set out to make, but became misguided and messed up.  The first song to come was "Rebels". Then the centerpiece, "Southern Accents": "There's a Southern accent where I come from/The young 'uns call it country the Yankees call it 'dumb'/I got my own way of talking, but everything is done/with a Southern accent where I come from."  Petty was producing the album himself and it was killing him.  Petty gets a call from Iovine who is working on Nicks new album and wants to know if he has a song for her. He doesn't, but he recommends that guy from the Eurythmics (Dave Stewart), whom he believed could write a good song.  The three of them call him over to help and need a break he goes over. Tom left that night with a track in his pocket of the song "Don't Come Around Here No More". It was different than anything he had done before, but it still fit on this album.  Mike would find out about Petty's continued visits over to the studio to work with Stewart and got himself invited along.  From then on, he made sure to be there with Petty wherever he went.  It was always worth his while.  The band felt that Tom had cheated on them, and worse, with someone who played with a drum machine.  The two wrote more songs, they just weren't as good. They ended up on the album: "Make it Better (Forget About Me)" and "It Ain't Nothing to Me". The songs "Trailer", "The Apartment Song", a cover of Nick Lowe's "Cracking Up", Conway Twitty's "The Image of Me", and the unrecorded "Sheets", a scary song about race relations in the South, were all cut.  "So what if the album sounded like an identity crisis played out across two sides of a long player--why shouldn't it?"  A lot of cocaine lying around was also a contributing factor.

Mike was a machine when it came to making music. He carried around a small recorder around the house and would lay down demos and fill a tape up and give it to Petty to see what he could do with it. He gave him many tapes. Around the time of Southern Accents, Mike brought Petty a song. He and Iovine listened to it and suggested a change for the chorus, but Tom was busy with the album and this song wasn't hitting him quickly enough so he passed on it. Jimmy gives Mike a call later telling him Don Henley was looking for a song, so Mike sends him this one.  Don quickly turned it into "Boys of Summer". When Mike brought it by for Tom to hear was the day Tom broke his hand by hitting a wall and had to have the bone structure re-created.  When asked in the press about his hand, he was quite honest and told them he hit a wall.   Later when Mike and Tom were at Mike's house by his car, he turned on the radio and "Boys of Summer" was ending and the DJ was saying how it was the best song ever. It got rather tense for a moment, then Tom told Mike that he did a really good job on the song, which Mike was really happy to hear but more important, he was happy Tom didn't break his other hand.

After the release of the disappointing album Let Me Up (I've Had Enough) and the tours with Bob Dylon, Tom Petty met George Harrison through Jeff Lynne (of the Band and a hell of a producer).  He and George became immediate friends. It was as though they had always been friends. There have been a lot of influential people in Petty's life, but George would be the one to get the closest for the longest period of time.  Mike and Stan had also had a major falling out on the road. Tom was tired. He was over at Lynne's house showing him a song he was working on, "Yer So Bad", and soon Tom started playing around on a keyboard. Lynne said the words "Free falling" and Petty took off after it. "It was so light, so removed from struggle. I hadn't felt that way in some time. It was like I hadn't taken a deep breath in I don't know how long."  Tom called Mike and he and Lynne went to Mike's house to use his broken down studio (which consisted of a spare bedroom and a dirty garage). Lynne showed them a new way to make an album that was quick and simple and a lot less aggravating. In the end, the three of them created Full Moon Fever and they did it without the Heartbreakers, who were not happy about this.  But even crazier, was the fact that the record company turned the album down.  This was the album that had many hits on it, but the most important one would be "Free Falling", which would turn out to be Petty's top-selling song and the biggest hit of his life.  [note: I have to say that at this point I do not remember ever liking this song, but I must have when it came out. It became overplayed on the radio and MTV, not just that year, but every year after it, until now. I haven't seen the whole video in at least ten to twenty years, but if I close my eyes, I can see it, start to finish. When the song comes on the radio, I change it. Its the one Tom Petty song I cannot listen to. Someday, maybe I can again.]  He was at dinner with George and Warner Brothers Record President, Mo Ostin one night at this time, and really liked Ostin and the relationship he had with George. He couldn't get out of his contract with MCA yet, as he owed them albums, but he "unofficially" signed a contract with Ostin that night that would be hidden in a vault for two years. The guy who turned down Full Moon Fever would end up being fired for another reason and MCA would look at it again and decided to put it out.

"At the 1990 Grammy awards, Full Moon Fever was nominated for album of the year, up against the debut of Petty's "other band" the Traveling Wilburys [Bob Dylan, Jeff Lynne, George Harrison, Tom Petty, Roy Orbison]. Of the three records nominated, one was Don Henley's End of the Innocence, an album with songs co-written by both Mike Campbell and Stan Lynch. On the music side of life, abundance surrounded Petty and his band."

When they did the Full Moon Fever tour, they brought on Scott Thurston for extra help. He could play guitar, keyboard, bass, harmonica--pretty much anything. He had played with  Ike and Tina, Iggy, and the Motels. What he didn't know about playing rock 'n roll, wasn't worth knowing. Petty borrowed him from Jackson Browne (eventually, seeing the tortured Thurston trying to work for both of them and not able to, and willing to just quit rather than choose between them, Jackson told him to go with Petty).  Thurston would prove to be a good friend for Petty to have on the road. As Jackson Browne says "He was my closest friend at the hardest time in my life. ..There's probably twenty of us out there, thinking we're his best friends. You'd be surprised how many."

Tom had two more albums to give MCA. One would be the Jeff Lynne produced Into the Great Wide Open, which is a good album, but seems less when it sits next to Full Moon Fever. And the band spent the whole time bitching about Lynne behind his back. Petty refused to give MCA another album. After much arguing, he finally agreed on a Greatest Hits Album with one extra song added, that ironically, would become its own greatest hit: "Mary Jane's Last Dance". With that over, he moved on to Warner Brothers.

Rick Rubin, one of the best producers in the business, had been eager to work with Petty and now was his chance. But did Petty want to do a solo album or a Heartbreakers album? In the end it came down to Stan Lynch. Where Petty wanted to go with this album, he knew Stan could not musically follow him. This would be the most personal story Petty would have to tell, yet. And it was important to get it right. Steve Ferrone began life as a tap dancer, which some say, make the best drummers. "When Tom was in front of Stan," says Bugs Weidel, "there was always this thing in his mind of 'Are we speeding up? Are we slowing down? Are things in control? Should we reign it?' That was always kind of in the back of his mind. With Ferrone, it's like there's a rhythm machine back there. None of that is even an issue. For the first time in Tom's life, it was like, 'Drummer? There's a drummer?'"  Tom Petty calls Wildflowers the divorce album. With songs like: "Time to Move On", "Hard on Me", "Only a Broken Heart", "To Find a Friend", "Don't Fade on Me", "You Wreck Me", and of course, "You Don't Know How it Feels". When he played it for the family, they all knew, but he didn't say anything at that time. He wasn't ready to deal with that family just yet. He had to deal with his other family.

"Stan Lynch could be the band member most ready to go out there and kill it, or the most divisive, or the most enthusiastic supporter of what Tom Petty was trying to pull off, or the most bitter. The problem for Petty came in figuring out when Lynch was going to be which of these things. And what Lynch was saying to whom...'He was really good onstage,' says Petty. 'He could read me really well and make a show really exciting.'"  Petty's deep desire to have a band and keep it intact had caused him to keep Stan on longer than he should have.  He did go and ask Stan to do the tour for Wildflowers, but Stan never gave him a straight answer. When they were in Florida doing a two-night benefit show, they played awfully, because of Stan, who hated the music. At the end of the second night, Petty overhears Stan talking to members of Crazy Horse and he hears Stan telling them that this isn't his "main gig" and then finds out that Stan has been auditioning for other bands for the past year. At that moment Petty was through with him.

After the tour, Tom left Jane for good (he had left once before in the 80s, but came back). He began seeing a therapist and started delving into his childhood's traumatic past, which was a good thing, but perhaps, not the right time to do it.  The combination of the old wound splitting open and the end of his marriage, caused him to spiral into a deep and dark depression. He had moved into a small house and was living alone. Adria was at college and Annakim ended up becoming her responsibility because she had two parents who could not take care of her fourteen-year-old sister.  She was angry at her father at first, until she realized what was going on with him.  Petty had spent his whole life keeping people out. When you end up at the bottom of that dark pit, alone, even if you have all the many friends he did, he lacked the ability to reach out to them, even George, who could not understand, because he had no idea what had really been going on in their marriage in the first place. Stevie tried making visits, as did others. Eventually, Tom reached for an escape from the pain that hurts so much its physical. The pain that is always there, night and day. He reached for heroin and escaped in that. No one knew this for a very long time. He was good at hiding it. This is also something he has not really talked about before now. It's such a rock n' roll cliche: becoming addicted to heroin. But those cliches are about rockers who are partying and start taking stuff like that to have fun. This is not that cliche. This is about someone needing an escape. I understand this because I have been to that pit more than once. I have never taken an illegal drug in my life (yes, that might be weird, but they're illegal, and some part of me was always scared that I might not come back if I did). There are so many ways to escape and I found several. One of them was writing bad poetry and short stories. But Tom had been using that escape for years, in a way, and now, it was no longer available to him. Some of the ones I used were also stupid and dangerous. But you are not thinking very clearly then.  I'm amazed that he didn't try to commit suicide (or at least, there is no mention of it, and from what I read, I don't think it occurred to him). It never occurred to me, but I always thought I was the stupidest depressed person ever, though grateful I never thought about it.  The author goes into detail about what Tom went through, as does Tom, his friends, and his family. I could spend paragraphs trying to explain what this is like, but really, the only way to truly know is to be in that pit yourself. Which I dearly hope you never are.

Jane was not doing any better. What no one realized for a while, was that Jane had a mental disease. The book does not go into a lot of detail about this. Adria mentions hallucinations once and there are mentions of depression. It could be schizophrenia, as it seemed to happen around her early twenties, but these two symptoms also fit manic depression. Or she could have the combo of the two, schizoaffective disorder, which is most likely if she was indeed having hallucinations.  Whatever she had, she was self-medicating with alcohol and drugs for years. "My mother was a really soulful, gregarious, fun person,' says Adria Petty, 'and she loved him so much and had so much pride in his success. At the same time, she was very insecure, very resentful, very unclear about her place in the world. She also suffered from mental illness. And being married to someone who is mentally ill for a long time is really painful and isn't the kind of thing you can do a sound bite on. It's not neatly tied up with a bow. My mom could be a mean person. She'd been really verbally abusive and cruel to my dad, had disregard for all three of us, way before they were even on the verge of divorce...I just hated watching what she did to him." If Petty had been a different person, he would have divorced her a very, very, long time ago. He was trying so hard to keep his family together. There is no mention of what happens to Jane.

Petty saw Dana York at a show in the early 90s in Texas and had a dream about her that night. The next night at another snow, he met her and her husband, also a musician, and the couple would run into the band at various things over the years.  In 1996, neither one of them was married and they ran into each other at a Johnny Cash show and he got her number.  His whole life was falling apart around him and he was falling in love with a wonderful woman.  He kept all of the darkness he was going through from her.  Stevie was there to warn him to take it really slow, because he was not totally out of the mess of his old life and "don't sleep with her!" That's also when she found out about the heroin and it shocked her to the core.  Dana would come out to visit a couple of weekends a month, but she also had a three-year-old son, Dylan to think about.

Rick Rubin, Mike Campbell, and Tom Petty went into the studios to write the album Echo. That's when they found out about the heroin. Rick ended up going to the store and buying a magnetic poetry set and sticking it on a music stand for Tom to move letters around to form words and put together lyrics. It broke Mike's heart to see him this way. The album got recorded and they haven't listened to the album since.   The miracle is just how good an album it really is. Dana has tried to get Tom to listen to it, but he won't. Tom Petty had been writing songs his whole life, all the time, obsessively.  Just because the man running the machine was asleep at the wheel didn't mean the machine couldn't keep functioning just the same. Just because he didn't knock it out of the ballpark doesn't mean it didn't get to first base or even score a double.

Before going on tour, Tom came clean with Dana, who understood perfectly, having had a father who suffered from addiction for similar reasons and she got him help. Dana saved him. Period.  But she did more than that, she helped him see that some aspects of his behavior had to change. Especially his flashes of anger. On the tour to support the album Echo, they played not one song off that album.  Also, Dana went along.  "More than once, people who worked with the band thanked her for what she'd done. "It confused me,' she says. 'They'd tell me, 'Tommy's so happy. He's so different.' I just thought,really? What was he like before? Did he never talk to anyone?"  But Petty wasn't the only one who had a heroin problem. Howie Epstein, the bass player had been using for years and it was killing him.  When he went into rehab for the last time, they told him it was best for him if he quit the band. It wasn't long after they were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2002 that he passed.  Mike Campbell had kept in touch with Blair over the years and it was a pretty easy call to make to bring him back into the band.

"One journalist started a Hypnotic Eye [album] interview by asking Petty, 'Did you know you didn't have to make the album this good?' He'd done enough by that time that he could rest on reputation if he wasn't still busy trying to top himself. Like Mojo, it was nominated for a Grammy.  And it entered at number one on the album charts. His first number one record, after decades of getting close. Even now, with Petty in his mid-sixties, his fans knew that the next Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers record might be the best of the lot. That's always been the deal. That's the brand."

While reading this book and writing this review, I've pulled out my Tom Petty CDs and I have gotten hold of other CDs to listen to as well. Sadly, I have not seen them live (and they better tour again soon, the way things have been going lately, I'd like to see them before something tragic happens). I did find a live double album (not the Double Platinum album, though I am now itching to get my fingers on it) and it continues to amaze me, as I listen to it over and over, how truly incredible they are as a live band. They are what rock n' roll is about. Tom Petty is one of the last of his kind. The music industry has changed, in my opinion, for the worse. But I'm "old" so, I suppose that is what I should think. I haven't given up on new music, though. I'm still searching. Waiting. And as Tom would say, the waiting is the hardest part.

Historian David Halbertiam has suggested that there was a perverse effect to shows like Father Knows Best: young people had to watch those perfect families, only to show up at the dining room table and be greeted by lunatics. “Kids growing up in homes filled with anger and tension often felt the failure was theirs,” he writes. Of course, what kid had the presence of mind, or the information, to see it for what it was? Who knew that Ozzie Nelson was in truth a workaholic with little off camera time for his children, another absent father among the many? That wasn’t how it looked on television.
--Warren Zanes (Petty: The Biography p 21)
It would take a movement, and many years, to remove those books [Dick and Jane] from American schools. The year 1957 saw a little advance with the publication of The Cat in the Hat. Of the many fragmented clues that give some sense of the conflicted nature of American life at midcentury, The Cat in the Hat, in its own strange way, is as revealing as anything. There’s as much truth in the book as you’ll find among images drawn from the era, certainly more than one finds in the idealized pictures of American life generated by Rockwell or Disney…It’s the rock and roll of children’s literature…The Cat in the Hat begins with loss, particularly the loss of the mother. And it’s that maternal absence into which the cat arrives. All hell breaks loose, the domestic scene thrown out of control for most of the book. The fish, a kind of stand-in for parental rule, if all but powerless in his bowl, insists to the children that they do the right thing. But the fact is, it’s not clear if anyone, whether the kids or the cat, actually knows what the right thing is.  No one knew just when the mother would be back or in what way that even mattered. The only given, the only thing that everyone knew for sure, is that the father is, quite simply, gone. Not worth a mention.  At a moment when it was needed, and to whomever was paying attention, Dr. Seuss gave away some of middle America’s secrets.
--Warren Zanes (Petty: The Biography p 22-3)
Every culture has its southerners.
--Susan Sontag
There’s nothing more rewarding than a fresh set of problems.
-Donald Barthelme
But I think he poisoned the well a little bit with Stan, starting with Damn the Torpedoes. Jimmy and Shelly put Stan through the fucking ringer. He’s not a session drummer.  He’s not supposed to be.  He’s a band drummer.  Of course, I’m not in charge, and that’s probably a good thing. But Jimmy [Iovine] came from the East Coast, from working with East Coast drummers, like Max Weinberg. Now he’s on the West Coast, working  with a southern drummer who listened  to English drummers who listened to black drummers.
--Benmont Tench on troubles between producer Iovine and drummer Stan Lynch while making Tom Petty and the Heartbreaker albums (Warren Zane’s Petty: The Biography p 144)
More depressed than other regions, the South couldn’t have moved on if it wanted to. The past was right there, in the rotting barns and peeling billboards. Apart from truck stops and strip malls, it looked to him like the South couldn’t afford to be the future, so it remained  the past.  And it was his past. Backward, beautiful, fucked up, often forgotten, sometimes violent. People  who knew music seemed to be aware that most American song traditions came from down there, but they often didn’t know mush more about the South than that.  It was a place with an incomprehensible character, America’s dirty secret.
--Warren Zanes (Petty: The Biography p 181)
“I saw Prince doing what looked like an attempt at psychedlia,” Petty says, “And I loved it. It inspired me.” The recording in his pocket sounded like movement. It wasn’t clear what it all meant, where it fit. Petty had certainly let a stranger into the Heartbreakers’ midst. This wasn’t the Del Shannon collaboration. It wasn’t even having Duck Dunn come in t play bass. This was Petty slipping out in the night to create something great without any of the Heartbreakers involved or, really, even knowing. This was infidelity. And the drum machine on the track only made it worse.  Petty was out sleeping with a tramp. And it felt good to him.
--Warren Zanes on Petty’s collaboration with Dave Stewart in the making of “Don’t Come Around Here No More” (Petty: The Biography p 186)
“That record [Into the Great Wide Open],” Petty says, “gave us some of our most evergreen songs. It’s our biggest album in Europe. But suddenly we were in a business where you could feel bad about selling only a few million records and recording some songs that live forever.”
--Warren Zanes (Petty: The Biography p 234)
“The human condition is the same for everyone,” says Olvia Harrison. “But once you’re isolated, it’s even worse. When those big life events happen, you can’t see your way out of them. When you’re in the world, you have outreach. When you’re in a bubble, how do you see outside of that? How do people get in? And then you feel like you really don’t want people to see what your troubles are, you’re so private at that point. It’s really easy to not get help.”
-Warren Zanes (Petty: The Biography p 254-5)
Grief turns out to be a place none of us know until we reach it.
-Joan Didion
“There are records that make their way through the sheer force of the music,” Petty says. “Good recordings seem to find their way into the world. Gram Parsons never had a hit record. But his stuff came through, people found it. Ann Peebles, one of my all-time favorites, was teaching in a preschool or something when I first heard one of her records. Now I play her music all the time on my radio show.  What these people created got to me—and not through anyone’s marketing plan. I have to go on this. I have to let this mean something to me. Things happen with good records.  Maybe not right when they come out, maybe not for millions of listeners. But good records seem to get to the people who need them the most. I guess I have to believe that the best marketing tool is still a good song.  And that it’s probably better that I put my time into writing one of those than learning how to do social media properly.”
--Warren Zanes (Petty: The Biography p 303)
I was trying to explain Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers to my sons. They’ve known the music all their lives. Petty’s stuff was playing when they came out. But they listen with no reference to history, like it’s all from one big album called Tom Petty. “Even the Losers,” “King’s Highway,” Wildflowers,” Nightwatchman,” “Walls,” “Forgotten Man,” “The Wild One, Forever.” These are some they love. They’re ten and twelve. I was eleven when I first heard “Breakdown”. Imagine, I said, having someone make a record that goes straight into that place where the important records go, and then he keeps making them.  Every few years, a new one, following you through your life. He’s there when you get your first girlfriend. He’s there when you form your first band. He’s there when you go back to school, when you get married, when you have kids, when you get divorced.  My sons weren’t sure what I was getting at. It doesn’t matter anyway, because it won’t be an option for them. They don’t have a Tom Petty. They’re borrowing mine.  Petty’s life and career cover an era that is, in some ways, over. Whatever comes next is going to be so different that comparisons won’t make sense.  The long careers, and the handful of artists who have had them, will be a story that gets told. Petty came out of the golden age of bands, I say to my sons. I remind them that there’s still something to carry forward, no matter how much the world changed since 1976. If they want it.  But at that point I’m just saying what parents say, without considering whether I actually believe it. But I hope some voice will come out of the American wilderness and take hold of them. And show them things.
--Warren Zanes (Petty: The Biography p 307-8)

Link to Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Petty-Biography-Warren-Zanes-ebook/dp/B00VPZVR0G/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1507038614&sr=8-1&keywords=tom+petty+biography+by+warren+zanes