Here's what the chickens are reading. Julie, Jarad, and Morty have all run across some items that made them think, or laugh, or cry and they'd like to share them with you so that your brain can have all the same sort of exercise.
This week, Jarad's picks illustrate people who are trying hard to tell their stories to the world, to push against the boundaries of their reality where they can.
Julie and Morty's choices can be read as cautionary tales. Be careful what kind of stories you tell yourself. You can end up places you never wanted to go.
Claribel Alegria, Central American Poet, Dies
I hope you go beyond the article and read the poetry! Jarad
The Publishing Company That's Only Publishing Female Authors in 2018
Resistance is the Best Way of Keeping Alive
Why are White Men Stockpiling Guns?
Let's just say the Stories you tell yourself make all the difference in the world, Morty
The Last Temptation
This is very long, but worth it, Julie
Left Behind Index (the whole thing)
Funny and insightful. A review from The Slacktivist of The Left Behind Series or "Pre-Trib Porno" as Fred Clark calls it.
Strange the Dreamer
Review by Jarad Johnson
This beautifully written book is easily my favorite of the year. It is epic in scope, and all-encompassing. This modern-day fairy tale recounts the journey of Lazlo Strange, an orphan who was raised by monks, and then became a junior librarian. His quest centers around a mythological city, one that has been his obsession since he was a child. But the entire story begins with a girl with blue skin falling from the sky. And if that doesn’t entice you, nothing will.
By Daniel O'Malley
Review by Jarad Johnson
It’s difficult to know where to begin with a book so full of intricate plots, which is probably what makes the book so enthralling. The author has managed to find the perfect balance for the novel by combining high-octane, page turning writing with humor. The two are not always mutually exclusive. Myfanwy Thomas wakes up surrounded by bodies and with no recollection of who she is, only having in her possession a set of instructions on how to keep herself safe, or relatively so. She eventually learns that she is a relatively high-ranking member of a government organization that deals with supernatural conflicts around the country. If that sounds like a lot, you haven’t seen anything yet. This book defies categorization and is hard to pin down. However, it is rich with world-building and character development, twists and turns, and unexpected advances.
Manipulation, intrigue, and alcohol all coalesce into an enticing cocktail in this enthralling novel. Set in the 1920s during Prohibition, the story follows a typist working at a local police precinct, and the manipulative bootlegger- in-disguise whom she becomes obsessed with. The entire story is told from one point of view, so the reader is intentionally made to doubt the credibility of the narrative. It is an intricate and all-encompassing read that should not be read hastily.
I received a gift from my friend Michelle Anderson this Christmas. It's a very judgmental llama. The theory is that it's supposed to help me write by judging me when I don't. It works fairly well, I suppose, although it is a grammar nazi and I just find that emotionally draining.
Uncle Morty says it doesn't affect him one way or the other. I suggested that's because he never does anything and things went downhill from there. In all fairness, Morty has been working on a literature contest for our readers. We will have the details shortly, but we are excited to say there will be some cash involved.
No fear! The Judgy Llama is only judging me, not the contest! Get your weird on and prepare to write an unsettling story or two.
Today, it would seem that our society is obsessed with sex. It’s everywhere; television shows, commercials, and as a form of advertisement. Most importantly, we now see examples displaying unnecessary sex; for example, a Hardee’s commercial does not need to sell their burgers by marketing what is essentially soft-core porn, and it’s definitely true that these displays are more pornographic than they are actual sex, because displaying and exploring human sexuality through film, books and other media is fine and sometimes necessary, but we seem to have a culture that is obsessed with performing sex and sexiness, as we have a culture that is obsessed with performing gender. Modern culture is not obsessed with sex in itself, but a certain idea of what sex is and how it is performed. These are some of the issues that Levy wishes to tackle and attempts to explain. I will say that while I agree with Levy in most of her assertions, and she appears to correctly identify where our, “pornified,” culture has evolved from, she makes some insinuations and assertions that I don’t agree with, which is fine of course, as the book was not written just for me; however, these things, in my view, showcased an ignorance and a misunderstanding about certain topics.
In the first book of this series, we got to see the main character embark on an epic Tolkien-esce quest to destroy a powerful and evil king. Now, we get to see him fail in his endeavors, which is mostly what this second book entails. Much of the book’s plot is set up by a mess of Merlin’s own making. However, through his endeavors here, the author lays the ground-work for Merlin’s evolution into the famous mythological figure that we know today. Unlike the first book, the author shares more of Merlin the person, which includes his self-doubt and arrogance, both of which cost him dearly. At times, these humanizing qualities feel overdone, and leave the reader with an impression of the main character as whiny and bratty, at times, though it is worth noting that he is described as being only thirteen.
Merlin has been a prominent figure in mythology for centuries, with many versions of the character since medieval times, and as such he has become a common name, a prominent figure in the Arthurian mythos. However, while much has been written about his adult life, very rarely do his authors discuss his teenage years. This is what Baron wishes to explore in his series.
Novel by Robert Harris
Review by Jarad Johnson
Once again, Robert Harris brings the courtrooms of Ancient Rome to life with his vivid imagery and meticulous writing style. This is the first in the series, and it is narrated by Cicero’s slave, clerk, and confidante Tiro. Through his writing, the reader sees that Cicero, even from the start of his career, was a master at the game of politics, as well as a brilliant orator. He could change sides from one day to the next, but with the right turn of a phrase, somehow manage to keep the favor, even the adoration, of the populous. That alone takes talent. Moreover, through Tiro’s narration, the reader gets to see the beginnings of his first career, from his initial election, to his first criminal case in the courtroom, to his war on the aristocracy. All of it is fascinating, and anyone who loves ancient history or politics will greatly enjoy this book.
Your Uncle Morty has decided to help you out this Holiday Season. No, he is not available to string lights, and he probably thinks your Christmas party is lame. (Although...send him an email and pics of last year. You never know.) Uncle Morty is going to help you with your Christmas list.
Without further ado, here is the first annual Christmas List: The Music Edition.
Here begins the blog post of Morty:
Hello my flesh-covered friends. I have been discussing music picks with my friend and fellow blogger, Roy Peak.
We've come up with a list of suggestions to help you give different kinds of music to those who deserve it the most.
Music for your awesome or awesomely weird niece, nephew or cousin:
Bike Punk by the Worst Generation
Guardians of the Galaxy: Awesome Mix Vol. 1
Beetlejuice: Official Motion Picture Soundtrack
Germ Free Adolescents by X-ray Spex
Cry Baby by Melanie Martinez
Music for Folks who like accordions (this may require some digging on your part- some people are ashamed of this affinity):
Lonely à la Mode by Thee Shambels
The Best of Accordion Music by the Café Accordion Orchestra
Draggin' the Days by the Mahones
Revenge music for mean co-workers and relatives. Gage their personalities carefully to decide which of these will annoy them most. Uncle Morty doesn't want to get sued or anything so he didn't link to them. Find them yourself.
Under the Mistletoe by Justin Bieber
Chasing Amy: Official Soundtrack
Knee Deep in the Hoopla by Starship
Metal Machine Music by Lou Reed
Music for that person you kind of knew in school but lost track of who found you on Facebook and always posts inappropriate stuff:
She's the Boss by Mick Jagger
Songs About People You Hate by Sick Thoughts
Here to Stay by Neal Schon and Jan Hammer
Music for Skeleton Uncles who still live at home:
For Your Obliteration by the Dead Deads
Tickets to See Puddles Pity Party in concert
Dead Man's Party by Oingo Boingo
Also...for almost any weirdo...and you guys know I'm talking to you...don't forget that Roy has an album over at Band Camp, All Is Well.