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Mega-Post #2

It's been about a month-and-a-half since I posted about something other than music, so I figured I was past due for another Mega-Post. I've decided to make it even more mega by including today's Sunday Shuffle, which didn't happen this morning due to that lost hour of time. Crazy, right?

Sunday Shuffle #318

1. Bucket Brigade/Michael Penn (7) - last played on 12/8/12
2. Love Is Luck/The Walkmen (18) - last played on 2/5/13
3. Beer Commerical (Live)/Sugar (1) - debut
4. Explode And Make Up/Sugar (2) - last played on 12/30/12
5. It Looks Like Love/Josh Rouse (3) - last played on 10/24/10
6. Fluffy Lucy/Cracker (4) - last played on 6/28/11
7. Forced To Love/Broken Social Scene (5) - last played on 12/23/10
8. Beechwood Park/The Zombies (18) - last played on 10/31/12
9. I am Morris Townsend (No-Fi Transmission)/The Prayers & Tears of Arthur Digby Sellers (7) - last played on 7/8/12
10. First Few Desperate Hours/The Mountain Goats (6) - last played on 12/2/12

LONG

Gun Machine by Warren Ellis - In the late 90s chances were good that I would have told you Ellis was my favorite writer based on his work on Planetary and The Authority. I haven't kept up with his work all that much over the past few years (although his Nextwave series for Marvel is made of awesome) but though I would pick up Gun Machine, his second novel. It centers of Detective John Tallow, who loses his partner to a shooting and discovers an apartment filled with guns. These guns appear to be historical guns used in unsolved killings; Tallow teams with two forensic analysts to try and solve the mystery. Meanwhile, the killer may have some mystical powers or deep ties to the history of NYC. It's sharp and spare and satirical and well worth a read.

Truth In Advertising by John Kenney - Finbar Dolan works in advertising and has to come up with an idea for a revolutionary diaper. Meanwhile, he's still dealing with the emotional fallout from leaving his bride-to-be, his crush on a co-worker, and the emotional minefield his dying father causes among Fin and his siblings. Oh, it's a comedic novel. It reminded me of Nick Hornby and Jonathan Tropper and while this book doesn't reach their heights, I was still entertained.

The Love Song of Johnny Valentine by Teddy Wayne - Johnny Valentine is an 11 year-old pop star in the vein of Justin Bieber. He does not think like a kid does; instead, he thinks in terms of marketing, terms he's been fed by his manager mother and the other adults around him who make money off of him. Oh, and he also is desperately trying to masturbate. This is a disturbing and fascinating portrait of what it might be to be a child star and I thought it was great.

Flimsy Little Plastic Miracles by Ron Currie, Jr. - I loved Currie's Everything Matters! a few years ago and eagerly put in my hold request for this novel at the library. It stars Ron Currie, who happens to be a writer. He has been in love with Emma ever since they were in high school and they recently rekindled their romance in the wake of her divorce. She isn't fully present and asks for some space; he travels to an island in the Caribbean and makes bad choices. Currie covers love and the Singularity and how failed suicide attempts can lead to best-selling novels. While I didn't love it quite as much as his previous novel, I still thought it was great.

SHORT

The Miniature Wife and Other Stories by Manuel Gonzales - Books on the Nightstand is focusing on short stories this year, so I thought I would step up my short story consumption. I was not familiar with Gonzales before this came out but I will certainly be watching for more of his future work. I laughed loudly at the ending of the short darkly comic "Cash to a Killing" and loved the genre play of "Life on Capra II" and "Escape From the Mall." He reminded me of T.C. Boyle in "The Animal House" and blew me away with the mixture of fantasy and domestic drama in "One-Horned & Wild-Eyed." This is a really good collection.

The Last Girlfriend on Earth and Other Love Stories by Simon Rich - This story collection has more stories and shorter stories than The Miniature Wife and the general mode is comedy. These stories are funny. "Unprotected" is told from a condom's point of view. "Magical Mr. Goat" wants to be more than just friends with the girl to whom he appears. "Dog Missed Connections" is a set of personal ads from a dog. Those are just 3 of 30 stories in a fast, funny read.

WOLVERINE GUN

Wolverine and the X-Men - Not only did I get to the next 5 issue of this series after the last Mega-Post but I kept on going...but only until I ran out of back issues for $1.99. (Sidenote: Unlike most publishers, Marvel does not discount the previous comic when the next one comes out, so I will remain behind on this comic) Anyway, this comic is a ton of fun. Jason Aaron does a great job with switching between various plots (really enjoyed Wolverine and Quentin Quire gambling) and even made the AvX tie-in issues into something interesting (such as a character study of Warbird in #13). This is just an entertaining comic. Oh, I don't want to forget Nick Bradshaw, who trades off with Chris Bachalo, and brings an appealing classic cartoony style.

The Sixth Gun - I recently grabbed the 4th trade of this series (digitally) and have now almost caught up on the as-yet uncollected issues (only 1 back). It continues to populate its world with those who are after the six guns for various purposes and deepens the relationships between the characters. It also can be incredibly creepy, thanks in large part to Brian Hurtt's art. Man, is he ever good.

NEW

Bullseye - I have become a big fan of this podcast, which is hosted by Jesse Thorn. Every episode opens with recommendations from various critics, contains 2 interviews, an "outshot" where Jesse recommends something, and more. The guests are varied and Thorn is a great interviewer. Highly recommended.

The Americans - After collection a handful of episodes of this new FX series, I finally started watching. I'm three episodes in and really like this look at Soviet sleeper agents who are married with kids and trying to undermine the U.S. government in 1981. The writing is smart, the time period looks right, and the acting by Kerri Russell, Matthew Rhys, and Noah Emmerich is great.

Bob's Burgers - I don't know why I didn't watch this series when it first came on (maybe Animation Domination promo fatigue?) but it took the recent pseudo-crossover with Archer to convince me to give it a try. I've only seen 3 episodes so far but they are enough to demonstrate that I've been missing out. The characters are quirky but their interactions are genuine. It's also very funny and I love the bits of song we get in each episode (such as the song about buckling your seatbelt and the great duet in "Lindapendent Woman"). The first season is on Netflix, so I will be backtracking at some point (oh, and I'm finally into Season 3 of Cheers).

BACK ISSUE BACK ISSUES

Back Issue is a comics magazine that started back in late 2003 and is something I always wanted to read. I might have picked up and issue or two but I mostly decided I couldn't afford it (and I had my continual ebb and flow with singles issues as opposed to trades). I've long wanted to go back and read those early issues and now I can do that on my iPad. I can buy those issues digitally for $2.95, which is a great price. The debut issue had a long interview with Marv Wolfman and George Perez about New Teen Titans, which is a favorite from my teenage years (the interview also makes me want to go back and read those old issues). I'm just now into the second issue, which takes a look at comics from Comico and other 80s highlights. I suspect I'll be reading my way through these this year (#63 should be out next month).

IN PROGRESS/UPCOMING

I'm currently reading two books - A Storm of Swords by George R.R. Martin and Vampires in the Lemon Grove by Karen Russell. I'm reading the former because Game of Thrones is soon coming back for Season 3, which covers this book; I've become completely hooked in this world once again. I'm reading the latter because it's Russell's new story collection and why wouldn't I read it? I also started reading Starman Omnibus Vol. 4, which begins with a crossover with Power of Shazam. Haven't read those issues since they first came out and am enjoying getting reacquainted with the characters.

It was recently announced that Astro City, the great comic by Kurt Busiek, Brent Anderson, and more will be returning as an ongoing series starting June 5. This is fantastic news, as it is one of my all-time favorite comics. To celebrate its return, I plan to reread the series and will post my thoughts on every single issue over the next 87 days. I can't wait to reread and I can't wait for the new series to start.

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2. Bechamel/Pernice Brothers (16) - last played on 5/15/15
4. Red Hill Mining Town/U2 (5) - last played on 3/13/16
6. Late-Century Dream/Superchunk (18) - last played on 11/18/15
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