Archive for August, 2011

book review – FAHRENHEIT 451

August 22, 2011

Today is the birthday of Ray Bradbury, author of one of my favorite books of all time, Fahrenheit 451. The YA market was very different when I was a teenager, so much so that it barely even existed. There was no Harry Potter or Hunger Games back then, and as a young reader I jumped into science fiction at an early age, starting primarily with writers like Edgar Rice Burroughs. I first read Fahrenheit 451 when I was 13 years old, and it changed my life. Set in a dystopian future where books are illegal and it is the jobs of fireman to start fires, Bradbury’s book follows the adventures of Guy Montag. A dutiful fireman who does his job of burning all books and the homes in which they are hidden, Montag begins to question his role in the oppressive society, and finds himself branded an outlaw when he decides that books must be preserved. Though it’s not considered to be a YA novel, Fahrenheit 451 is a perfect book for teenagers. Exploring themes of alienation, blind allegiance to questionable authority, and a societal disconnect from its own humanity, all of which are subjects teens can relate to.

film review – THE INTERRUPTERS

August 22, 2011

With his earlier documentary Hoop Dreams, director Steven James crafted one of the most compelling and emotionally resonant docs of all time. James returns to the inner-city streets of Chicago with The Interrupters, a documentary no less emotionally or intellectually compelling than Hoop Dreams, yet infinitely more urgent in what it has to say. Profiling a group of conflict mediators known as “Violence Interrupters,” the film spends a year in the life of ex-cons turned counselors determined to end the heartbreaking cycle of violence in Chicago. The film’s refreshing candor is balanced by the bleak brutality of violence in Chicago, making for an emotional tempest that humanizes the people often portrayed by the media as savages. Employed by the non-profit organization Cease Fire, Violence Interrupters are like missionaries dispatched to plague-ridden neighborhoods infected with the deadly disease of unchecked rage that leads to beatings, stabbings, shootings and murder. James’s portrait of the men and women who jump into volatile environments moments before the eruption of violence is harrowing and inspiring. The Interrupters can be difficult at times to watch, because it offers a glimpse at a grim reality that exists in this country. At the same time, this is a film that serves as a reminder that redemption is possible, that each of us can overcome the worst of our deeds and emerge as better human beings. It is a film that proves that when hope is merged with action, things can change.

Wordstock 2011

August 17, 2011

It’s my pleasure to let you all know that I will be appearing this year at Wordstock. Wordstock is a literary art and education organization that celebrates and supports writing in the classroom and in the community. I’m tentatively scheduled to read on Saturday, October 8th at 3pm, followed by a signing. I’ll keep everyone updated if there are any changes. In the meantime, check out my guest blog on the Wordstock website.


August 17, 2011

The first installment in Rick Yancey’s series about a young boy working for a scientist who hunts monsters is an incredibly impressive novel. Set in the late 19th century, The Monstrumologist recounts the grisly exploits of twelve year-old orphan Will Henry and his guardian/boss, Dr. Pellinore Warthrop, a renowned monstrumologist. Will’s father had been the trusted assistant of Warthrop, and now that his parents are dead, and he has nowhere else to go, he finds himself slaving away for the self-absorbed scientist as the hunts a pack of vicious Anthropophagi—headless creatures with mouths in the middle of their chests and a taste for human flesh. Creepy, violent and rich with character development, The Monstrumologist lays the foundation for the complex relationship between Will and Warthrop. It is a great introduction and a wonderful set-up for the second installment, The Curse of the Wendigo, which in many ways is a stronger book. The second book in the Monstrumologist series finds Will accompanying Warthrop to the frozen wilds of Canada in search of the doctor’s former best friend and fellow monstrumologist. Yancey details their harrowing adventure with such vivid detail that the experience is almost unbearable. And that’s only the first half of the book. Things go from terrifying and violent in the snow-covered forests of Canada to nightmarish and gut-churning in the streets of late 1800s New York City. (more…)


August 9, 2011

Over four decades ago, Italian filmmaker Gillo Pontecorvo’s The Battle of Algiers was considered one of the most provocative, politically incendiary movies of its time. The Black Panther Party used it as a training film, the French government banned it, and lovers of cinema revered it as a masterpiece. In 2003, the Pentagon hosted a special screening of the film, in hopes it would shed valuable light on how to deal with rebel forces in Iraq. The following year The Battle of Algiers was released in a beautifully packaged addition to the Criterion Collection, where it could be studied, appreciated and, no doubt, argued about. Most recently, Criterion has released the Blu-Ray edition of Pontecorvo’s classic. (more…)

Introducing the new Spider-Man

August 2, 2011

Recently, Marvel Comics made news when Peter Parker was killed off in Ultimate Spider-Man. Keep in mind that the Spidey in Ulitmate Spider-Man exists in a different universe than the original Spider-Man, so even though Peter Parker is dead, he’s only dead in one comic universe. Hopefully that makes sense, as I want to move forward. (more…)