Beach House Reunion – #BookReview

Turtles are the best!

It’s still summer so this week I am reviewing a summer book. The fact that pumpkin spice food is showing up and lots of kids are back in school will not deter me from remembering that we still have a month to go before fall.!

Beach House Reunion is the fifth book in a series about people who live in or come back to a beach house. Written by Mary Alice Monroe, the series is fairly popular and she has certainly hit best seller lists on multiple occasions. If you’re a big fan of hers, you probably are not going to like what I have to say about it. I can see how a certain audience would enjoy this book and I will say that the descriptions of the scenery are poetic and lovely. In addition I can respect the love for the environment and the health of an endangered species that the author shows. The rest of the book though, I could never get into.

The story centers on a few people of different generations who for one reason or another have come back to a beach house to spend the summer or in some cases, the rest of their lives in Charleston, South Carolina. The main focus is on the Rutledge family.

The story mostly centered on Cara, a widowed mother who has just adopted. She spends a good third of the book thinking about how she might be too old to be a mother. I get how you might see that as a problem but she really goes on and on about it. She spends all kinds of time looking for a babysitter for her daughter Hope. She seems gobsmacked to find out that there is something called a nanny. Then her niece Linnea is conscripted for the job and Cara can finally get some work done.

Linnea has her own issues with finding herself a job, you know, other than the nanny thing, and meets and falls in love with a guy named John. Her brother Cooper Pringle Ruteledge (the most one percent name ever) is in over his head with drugs and alcohol because he wants to go to USC and why can’t they just let him go to USC cause he really needs to go to USC.

The whole story is framed with facts about turtles and sea life which I think is supposed to be some kind of metaphor for these women. Also, they are apparently in a group called “Turtle Ladies” that looks for turtle nests to help with the population of the turtles. The turtle facts were probably the best part of this book.

There’s a few other side plots going on but those are the main thrust of the story. I had a few issues with the book so I am going to do my public airing of grievances below.

  • Cara, desperate and tired looks at her adopted daughter and for a moment sees her own mother. Now, personally if I see that, I am making an appointment with a shrink but, nope this all seems perfectly normal to Cara.
  • Later in the book, Cara feels like the ocean and a piece of furniture are her dead husband telling her it’s okay to like, move on and date a new guy. Again, I’d call that hallucinatory but whatever.
  • Because she feels like she never totally got to say goodbye to her husband, Cara, digs a hole in the beach and has Hope drop her wedding ring in it. Really? I mean I get you don’t want to wear it but that seriously seems like a waste. At this point I am really concerned that Cara needs some professional help, stat.
  • Also, Cara adopted a baby girl named Esperanza which I think is a great name. What does Cara do? Immediately translates that pretty name into boring old Hope. It’s her daughter and she can do what she wants but I felt like Esperanza would have been a fine name.
  • At one point Cara is talking to David, the guy she starts dating, and says that he is a “manny” – a male nanny. We don’t need to do that. If you are a guy who is a nanny, you can be a nanny, you don’t have to man-ify it.
  • I know that as new parents it’s hard to be able to do everything but at one point when Hope is crying, instead of hold, comfort or play with her, Cara looks up what to do about crying babies on google. Seems like she might have wanted to read a parenting book at some point? You, know after you get Hope to settle down.
  • David gives Cara a Burberry bag from Harrod’s and she tries to refuse it but then David says it’s insulting not to let a man pick up a tab for a woman. This is not the 1940’s and women can pay for stuff if they want to. There are waaay too many cases of men controlling women by taking control of their finances. How do they start that? By insisting that they should pay for everything. I know it’s not meant that way in the book but I just got tired of the rampant gender stereotyping in this book. Like really tired of it.
  • Cara came from an abusive home from what I can gather from this book. Her father used to get physically violent and her mother did not protect her from it. At one point her brother, Palmer, who is the father of Linnea and Cooper is showing clear signs of alcoholism just like Cara’s father did. Cara doesn’t do much to help him but just thinks he has to hit rock bottom for the cycle to end. Here’s what rock bottom is – throwing a bottle of bourbon at huge portrait and almost hitting your daughter. The fact that he doesn’t hit his daughter, in Cara’s mind, means the whole cycle has ended. B.S. this dude is going to get worse. He does end up going to AA and that might help but I just thought Cara’s attitude about the whole thing was dangerously passive.
  • Also, these people are stinking rich. They own this import/export business. It wasn’t clear what the goods were but that might have been covered in past books. They have big blow up arguments over what prestigious college their kids will attend and you know, own beach houses. Kinda tired of the filthy rich in real life, so reading about them in fiction (when they are not named Jay Gatsby) gets tiresome to me.
  • There is wine or alcohol mentioned like every other passage, yet they wonder why Cooper gets a DUI and overdoses. Can’t have anything to do with the constant availability of alcohol can it??
  • I also had a real hard time with the relationship between Linnea and John. John is a surfer who is staying for the summer before he goes back to San Francisco. He was born in the south and so does have relatives there and I think Linnea’s family knew his somehow but that wasn’t super clear to me. Again that could have been covered in a previous book. But boy howdy did I find this whole thing unbelievable.
  • John and Linnea first bond over the film Gidget and then later over the poem The Highwayman. I am not saying either of those things are bad but it made me wonder if they were college aged, or in their eighties. Gidget? Really? I mean come on, use a more modern reference to relate to the youth.
  • Linnea meets John because she tries to surf on her own and wipes out completely. The book says she looked up some YouTube videos on how to do it before she went. I gotta say, those videos were made by the worst surfers ever. First off, she went surfing alone. No surfer should do that. Second, she didn’t have a leash for the board, didn’t know what it meant to be goofy footed and had no idea how to push up off the board. These are seriously basic things I know and I don’t even surf!
  • At one point John hands Linnea a bottle of water out of a cooler. But before he gives it to her, he wipes it off with a towel and opens it. She is all impressed but what I thought was she is not a toddler!
  • Also, John is supposed to be a great surfer but he wants to go swimming at night in dark water. Hello! Did you not see Jaws? Oh yeah, you were too busy watching Gidget.
  • Towards the end of the book, after one summer together John invites Linnea to come to San Francisco with him to try and get a job. It seemed very transactional and not that romantic all in all but then Linnea sort of implies her father wouldn’t want her to go there without being married. John reasonably says that’s a bit much and Linnea totally agrees, But then she is disappointed he didn’t ask her anyway. Which is it? Also, do you really want to marry a guy you have known for like three months? That’s a bit of a rush.
  • My final question about this book has to do with the “Turtle Ladies”. Do you have to be a woman to join this thing? What if a guy loves turtles too? Are you going to exclude him? Even if he is a manny?

Next week I will be back with another summer read as I review Summer in Tuscany by Elizabeth Adler.

Manny-ly yours,

Slick Dungeon

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Here’s why zombies are the best monsters

Starbucks is releasing the Pumpkin Spice Latte next week. It’s a little early for fall if you ask me but if they can do it, I can release a blog post related to monsters a little early for Halloween. Enjoy your pre-PSL warm up discussion of fictional monsters below.

I’d say we all have a favorite movie or fiction monster. Some people become obsessed with blood sucking creatures of the night. Others love the creature cobbled together from dead body parts most people incorrectly call Frankenstein (it’s Frankenstein’s monster people, get it straight!) Others are really into those who grow fur and fangs but only on full moons. Werewolves, I’m talking about werewolves if that wasn’t clear. But for me if I could only have stories about one type of creature ever again I definitely go for zombies. Here’s my list of why zombies are the best monsters.

  1. They are versatile – zombies can be a stand in for anything. They can be a metaphor for consumerism, for fear, for mass hysteria, for communism, for outsiders, literally for anything. It always works because zombies are just a mindless horde of creatures and the motivations they get assigned to them are based on what the still living people in the stories think they are. So if the main character thinks these suckers are in a mall all day because that’s what they did in their former lives, boom, this story is about consumerism.
  2. They are unpredictable – sure a slow walking zombie seems like it has it’s attention focused on a dead animal and you might be able to sneak by it but one snap of a twig and that thing and all its buddies have decided on fresh meat and next thing you know you are running like crazy.
  3. They can be anyone at any time – this goes along with them being unpredictable, but it happens in nearly all zombie stories. Someone has been bit. Their natural instinct is to hide it and although they start acting funny, no one wants to say anything because it’s someone they care about. Sure, the best thing for the group is to get rid of that person but that is cruel and heartless. So next thing you know, a whole group of non-infected people are now zombies. And it happens so fast it can’t be stopped.
  4. They are us – A person is bitten by a zombie and they turn. But this person is your wife, husband, brother, friend, cousin etc. This is someone you know. And although you know for a fact that they are no longer human, how hard would it be to stop this walking reflection of someone you held dearly in your heart only moments ago? I feel like there might not be a more terrifying scenario in fiction.
  5. They are never ending – Stop a werewolf? Use a silver bullet. Stop a nest of vampires? Stake the original vampire in the heart. Stop one zombie? Usually damage its brain. But unlike vampires and werewolves, the only way to completely and forever get rid of zombies is to once and for all get rid of people. I don’t think any of us wants that. The next best thing is to hope for a cure. Even if you can get that, you have to hope it sticks and the odds are not good because, well, everyone is a little different and there could be that one person that doesn’t respond to the cure. Then that person infects the next and here we go again, only this time, the infection is stronger.
  6. They have the coolest origin story – At their start, zombies were just people who had been hypnotized and essentially given up the will to live. They were seen this way for centuries but then, one movie wiped all of that out in one swoop and zombies have been different ever since. When Night of the Living Dead came out, George A. Romero redefined one of the most recognizable and iconic of creatures so much that his version of zombies is now the most recognizable one. That is incredibly bold and influential film making.
  7. They are the most likely to happen in reality – Could vampires exist? Maybe, I mean, there have been people who thought they were vampires and there are a few stories of historical figures who did very strange things with blood. But we know that a lot of the origin of that myth has to do with the misunderstanding of how bodies decompose. Could werewolves happen? There’s a ton of stories of people morphing into animals in one way or another, some of them benign, some malevolent. But there is no scientific evidence that I am aware of that would make werewolves at all likely. Could zombies happen? Well, there is a lot we are yet to understand about the brain. We have untold fungus, bacteria, disease out in the world that we do not understand. We have scientific research going on that could lead to very bad things getting out into the world. I’m not saying it’s likely or anything, but the right confluence of factors could lead to a disease of some sort getting out that strongly reflects our modern concept of zombies. It’s the only fictional monster that I can think of where this is even a remote possibility. For me, that’s enough to make them my favorite and the ones I am most likely to be frightened by.

So what do you think? Do you have a counter argument? Is there a better monster out there in fiction? Which creatures keep you awake at night? Let me know in the comments.

Zombie-rifically yours,

Slick Dungeon

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Bloody Bloody Bible Camp – #MovieReview

please hold still for decapitation

Well hello out there in the world. Slick Dungeon here, ready to tell you all about a movie I just watched. Is it an Oscar contender? Is it going to win any SAG awards? Is it full of stellar acting, brilliant plotting and the most heartwarming emotions you will ever see put on film? Should you watch it? No, no, no and heck yes you should see it! What is this film you speak of Slick? It’s Bloody Bloody Bible Camp.

If you don’t enjoy horror and have a low tolerance for gore, don’t watch this but if you have the stomach for it, this film is a lot of fun. Also, if you are particularly religious this might be offensive but I think that’s obvious from the title and cover. It’s a throwback to slasher films like Friday the 13th or Halloween but with more religion and less suspense. If you do want to watch this but don’t want spoilers, you have been forewarned to stop reading at this point. Grab a s’more sing a hymn, watch the film and come back.

Still with me? Okay good. Bloody good. Bloody Bloody good. Our film starts off with a group of teens who are clearly portrayed by adults, at Happy Day Bible Camp in 1977. Right off we know that there will be tons of death and unnecessary nudity and buckets of blood. I mean, what else do you expect from that title? In the first few moments one of the characters says that Star Wars sucks so I wanted him to die because, that’s definitely a sin to say. I was not disappointed.

Someone with an ax and a crucifix with a knife on the bottom goes through and decimates the campers one by one. Why exactly the people in the camp stand and scream as an ax comes at their heads is a little beyond me. I mean. run right? But anyway, that’s definitely harder to film special effects wise so I guess that’s the reason? Anyway there are a few gruesome deaths and we as the audience know for sure that more will come.

We flash forward to 1984 where a group of campers comes along to try the camp out and perhaps purchase it. We get the obligatory townsfolk warning the campers off only to be completely ignored. But we are the audience and we are smart so we know that the fact that one of them doesn’t even want to go into the store where these locals are means she probably knows something more.

We see an older adult refer to a bunch of definitely not teenagers as kids over and over. We get to see a grown man air high five himself and say “Tad!” for no apparent reason. We get to see grown women contemplate religion and analyze, let’s just say parts of their anatomy. We watch as some of the guys try to hook up with some of the girls and other guys get to be the picked on overweight kid. It’s pretty obvious most of them are gonna die so I put my money on the one questioning religion as a definite survivor, the picked on “kid” as a fifty percent chance and the leader of the bible camp as likely to be the one to off the serial killer.

After quite a few silly jokes and comments in the woods (a smartly cheap place to make a film btw) it gets to be night and one of the adult counselors goes to get some beer. Then it is on, the killing spree begins. Twice in the movie the killer decapitates someone and then repositions the body so that the head falls off for the next victim and the killer catches them by surprise. Classic. Of course both times it’s kind of on the victim because they stay where they are once they see the killer rather than, say, duck, move or fight back in literally any way.

We also get to see the blood spurt in the fun old eighties style where there is no CGI just someone pumping that corn syrup or whatever they use out. One by one the campers are decimated once again but this time we get flashbacks to a little kid being verbally abused by a nun. It’s pretty clear that this kid is the killer and is in need of major therapy. The killer goes on, swatting down campers and reciting bible verses over and over.

Back in town we find out that one of the locals had survived the last incident like this, albeit with severe brain trauma as a result. His brother finds out that this guy has left in hopes of getting himself some revenge. So he goes out to try and save the day. He said that with so much conviction, I actually shifted my money onto him as a survivor.

In the camp we find out that the guy running the bible camp, wanting to buy it knew all along what had happened here seven years ago. We also find out that, yes indeed, the woman who wouldn’t go into the store had been there seven years ago. To which I thought, why in the world would you go back there? Especially knowing the killer had not been caught. Also, it seems like the killer camps near by so, wow, there are some bad detectives around the area. I could say that about a lot of slasher films though.

For a moment it seemed that I was wrong about the leader of the bible camp being the one to bring down the killer, who we start to learn is a man who dresses up as a nun with a devil mask. Never really explained why the devil mask is worn but, sure why not? But then this movie pulled a move I didn’t expect. There’s a cameo in here where an actor known for, uh… other kinds of movies… shows up as Jesus. It’s not as good of a cameo as Bill Murray in Zombieland but it’s close. Jesus gives the bible camp director a weirdly offensive message of acceptance and boom, he’s back up after having been slashed.

I was starting to think I was a decent gambler because he was still alive, the guy who warned the bible camper was still alive and so was the camper who questioned religion and even the picked on kid was still kickin’. But then Sister Mary Chopper (very decent killer name) shows up and stabs the the guy who warned the campers away in the neck. Then she drops a cinder block on the picked on kid. Now I want to call out this particular head destruction. They drop a cinder block on the guys head. I had to watch this twice because the editing here was seamless. You can’t tell when they moved the actual actor out of the way at all. Best death in the movie in my opinion. But now, I am losing half my bet.

Everyone kind of stands around watching as the killer does the last two murders I just described. Who would not run??? We also find out that the killer is a guy we saw in the store early on in the film. He had been walking around as what you might call a goth, I guess but I was pretty sure that was the killer to begin with. But confirmed here. Then the leader of the camp has his big battle with the Sister. It’s kind of played a little too much for laughs towards the end and I think the movie might have benefited from making that more serious but that’s a minor nitpick. However, he saves the day and all is good.

But wait! Post credit scene! We see that Sister Mary Chopper sits up again. And that one of the girls we thought was dead is not. She just comes on to make a joke though so I don’t know if we count that as true survival.

I really actually enjoyed this movie, even if most people probably wouldn’t. You have to have a sense of humor and a high tolerance for gore. But here’s the biggest compliment I can pay this. While I was watching it, I thought that it had actually been made in the eighties or nineties and that I had somehow missed it. It’s exactly the kind of movie my friends and I would have rented for a slumber party when I was a kid. Turns out this thing was made in 2011. I am so glad there are people still out there making stuff like this. Kudos to Reggie Bannister, Vito Trabucco and literally everyone else involved in this film. You have made a movie so bad it’s good and I loved it.

Next week, I am going to slog through an Academy Award winning actress’ almost finest work as I force my eyeballs to stay open for Halle Berry’s Catwoman

Bloodily Yours,

Slick Dungeon

Snacks for fueling through B Films

Slick Dungeon here, coming to you from the damp and musty cave dungeon that I call home. Tonight I am going to be watching Bloody Bloody Bible Camp and while I will be posting my review on Monday, I thought I would share with you what it takes to get me through these films, Here are Slick Dungeon’s essential snacks for watching films that are never going to win any awards.

  • Pizza – you’ve got to have a main course and this is it. Heck, put enough vegetables on it and it’s almost like a salad on bread! Who wants salad on bread? Not me!
  • Flamin’ Hot Cheetos – I assume that some of the people in this film are going to end up where it’s flamin’ hot below. I figured I might as well have the smallest sampling of the experience.
  • Caffeinated soda – I don’t really care what kind. Give me any soda that will keep me awake, not only for this film but for a second feature I might have to watch if this one actually turns out to be scary.
  • Popcorn – well, duh. Yeah, I needs me some popcorn for watching, well, literally anything from presidential debates to films where people get decapitated.
  • Crispy M&M’s – There are not a lot of rules in my dungeon. Here’s the main one, KEEP YOUR HANDS OFF MY CRISPY M&M’s!!!!! This is the best kind of candy ever made, hands down and you can’t convince me otherwise.
  • Ice cream – I am partial to Ben & Jerry’s and their Phish food flavor but I’ll take just about any kind of ice cream, honestly.

The only drawback to eating all these snacks is that I have to do extra laps around the dungeon the next day in hopes that I will some day fit out of an escape tunnel here. So what are your favorite film snacks? Got any candy you would release a Tarrasque or 30-50 feral hogs to keep other people away from? Let me know in the comments.

Hungrily yours,

Slick Dungeon

Romancing the Duke – #BookReview

Dating 101

Hey everyone, Slick, here back to tell you all about the book I read this week. Let me start off by saying that I am not a fan of romance books. I am not a fan of historical romances unless they are written by Diana Gabaldon. And while I won’t say I am a fan of Romancing the Duke, I will say, I did not hate this book in the way I expected to. I thought it was going to be utter and complete garbage. But, if you like romances and you know what to expect from romances, this book is pretty decent.

There are a few things this book gets right and I want to call those out right off. So, if you want to read this, consider this the valet/footman/butler calling down the hall: SPOILERS AHEAD.

This story centers on a Duke (obviously) and the woman who romances him (obviously). In the story he is blind and I thought the whole time that there was going to be some kind of miracle where he got his sight back. That never happened. What’s more, the blindness is accurately described as the Duke can see sometimes enough to make out shapes but he’s still most definitely blind. So kudos to the author for not falling into the all or nothing blindness trope along with the miracle cure trope.

Also, this book has a clear understanding of what it is. It’s a fun little romance between two people and doesn’t really expect more out of itself. The uh… shall we say steamy… parts are just that and it doesn’t bash you over the head with it too much. So again kudos.

The last good thing to call out is that this does have a realistic understanding of how women were disadvantaged by societal rules in the past. (Still are in many instances but let’s stick to the book). It’s clear that men control the property and inheritance and that it would be considered extremely unseemly and unlikely for a woman to be an author, despite the fact of, you know, all the female authors out there at the time.

But as I was reading this, I realized that this book actually is an instruction manual on dating. To give you the highlights, I am going to list the steps to getting your own Duke, or romance, depending on if you are the Duke or the romancer. Also, this book is clearly for hetero relationships so I can’t say this is a foolproof guide to dating for everyone.

Without further ado, I present to you, Slick Dungeon’s foolproof guide to dating for everyone.

Step 1: Live in the time and area when Dukes who have a massive estate but are unclaimed bachelors seem to be as easy to find as dropping a pebble into a pond. Alternatively, be one of these Dukes.

Step 2: Get involved in a tangled property dispute over a castle that the Duke owns but that you think you own, show up at his door and faint. Alternatively be the Duke, open the door, catch a feinting woman and immediately think to yourself that her hair is “predatory”.

Step 3: Have a father who writes literary fantasy stories and has named you something romantic, like, say, Isolde Ophelia Goodnight. Alternatively, have a manly man’s name like, say, Ransom, Duke of Rothbury, and be scarred in battle after having your intended elope with another, then fight her suitor in a duel with swords causing you to go blind, then go back to live alone in your castle for so many months that everyone thinks you might just be dead.

Step 4: After you faint let the Duke undress you, make you more comfortable, put you in bed but don’t quite sleep through the night, wake up, and nearly immediately mention that you make excellent pancakes. Alternatively, awkwardly undress the woman who fainted at your door and place her in a bed, figuring she is just some stranger who will most likely leave in the morning and assume she fainted because your scarred face is monstrous.

Step 5: Think to yourself that you own this castle but even if this Duke is who he says he is, he doesn’t own this castle because it is yours now but also marvel at how devilishly handsome the man is and that even though you are determined to keep the castle, keeping the Duke might be a bonus. Alternatively, be outraged internally that a woman who showed up trying to take your home that you are definitely not giving up, offered to make you, of all things in the world…. pancakes.

Step 6: Scare the heck out of the Duke who seems to be a bit of a jerk by not informing him of the ermine that is hanging out in your bag. Alternatively, be the Duke and get bit by an ermine and exclaim several profanities while asking what that was and ultimately admit that you are visually impaired, but internally, refer to this woman’s hair as an octopus.

Step 7: Offer to go through the Duke’s correspondence to sort this whole property dispute out but also go about as if you own this whole dang castle already cause, like, you do right? Alternatively, try and get this freaking woman with her predatory, octopus hair having, pancake making, butt out of here by scaring her with bats and/or also offer her a job to go through your correspondence and also kiss the woman that you wish would just leave already.

Step 8: Step up steaminess. Alternatively, step up steaminess.

Step 9: Have this whole host of people show up who are like a fan club of your father’s writing and be super embarrassed about it, but also enjoy the fact that the Duke has stepped up the steaminess. Alternatively, be annoyed that this whole host of people has shown up to disrupt your life, but like totally, keep the steaminess going for sure.

Step 10: Have the inevitable blow up where you are just trying to help the Duke and prove he is sane so he can keep this dang castle that is supposed to be yours but is his but doesn’t really matter because maybe you’ll get married anyway. Alternatively have the inevitable blow up because this woman won’t leave you alone and you are clearly trying to help her but are more interested in the steamy parts but then again, she seems like the perfect woman so maybe you’ll just marry her.

Step 11: Admit that you are actually the writer of the books, not your father and that also, you think you are not beautiful, despite the fact that this Duke clearly has the serious hots for you. Alternatively, admit that your father was a total jerk and that you only became blind because you more or less let the guy you were fighting win because you didn’t want to actually kill the dude, nor did you love the girl you were engaged to, and also finally be nice to this woman’s friends.

Step 12: Get the whole property/sanity thing sorted out, marry the Duke, make pancakes, get pregnant, write more and get slammed by literary critics who are too stupid to realize this is the same author they just praised, all while still keeping it steamy. Alternatively, get the whole property/sanity thing sorted out, marry the woman, eat pancakes, build a nursery, listen to bad reviews of your new wife’s work and get irritated all while keeping it steamy.

There you have it. I guarantee if you follow all those steps, you will have either romanced or been romanced by a Duke.

Next week we’re going to go back to being a little more contemporary as I read The Beach House Reunion by Mary Alice Monroe. It’s about time someone put that dang thing back together!

Steamily yours,

Slick Dungeon

My Favorite Places to Read

Hey, Slick, where are your favorite places to read I ask myself. Why, I am so glad you asked that, Slick, I answer myself. I read quite a lot and although, I tend to be a somewhat slow reader compared to many of my peers, I do read more than the average human shaped entity. I’ve got a few places I really like to read. For no particular reason, I listed these below. Do you have a favorite place to read? Do you like it more when there is no one around or if there is a crowd around you? Let me know in the comments.

  • In bed before I fall asleep. Who doesn’t love curling up with a good book as you are about to head off to sleep? I do have to be careful with this one sometimes though because if a book is good enough, I am reading all night and getting zero sleep.
  • While camping. I absolutely love reading while outdoors. Especially if I am reading a fantasy novel. I can easily imagine the events taking place in the Shire happening right where I am. The only real drawback is if the bugs start gnawing at my flesh. In a way that just adds to the imagination though.
  • On the train. There’s something hypnotic about reading while the countryside passes you by. The tricky part about this one for me, is that sometimes people will see that you are reading a book and try to strike up a conversation with you about the book. Apparently these people don’t realize I would rather be reading but, whatever. And on a very rare occasion I do end up talking to a book lover I can relate to so I guess it’s not all bad. I usually put on headphones so that I can prevent the conversation but it’s nowhere near one hundred percent effective.
  • At work. Okay so again, this is one to be careful with but every once in a while, I would sneak off into the bathroom and read a book on my phone for a few minutes. I only recommend doing this when you really don’t have anything to do for a few minutes and with a book you know you won’t get absolutely engrossed in. If you get a lunchtime at work, that’s also a good time to go have a bit of a read.
  • On a stormy and cold night in front of a fire. This situation, in my opinion, is best suited for reading horror novels. Stephen King and I have shared many, many hours this way, and that man can still haunt the heck out of my dreams. I can’t get enough of his books.
  • In my dungeon. Yep, right here in this dungeon that I fell into, I love reading because, well, that’s what there is to do here. That and watch bad movies but hey, it’s better than falling into a pit trap or battling off a horde of Orcs, am I right? Yeah, I am.

Eruditely yours,

Slick Dungeon

Waterworld – #Moviereview

Looking for Dryland, watch out for jetskis

Hey there landlubbers. This is Slick, I live in a dungeon and I review movies that most people can’t stand. Let’s talk about Waterworld.

Believe it or not, there was a time when Kevin Costner wasn’t just famous for being the voice of a dog that loves car racing. He was also known for being the web footed, gill having, urine recycled water drinking, hero of the major Hollywood flop, Waterworld.

It’s the year, the future, and the polar ice caps have melted, causing the Earth to be drowned in water. In 1995 that sounded like a much more remote possibility than it does now. The filmmakers hadn’t figured out the true cost and difficulty of filming this thing on the water. You can’t shoot while planes are flying or you can see the Los Angeles skyscrapers in the background, so everything took forever to set up and there had to be multiple re-takes for everything. Plus, this not only had Kevin Costner raking in the big bucks but Dennis Hopper hamming it up for the cash too. This guaranteed that Waterworld had to be the hugest blockbuster this side of Jaws to make any money for anyone. Unfortunately for everyone involved, it was nearly universally hated by critics and audiences alike when it came out.

But the question remains, is this movie any good? If you ignore the history and just watch the film, can it work on an entertainment level? Nooooooooooope. It’s still pretty bad. Although, I could see how this one could reach a kind of cult status. It does have some dedicated fans and I suppose there could be a CGI remake or something that might work somehow with this thing. But for that to happen, a lot of things would have to change. That’s not to say you shouldn’t watch this though.

You can think of this film as Road Warrior but on the water. Land is scarce and basically considered a myth by the people inhabiting the planet. But there’s a never named drifter played by Kevin Costner who seems to be able to find dirt whenever he wants, There’s also a little girl named Enola who has a tattoo on her back that might be a clue to finding dry land. There’s a group of crazy jet ski riding, machine gun having, “Smokers” led by Dennis Hopper who want to get the tattoo map and find that good ol’ dry land for themselves. Why? Because the boat they are on, the Exxon Valdez is running out of oil and they need it for their tractor pulls! But don’t worry, the drifter guy is gonna save Enola. Well, eventually. You know, after he tosses her in the water, threatens to leave her behind and basically sells her mom to a dude for paper. But after that, man you better watch out because that guy who’s name we don’t know is gonna be out for blood against these Smokers.

Visually, this movie isn’t that bad. It’s got a kind of steampunk feel to it, not that different from the latest Mad Max movie. I do think, the fact that the boats everyone rides around on had to be made and exist in three dimensions actually helps this film. The acting isn’t bad either. Sure Dennis Hopper goes over the top with his performance but it’s done in a fun and relatively entertaining way. The little girl and her mother deliver serviceable performances and so do most of the extras around the film. Kevin Costner’s acting wasn’t bad although his accent is certainly a little weird here.

You know what I think makes people not like this movie? What a complete and total jerk Kevin Costner’s character is. He’s a drifter out on the sea and he barely says two words to anyone. People help him to survive an attack by the Smokers and he promptly wants to toss a little girl who can’t swim overboard. (Wouldn’t that be like the first thing you teach kids in this world but whatever). He’s considered a freak because he has webbed toes and actual gills. Let’s just never mind the fact that’s not how evolution works at all and go with it for a minute. I didn’t have that much of a problem with the gills and all but the jerkiness was messed up. At one point the dude does actually toss the girl overboard. He also chops off her mother’s hair and then her hair, because he was big and intimidating to them and they touched his stuff. Not sure I can get behind a hero like that but at least I can think, hey in the end he’ll come through. But then a dude comes along and asks to buy the mom and the girl, Obviously disgusting stuff going on there. The drifter doesn’t stoop so low as selling the girl but he sure does “rent out” the mom for a half an hour. The drifter does come in and stop the guy before he does anything too bad, but by then it’s too late for me to get behind this hero anymore.

The drifter dude then shows the mom how he’s been getting dirt. His gills let him get to the bottom of the ocean here all our cities, cars and nacho cheese has been buried under water. He’s just been grabbing this stuff cause he can hold his breath longer than other people and then trading the dirt for the stuff he needs. So this dry land thing could still be a myth.

But not only is the drifter a jerk, he’s a moron. While he was down below, the Smokers show up and kidnap Enola. By the way, while watching this movie, I defy you to be able to not think the first few times that they are actually calling this girl granola. But anyway, she’s kidnapped. Now the drifter has to go and save her. I didn’t buy at all that he would want to do that, period. He really seemed to have no empathy for anyone but himself. But obviously, Kevin Costner doesn’t want us hating him for his acting choices so he goes ahead and takes on the smokers, blows up their ship and saves the girl.

Here’s the reason you should watch this movie. The fights in this spot are actually really fun. From watching the dudes on the Valdez drive around a rusted car, to Kevin Costner calling out Dennis Hopper, to the old dude in the bottom of the boat thanking God for death, I got lots of chuckles. The rest of the movie, I could pretty much take or leave. Well, except for the drifter. I could leave him. It had me almost wishing they had tried to make this into a comedy. That I could have gotten behind.

So next time, if you’re wondering if you should go back and see some of Kevin Costner’s classics, include uh… parts of… Waterworld.

Next week, be sure to put on your Sunday shoes because I will be reviewing Bloody Bloody Bible Camp. You know it’s good cause it has an extra Bloody.

Soggily yours,

Slick Dungeon

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Anyone Else Out There Get Zombie Anxiety Dreams on a Regular Basis?

I watch a lot of television and films with different kinds of monsters in them. Same for the books I read. But for me, there’s one type of monster that no matter what, when I see it, or read it, or even think about it for more than five minutes, I end up having a nightmare about it. It doesn’t matter if I am watching Zombieland, Night of the Living Dead, 28 Days later or Shaun of the Dead. It doesn’t matter if I am reading a quality zombie book, or a terrible zombie book, or anything in between. Every time I read this stuff I have a nightmare. I love these stories so I keep reading and watching. Just wondering if anyone else out there has this happen to them? Do you have another type of creature that does that for you? I can watch vampire movies and read vampire books until the sun comes up (see what I did there?) and no trouble in my dreams. Werewolves, no problem. But if you put a flesh eating crowd monster in my head. it’s there to stay. Let me know what your favorite nightmare monster is in the comments.

Sleep Deprivedly yours,

Slick Dungeon

10 Completely Random Thoughts I Have had While Reading Bad Books

I read a fair amount and while I do try to focus on the story, sometimes my mind wanders. Here’s ten thoughts I have had recently.

  • How does everyone in romance novels stay so fit and healthy, yet never seem to go to the gym?
  • Who chose Tuesday as the day new books come out? Why is Tuesday so special?
  • Do hardcover book jackets automatically get destroyed or is that just because I am not careful enough?
  • In zombie books, why don’t the animals ever become zombies? If they did, would they have to eat the same kind of animal? Or could like a horse eat a chicken and be good?
  • I’ll go to sleep in twenty minutes or once I finish this chapter. Twenty minutes later… that chapter was too good, I’ll go to sleep in twenty minutes or when I finish this chapter. Twenty minutes later… you get it
  • Lifting a heavy book totally counts as exercise. I need another Oreo.
  • This whole entire book is just made up of different ways of rearranging twenty-six letters.
  • Wait, so the guy is a werewolf, dating a woman who is a vampire but the witch coven hates them both. Have I already read this? Aww man I have already read this…
  • Did anyone far in the past predict fax machines in a story? And if they did, were people who read that story super excited when we finally got them. And if they were, are they still excited now?
  • I should probably find a better book to read.

Ponderously yours,

Slick Dungeon

Armada – #Book Review

Have you read this before? yes. Yes you have.

Sometimes you read a book full of pop culture references with a cool story about a video game player and you think, “I wish Steven Spielberg would make a movie out of this.” And sometimes the author of that book writes a second book that proves that was a one time experience. Welcome to Armada by Ernest Cline.

Stop me if you’ve heard this before. Actually, scratch that, don’t stop me because you have heard it before but read this review anyway.

From the opening moments of this book, I kept wondering what science fiction story this was ripping off. The answer? All of them. I mean it. There is pretty much no science fiction story here that is not referenced or mimicked in this book. It is so chocked full of direct quotes and references that I began to wonder what percentage of a book has to be original not to be considered plagiarized. I know that a lot of people like Easter eggs and find them fun when you can recognize them in books or movies. I like it too, especially in a Marvel film that might give a hint of what’s to come. But this wasn’t like that. It was more like the Easter bunny firing a rapid fire Easter egg grenade launcher at your face.

I wish that was the only problem with this book but boy, howdy, is this thing a walking disaster.

Has this ever happened to you? You’re a senior in High School on his last semester who has daddy issues because your father died in a sewage treatment explosion just after you were born. To deal with the tragedy, you spend your life obsessed with all the video games, movies, books and music that your father left behind. You play a new game called Armada but are a little worried about your mental state because your father left some notebooks behind with a timeline that seems kinda crazy. Not only that but the notebook makes it seem like there is a global conspiracy to cover up the fact that we have already made contact with aliens. Then you see a spaceship that looks directly like the one from Armada. Your boss who is a used video game store owner shows up with a secretive government agency right out of the video game you happen to be really good at. You get recruited to fight against these aliens by playing your favorite video game that is now real. Lucky for you, you are recruited moments before you were about to beat up a guy with a tire iron because he said bad stuff about your dad. While waiting around to get the full story, you meet a beautiful girl who is smart and also an awesome video game player who is instantly attracted to you. Carl Sagan then gives you a briefing about the aliens and how every science fiction movie, book, or video game has been used to get the population prepared for the knowledge that aliens are out there. Not only that, Star Wars, and all the cool stuff you love, was actually funded by the government for that very purpose. Oh, and not only that but the video games you have been playing happen to function the exact way the real weapons that the government has reverse engineered from the aliens work. Since the whole world plays video games, our best and brightest aren’t people like astronauts and math geniuses, it’s actually the people who have been logging the most online hours playing video games. This all seems pretty weird to you but you roll with it because you feel like you were always meant for some bigger destiny. You are also shocked and amazed at every single new revelation in the whole thing. Like you see the video game ship in real life and go, “That’s not possible.” Then you are taken into a big old government training facility and see the guy from the video game and go, “Even though I now believe the ship is real, I don’t believe the dude is real” And then you find out your dad is alive and had been recruited by the video game dude years ago and you go, “Even though I now believe the ship is real and the dude is real, I don’t actually believe my dad is alive.” And then they take you to the moon to meet your dad and you go, “Even though I now believe the ship is real, that the video game dude is real, that my dad is alive, I still didn’t really believe there was a moon base…” (Ok, I think you get the point.) Then on your first mission with the real drones you screw up but still get to fight because, you’re still good at the video game. Then your dad tells you all about how he figured out there was this conspiracy and not only that, your dad thinks that the aliens may not actually want to kill us. Then you watch your dad almost die trying to prove his point. Because you have a very hard time believing things that are clearly obvious, you still don’t quite believe him so you go back to your home town of Beaverton, Oregon and run it by your two best friends. They argue a lot, while your mom and dad get reacquainted and you convince everyone your dad was right. Well, almost everyone because the video game guy doesn’t believe it and wants to blow the aliens to kingdom come. So, now you need your two best friends, the people you met on the moon base, your dad, and the hot girl you met at the mission briefing to help you out while you go blow up the super weapon that Earth has come up with before we do something really stupid and get the whole planet destroyed by these aliens. You are also able to excuse global warming and a whole host of other problems because clearly the aliens are a bigger threat. So, after your dad actually gets himself killed, on the day that you finally met him, you go after the weapon and blow that to kingdom come. Then the aliens start talking to you and telling you that humanity has just passed “the test” so we’re all good now, welcome to a new galactic society that you as the dude who blew up that weapon get to decide if we are joining or not. Thankfully you say yes because no would have meant that the aliens would blow us up anyway. Also, the aliens aren’t aliens but actually just some kind of robotic thing that was left behind on Europa to, you know, watch us. Then you go back home, get to run the used video game store, are a celebrity, sign an autograph for the guy you almost beat with a tire iron that one time, get married to the beautiful girl you met at the briefing, and have a kid you name after yourself and your father. Then you basically get to live out a normal happy life.

Spoiler alert. Shoot, probably should have put that up higher.

Here’s a few answers to if this has happened to you from some random people I polled on the street.

Ender Wiggins [Ender’s Game] – “Sounds pretty familiar but it was a little different”

Alex Rogan [The Last Starfighter] – “I think I was in that story”

Doug Masters [Iron Eagle] – “Well, there were no aliens but my dad’s plane did get shot down”

Well, there you have it folks, it’s a pretty common occurrence. Even with that being said, I still had more problems with this book.

  • I actually listened to this as an audiobook and while I love ya Will Wheaton, your Carl Sagan somehow sounds exactly like George Takei. How is that even possible?
  • They claim that the government funded Star Wars??? Hands off my favorite film franchise man, I’m not having it! It made me want to get Daisy Ridley to slice the book in half with a lightsaber.
  • It made zero sense to me that the government goes to all that expense of cover ups to then just be like, yup there are aliens everyone, watch out when the aliens attack
  • There are a lot of crazy things in this book and I am pretty good at suspending my disbelief but there is no way that Carl Sagan, Stephen Hawking and Neil Degrasse Tyson all went in on the covering aliens up thing. Not a freaking chance, period. To me, this was the least believable thing in the book.
  • They recruit these gamers under complete duress and basically kidnap them and tell them they can either sign up or wimp out cause the aliens are about to attack. The second I got back from that, I am hiring a good lawyer and getting out of this contract.
  • Finally, this book was just such a huge disappointment because Ernest Cline has written a good book. I hope he has it in him to pull out another good story, but man am I going to be hesitant to give it a try.

Next week I am going to get off the Sci-Fi bandwagon and give a read to Romancing the Duke by Tessa Dare. I wasn’t sure which Duke she was talking about but it’s romancing the Duke, so it’s that one.

Repetitively Yours,

Slick Dungeon

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