Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao
Heavy Metal (the movie)
What to say? One of my favorite novels of all time, and I'm not alone: the book won the 2008 Pulitzer Prize for literature, in addition to plenty others. As far as awards go, I generally enjoy Pulitzer winners. Yet the accolades didn't prepare me for Wao.
The gist: the story follows Dominican boy Oscar de León through a humorous albeit pained childhood and adolescence, in which our morbidly-obese nerd strives for nothing more than to make it with a girl. All while a curse follows his family from the Dominican Republic (which the family fled during the Dominican diaspora, the political set forth in detail) to Paterson, New Jersey. Throw in a slew of references from comic books, sci-fi lit, D&D, comic books, plus footnotes and mucho Spanish slang, and Wao is a tasty brain-tickling stew.
The Pugilist At Rest
Perhaps one of the most influential cult movies, at least in the scifi space. EVER.
Saw this at twelve and I'm certain my brain melted and oozed from my ears. In the nine-story animated anthology (inspired by Heavy Metal magazine), an evil green orb narrates the tales, extolling to a frightened girl its history of wrecking havoc throughout the galaxy. I never fathomed so much awesomeness might exist in one serving: Wicked animation. Thundering metal music. Irreverent anti-heroes. Galactic drugs. Sex. Swords. Lasers. A lanky teen sucked through a wormhole lands on a strange planet as a brawny hero (hint, hint: my new novel). A badass female warrior rides a winged dinosaur. Green-eyed zombies.
What sets Heavy Metal apart are not only the amazing characters, but how the psychedelia and sexuality mix with the Game-of-Thrones-level-violence and the cerebral-yet-low-brow humor. The Guardians of the Galaxy films and Thor Ragnarok borrow heavily from this formula, but hamstrung by Disney and PG-13 ratings they only scratch the surface.
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Always loved short stories, and the late Thom Jones' debut collection is still the best.
With the highs and lows of a bipolar second-grader on a late night candy binge, his stories scream: Boxing. Vietname War. PTSD. Madness. Gran mal seizures, Paul on the Road to Damascus. The I-Ching.
His style? Anything BUT minimal. In fact, I've never encountered short stories so stuffed to the seams. Yet they all work.
It's the Voice (Bene Gesserit, of course)
Thom Jones' Voice is so willful and angelic and tragic all at once.
An absolute must read. Here's a full review of the Pugilist at Rest that I wrote for VICE.
Also check out Joyce Carol Oats' tribute following Thom's death in 2016.
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So crazy cool twenty-three year anniversary.
Met my soulmate back in New Orleans when we were kids... then we had a kid and raised her!
Podcast listeners often ask marriage advice. Very simply: Would you rather be right... or would you rather be happy?
Also, love this quote from Teddy Roosevelt: “Nothing in the world is worth having or worth doing unless it means effort, pain, difficulty… I have never in my life envied a human being who led an easy life. I have envied a great many people who led difficult lives and led them well.”
Gives us all something to strive for ;-)