57 Channels and Nothing On

This time last year, Sons of Anarchy was finishing it’s 7 season run. While the show had its element of cheese, you can’t deny that it was well written and throughly entertaining. Hell, Stephen King was a fan and did a cameo on the condition he would be able to ride a red Harley. It had characters to love and care about and ones to hate with a passion. It had heart. The fan base grew every season. Kurt Sutter is a evil genius with a bad attitude and uncompromising vision. The show ended on a solid note. Then came the New Year and a bleak television landscape. It seems like television has hit a low point. Yes there have been a few bright spots but mostly misses. Side Note…..I don’t give a fuck about Game of Thrones. You can keep your fantasy horseshit. Dragons…..bah. Let’s look back. The Walking Dead This show has been inconsistent from the beginning. You’ll have one brilliant episode followed by around 3 of the survivors wandering through the woods. Not to mention the splitting of the season into halves. The only bright spot on this particular horizon has been the casting of the great Jeffrey Dean Morgan as the comic book’s iconic villain Negan. Morgan appeared first on my radar as The Comedian in the film adaption of Watchmen. Thank you casting gods. You have given the Walking Dead a sign of life. Now here’s the greatest show you aren’t watching and probably never heard of. Banshee on Cinemax. Created by Alan Ball of True Blood fame (Fuck You Alan for that piece of shit). It’s the story of an ex-con and master thief who assumes the identity of a dead small town sheriff. Oh my god I love this show. It’s very much a series length B action movie. You could almost put it into guilty pleasure territory however I don’t believe in guilty pleasures. It has great characters, excellent cinematography, and some of the best fight scenes I’ve ever seen. This past January the 3rd season kicked off with a level of mayhem beyond what I’ve come to expect from the show. Banshee’s 4th and final season premieres next month. When I’ve raved about this show to people, mostly to my brother from another Mark, people haven’t heard of it. That’s a shame. However Amazon prime subscribers can stream the 1st season free. Motherfuckers you all need be hitting that shit now. The Bastard Executioner Even a evil genius like Kurt Sutter can shit the bed. While a great concept, the show could not hold my attention. Most of the world agreed. Kurt Sutter saw the writing on the wall and agreed with FX executives to kill the show. I do believe The Bastard Exevutioner could have been amazing had it been produced by a pay cable network. So Sutter headed back to the drawing board and decided to expand on known winning concepts. Those of Outlaw Motorcycle Clubs or MC’s. A Sons of Anarchy prequel going back to the MC’s Vietnam era roots and a spin off about The Mayans, a Latino MC featured prominently in the origin series are in development. Now let’s see what else….The Americans is ok I guess but hasn’t been able to hold my attention. The Bridge was shit. Happy it got cancelled. What’s that martial arts thing on AMC……I’m not even gonna take the time to google it. That’s how I feel about that one. Mad Men you wasted out time. Better Call Saul may have potential. The Leftovers…..just stop HBO, you’re insulting us. True Detective season 2 was ultra depressing and a total rip off of James Ellroy’s masterpiece White Jazz. The one moment I loved was Colin Farrell saying If you ever bully or hurt anybody again, I’ll come back and butt fuck your father with your mom’s headless corpse on this...

PANDEMIC by Scott Sigler

PANDEMIC Scott Sigler Publisher: Crown Release date: January 21st, 2014 Trilogies are a strange animal. 3 separate pieces that make up a whole. Now as you know, it takes time to write even 1 book let alone 3. During the time it takes to write those 3 pieces of the puzzle, all sorts of things can happen. For instance, Christopher Nolan’s Batman trilogy, it started out strong. Then in the 2nd movie you had the motherfucking Joker. That nutjob lit the screen up. But then, Heath Ledger died and everything changed. The question becomes about how do you end strong when the key piece is gone? You have to take the remaining pieces and form an entirely new narrative and hope it holds up and wish for the best. PANDEMIC is the final book in Scott Sigler’s Infected trilogy. The first book started with one man going to war with literally his own body while an Alien force made its initial attempt at an invasion of our world. The 2nd book took a wider scope. It showed our countries response to that initial attempt and our response and the Alien forces evolution and response to its own failed first attempt. I’m being deliberately oblique with what details I’m giving. By all means you need to go out and read the first 2 books as they fucking rocked, I’m just not going to give it all up for you. At the end of the second book, Dr. Margaret Montoya emerged as a hero. Now at the beginning of the 3rd she is a hero to some and a pariah to everyone else. She is down for the count. She is a shut in, paranoid and depressed. Her C.I.A. agent husband does not know how to help her. At the end of the 2nd book, the Alien force launched its last ditch attempt at conquering the human race by dropping an object the size of a soda can to the bottom of Lake Michigan. It’s filled with some deadly organisms that can cause the human race to do some gnarly shit. So without giving too much away of the new book, that soda can sized object is found. That gnarly shit is unleashed. The apocalypse begins. Let’s go back to Batman for a second. In The Dark Knight Heath Ledger fucking made that film with his portrayal of the Joker. Then Heath Ledger died but they still had to make the 3rd film. They took what was left and banged out The Dark Knight Rises. It was a strong film but it lacked the snap that the Joker brought to the table. That is how Pandemic turns out. It’s a very strong book but just lacks that snap. I highly advise anybody who has read the first 2 books to read this one. You need that final piece of the puzzle. Overall there is nothing wrong with Pandemic except for maybe being slightly depressing. I was just left with wanting more. Dave...

ONE MORE BODY by Josh Stallings

Heist publishing Release date: October 6th, 2013 Ever since I discovered Josh Stallings I have constantly wondered why he isn’t more known. Stallings is like an indie punk band whose records are only known to the hippest few who are in the know. That is a cool thing but at the same time you know that if there ever was a band that deserved to be playing arenas, it’s this one. However, Stallings isn’t for everyone. He pulls no punches. If you are of the squeamish nature and dare to enter his world, he will hold you by the scruff of your neck and force you to take a long look at some serious demons. One More Body is the 3rd book in the Moses McGuire series. McGuire is an ex-marine, former strip club bouncer, descendant of Vikings and what I would call a sort of freelance vigilante. The man is an old school dinosaur. You never know where he is going but you can always tell where he has been by the trail of destruction he leaves in his wake. He is a deeply flawed man but instead of ignoring those flaws, he embraces them. Those flaws make him who he is. At the opening of One More Body, McGuire has washed up on the beach in Mexico. During his last run around the block, he was forced to do some pretty reprehensible shit that he was physically able to walk away from but not mentally. McGuire has been treating himself with liberal doses of Tequila and Vicodin to try and keep the memories at bay. One day on the beach he is approached by LAPD Detective Rollens. A teenage girl named Freedom has been kidnapped and forced into prostitution. The LAPD doesn’t care and neither does anyone else really. Rollens offers McGuire a deal. Find the girl and he gets to stay out of prison. McGuire likes the deal but he also knows this may be a chance to regain pieces of his soul and humanity he lost the last time around. Moses is then back on the streets of L.A. ready to go to war for the soul of a young girl. He enlists the help of familiar faces from previous books and adds a few new ones to his cast of characters. Moses then begins to take apart certain criminal organizations with the subtlety of a sledgehammer. Josh Stallings is definitely an author on the rise. I love the fact he is not afraid to get brutal with his readers. Something I have hated in many other books is how writers will be afraid to do just that. They dance around it afraid to offend or horrify. I’ve always felt to tell a successful story you can’t be afraid to lead a reader where they may not be willing to go on their own. As I said before, the Moses McGuire series is 3 books in and I haven’t detected a false note yet. Yes, some moments could easily be considered over the top but that also depends on your definition of over the top. This series is the darkest I’ve come across in forever. The stories have a true rock and roll nature to them. Before, I referred to Josh Stallings as an indie punk band. It’s about time gets picked up by a major label. Dave...

The Skies Belong To Us-Love and Terror In the Golden Age of Hijacking by Brendan I. Koerner Nov08

The Skies Belong To Us-Love and Terror In the Golden Age of Hijacking by Brendan I. Koerner...

I’ve spoken of this scenario before. I see a book at the library. I pick it up and think it looks cool but ultimately end up putting it back on the shelf. That repeats itself 3-5 more times before I finally get the book out. 9 times out of 10, the book I put back all those times turns out to be fucking badass when I finally do take the plunge. I can’t help but wonder if said book would be as cool if I grabbed it the first time I spotted it. So this true story is a forgotten piece of history and it’s a doozy. Fuck I just used the word doozy. Anyway moving right along, the concept of hijacking an airplane is an old school phenomenon. Throughout the 60s and 70s it was almost a daily occurrence. People did it for all kinds of reasons. Some wanted money while others were pissed about Vietnam. Then you had the flat out nutjobs. Most wanted to go to Cuba while others didn’t have a clue what they were going to do once in the air. The airlines were more concerned with making money and keeping the passengers happy then any kind of security measures. It may be hard to believe but there was a time where you could have anything from a .44 Magnum to a kilo of heroin in your carry-on bag. This book centers around 2 people. Roger Holder is a black Army veteran who saw heavy combat in Vietnam that left him very traumatized. He was released from the Army with a dishonorable discharge despite having performed brilliantly in combat. Cathy Kerkow was a white party girl and sometime prostitute. Her main goal was to live an exciting life and erase as much of her small town upbringing as possible. Together their chemistry allowed for an adventure that was a true product of the times. Holder had a grievance pretty much against the whole world. He came up with a plan to hijack a commercial passenger plane as a vague protest against the war. Kerkow went along with it because she and Holder were very much in love and as I said before, she wanted adventure any way possible. Well, they got $500,000 and wound up living with Eldridge Cleaver in Algiers. At that point things got interesting. The scope of the story is epic and global. The minute Holder and Kerkow stepped onto the plane they had control of that flight but forces in the world around them were already lining up against them. I couldn’t put this book down. It amazed me. In the post 9-11 world, all the history surrounding the hijacking of airplanes, I couldn’t believe some of the things that happened in the past and the fact that nobody learned a thing. This book is well worth a read. It’s American history of the highest order. I hate flying. It gives me massive anxiety. As I read this, I kept trying to imagine what it would be like to be on a hijacked plane and how during a period of time in this country, there were very high odds you would experience just that. Dave...

SHOT All TO HELL by Mark Lee Gardner

I love Westerns. Ever since I was a kid, it didn’t matter if it was John Wayne or Clint Eastwood or if it was some fantasy like spaghetti western or a Sam Peckinpah sweat drenched nightmare. Also I didn’t care if it was based on historical fact or was the creation of some long forgotten screenwriter. I just loved westerns. My dad turned me onto them when I was very young. I will forever be thankful for that. As years passed, I’d start to learn more of the history surrounding certain legends portrayed in the films I’d grown up with. Like for instance how Wyatt Earp wasn’t that much of a hero or that Billy the Kid was a complete psychopath. Books have started to come out that are based completely on facts verified by deep extensive research. Now when I watch those films, I still enjoy them but I know that what I’m seeing isn’t how it was. Countless books and films have been made about Jesse James, the Civil War guerrilla fighter turned bank robber. This new one by Mark Lee Gardner aims to set the record straight about a certain period of time in James’s life, in particular the infamous 1876 raid of Northfield, Minnesota which changed everything for Jesse James. Before that incident, Jesse James and his crew were total rock stars. They were untouchable. They were robbing banks and trains with impunity. Law enforcement was impotent. No matter what they tried, they could not get close. The James gang had friend, family and sympathizers who would go out of their way to protect the gang. In 1876 the gang couldn’t ignore the heat they were feeling in their home territories of Missouri and Kansas. They had to start looking father and father out for banks and trains to take down. They decide on a bank in Northfield, Minnesota which is father out than any other job they have done. The gang had never been to Minnesota. They didn’t know its terrain or the nature of the people. A couple member of the gang had severe reservations about going but out of loyalty to their team, they went. Well, they rode up there looking exactly like what they were which was….Fuck it, they rode into town looking like complete gangsters and acted the part as well. Saying they stuck out would be putting it lightly. The townspeople of Northfield immediately took notice. As quaint as the town looked to the outsiders, when the first shots rang out, the quaintness disappeared and the rage filled defenders appeared. They shot the hell out of the James gang. The only reason the gang made it out of town alive was their Civil War combat experience and the 10 years of armed robbery since the war ended. What followed was a manhunt of epic proportions. This book was great. All the details amazed me. In some ways reading it was like watching a horror movie. You want to yell at the main characters to not do this or don’t do that. When the robbery begins, it’s like watching or reading a slow motion train wreck. You know the destruction is going to be epic and you are powerless to stop it. After the Northfield raid, nothing was the same for Jesse James. This was not a situation where you could put the band back together. This is the story of how a legend began to fall. My only complaint is that I wish it was longer. I’ve already picked up Mark Lee Gardner’s book about Billy the Kid from the library. The man can...