Sunday, January 31, 2010

Last Run

It was a sad day last week when I learned the McAllen, Texas location of Hastings bookstore was going to close down. Everything must go.

Last night, I had the urge to drag both Jyg and Izzy to the store and dig. However, I didn't want them to see me at my worse. This morning, however, I woke up and dragged Mother with me because I knew she'd find some deals, as well. It was the last time - well, more than likely - that I would ever go book hunting in Hastings again.

I spent $40.83. Most of the good stuff was already gone. The store officially closes on 11 February. 

***A short history of my relationship with Hastings***

Hastings and I didn't get along at first. Most of the people who hung out there were annoying teenagers with poor tastes in books and in music. Live bands would play covers of shitty songs and even shittier originals. Whines. Whistles. Hastings and I weren't compatible. Not yet, anyway. 

Barnes & Noble (on N. 10th) acquired a new guy who strutted around as if he owned the place. The sofa chairs began to vanish. We were left to sit on the floors, camping mostly at the sex and relationship section, making those who ventured there rather uncomfortable. The new guy began his war against the aisle sitters. 

While lacking comfy seats, Hastings did think about its costumers. While more and more of the stupid teenagers started to migrate to Barnes, my group and I began to move our way towards Hastings. We still visited Barnes, but we preferred Hastings way more. 

Fast forward: Barnes yuppy guy finally tells us that we cannot sit amongst the aisles anymore - we always choose aisles no one ever goes to anyway. Tells us that we had to sit in the cafe area, but there aren't anymore seats there. Chairs in Barnes & Noble have become scarce. The place becomes more and more unwelcoming - only the N. 10th location, the Ware Rd. is still rather comfortable. Yuppy man will never leave. It's clear that Barnes & Noble 10th St. is dead to me. 

Sitting on a high chair at Hastings, I hatch to Jyg my plans to start a book hunting blog. This page is born later on in the day. 

In all seriousness, the store has become a part of what I do. Every pay check - or whenever I was feeling blue - I'd go over and buy a book. Be it used - which I preferred - new, or value - which I also prefer. It became a place to get away, to seek escape. It beckoned me. Whenever I got an itch, knowing if I just go out to the store, I'd find whatever it was that I craved unknowingly. 

Hastings has been my rock. It has been my hunting ground. It will always be remembered fondly. I'll write more on this tomorrow. Less corny. Less stupid. Less about me.

Until then, good-night, Sweet Prince.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

R.I.P. J.D. Salinger

If you anything about books, you know about J.D. Salinger. I can't say I was shocked that he's passed. The man was great, but he wasn't a god. Still, I can't imagine where I would be without his influence. Like several of you, Catcher in the Rye was something I read in high school. It's also something that ruined my high school career. I was about to go out and kill a celebrity, but it did aid me with my outlook in life. I read it almost religiously. Every year since I graduated.

Raising Hell

It's a little known fact about me: I don't scare easily. I'm a person of logic. I can figure out a movie's ending, its twist, before the evidence is laid out for us - that is, with the exception of Saw, which blinded sided me. But surprise endings are only of stuff of psychological horror. There's no room for Jigsaw in the ranks of the greats: Freddy, Jason, Leatherface and so on. 

However, those mothers - disfigured by the hatred of others - never so much as sent a chill down my spine. I was immune to them. To their ways. To their tricks. Their slaughters. And I've always been. Nothing could scare me as a kid that wasn't real. Nothing until I was introduced to one ghastly creature.

Call him demon, or call him angel. He is what you seek in your deepest fantasies. He is the vision of your lusts, the search for raw pleasures. Call him The Engineer. But to many of us who are horror fans, he is only known by one name: PINHEAD.

Several times I watched Hellraiser as a kid, never knowing it was based on a novella written by Clive Barker. And several times - despite its cheap effects - the sheer thought of something so metaphysically neutral scared me. (Of course, I had to ration my reasons later in life.) There wasn't anything good about Pinhead, nor was there anything pure evil about him and his gang of Cenobites. There was just something that seemed rather in the between - like the Grim Reaper, who is thought to be as an evil entity, but really, he's just a wraith doing his job.

Flash forward several years: I'm twenty-six years old and I've finally decided it's time for me to read the novella that started it all. I call up my buddy Mike over at Georgia's Thrift Shop (actually, I messaged him on Facebook) and asked if he could find me a copy of The Hellbound Heart. He told me sure, worked his magic and quickly responded it would be in within two weeks and it would only cost me three dollars. Awesome f'ing possum! 

Because I've working on reading my 100+ books for the 2010 challenge, I knew that it would a nice quick read. I wasn't wrong about that. However, I was slightly wrong in my expectations of the book. 

Thinking sheer genius, because Clive Barker is  a genius, what I got was a play by play of the motion picture adaptation. While I read Barker's words, scenes from the movie played in my head. I shouldn't be at all surprised by this, as Barker was both director and writer of the film. There are notable changes from the novella and its adaptation brethren - like there being no actual Pinhead.

Nevertheless, it was a good book, and I praise it higher than most others have on Good Reads. Still, it's not enough to say it's five-star worthy. Four stars at most.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Being the Vampire

I ended 2009 by wrapping up my reading of Interview with the Vampire, so it made sense for me to start up the new year by reading the follow up novel, The Vampire Lestat.

While reading Interview, I got the sense that none of the characters struck my empathy. It was hard for me to relate to its narrator, Louis. It created unlovable vampires that, at first, I thought it was my undead bias - I prefer zombies, after all. So when I picked up Lestat, I was already bracing for another novel that would drone on forever and leave me hating the creator of the first book's narrator.

In Interview, Lestat seemed possessive. He was more of an intolerable being with loathsome qualities. I was annoyed time after time of his reappearance in the novel. I could do without him. In Lestat, however, he became - for lack of a better word - more human. Turning each page, I found myself empathizing with him. Especially with his mortal self when he and companion Nicolas spoke about death:

"'Do you realize that! We'll never know why the hell any of it happened, not even when it's over!' I shouted at Nicolas, who was sitting back on the bed, nodding and drinking his wine out of a flagon. 'We're going to die and not even know. We'll never know, and all this meaninglessness will just go on and on and on. And we won't any longer be witnesses to it. We won't have even that little bit of power to give meaning to it in our minds. We'll just be gone, dead, dead, dead, without ever knowing!'"

It was an occurrence that happened late last year. I was sitting in bed when I finally realized that all my years I've accepted my fate a unavoidable, I was simply okay with it. As an agnostic, I'm on the fence about religion. These last few years of my life, however, I've been leaning on atheism more and more. I accepted that when I die that was the end of this story. So Lestat's sudden realization of dying and becoming nothing struck a cord in me that Louis's narration never managed to do.

Lestat's wandering the world, seeking answers - much like Claudia and Louis did in Interview - also help build a better foundation for my liking this novel over the first. Lately, it seems I'm becoming more and more isolated from the rest of the world, making attempts to bring those I love dearly closer to me and watching them slip from my grasp. As much as I would love things to resume as normal - as I'm sure was how Lestat truly felt in his tale - I'm beginning to realize that it's a feat that will never be accomplished. At least, not in this lifetime - to use the novel's term. Unlike Lestat, I cannot simply burrow my way into the ground; although, I'm doing one hell of a job accomplishing the mortal version.

Sheer isolation drove me into the world of Anne Rice and I'm taking notes. What's a reader who doesn't dream of writing? And how else to replay the errors of my way than to write at least one vampire story? I mean, wasn't Anne Rice in a crisis of faith when she started writing the Vampire Chronicles? Perhaps my crisis of lack of faith might be just what I need to motivate me, right?

The way this book was written had the ability to keep my attention for longer periods, even though at times it seemed to go on forever. Taking me longer than I would have liked, it's the first book of the year. (It's also the first book of my 100+ book challenge of 2010 - the first year I attempt reaching that goal.)

There are times, however, that I began to question Lestat's ability to tell the story - how reliable could he have been? He mentioned Interview with the Vampire within his introduction piece, stated that there were exaggerations in Louis's story and so on. It seemed he set off to write a book about his side of the story - not much different, I suppose, when the Big Bad Wolf told his story about the Three Little Pigs.

In the end, however, it doesn't really matter. Lestat's the ring leader of this show despite his loathsome introduction in Interview. I'll stomach him for one - possibly two - more books and then I may turn my back on him forever. Meanwhile, though, I'm putting the vampire literature to rest. I'm going to start Clive Barker's The Hellbound Heart in the morning.

Until next time, happy huntin'!

Barnes and Noble Valentine's Day Collection - Save up to 45% on gifts for your sweetheart
Barnes and Noble Valentine's Day Collection - Save up to 45% on gifts for your sweetheart

Monday, January 25, 2010

Apollo Park

I came to the park to read but instead I find myself mobile blogging and tweeting. How awesome am I?

Sent on the Sprint® Now Network from my BlackBerry®

Sunday, January 24, 2010

This indeed a sad day

Sent on the Sprint® Now Network from my BlackBerry®

Technology Killed The Writer

These are dangerous waters I'm treading. I sit not five feet away from my PC updating the blog on my BlackBerry. What's the purpose? This will prove to be my demise as a would-be writer. But what other choice have I? Catch up or be left behind. If I had it my way, we'd all be blogging from typewriters.

Until next time, happy huntin'.

Sent on the Sprint® Now Network from my BlackBerry®

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Another Trip to Georiga's Thrift Shop

Got a message from Mike on Facebook yesterday telling me that The Hellbound Heart was going to be left in the store for me. So, of course, I went today. The price, as you can see, was $3 for a new copy.

Georgia's Thrift Shop has a way with me. I go there looking or to pick up just one thing and I come out with more than I anticipated. It's an addiction, book shopping. You can never have too many.

While there, I noted they had The Tale of the Body Thief by Anne Rice. Naturally, I wanted to ignore it. But I've tangled myself in this web and I like to see things through. It was just a dollar more. Total price was $4.33, which isn't bad.

In other news, I might be able to annoy readers more often as I now have a better, savvier phone from which to mobile blog from. So yeah. You all have something to look forward to.

Until next time, happy huntin'.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Quick explanation of a Tortilla Story

In my last post, I mentioned Valleysong might be filled with tortilla stories and that felt like I was putting it down. And if that's how it felt to me, I can only imagine how it would make the writers feel like some of which I know for a fact are talented people.

A tortilla story gets its name from the cliche set up of a South Texas Chicano short story remembering abuelita making tortillas from scratch. It's a reminiscent story, recalling the good ol' days before things went south. A tortilla story doesn't always have to be about grandma making tortillas, though. As long as it follows the age of innocence format, it's pretty much a tortilla story, especially if it makes an attempt to cement our history in literature. They're not waste of time stories, except those that aren't imaginative enough - most of these can be found in creative writing classes.

So again, I wasn't making an attempt of insulting the brilliant writers of Valleysong or those who focus on our history. I was just saying how I, as a writer, don't fit into that world. 

Museum of South Texas History Book Hunt

It wasn't going to be a hunt. I kept telling myself I wouldn't look for books when we got there. See, Mother needed to find out some historical buildings - say in 100-year-old span, about as long as Edinburg, Texas has been a city (formerly known as Chapin when it first came to be). My mind was set to keep all other things out. No hunting books!

We get to the Museum of South Texas History, a tad out of breath from walking - we live close enough to walk, but we're extremely out of shape. She heads for the front desk and I zig zag toward the bookstore because all answers can be found within the pages of any book, right? Well, sort of. Barbara Stokes, the Senior Curator slash Archives lady wasn't in today. They had over her card and tell her that maybe the bookstore might have some information she's looking for. Already on it, amigos.

I turn up empty on my first try, mostly because I remember about an anthology that was recently released. Valleysong: An Anthology Echoing the Rhythm and Cadence of Life in the Rio Grande Valley compiled and written by the members of Texas Rio Writers. I'm not apart of the group and judging by the book's title, I probably wouldn't find a home within their world. While they focus on the everyday life, the good ol' tortilla-esque stories, I'm more of an in-your-face writer, one who loves to focus his attention on the depravity of the Rio Grande Valley. But what do you expect, right?

I find the book! Snag! $16.95 plus tax. Dang. My ad writing service hasn't paid me just yet, which means no money to afford it. Two of my friends are featured within the pages - Richard Sanchez and Anne Estevis, both of which I met through Amado Balderas who was the original gather of poets and short stories in Edinburg, Texas. I get the book anyway, because I have now added more money into my increasing debt - I'M A KEEPER!

Mother has no lucking finding any actual book on Edinburg history, indicating historical buildings that still stand erect or of major importance. There's always the original museum, but because the first one we thought of, we knew everyone jumped all over it. Fine. Moving on.

Because we weren't exactly sure how old the Southern Pacific Railroad Depot, she buys a few items of decoration just in case it's in our time line - it's not, by the way. While we were looking through the children's stuff, I saw from the corner of my eye, Chicken Foot Farm by Estevis. Where there's one book, there's the first, right? Indeed. I found a copy of Down Garrapata Road. Mother's been looking for it for some time and we can never find a decent copy to purchase. She doesn't pass it up. I don't attempt to talk her out of it, either.

We might not have accomplished the outing, but we did come home with two new books, which will be signed on 10 February 2010 at the Dustin Michael Sekula Memorial Library (also in Edinburg, Texas) for the year's first reading.

Until next time, happy huntin'!

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Hunting in Hastings

I'm a good hunter. I pride myself with this. I always get my book for a reasonable price - even if it isn't always the cheapest. For me, book hunting isn't always about knowing what I'm looking for, but finding why I was driven to the bookstore in the first place. Call it intuition, I wouldn't.

Last Saturday, of course, was no different. I had an itch that I couldn't just scratch. I went to Hastings looking for something, possibly the fourth book in the Vampire Chronicles because I think I'm getting deeper into Anne Rice than I previous expected.  However, this novel wasn't found.

Moving on, I went to the new in used books shelf and skimmed. Found the book What Nietzsche Really Said, but that too seemed a tad wrong for me. I left it behind in the philosophy section for safe keeping if I should change my mind within the week.

Social Sciences and History sections later, I wound up in the the biography section to find the book Her Last Death by Susanna Sonnenberg. My eye had been on this book for a while, but that too was placed back. A certain defeating sensation came over me. I'm never wrong about this sort of thing. Never had I've been called to and come home empty handed.

I returned to the new in used shelf and skimmed the spines. Nothing. Almost. Wait! Viola Canales?! While The Tequila Worm isn't on the top of my Most Wanted list, but it has been a thorn in my spine since I took my first creative writing course five years ago. It's not an expensive book, it's just one I would probably never pay full price for. I flip it over. Do my eyes deceive me?! $3.20 for the first print hardback? Whoa! Is that an autograph on the title page?! Every book hunter's wet dream. The inscription reads: For Gabriela With friendship, Viola Canales. Why thank you Gabby (also written within the book) for the awesome find! I only hope that you didn't sell this book back because you needed the money badly or that you are no longer with us (I have many a book that came from a deceased English professor from UTPA).

While it is often pimped as Young Adult (which it just might be), I'm glad I came across this book. It shows that my skills are still burning in me, even though I don't have the cash flow to purchase books often. It's another trophy to "mount" on my wall. Next up in the YA list is Rene Saldana, Jr. book, Case of the Pen Gone Missing.

Happy Huntings!

Save an extra 10% on one item with coupon F3L8Y9F! See site for details.
Save an extra 10% on one item with coupon F3L8Y9F! See site for details. Expires 01/24/10

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Compare auto repair estimates

Need a tune up or realizing your car is becoming more a hassle than a way to get from point A to point B? If you’re like most people, you don’t know a single thing what’s wrong with it and you know exactly what the mechanic at the shop is going to to - overcharge you. It’s about time you found yourself a deal.

There’s a place where you can you compare auto repair prices, from Acura Integra to VW Jetta. Or maybe you need an oil change and don’t want to pay too much  for it - better yet, offer more in the package than just an oil change for a lesser or equal price to your regular shop.

The site compares prices in any city such as Seattle to Houston auto repair. This is your new place to shop and match prices. You’ll be glad to have it in your back pocket before you get stuck with a high price than you expected.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Whip It (2009)

Last night's movie - after Puppet Master - was Drew Barrymore's directorial debut, Whip It. Base on the novel of the same name, the film follows small town, Texas girl Bliss Cavendar (Ellen Page) who wants out of the shithole she's known her whole life. She lives with her pageant mother (Marcia Gay Harden), her non conflict father (Daniel Stern) - who probably wanted a son at some point - and her little sister, works at a diner with her best friend, Pash (Alia Shawkat), and attends high school where she at the bottom of the food chain. Typical high school girl set up, don't you think. When she discovers roller derby, her life is changed - here is a pack of women who don't conform to what society expected of them - the antithesis of what her mother was raising her to be, yet not wholly different.

I can't think of a better movie that has this sort of engery. But I can tell you that I now regret my choice four years ago when I was following the South Texas Rolleristas for an article I had been writing. Had I been able to see them in action rather than just sitting back and watching them practice, I think I would've enjoyed the sport so much so that I would've wanted to see them all. But if there's one thing I did learn from the film and STxR it's that roller derby is a woman's sport, meaning men wouldn't be brave enough to attempt it.

(via: Tumblr)

I think I'm going to have to pick up the novel, though I'm sure it'll be YA.

Roller Derby related stuff:

So Far With "Lestat"

As you know, I'm reading The Vampire Lestat. So far, it's been more enjoyable than Interview with the Vampire, which is sad because I spent so long looking for that book. I think the key reasons are the themes of the novels. With Interview, Louis was wondering the why we - or vampires - exist, and if the faiths we choose will stray us from a higher power. Lestat, however, ponders what's been on my mind for months now. What happens to us when we die? What if there's nothing after this world? Where do we go if there is something higher than us?

In several ways, I see myself more akin to the young Lestat who is speaking of blasphemes and then crumbles down, shaking and crying when his mortal coil is revealed. It's one thing to say we don't believe in something, I suppose, and a whole other thing to lie upon our deathbeds. See, I'm not an atheist. I believe I wouldn't have this problem if I were. I'm in the gray. And we worry a lot here.

Cheap textbooks, FREE tunes. Get 10 free music downloads with any textbook purchase.

The 2010 100+ Book Challenge

A friend of mine on Facebook decided to join the 2010 100+ Reading Challenge. I never heard of the challenge before, which is a strange thing because books are my life. Apparently, there's also a blog about this. I think I'll enlist, but that'll mean I will have to put off some of the genre fiction for a later date. We'll see though. It might make the challenge that much more interesting.

When Dull Books Become Duller Films

No good movie is too long and no bad movie is short enough. That's what Robert Ebert said, right? Well, today I finally got to put that quote to the test when Jyg, Izzy and I sat down to watch The Lovely Bones, Peter Jackson's "masterpiece" based on the novel of the same name.

Now Peter Jackson is known for two things: The awesome and everlasting The Lord of the Rings trilogy and the crap-fest, remake of King Kong. Guess where The Lovely Bones lands?

Now it may not be Jackson's fault. The Alice Sebold novel was hell for me to read. So much so, I put it down and never picked up again. Not even tempted to. Truth is, after reading a bit of her memoir, Lucky, I started to gather that she was a one trick pony. Okay, not to be in the least insensitive - but what I'm gonna say will seem otherwise - I get the fact she was rape and said rape was life changing for her. I wouldn't want to meet the person who could endure something so violent and not be affected. With Bones, however, Sebold probably pondered the could've been rather than what did happen to her.

And it isn't so much that I don't believe in Heaven or any of that afterlife stuff - I did, for some weird reason, enjoy What Dreams May Come - it's just that the story was so mind numbingly boring.

So when the adaptation was announced, I thought maybe it would be easier to sit through than the book. Of course, as usual with these sort of things, I was dead fucking wrong. While declared one of the best movies to come out in the tail end of 2009, this film was waaaaaay to long for its own good. At times, it would drag on for what seemed like - in Izzy's words - 30 minutes in one single scene trying to push one single message.

The acting was great, even though several times you just wanted to strangle the characters in the movie. At times when things seemed the most illogical, the characters would be doing it. And while the purpose and message of the film wasn't unclear to me, it seemed like a cop out of the entire film. I don't know, it was just terrible. A waste of my bloody time, which is ironic considering that the main character ends with this little quip: "I wish you all a long and happy life." Yeah, well, thank you for wasting two hours of mine.

(via: Tumblr)

Friday, January 1, 2010

Drained by "the Vampire"

I ended 2009 by finishing Interview with the Vampire, both the novel by Anne Rice and the film - the screenplay of which was also written by the novelist. Normally, I'd do my comparison of the movie to the novel, but perhaps at another time. I do want to note, before I forget, that I realize that the adaptations of 90's are fast paced compared to those of last decade. Maybe it's like Roger Ebert said: "No good movie is too long and no bad movie is short enough." Or something like that. Interview with the Vampire (both the novel and the film) can learn from this.

I'm uncertain why I wanted to read the novel after some time sitting on the sidelines of the genre. I'm not a fan of Rice, though I did own two out of three of her erotic novels before I even thought of reading her Vampire Chronicles. There was something that just stirred in me one night when I was rethinking my vampire notes (for a story that I never got around to writing and probably never will). I thought, the only way to get it down right is to read what others have written. And because I wasn't going to turn to the crap that's being published now - the hidden Mormon agenda of Twilight series and the tween sensation of everything else - I thought I'd read the canon novels from the classical Dracula to 'Salem's Lot and the first three (though I might read the fourth, as well) of Anne Rice's Vampire Chronicles.

Normally, I'm not a fan of era novels. This is the reason I dislike reading the classics, unless I feel motivated to (like if it's for a grade, though I'm not longer in school so that's a pretty outdated reason). Anne Rice had a way to let me forget I what I was reading. I actually fell into the novel pretty swiftly. Sadly, it wasn't enough to keep me interested.

Louis isn't a strong vampire character, at least not at first. I'm still unsure if he was meant to grow into one at the end of the novel, or just become disenchanted by the whole ordeal. Surely, even though he continued to say that the human side of him was dead at the end, I still saw the same old character of the beginning. He was damaged and he was pushed to his limits, like any good character should be, but in the end he was to remain the same old vampire.

Both Claudia and Lestat were also unlovable characters. Emotional Vampires to the core, they fed off of Louis's misery. And he let them.

I'm not sure what I've learned from this, or that I've taken anything from it other than the details of vampire life in Rice's series. One thing I do know is that the novel felt longer at the end. The prose began to be a bit tedious. Though, it's the first one I've read from my list. It's either up or down hill from this.