A Toast…

I was going to spout off on social media, but realized I had a lot more words than that.

First and foremost, I sincerely hope each and every one of you have had a wonderful holiday. If not, I hope things get better. This year’s been a mix of wonderful and all sorts of fucked up, but these cycles help us wash the gunk away and move forward with a little spring to our step.

Don’t get me wrong, a lot of this year just proved my theory that humanity peaked with the invention of the pizza bagel, but there were great things too.

There were great times with friends and family. Getting to see my wife’s cousins take a huge step in their adult lives (and feel old when I realized I’ve known them for more than half their lives), I got to see my best friend, my blood, get married to an absolutely wonderful lady, and I found myself among one of the most warm and welcoming groups I’ve ever known.

Good stuff.

The bulk of this year was writing. I’ve begun to succeed and I personally feel that absolutely none of it would have been at all possible if not for the unbelievable support of so many of the writers on the crime scene. Every single day, I’m astonished at the kindness and genius of so many of you folks. I’m humbled and incredibly grateful to have inspiration and support while I continue to pursue a dream that I’d completely given up on only a few years ago.

Anyway, enough mush. Enjoy your New Year wherever you may be.

Me? I’m in my Doctor Who pajamas and drinking some Sierra Nevada.

Be Easy,

Angel

OBLIGATORY BEST-OF 2014 BLOG SERIES PART 4 – GO HOME OR DIE HARD IN THE AGE OF EXTINCTION

3216c256fdac550faf090edb1232b280

You guys ready for 2015?

Catch up on my silliness HERE, HERE, and HERE.

Let’s wrap this shit up, suckahs!

Books

418LgUGBykL._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_The Hard Bounce by Todd Robinson

You may know Todd Robinson from Thuglit, which he runs and edits (oh hey, here’s the issue I appeared in last year – aka: the BEST issue of 2014. Not so much because of me, McBride’s ‘Sounding’ is fucking amazing).

This is another book I read that had me cursing the author out as I finished each chapter. Todd’s ability to provide setting and character in a humorous, dark, and heartfelt way is enviable. Boo and Junior, to me, are two of the best characters in a crime novel and I’m very much looking forward to checking out what Todd has in store for them in the future.

18008681Country Hardball by Steve Weddle

I’m completely comfortable in admitting I’ll never write this well.

Weddle’s gifted and this novel in short stories is more than just something to enjoy, but a great tool to identify how to put together quick, taut pieces of fiction.

Go buy this. Seriously. I rarely read anything twice and I went right back to page one after reading the final page.

Music

failure-fantastic-planetFantastic Planet – Failure

Oh what’s that? I’m 22 years late to this party.

Seriously, this album came out 22 years ago.

Let that set in.

Anyway, thanks to the magic of Spotify, I remembered these fellas did a pretty fantastic cover of Enjoy the Silence and decided to dig in a little more. What a found was a forgotten alternative bit of excellence. I’m at a loss that this band wasn’t bigger, but this was at a time when everyone was paying attention to Nirvana or Pearl Jam, so it must have been easy to get lost in the shuffle.

My favorite track:

Movies

GUARDIANS+OF+THE+GALAXY+Poster+to+be+Given+to+Marvel+Panel+AttendeesGuardians of The Galaxy

I know, I totally almost forgot.

I’ve watched this movie nearly 7 times now, and honestly? It’s a masterpiece. Not for the quality, there are plenty of tiny hiccups in the script. No, what made GoTG work for me was the feeling it gave me – a flick hasn’t made me feel like that since I saw Jedi for the first time.

That’s magic.

Groot and Rocket, two characters that would be laughed out of any pitch meeting three years ago. They work. Kids and adults loved them.

That’s magic.

What a nice feeling to know movies can still make you gawk and smile. Kudos to Gunn and company.

Nerdery

Trailers kicked our asses!

THE FORCE AWAKENS

The held shot on a familiar desert.

Huh, cool.

Oh crap, John Boyega.

Huh, this Daisy Ridley character is interesting.

X-Wings! Sweet.

Triple saber? I can dig it.

HOLY FUCK IT”S THE FALCON!!!!!

It’s like coming home again.

Avengers: Age of Ultron

Good lord, if Thor doesn’t say he must have words with Ultron, I will be LIVID.

The standout, though? Ulysses Klaww.

I can’t wait for Black Panther.

Mad Max: Fury Road

Two words – Holy….fuck.

I think that about sums it all up.

No joke, I did a lot thinking on all of this, even wrote out a handwritten list with pros and cons regarding choices over other bits. Obviously, this isn’t the end all, but a good sampling of what I dug this year. Click links, buy stuff (the books especially!) and check out related items (authors especially!)

Have a great New Year’s, peoples.

Angel

OBLIGATORY BEST-OF 2014 BLOG SERIES PART 3 – THE RETURN OF THE DARK WITH A REVENGEANCE

guardians-of-the-galaxy-nebula-featureI don’t have to repeat myself regarding the above.

Also, check out the earlier parts of this series HERE and HERE.

I’ve been lazy on this front, but blame holidays, sicknesses, and all the fun stuff that goes on in the adult world of lameness.

Anyway, the third part of my 2014 breakdown!

This is going to be a little longer and might break some rules, because that’s how threequels work. Only rule still sticking, I ain’t spoiling or giving summaries. That’s what the Amazon links are for.

TAKE THAT.

Books

Jungle Horses PhotoJungle Horses by Scott Adlerberg

Full disclosure: I just finished this one earlier last week.

Still loved it.

I’m a fan of Adlerberg’s way of taking the dark and the banal and seemingly granting an otherworldly air about them. He’s done this in his short fiction and his novella, Jungle Horses, furthers that. What he does with the common conceit of the down on his luck loser is a lot of fun, and I can say with certainty that I did not expect this story to go where it went. This is a good thing, since I sort of despise when I can smell an ending from three states over.

Anyway, you may have noticed a lot of novellas on my list this year, and to be honest, it’s because of that limited reading time of mine. Novellas seem to be a nice, easy way of getting in a read during the commute.

With that in mind, I think I’m going to just lay it out here and add a second entry.

oneeyepressgreyOne Eye Press’ Singles Imprint

Federales by Chris Irvin

White Knight by Bracken MacLeod

The Gospel of The Bullet by Chris Leek

I’m biased here, what with One Eye releasing my debut novella next summer (THAT’S how you cross-promote, kids), but I wouldn’t have bothered to write that story for these folks if the work they put out there isn’t a slice of god damn fantastic.

Each story is wildly different, but explores the darkness that can be found just about anywhere. We’re talking broad genres, so just about anyone can jump on in and enjoy, even if you’re in unfamiliar territory.

I’ve said it before. I can’t recommend these novellas harder. I am recommending them VERY HARD in your direction.

And now, a full book (or books!)tumblr_inline_n1mjx10yAl1sadm3i

The Collector Trilogy by Chris Holm

These were not released this year, but whatever, I read them this year.

As a writer, there are moments you pick up a book or story, read it, put the book/books down, then do a lot of cursing.

That’s what I did after reading Chris Holm’s Collector Trilogy.

For one, DAMN IT, THIS IS AN IDEA I WISH I HAD.

Also, these are fun, well-written, exciting stories. Genre mashes can be tough, but Holm handles it with smooth and nearly effortless style.

Music

811B0dxg6YL._SY355_The Physical World – Death from Above 1979

Holy fuck was I DYING for these fellas to make new music.

I learned about Death From Above 1979 when they opened for NIN with Queens of The Stone Age a few years ago and I was blown away by the energy a two-piece band could throw my way. Seriously, I remember nothing of the other sets, but I completely remember theirs.

Trainwreck 1979 stands out as one of my favorite tracks on the album.

A two-fer!

720x405-10629809_10152385483439952_4360575686812864847_nSyro – Aphex Twin

Another hell-yes moment for most wanted albums. Not as aggressive as past works (hell, it’s almost relaxing) Syro is more brilliance from Richard D. James, one of the few electronic artists that I not only respect, but believe was and will be incredibly ahead of his time. Seriously, look at his output in the 90’s. Not a bit of it would sound out of place if released tomorrow.

Here’s a track named 4 bit 9d api+6 [126.26] because James is a fucking sadist when he titles tracks.

Movies

captainamerica252caf98173f6aCaptain America: The Winter Soldier

While outclassed by that OTHER movie, Cap kicked an unholy amount of ass earlier this year. I’d call Winter Soldier the strongest of the Marvel sequels and it definitely amped me up for the rest of Phase 2. Again, Evans ends up being the best actor in the Marvel stable and one of the best choices to place a superhero in a long time. I have a feeling he’ll be to Cap what Reeves is to Superman. No joke. I love RDJ as Iron Man, but I don’t see people losing their minds at a recasting the way they might when it comes time to choose another Steve Rogers.

Also, Sebastian Stan was awesome. Just give him more lines in Civil War.

Anyway, if you haven’t seen the flick, what the hell man?

You guys get a single flick. I don’t get out as much anymore.

Comics

Meh, nothing worth mentioning. I’m woefully behind, and sorry, Saga is uninteresting. Won’t be touching that until I know for sure Vaughn nails the ending. We will not be reliving the ending disappointment of Runaways or Y: the Last Man again, thank you very much.

Nerdery

HAS23107Stars Wars: The Black Figure Series

I own four of these: Han Solo, Boba Fett, Darth Maul, and Darth Vader.

They are beautiful. Everything I’ve ever wanted in a Star Wars figure. Great detail and picture perfect accessories. A little bit of a pain in the ass to stand, but hey, whatever. The Vader and Fett are stand outs. All the little bits and pieces are there. Very cool to examine things I never noticed before.

They make me wish I was 6 again.

Still, they interested my kid enough to really get him on the Star Wars train. He even built me an X-Wing for Christmas!

So there, Star Wars made my son a better kid.

Star Wars is better than us.

Anyway. one more entry in what I liked, then we try to close out the year with the steaming garbage heap.

Be Easy,

Angel

OBLIGATORY BEST-OF 2014 BLOG SERIES PART 2 – THE ATTACK OF THE LIST STRIKES BACK HARDER

guardians-galaxy-movie-trailer-humorSeriously, go watch Guardians of The Galaxy.

So we’re at Part 2.

Quick reminder of how this works – each entry (and I’m going to try to do this everyday as often as I can for the rest of the year) will highlight a favorite book, movie, album, comic, or item of extreme nerdery that I dug this year. Doesn’t mean it came out this year, just means that I dug it this year.

Let’s have some fun.

Books

18185906

Mountain Home by Bracken MacLeod

I reviewed Mountain Home earlier this year (give a click here for my thoughts). Needless to say, I dug the hell out of this book, and with it currently priced at under a buck on Kindle, you should totally go out and buy it. Bracken’s got a great style and a real knack for disturbing the reader with the way he presents violence and that slow burn sense of dread. Very few books come out of the gate full-bore and

Music

index

Morning Phase – Beck

In a word: beautiful.

I’ve been a bigger fan of Beck’s post-Odelay output; citing Midnite Vultures and Sea Change as near-perfect examples of their genres. The man – in my mind – is a musical genius who never replicates himself that often.

Here’s Blue Moon, one of the singles, but definitely not one of the stand out tracks.

Seriously, if you wrote Beck off at any point, jump back on.

Movies

how-to-train-your-dragon-2-trailer

How to Train Your Dragon 2

As a dad, I have to go see kids flicks. Luckily, I can control some of the content.

SOME.

God damn, Penguins of Madagascar.

Whatever. HTTYD2 (hooray, laziness!) was shockingly:

  • Competent for a sequel
  • Mature
  • Fun!

Needless to say, I’ve watched two times since we bought it for the kid and enjoy the movie even more.

Comics

spid

The Superior Spider-Man (Finale)

I was completely onboard for the switch from Peter Parker to Otto Octavius back in 2013, but I was not prepared for how fantastic that year of Spidey would turn out.

While not the best part of the whole story, Goblin Nation managed to be a solid finale to a saga that, to me, will hold up with some of the absolute best Spider-Man/Doc Ock stories of all time.

Also, Superior Spidey’s turn up in Spider-Verse only makes me miss him more. What a fantastic take on Peter Parker.

Random Nerdery

2652562-2475496134-lootc

Loot Crate

A Netflix for nerd swag.

What a smart idea. You drop 20 bucks a month and you get a box with cool little figures/art/t-shirts. I’ve signed up two friends for it, and to be honest, might sign up at some point next year (I may be using them as guinea pigs).

Check out the site and take a look at past months, which all have themes like villains, video games, or movies. It all seems well-worth your time if you’re the type who likes to snatch up random loot from cons or shops.

That wraps it up for Part 2.

Be Easy,

Angel

OBLIGATORY BEST-OF 2014 BLOG SERIES PART 1 – RISE OF THE FALL OF THE LIST AWAKENS

guardiansofthegalaxyfirstlookWe’ll get the above out of the way. Guardians of The Galaxy kicked seventy-zillion kinds of ass.

Haven’t seen it?

You sicken me.

Anyway, let’s move on to my little list. Each entry (and I’m going to try to do this everyday for the rest of the year) will highlight a favorite book, movie, album, comic, or item of extreme nerdery that I dug this year. Doesn’t mean it came out this year, just means that I dug it this year.

Let’s have some fun.

Books

index

The Last Safe Place: A Zombie Novella by Rob Hart

Full disclosure: I read this two years ago when Rob first put it out as an e-book. Still, I want to give the guy some love with his debut novel ‘New Yorked‘ and it’s follow-up, ‘City of Rose’ coming out next year.

Rob’s a tight (ha!) writer, and The Last Safe Place is a perfect introduction to his writing. I’m a fan of Rob’s ability to add kernels of smart, dark humor into his stories and his ability to ramp up tension without getting lost in the reeds. The guy uses each of his words wisely, and I can appreciate that.

Can’t recommend this novella more. Click the title o the pic above for more. Also, preorder ‘New Yorked’ by clicking the title above.

Music

index

Brill Bruisers – The New Pornographers

I’ll say it – this is The New Pornographers’ best album since Mass Romantic. Stand out tracks: Hi-Rise and Dancehall Domine, especially. Pure pop wonderment. I’ve been a fan of the Pornographers for a long time now, but can honestly say their last few albums were a little low-key for me (still enjoy them). This return to the their dancey roots feels necessary and what’s better, you can hear a maturity to the sound that wasn’t there before.

Check it:

Movies

We discussed Guardians of The Galaxy.

WE DISCUSSED IT AND SOMEHOW YOU HAVEN’T STOPPED READING TO GO WATCH IT.

Anyway.

810G9DsGrxL._SL1500_

John WIck

I am an unabashed Keanu Reeves fanboy (aside from his romantic comedy/drama output, that shit don’t exist) and truly believe he’s one of the best B-movie actors ever. He may not have range, but the guy is extremely likeable on and off screen.

John Wick is pure pulp from start to finish that manages better world-building in less time than most action/crime flicks do in their entire running time. Absolutely worth your dollars. No joke. Go buy it.

Comics

51TgXw6jBALAfterlife with Archie

lolwut?

When I saw the announcements and covers I said the same damn thing.

Now, I’m eating crow. No lie – this is the best damn comic series of 2014.

Why? Walking Dead does zombie drama already, right? I mean, this is ARCHIE we’re talking about. It’s supposed to be wholesome and junk.

Doesn’t matter. It works. Best part? They don’t betray he spirit of the characters at all. The writing is top notch and Francavilla’s art makes every panel worthy of a poster.

And holy hell, the last page of issue 6.

Random Nerdery

1300x-Alien_Queen1-379x300Aliens Xenomorph Queen – NECA Toys

She’s sitting under my tree and even in box, she’s GORGEOUS. Also, MASSIVE. 15 inches tall and nearly 3 feet long with her tail extended!

Once upon a time, I wanted the McFarlane Movie Maniacs version of this gal. Always had major regret that I couldn’t buy her. Now, I’ve got one that’s leagues better.

NECA has been on a roll with me this year – The Spider-Gremlin, Ed-209, and Predator series have been flawless representations of beloved 80’s monster icons.

Next year? The Power Loader and Ripley from Aliens.

You realize I have to buy that, right?

That wraps it up for Part 1.

I’m going to hold myself to doing this as long as I can.

Seriously.

For true.

Stop looking at me like that.

Be Easy,

Angel