Wednesday, March 9, 2011

The "S" Key, Sniper Check and What If They Lived?


Hey, remember that time I wrote a new blog post? Yeah, that was so long ago... hey, wait... it's right now! Cool! I must be, like, a writer of blogs or something cool like that! Hey, remember that time I was a cool writer of blogs? Yeah, that was forever ago... hey, wait....  it's right now!

So, the S key on my gaming keyboard is upside-down. I'm not sure what it means, but I'm convinced it means something. And it must be deep. The S isn't symmetrical - the top curve is bigger than the bottom one, and it looks odd, like at any moment, it will tip over because it is top heavy. I think that's why I tip over a lot, too... anyway, it makes me wonder about other keys... I, O, X, Z... these could be upside-down, and I'd never know! I guess I could just look reeeaaaal close-like...


So I've been reading a lot of late. Yep, I'm a real escape artist. Flee from your problems, Dave! Run from reality! Dive headlong into other worlds that, like, don't exist and stuff! You spineless pansy-type individual! No sense staring your problems down, unblinking and trembling with rage, like some demon-hunter or something. Run, run like the wind!

Where was I?

Oh, yeah, I've been reading a lot. I bought a copy of a book called What If They Lived? co-authored by Phil Hall and Rory Leighton Aronsky. Rory's blog is Scraps of Literacy, by the way... it's a book by film buffs for film buffs, and it is both informative and speculative entertainment. It covers a wide range of film stars from the entire history of film through today, who died "before their time," and asks the question in the title: What if they lived? Each actor/actress is given a brief background run-down, as well as their film experience, and the circumstances surrounding their deaths. It then moves into speculating on the courses their careers may have taken, based on their popularity at the time of their deaths (on the upswing or tailing off), and the projects they had lined up at the time of their departure, and some good ol' fashioned educated guessing.

I had some problems with the Kindle version of the book that I bought. This is the type of book that seems to encourage flipping around, rather than powering through cover to cover, like a novel. However, the digital version didn't have a working Table of Contents, so I couldn't see at a glance a complete list of the actors featured, and jump to them accordingly. I had to either scroll through the pages manually, or move the slider bar around. I did ultimately flip through the whole book, reading most of the entries, but it would have been easier to navigate the book with a working TOC.

Also, my anal nature was repeatedLY grated by the numerous formatting errors, and typos. I kept wanting to go in and fix things! The content was very interesting, and perhaps most people wouldn't worry about it, but for me, it was a roadblock (albeit, certainly not a deal-breaker).

The final problem I had was the intro, which got under my skin - you know how I am with sometimes being derailed at the very beginning of a book! It was written by a chap named Mike Watt, and he goes on at length about how devastated he was at the passing of Jim Henson, whom he'd never met, but was a big fan of. He apparently went through all the stages of grief, like when you lose a loved one, even though he was in junior high at the time. Now, far be it from me to come across as making light of someone's pain, but that is so far out of my reality that I just couldn't connect at all. I certainly know what it's like to lose a close loved one - my brother's death ripped my heart out. But I cannot even begin to imagine any celebrity anywhere, at any time of my life, who's death did anything other than briefly pique my curiosity when I heard of it. Devastated? Yeah, not even close. I must be a stone-hearted individual.

Barring the sappy intro and the formatting issues, the book was very interesting. A lot of the featured actors from early in Hollywood history I'd never even heard of, so it was nice to get a little history lesson. And some of the more recent entries were thorough and well-written (Bruce Lee, John Belushi, Heath Ledger, etc.).

Summary: 3.5/5 Anyone with even a passing interest in film history or movies in general would enjoy perusing this book -- though I'd recommend the hard-copy over the digital version, until the kinks are worked out.

Just to show you I can be as sappy as the next guy at times, here's a Ford commercial that made me cry...



Hey... I want a new Mustang too!

I have the highest respect for those in the military. Nads of steel, every one. Where else in life could your daily job entail doing a sniper check?


Dang...

I'm almost finished reading The Warded Man, by Peter Brett. I'll finish tonight, no doubt. It is a terrific book, but not without its flaws. Expect a review soon, eh!

Hey, remember that time I finished that blog post? Yeah, that was a long time ago, but it was very cool... hey, wait a second... it's right now!

Dave

9 comments:

The Writer Currently Known as Rory said...

The typos are why Phil is hoping for a second edition. He noticed them as well, but by the time he did, it was too late since the book had already been shipped to stores, and stocked on Amazon.

Much obliged for the coverage. Because of it, I can identify wood easily now. ;)

Phil Hall said...

Thank you for your review. I don't have Kindle, so I have no idea what the Kindle version of the book looks like. As for the typos, the book had a copy editing problem that has since been rectified - the version that is available in retail channels is typo-free. Sadly, you seem to have received an earlier version that was not properly copy edited.

logankstewart said...

I think the internet law is Gaudere's Rule: "Any post made to point out a spelling or grammar error will invariably contain a spelling or grammar error." So, to be snarky, I think you meant to say "...my anal nature was repeatedly grated..." Of course, by me commenting on this I open myself up to the Law...

I'm interested to see your review of The Warded Man.

Paula Titus said...

That's it. I'm going to write a review about a Stephen King book and I wont stop until he comments on my blog.

Logan - I'd bet Dave inserted that typo on purpose because he's weird like that.

The Mustang video was so inspiring. :)

The Writer Currently Known as Rory said...

Paula, it's worth a shot, but we authors don't reside on Mount Olympus.

I'm just an average guy. I'm dieting (below 200 now, on my way to 160), trying to get a full-time career (as a campus supervisor, most likely at a middle school), reading, and not writing as often as I can, until I feel like I should, and then I write.

Anonymous said...

My question is how the Google Alert works. Rory and Phil were alerted to your blog, right? But what if there are tons of alerts, how do you weed through them, are they ranked somehow? Or, do you visit each alert individually? Just wondering....

Beth A.

The Writer Currently Known as Rory said...

I "follow" David through my blog. (I'm not yet good at actual, stalker following.) He's one of what now seems like thousands of blogs I "follow." And the entry appeared in the feed that keeps me updated on new entries.

David Wagner said...

Rory and Phil: Not a problem. I enjoyed the book, thanks for writing it.

Logan: Yeah, that's ironic. I fixed the typo, but added the LY in all-caps, as a reminder of my literary inefficacy. Say hi to Pat Rothfuss for me! (I call him "Pat" because we're such close friends...)

Paula: Tell Steve I said hi! (I call him Steve because we're such close friends). Actually, I call him Mr. King. Then I do an Elvis impression, which usually results in Stevey punching me in the face region...

Beth: Once I get famous, I'll figure Google Alerts out... until that day, I shall remain blissfully unaware...

I found Rory's blog by hitting "Next Blog" up on the top of the screen one day -- something I usually do when bored. I've found some great blogs that way! Rory asked if I'd buy his book, I offered to read and review it, and we've been close friends ever since!

The Writer Currently Known as Rory said...

I found Rory's blog by hitting "Next Blog" up on the top of the screen one day -- something I usually do when bored. I've found some great blogs that way! Rory asked if I'd buy his book, I offered to read and review it, and we've been close friends ever since!

And once I find where he lives, I'm standing outside his house with a boombox hoisted above me. That neighborhood will know Peter Gabriel intimately. ;)