Small Low Flying Planes

It gives me great pride to announce my latest published work, and what a story behind the story I have for this one.

This is one of my 14 for 14 stories (which I apparently still have not done a blog post for… next time), They were the 14 stories that I wrote in 2014, as of now, only two have not been published, and those last two are likely going to be heavily rewritten and merged into a single story. But enough about that. The last of the 14 for 14 stories to be published (before this one) was “Legbaugh’s Holistic and Alternative Healing.” [link]

After I wrote the first draft of the story, inspired by my friend Nick, I decided to write it in a minimalist fashion. This was essentially the first story I wrote with intentionally short sentences and intentionally short paragraphs, a writing style which I have adopted for almost all my stories since. I don’t consider myself a minimalist writer, but perhaps minimalist adjacent, taking a serious interest in word economy and white space, and this story is basically the starting point of that.

The story took 21 hours to write, and is 6000 words long, which is fairly on point for my usual speed.

This story has been submitted to no less then ten different publications. Rejected six times out right, and lost three times by publishers who never bothered to send rejection letters or announce that there publications had been closed. And don’t forget that with each of these rejections and loses, I wasn’t sending it anywhere else at the same time, which is partly why it has taken so long to get this story published.

Now don’t think that this is a lower quality story or a low end publication venue. I consider this story one of my best, easily in the top ten, profound, complex, sad, funny, and a little confessional. And as far as the publication goes, it’s brand new, this is their first issue, and better yet… it is in print.

I’m very proud of this story, and I hope you enjoy it.

Small Low Flying Planes” | Concinnity | Vol. 1

Candy Freak

This is the second Steve Almond book I’ve read this year, and the first of his non-fiction, for which I believe he is better known? Though I may be wrong about that.

I’ve read his Wikipedia page of course (a few times actually), and I’ve read all three of his fiction collections. More importantly, I’ve read those three collections on paper, which as you know is difficult for me to say the least. When I found out that this book “Candyfreak” had an audiobook available, I just had to get it. I’m going to start displaying my audiobook collection as I do my regular books, but that’s for another time, and maybe another post.

Before reading this book I knew very little about him personally. I knew he resigned from the Boston College to protest condoles Rice as a commencement speaker (which personally I have mixed feelings about), I know his general political beliefs as well, and despite these beliefs, he has occasionally appeared on Fox News (and that I respect, people of different thought should go on opposition media). Aside from that, however, I didn’t know much about him, some things you can guess by reading his fiction, but they are fiction and so those assumptions are only guesses at best. Now after reading this book, I know a lot more about him, especially about his tastes in candy, but also about other things too.

So what is this book exactly? Well, it starts out as sort of a candycentric autobiography, then goes into a history of candy and the candy bar, and then culminating into a sort of travel log about exploring several independent candy companies with limited regional distribution. It’s about chocolate, candy, politics, morality, capitalism, manufacturing, marketing, and nostalgia all in one shot. there are quite a few chuckles along the way… and I don’t mean the candy.

I didn’t know Steve Almond was Jewish. Almond is not an overtly Semitic name and in his fiction, his characters are usually religiously ambivalent. Being a gentile who will use a schemer of Yiddish in both my writing a speaking I don’t usually jump to conclusions when I see other people use such words. Almond does not heavily identify as Jewish either in the book, aside from one line about going to hell because he enjoyed the occasional pork rib. There are other things about his background here, but I wouldn’t go into too much detail about them because I don’t want to spoil the book.

Clearly, this book is a work of love by a man who loves candy, and he certainly does, especially chocolate, but there are some things in the candy world that he doesn’t like: Coconut and Marshmallow in general and Boston Beans specifically.

He mentioned peeps briefly as something he doesn’t like, and this is a good segway to mention a few of my peeps stories. They are kind of a local thing, they’re made in Lancaster, through apparently a fairly secret process (we’ll get to that in a minute) so I was a little disappointed that peeps were not included in the book. My dad loves peeps, and every Easter morning he proudly will tell anyone: “I did a line of peeps this morning.” For me personally, I can’t eat them because one Easter while I was eating them my mom kept making voices as though the peeps were asking me not to eat them. They also briefly had a peeps flavored water ice at Rita’s one year, but when I asked if they still had it the girl at the store looked at me crazy, and then she tried to poison me. This is all covered in my creative non-fiction “Poisoned Peeps”. I was also a little disappointed that he didn’t include O’Reaily’s Irish Potato’s. Which from what I understand are also local to the Philadelphia area, but he did include Peanut Chews (more on that later). Don’t get me wrong, the book was not disappointing in the least, it’s just a little bit of hometown pride slipping through.

He mentioned the Boston Baked Beans as something he also didn’t like, very briefly. I’ve never heard of these before, but I did find them. I didn’t like them at first, but they are the kind of candy that you can’t stop eating easily, and I finished the bag pretty fast (and brought more the next time I saw them – not pictured). They are a candy-coated peanut, basically a peanut M&M without the chocolate. He should have included them, considering he is from Boston. But he wrote them off as something pretending to be something else.

More interesting than marshmallow though is his apprehension for coconut. This seems to be a major problem considering his sir name is Almond, and his website is Steve Almond Joy (it’s a good website, but I wish he put a bibliography of all his published stories, I’ve heard that it’s overt 300 at this point, but can’t find a way to verify that). You would think the almond joy would be his favorite candy bar, but no. My mother does not like coconut either because of the flavor. Mr. Almond on the other hand is not averse to the flavor but the texture, as for him it seems too much like chewing on a cuticle. I can see the comparison, but it doesn’t bother me, just saying.

One of my favorite movies “Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory” has a sub-plot about corporate espionage. Although in the movie it is more animated, apparently this is commonplace in the candy world, and companies hold onto their secrets pretty firmly.

Before Mr. Almond began his candy tour he first visited with someone who was considered the foremost expert in candy history, a Mr. Ray Broekel. He was a writer of what seems to be textbooks and had written the most extensive history of the candy bar. The interaction between him and Almond is comical, as Mr. Broekel seemed as though he was beyond the point of caring too much about his own achievements or about the interviewer.

There was one particularly interesting exchange between the two. Steve Almond asked him what the strangest candy bar he came across was, and after a bit more elaboration he told Steve about the “Vegetable sandwich” a candy bar consisting of dehydrated vegetables covered in chocolate. Yes that is a weird one, and yes it is the weirdest candy bar mentioned in the book, but it sounds intriguing, to me at least. It might actually work with the salty/savory/crunchy veggies and chocolate, I don’t know, and I’ll probably never know since that particular candy bar hasn’t been made in a hundred years.

Goldberg’s Peanut Chews – One of the first stops on Mr. Almond’s candy tour was right in my hometown (kind of) of Philadelphia, to sample the famous Goldberg’s Peanut Chews. Everyone around here knows the candy and knows it well, but evidently, outside of Philadelphia and Baltimore, they are almost never seen, Steve Almond had never heard of them, and a friend of his who suggested it, was surprised he never heard of them. When I worked at the convince store, I had a girl come in one day to buy them, and she told me they were one of the very few candies that were 100% vegan safe, at least back in 2006, when I asked her if there was honey in it, she firmly told me “no” (honey is evidently very hard to avoid, and only the most extreme vegans will avoid it – I learned this factoid from someone else).

Kit-Kat Dark – One of the candies Almond mentioned a few times in the book was the Kit-Kat Dark. I’ve seen them before, and didn’t realize they were ever discontinued, he bought an entire case of them and stored them for emergency use. Before reading this I had never tried them and didn’t think I would like them all that much since I am not a huge fan of dark chocolate. I know I know, dark chocolate is what the true chocoholics go for, but I’ve never considered myself a chocoholic, I’m not really even one for much of a sweet tooth (yes I like sweets of course, but I also like sour and savory as much, if not more. Regardless I prefer milk chocolate over dark (like most Americans, thanks to Milton Hershey, which is a factoid I found in the book). As it turns out, I came across Kit-kat dark, shortly after finishing the book, and I had to pick it up… not bad, better than I expected, but it’s surprising that a Candyfreak like Steve Almond would praise it so highly, there must be better candy bars out there.

Googoos – the next stop on Almond’s candy tour was at the Googoos factory. I’d never heard of these before but apparently, they are a candy staple in the south, similar to snickers, but in non-uniform clusters. While I was reading this book I ended up working with a man from the south, and asked him if he was familiar with Googoos, he said he was but preferred snickers over them. He said he’d bring some next time he came up. Though it may be quite a while before I work with him again, so I’m not holding my breath. As it turned out I didn’t have to hold my breath, they sell them at Cracker Barrel, which isn’t too surprising, they are a very southern candy bar, and Cracker Barrel sells a lot of unusual candies in their gift shop. I was under the impression that these were basically snickers in disk form, but in actuality, they are more like a three musketeers with peanuts in disk form. Not bad, but again not something I will be seeking out.

Steve Almond is a fairly, no make that very political person, although his stories don’t usually take a political bend some of his writing does, such as his open resignation letter, and his defense of this against Shaun Hannity. I have mixed feelings about this issue, personally, anyone should be able to speak at a college, whether you agree with them or not, opinions shouldn’t be censored, on the other hand, there is a difference between someone speaking at a school and a commencement speaker, the commencement speaker at my graduation was horrendous but for apolitical reasons, and I don’t even remember her name (some actress who was on an episode of the West Wing and acted like it was her show). That being said, I was quite surprised that Mr. Almond did not vote in the 2002 election, he was in his candy journey at the time and forgot to do an absentee ballot, and he watched the results of that election depressed and hypochondriacally worrying about a lump he found on his testicles. He makes no defense of having forgotten to vote, but it seems surprising that someone this political would forget.

Valomilk – The next stop on the tour was Valomilk – I’ve never heard of this, and from what I can tell, it will be very unlikely that I’ll ever be able to try one as they do not travel well. They are apparently kind of like a Reese’s cup, but with marshmallow inside, and not just Marshmallow but a very runny marshmallow. The name is a portmanteau of the main ingredients: Vanilla, Marshmallows, and Milk, and not the most appealing name. They only use bourbon vanilla, which is imported from Madagascar (which apparently used to be called Bourbon Island). It sounds like an interesting treat, but evidently very difficult to eat. As it turns out, I found a place that sells it, and that place is you guessed it, Cracker Barrel. You better believe I got it and tried it, as for my findings… it’s okay, the cream filling is interesting, but the chocolate cup just seemed a little on the bland side, it was difficult to eat, but not as much as I expected. I’d eat it again, but I won’t be seeking it out, worth trying. There’s a similar product in the area (maybe a larger area), called a Mallow Cup, the same general product, but less messy, in my opinion probably better but less interesting than the Valomilk.

Idaho Spud – now this candy, for some reason, is the one I’m most interested in. When I first started researching this book, this was the one that stuck out the most. A candy bar shaped like a potato? Chocolate and coconut? Well, that’s not too unusual, but the agarager marshmallow center, now I’m intrigued. I had a dream about going to the factory that made this candy bar that is for some reason still stuck in my head. The only store around where I live that sells these is in Lancaster, and I probably won’t be able to visit it for a while. I’ve even considered getting this off of Amazon, just to try. And maybe I will, or maybe I’ll just wait. I should note here that I read this book and wrote most of the blog post almost a year ago, but I’ve waited until now, because I wanted to try the Idaho Spud before posting, unfortunately, that has not happened… I’ll do an update when I do of course.

Abba-Zabba – the grand finale of the candy tour is a stop at the Anna Bell Candy Company in California, Mr. Almond’s home state (another factoid I found surprising because he is most definitely an east coast writer). The Abba-Zabba is a taffy stuffed with peanut butter, Almond (in a lengthy and quite frankly beautiful passage) describes how in chewing this candy the peanut butter seeps through the chewed taffy for a surprising mouth feel. Well as it turns out I have been able to try this one as well. Michael’s, among other (more arty) things, sells unusual candies. They were the only place I found the Oh Henry candy bar (being a Seinfeld fan and a fan of the short story in general I couldn’t pass that one up, also a surprising omission from the book). I did try the candy myself, it was interesting, but in my opinion, the candy combinations did not work all that well together, but again worth trying if you come across it.

Gabriel Almond – In sort of an epilogue to the book, Mr. Almond visits his grandfather Gabriel Almond. I had never heard of him before but evidently, he was an important political scientist. He does have a Wikipedia page (a longer one than his grandson I would add). Gabriel Almond died on Christmas Day (about a week after his grandson’s visit), and this too is mentioned in the book.

Candy Freak Revisited – this was a great book, but it’s lacking certain potential for a rerelease. I wrote Steve Almond a letter last summer, he has not responded, and I don’t think he will, but if he’s reading this blog post (which I highly doubt) I hope he considered the following suggestions:

  • Update the book (add some footnotes about other things that may have changed over the past 18 years (god has it been that long?).
  • Add a couple of new candies (I’ve mentioned others in this blog post already).
  • Write and add a new short story or two that are based on candy(s), or add other stories (already published) about food (“The Problem with Human Consumption” comes to mind first, though it may not be the best to add).
  • And here’s the show stopper, put the book into a basket with all the candies he can get his hands on, and ship them out that way, as a gift set.

Missing candy aside, this was an enjoyable read in every way, I’m glad I bought it, it will be a book I read multiple times, I’m sure. I may even put it on my winter reading list, as it’s not that long. I hope this review has inspired you to taste the book for yourself, or perhaps other almond works, he is one of my favorites.

Half Way Point 2021

It’s that time of year again, July 1st when I show the progress I’ve made in my various interests so far this year. It’s been another rough year, but I’m not going to get into that now, so let’s get into the updates.

Books – at this point, I have read 15 books, 10 I’ve never read before, and 3 I have read on paper. I just finished (today in fact) “First Person Singular” by Haruki Murikami, and am ¾ the way through “Strange Wine” by Harlan Ellison, which I am reading on paper, I’ve taken a strong interest in Ellison this year.

Writing – my goal this year was to write two stories a month, and I’ve been doing okay with this goal. So far I’ve written 12, which is right on track, a total of exactly 200 hours of writing. I’ve submitted 15 stories for publication, and yesterday received my first acceptance letter of the year, (the story will come out in September), hopefully, there will be others.

Movies – I’ve watched quite a few movies this year, 51 total, 23 for the first time, a lot of these have been part of the Mega DVD Marathon Letter M (which is very long).

Video Games – I’ve played 147 hours worth of games so far this year, and have beaten 9 games, and I’m still making my way through Mario 64 (which I’m not enjoying as much as other people do). The games I’ve beaten are as follows (all on the Switch): Aladdin (Genesis original), The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening, Super Mario Maker 2, 198X, Fire N’ Ice (NES original), AVGN Adventures, AVGN Adventures 2, Syberia, Tony Hawk 1+2 (Solo Tour).

Collecting – with things only just starting to reopen, most of my collecting this year has been through Amazon, the traditional hunt will continue soon enough. As of now, I have collected: 20 DVDs, 7 Books, 5 Video Games, 3 Vinyl Records, and 1 Action Figure.

Wake Up Songs – Yes I am still doing the wake-up songs, they seem to be popular with my followers. So far this year I have woken up on 92 days with songs stuck in my head. The first of the year was “Lilly the Pink” by the Irish Rovers, and the most recent was on June 25th which was “Neon Valley” by Matthew Jones.

Mega DVD Marathon – Episode 12 – The K’s

Intro At the start of this project this was one of only two or three letters that did not have any DVDs, though that has changed, and also at the start it shouldn’t have been empty. The first one here “The Ultimate Kettle One Cocktail Guide” had been filed under U, but now is filed under K for Kettle One, it makes sense to me because get over it. Regardless it is a short letter, 4 DVDs, 1 of them a TV show.

The Ultimate Kettle One Cocktail Guide [7/28] – to watch this DVD properly, I had to make a cocktail for myself with Kettle One. Kettle One is my second favorite vodka (after Belvedere), though I’m not a huge vodka. The cocktail I made was a Filthy Martini, not one of the cocktails on the DVD (though they do cover the basic martini). A Filthy Martini is 4 oz of gin (vodka in this case), a table spoon of dry vermouth, 2 blue cheese stuffed olives, and a table spoon of brine from the olive jar (don’t get oil packed olives… they shouldn’t even be on the cocktail garnish shelf… seriously). You shake all that with ice to make it cold, then strain it into a martini glass (or as the bar tender on the DVD says: “it’s a cocktails glass not a martini glass, it’s a vessel to hold a martini” but you know… the V snapped glass) with two additional blue cheese stuffed olives to garnish. Then enjoy. It’s a savory drink, and an acquired taste, so be forewarned, it’s not a frou-frou drink. I make another variation called a “Toxic Martini” which is the same thing but with the addition of picked pearl onion and pickled jalapeño and brine from both in the shaker and as garnishes in the glass (see the picture below – I’ve mentioned them in my 5 Boroughs Cocktail Tour blogpost). Anyway the DVD covers some history of the company vodka, how to do a proper vodka tasting, and instructions for the cocktails: the Martini, the Citron Martini, the Cosmo, the Appletini, the lemon drop martini, vodka tonic, lemonade, Bloody Mary, screwdriver, mojito. Unfortunately the DVD didn’t seem to want to work. I got through a few recipes, but gave up trying to fight with it. Can’t really grade it either since it’s not really a movie or even a documentary.

Kiki’s Delivery Service [7/28] – there is a whole lot I can say about this movie, and it may deserve a post of its own, if not something even longer and more analytical. This is a Studio Gibli/Hayao Miyazaki Anime Film, and if you already read through the H’s you already know how I feel about those movies. This one thought… there is just something so cute, so pure, so innocent about it that puts the movie into the realm of almost beyond perfect. This has been a rough year for me (as it has everyone else), I picked this one up shortly before the pandemic hit, and while I was very busy in the spring with my essential job, I took the little bit of free time that I had to watch this movie… a few times, and it made things better, it’s just that kind of movie. This is a Blu-Ray/DVD combo pack (in a nice slip case) and the first time I watched it was in the Blu-Ray format, again going back to the H’s, animation in HD is something else. The story is about a 13 year old witch who goes out into the world (as is tradition – according to the movie) to start a trade for herself. Kiki’s only skill is flying (which she actually isn’t all that good at) and uses this skill to start a delivery service for the unnamed town (which is likely Cologne, as the iconic Gothic cathedral is in the movie, it’s definitely somewhere in Germany because the signs are all in German). Don’t miss the performance of Phil Heartman as Kiki’s cat Jiji. I first came across this movie from a trailer on a VHS from one of my Disney movies, but I can’t remember which one, the song in the trailer “I’m Gonna Fly” by Sydny Forest is unfortunately not it the movie, and it really should have been. Normally I wouldn’t give this movie 5 stars, because I can only distribute that rating to one movie by a specific director… but since Howl’s Moving Castle received an unprecedented 6 stars, this one is a 5 star movie.

King Arthur and the Knights of Justice: the Complete Series* [7/28 to 8/1] – the title is a bit misleading, although the DVD contains all 28 episodes of the “complete series” the series itself is not specifically complete. The premise of the show is quite interesting, King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table have been trapped in the Cave of Glass by Queen Morgana, using his magic Merlin summons a football team from the 20th century to take their place. This is a five finger action packet medieval sword and sorcery. The main enemies (the Warlords) are rock monsters that look like humans until they are killed, which allows for a lot of violence while remaining kid friendly. There are also some complex and unique story lines in some of the individual episodes to keep the show interesting, and the occasional lesson to be learned to also make it kid friendly. Later in the series a third faction is added, “the Purple Horde” a small clan of massive albino samurai, though they are also the enemy of the Knights of Justice, they fight with great honor and respect. As Arthur King puts it “they are fighting with the same rules as us.” There is one particularly good episode toward the end of the series called “The Cure” in which the purple horde gets hit with a bad illness: “Striking Typhoid”, they are quarantined by Morgana who promises them a cure but they are ultimately cured by medicine provided by the Knights of Justice. It’s heavy, sad and a little close to home these days, but a very very good episode. I remembered this show from when I was a kid, but it seems not many other do, regardless it’s worth checking out.

Kiss Kiss Bang Bang [8/1] – I had first hear about this movie on NPR from some guy’s obscure list of best movies of 2005, he referred to it as a film noir, but it’s not, it’s a neo-noir, and also the funnies neo-noir I’ve ever seen (the only one that comes close is “the Nice Guys” by the same director, but this one is way funnier), a stand out roll for Robert Downy Jr. and Val Kilmer (the last Val Kilmer movie i saw was “Real Genius” and that was a long time ago. I still have it on VHS, somewhere, and I’ve been considering doing a VHS review when the Mega DVD Marathon is over, but that will be quite a while from now so I may not even remember) there are frequent references to pulp fiction writer Joe Chester, but unfortunately the novels shown are mock ups. They were done well. The movie is not what I was expecting, and quite frankly better. It’s a 5 star movie.

Overview – it took me just about a week to get through the letter, it helped that I was on vacation. There were only two movies in this letter, so a bit unfairly the letter’s overall average of 5 stars.

Winter Stories

Introduction – Since 2013, the first time I read David Foster Wallace’s (then new) Posthumous collection of essays “Both Flesh and Not” and his first novel “The Broom of the System,” I’ve made it a point every year to read certain things in the month of January. At first it was just “The Broom of the System” and then I added a number of other Wallace stories/essays, last year I added a few William H. Gass and Robert E. Howard stories to the mix. This year I’ve gone above and beyond that, adding some Hemingway, Russell, Vonnegut, Turtledove and Machado stories into the fold, a play list of audio stories that is now close to 60 hours long. I’ve attempted blogged about these before, and have blogged about some of the stories individually. This time there’s all here in all their glory. This is going to be a little long, so grab a drink and/or a snack, put on a nice light classical playlist on in the background, and enjoy.

Note – the bulk of this post was written in the winter of 2020. For reasons that I won’t be going into last year was a bit chaotic, and it didn’t get posted. This year, 2021, I am reading the stories all over again, with some additional ones (to be noted later on), just keep in mind that when I say (this year) most of the time here, it will be referring to the year nobody wants to talk about.

Another Pioneer – This is a David Foster Wallace story from his last collection “Oblivion” The story starts mid-sentence, and is told in a single paragraph that goes on for 23 pages (in the print version). It’s funny and brilliant and tells the story of a man who overheard a pair of men talking on a long flight about a wunderkind born in a primitive Paleolithic tribe, who has the uncanny ability to answer correctly any question given to him.

The Bogumbo Stuff Box – the title story form Vonnegut’s collection (I.e. his collection of stories that had not been previously collected until close to the end of his life/career). The story is about a guy who visits his ex-wife well after their brief post-war marriage, with a major twist ending that changes everything about the story. Like the bulk of Vonnegut’s oeuvre this shows a raw unpolished and disturbing side of humanity. Vonnegut’s short fiction is a deep dark hole, so think to yourself if you really want to go down it before you do. After doing some research, I’ve come to the realization that even the country mentioned in the title of this story is fictional.

The Barn at the End of Our Term – a Karen Russell story from “Vampires in the Lemon Grove.” Ah Karen, her stories are hit and miss, the ones in this anthology I have assembled are of course the hits. They’re cute, creative and layered. This story is about former United States Presidents who have been reincarnated as horses in a strange farm. The protagonist being Rutherford B. Hayes, which is just a great choice, she didn’t choose the heavy hitting presidents like Lincoln, Washington or the Roosevelt’s, but instead went with a rather benign and forgettable choice, very smart.

Big Red Sun – there are a few non-fictions floating around in this playlist too, this one is by DFW and found in his collection “Consider the Lobster.” The article is about him attending the 1998 AVN award, which are like the academy awards for porn. And you can imagine just how funny and weird this nearly 2 hour article gets.

The Black Colossus – And we have our first Conan story. I’m a big fan of Conan and pulp stuff in general, I think I’ve already mentioned that before. The audio book is actually performed by the Athena Theater. It has an interesting dynamic, where the barbarian is charged with leading an army, and is more cautious because for the first time it is not just his life on the line, I also like the part about the camel and how it transforms into a strange creature. Eventually I’d like to read all the Conan stories written by Robert E. Howard in his lifetime, so far i’ve read 17 of 28, more then half way there.

Blood Meridian, or the Evening Redness in the West – At this point I’m kind of always reading Blood Meridian and it’s probably my favorite novel of all time. Both extremely violent and beautifully written which seems almost impossible, but somehow it works. I read it 3 times last year, and I was 2/3rds through it when I got to it in the winter stories, I did not start from the beginning. I may have done a review of it, back when I was reviewing books on Good Reads, but I’m not sure. I’ve had this weird fantasy going in my head that this book was actually written by a 5th grade savant who had learned all this stuff about the west from visiting museums with his parents. This idea may actually turn into a story at some point, though it will not be Blood Meridian that the kid is writing, but something like it. I should point out that I am in no way saying this book is a juvenile work, there are very few professional writers that write at the level we see here in McCarthy’s magnum opus.

The Broom of the System – I have different reactions to this novel every time I read it, and I’ve read it a lot (this is the 8th time). It’s a bit much to read a whole novel as part of the winter stories playlist, so I’ve actually edited it myself (Blood Meridian is a significantly shorter novel), getting rid of some of the sub-chapters that have less to do with the overall book, and some of the sadder sub-chapters, reducing the book from 16 hours to about 10. Wallace has described this book as though it were written by a very intelligent 14 year old, at first I ignored this comment as simply self-deprecating humility, but the more I read it the less mature the characters seem (that’s of course intentional for the main antagonist Rick Vigorous, but it washes over to all of the characters the more I read this book) however there are very few novels I’ve read that are better than this one. Experimental, philosophical, multi-faceted, but unlike a lot of other books that can also be described the same way, this one is actually also: funny, understandable, and also a pleasurable read. One of the rare books that is both deep and approachable. I would think most people could read and enjoy this book without having to do a whole lot of homework. I’ve done a lengthier post on this novel here.

The Cather in the Rhine – and we get to our first Harry Turtledove story. Turtledove (actual name btw) is a prolific writer and an expert in the genre of Alternate History. This story however is however a J.D. Salinger pastiche with a hard fantasy element. The story (told in the first person) is about Holden Caufield (unnamed but heavily implied) touring Europe shortly after the events of Catcher in the Rye, and he gets wrapped into the Ring of Nibelung story. Whether you like Turtledove or not, you can’t deny, the man has one hell of an imagination.

A Christmas Carol – I read this novella every Christmas Eve. It is my favorite Christmas story and my favorite novella of them all. What more can be said? Well actually a lot, I should probably do a lengthier post on it one of these days.

Coda to My Corear as a Writer of Periodicals – this was the epilogue to Vonnegut’s story collection “The Bugumbo Snuffbox”. Read by the author himself. I thought this was the essay in which he talks about how to write a good short story, but that must have been the introduction. Regardless it was a good short piece by the author remembering his early years as a writer and what it means to be a Midwesterner. Great title too.

Consider the Lobster – Wallace’s essay about attending the Maine Lobster Festival, and the socio-ethics of cooking lobsters alive. Personally I love lobster, but I invariably get it frozen, i’d never be able to pick out a live one. The essay does a good job at literally questioning the ethics of meat without coming off as preachy. This was also the title essay from the same collection that gave us “Big Red Son” mentioned supra.

Death is Not the End – Brief Interviews with Hideous Men is a very good and very unusual story collection, and the second thing I read by Wallace, and there is even an audio book. However the audio book consists mostly of the Brief Interviews, and just a few other stories. This one though I’m glad was included, it’s a good one describing a highly accomplished poet sitting by his swimming pool, very little more but a whole lot of room for interpretation.

Dougbert Shackleton’s Rules for Antarctic Tailgating – Another Karen Russell story from Vampires in the Lemongrove. This story is the shortest, funniest and best from the collection. Although her stories can be hit or miss her titles rarely are, and when you see a title like this, what exactly do you think the story is going to be about? If you guessed anything but a direct interpretation, you would be wrong, there is a sub narrative that runs throughout the story about a divorcee, but the main story is about going to Antarctica to watch the “Food Chain Games” i.e. whales vs. krill, set up like an essay about how to do this properly. Better yet it makes the whole practice seem both believable and that a large chunk of people follow this sport, just as they do football in the real world. It’s actually 4 pieces in one: a story about a divorce, an article fandom of a “fake” sport, an article on the Antarctic biome, and a critique of sports fandom in general. And I should mention that this is all done in 20 minutes (about 3k words)… bravo.

The Empty Plenum – another Wallace Essey. You know when there’s a two word title (“the” notwithstanding) and you have to look up one of them, you’re in for a difficult read. And that is certainly the case with this one. If you ever wondered what David Foster Wallace’s favorite novel is, it’s probably David Markson’s “Wittgenstein’s Mistress.” In this easy Wallace deeply analyzes that novel, showing where it succeeds and fails and so on, interesting but difficult to follow. I’ve actually read the novel as well, on paper (highly unlikely it will ever get an audio book… but you never know). The book is unusual, very experimental: written in the first person, mostly in single sentence paragraphs about a woman who believes she is the last person on earth. I picked up a copy for myself and I will finish reading it the second time through at some point, but I’m not sure when. I didn’t enjoy it as much as Wallace did, but it was still a very good book.

Federer Both Flesh and Not – the posthumous Wallace essay Collection was a major part of my reading back in 2013, and very much the start of this winter story tradition. I’d really like to see the posthumous fiction collection, I’ve heard it’s in the works, but I’ve been hearing that for years. This collection though was really good and it was called “Both Flesh and Not” and this essay is where title was taken. Most of the Wallace essays that are part of this Winter Story selection were included in Both Flesh and Not (with the acception of “Consider the Lobster” and “Big Red Son” which were both part of “Consider the Lobster”). This particular easy is about Rodger Federer and tennis. It is a profound essay considering that I’ve read it many many times even though I don’t care about sports.

Fictional Futures and the Conspicuously Young – this essay, was written in the late 80’s about the then contemporary literary brat pack, and how the new movement of minimalist writing was ruining literature. It is also a criticism of the entire concept of the Creative Writing MFA program. It’s good, but you have to take it with a grain of salt when realizing that Wallace rode the Literary Brat Pack’s wave to prominence himself.

Fifty Grand – I don’t pretend to be any sort of authority, but it seems to me that of all sports, boxing somehow seems to be the most literary. Again maybe it’s just the sliver of perspective that I have into all of literature, but it would seem that Boxing crosses that threshold more then any other sport: “The Pugilist at Rest” “Sonny Liston was a Friend of Mine” “Superman My Son” by Thom Jones, “The Quiet Man” by Maurice Walsh, the Sailor Steve Costagan Stories by Robert E. Howard… to say nothing of the highly regarded boxing movies like Raging Bull. Boxing is one of the most brutal and primitive sports out there, but it is also one of the most artistic and poetic, it’s a strange duality. Fifty Grand is Hemingway’s take on the boxing story, about a fighter who is warn out and knows he can’t hold onto his title. It’s a good one, not his very best but an enjoyable read.

Forever Overhead – probably my favorite DFW story of them all, short, poetic, and it’s also one of his most straight forward stories. Written in the second person, it’s about a boy who has gone to the public pool on his 13th birthday so that he can dive off the high board. When I first got into Wallace and his writings I had a dream that I met Wallace and told him just how beautiful this story way. I kind of wish I had read this story when I hit my teenage years, but probably at that age, I wouldn’t have understood it.

The Frost Giants Daughter – Another Robert E. Howard Conan story. This one is presented as a radio play rather than an audio book. Also, interestingly, this was the only Conan story published in Howard’s lifetime that was not published in Weird Tales, it was rejected outright by Weird Tales in the same letter that they accepted “the Phoenix on the Sword” which is the first published Conan story. The story is about a frost giant princess who has lured Conan into a trap where her brothers can kill him, but Conan is no easy man to kill (and the series did not end there) so you can imagine the rest of the story.

The Gambler the Nun and the Radio – a Hemingway story about an unnamed writer in a hospital talking to a gambler who was shot, a nun who seems to be a bit of a simpleton, and a radio that doesn’t work when the X-Ray machine is turned on.

Girl with Curious Hair – in “Fictional Futures and the Conspicuously Young” David Foster Wallace talks about the failings of ultra-minimalism and the then contemporary pop writers such as Bret Easton Ellis, MacInerny, etc. I may be wrong, but I believe that this story is internationally written in the style of those writers as either a parody, or an illustration to what he was talking about in that essay. The main character is very wealthy and very successful and has found a group of punk rocker friends who are at the far other end of society. The story is written in a strange almost ultra-literal way that seems unnatural, and unlike anything else Wallace has written. That is what the story appears to me now, when I read it again next year that might change, but I probably won’t be doing a blog post on it, unless it is just on the story itself.

Good Old Neon – a well-regarded story from Wallace’s final collection, it was first published in conjunctions and shortlisted for an O. Henry prize in 2002 (losing to: “The Ceiling” by Kevin Brockmeier – which I think I might have read, but don’t quite remember). The story is largely told in the first person about a man who is convinced he is a fraud and reached the point where he couldn’t go on anymore. The story transitions into second and third person and has an unusual duel ending achieved with a footnote (one of the only ones used in the entire collection). Thinking about it more, this may in fact be my favorite Wallace story though it suffers from two problems that make it not quite as good as Forever Overhead; 1st it is long, nearly 2 hours long there is a lot to say in the story, but I can’t help but feel it could be shorter and achieve the same effect, 2nd there is a lot of “promis” in the story that it will get to what happens after you die and then does not deliver on such which has it’s reasons but still though. This most definintly needs a larger dissection.

Hal Irwyn’s Majic Lamp – in his corer, Vonnegut only published 2 story collections: “Welcome to the Monkey House” which was largely Science Fiction (or science realism – a genre I’m working to galvanize) and “the Bogumbo Snuffbox” which container all the other stories, more literary. This story, despite its deceptive title, is a literary one from the later collection. The story is about a stock broker who makes a lot of money and is able to buy his wife everything she’s ever wanted, and hires a poor pregnant black woman to dress up as a genie and “grant wishes.” Needless to say everything goes wrong. It is brutal depiction of consumerism.

Harrison Bergeron – this story comes from Vonnegut’s first collection, and is probably his best known. I first read this one in a college class, and loved it, and picked up the book shortly after. Equality is of course a good thing, but absolute equality is not an absolute good. If you haven’t read it before, this story is set in a dystopia where everyone is equal, by handicapping anyone who might be able to achieve more then the common person, weights for the strong, random loud noises for the intellectuals, etc. the story is not very long, nearly perfectly, and food for much debate.

Horse of Bronze – although Harry Turtledove is usually known for his alternate History, this story falls more into the category of straight fantasy, telling the tale of the Centaurs first encounter with man. I don’t know if there is an actual alternate history bend to this one or not, I don’t know all that much about mythology.

How to Behave Around Books – this is a collection of shorter pieces by and read by William H. Gass at a book signing when his third and final novel “Middle C” came out. Most of this peace is made up of excerpts from Middle C. There are limited audio stories of Gass available, so I had to make do with this YouTube video.

The Husband Stitch – I was very jealous the first time I read this story, the whole time thinking to myself “why didn’t I think of that first?” It’s a retelling of the various classic scary stories: the Hook, the Ribbon, Who’s Got My Big Toe?, etc. etc. you know the ones. And they are folded into a genrebent story that uses some of the techniques of those classic stories to great effect. Like other stories by the author (Carmen Maria Macado), it is very Third Wave Feminist.

Inventory – also by Carmen Maria Macado, this story takes the form of a chronological list of lovers (both men and women) by an unnamed female narrator, which also tells the story of an apocalyptic contagion, this story is a little harder to read during the Coronovirus outbreak… or maybe it’s the best time to read it, I don’t know.

The Killers – my favorite Hemingway story, hands down. It’s one of his shorter ones, and sets at the foundations of both noir fiction and minimalism and worthy of deep analysis. The language is perfect. There’s a great line, early in the story: “I can make you any kind of sandwitch you want, you can have ham and eggs, beacon and eggs, liver and beacon, or a stake.” not sure why I like the line so much, but I have since the first time I read it. I have not seen the movie adaption of this story… yet.

The Lie – my favorite Vonnegut story, hands down, did I say that for another one? I don’t think so. This is a story about a kid in a car driving to an ultra-prestigious boarding school that his father practically owns, the kid did not pass the admittance test but his parents don’t know this. The real conflict here is multi-layered: the conflict of a boy going to a school he has not been accepted to, father who wants no special treatment because of his name, the Dean of school who can’t possible accept this student but denying this student will cause considerable financial stress for the school. It’s been a while since I’ve written any kind of “paper” of the magnitude of what I have in store for this on, but it’s getting to be time I think. But more importantly, this story really hits home with me because I’ve been in similar situations as the kid, perhaps not as extreme, but I struggled for 16 years in school and have little interest in slogging through anymore of it. The only downside to this story is the title, it works of course, but it’s not an eye catcher.

Little Expressionless Animals – at one point this was my favorite Wallace story, it has since been surpassed by Forever Overhead and Good Old Neon. The story is about a jeopardy champion (early in the show’s run) who is essentially unstoppable. Unlike other jeopardy superstars she clears out the entire board several times and is champion for some 3 years or so. It’s told in a non-Linnnier format, following the champion, her girlfriend who works on the show and a fictionalized Alex Trebek (RIP). Still really good, but after having read so much Wallace over the years it comes off as just a little juvenile.

The Long Goodbye – this is a radio dramatization of the novel by Raymond Chandler. Most people place “The Big Sleep” as the quintessential Philip Marlowe novel, but this one is my personal favorite. I still have not seen the 1973 color movie starring Elliot Gould and based on the book (one of the first “neo-noirs), but I will. This novel is a little easier to follow and it has a writer as one of the main characters. Other then that it’s pretty standard with the rest of Chandler’s oeuvre.

Mister Squishy – an interesting story, and the first story from Wallace’s final collection. It’s about a focus group researching a new confection called “Felonies” while someone free-climbs the building running the focus group. It seems that recently Hershey’s has produced something that seems very similar to the description of a Felony called “Hershey’s Triple Chocolate Cake.”

The Mystery Knight – well I can’t put all of a song of ice and fire into the mix, but this story (3 hours long) gives a little taste of Westeros for the winter stories. This is one of the Dunk and Egg stories, which take place about a hundred years before Game of Thrones begins. Three of these stories were published in a collection called “A Knight if the Seven Kindgoms” and this is my favorite of the three. It’s the most interesting story, has the most heraldry, and the most interesting characters. The rest of the collection is great too, don’t get me wrong, and I’d like to read more of these tales, but that probably won’t happen since George R.R. Martain seems to do everything he can other then write Game of Thrones books.

News from the Front – another alternate history by Harry Turtledove about WWII as though America was largely against the war and sympathized with the Japanese. It’s hard to note the exact point of divergence in this story from actual history. The story is told through a series of newspaper arriticals, which I admire, I’ve only written on story in this form in the past, and it was never published (maybe I should go back to that one)

Oblivion – the title story of DFW’s final story collection, it’s not the best story in the collection, but maybe the best to title the collection. The story is about a man who is in a conflict with his wife, she claims he is snoring, he claims that he’s still awake. The story goes on for a long time and is deeply analytical of the situation and other things going on with the narrators life, for instants the fact that he’s hallucinating due to lack of sleep. The one problem with the story though is that it uses the word “or” constantly, with nearly every noun receiving an accompanying alternate noun, and this becomes more and more frequent the further into the story you get. Other then that it’s a good story.

Order of Insects – as I’ve said before there are not many William H. Gass audio stories, the earlier mentioned “How to Behave Around Books” was an excerpt form a live reading, and the part of “The Tunnel” to come is another excerpt, other then that, this story is pretty much all I could find. It was produced on Milted’s Bedtime Stories, which she opened by saying it is “perhaps the greatest piece of a cacaroach litterateur,” being such a narrow genre… sure, I can’t think of anything better. As far as Gass stories go, it’s not his best in my opinion, that honor goes to “Don’t Even Try Sam” which tells the story of the making of the movie Castablanca through the point of view of the piano (come on, what an idea.) This story is about a housewife who comes across a cacoroch and obsessed over it. It’s actually quite short, the ahortest story from the collection “in the heart of the heart of the country”

The Planet Trillophan and Where it Stands in Relation to the Bad Thing – one of Wallace’s earliest stories published in the Ameherst Review, and generally considered the best of his uncollected short(er) pieces, and of the ones i’ve read, I would agree. In both style and theme is it much closer to his later fiction from Oblivion, then it is to the stories collected in Girl With Curious Hair or Brief Interviews with Hedious Men. The story is about a college kid who struggles with sever depression and is basically trying to explain what it is like. I’m still waiting for the DFW Posthumus collection, I assume this will be the title story of that collection when (if) released.

Real Women Have Bodies – the third and final offering by Carmin Maria Maccado (to appear in this selection). The story is about (superficially) a strange phenomenon where women are starting to fade away, kind of like ghost, and the narrator’s (same sex) girlfriend is going through this process. The story has a tasteful but fairly explicit lesbian scene in it, if you’re into that sort of thing, and that dovetales nicely to the next point. Metaphorically the story is about how the objectification of women causes them to cease to exist in any real form. At least that’s how I interpret the story. Again this is another third wave feminist story.

Rouges in the House – another Conan story, this one takes place after Conan is arrested and is set up to be set free with the help of a jailer who plays too fast and loose with this privileges. But once Conan is freed, through his own strength more so then the arrangements, he is set to help a guy kill another guy. It’s one of the few Conan stories to end in a punch line, but I’m not going to tell you what it is, you’ll have to read it for yourself to find out.

The Snows of Kilimanjaro – although the word “snow” is in the title, this is really not a winter themed story, nor does the story really have anything to do with Kilimanjaro, other then setting. This is a Hemingway story, and perhaps his best known, about a man dying of gangrene remembering his own life, while his wife tries to care for him as he is getting more and more difficult to be around.

Someone is steeling the Great Throne Rooms of the Galaxy – most of the Turtledove stories are not particularly funny, but that doesn’t mean that funny things don’t crop up from time to time. This story is an exception, end to end a surreal Sci-Fi farce. It’s hard to imagine a literal interpretation of a title like this, yet that is exactly what Turtledove delivers.

The Soul is Not a Smithy – This story is about a kid who is having a very disturbing day dream in an early 60s elementary school civics class, while the substitute teacher starts to write “KILL THEM ALL” over and over again on the blackboard. Additionally there is a good deal of flash forwarding to the narrator’s life as an adult, and sideboarding about his home life at the time of the event. Parts of this story were also found in some sections of the Pale King, Wallace’s posthumous and final novel. The novel hits home for me since the narrator was a learning challenged student, as was I.

Suicide as a Sort of Present – one of the stories from “Brief Interviews” unconnected to the main text. The story describes a woman who is highly critical of herself, who then has a child who she is also critical of, but expresses these feeling in reverse. The meaning behind the story and its end is open to a high amount of interpretation. This is the last Wallace story of the set.

Tomorrow and Tomorrow and Tomorrow – one of several Vonnegut stories that deals with the concept of over population, the result of people achieving the desires to both live forever and have many children (the latter of which I understand in no way at all). This is a great little story about a house full of people under the tyrannical rule of “Pops” who constantly threatens to change his will, and strings his family along about when he will stop taking his live forever medicine. He is not a good person. Nobody in the story is really all that good, the situation of the story is not a good one, but the story is very good.

The Tower of the Elephant – of all the Robert E. Howard Conan stories, this one is considered to have the most connection with the original Conan movie, specifically the scene where Conan, Subotai and Valeria scale the tower of the Serpent. This is another radio drama.

The Tunnel – I’ve read the full novel twice, it is a chore to get through, and itself almost as long as this entire winter playlist. So this is the first segment of the audio book, 10-15 pages or so, and sets up the character of Bill Kholer.

Vampires in the Lemongrove – the title story from the collection that seemed to really put Karen Russel on the map, I don’t know if that’s actually true, but it seems to be the case. The book also came out near or shortly after the vampire craze of the 2010’s. all the Karen Russell stories in the winter stories have come from Vampires in the Lemongrove (though I have read stories from her other collections). As far as the story itself goes, it’s about a vampire who learns from his lover that he does not have to drink blood to servive, the lemons from a certain grove in Italy do fine. This is a magical realism/genrebent story about much more then you superficially see, and opened to a good deal of interpretation.

Welcome to the Monkey House – the title story of Vonneguts first collection of stories, which are for the most part steeped in science fiction. This story is about an overpopulated future world in which men and women are required to take berthcontrol pills that cause there gintels to go numb and thus removing all desire. And a man who goes around apin women to bring about a new six revolution. That plot is far more tasteful then it sounds. Considering I haven’t heard any hard critisizm of this story.

Other things

Well that about covers it for audiobooks/stories/essays, however there is more. There are also a few things I always read on paper every winter, a few DVDs watched, and other traditions associated with my favorite season.

This Land Was Made for You and Me (But Mostly Me) by Bruce McCall and David Letterman – this is one of my favorite books, and unlike other favorite books there is no audiobook version, and an audiobook wouldn’t really do it justice. This is a picture book meant for adults, with exaggerated adult humor about the ultra rich. I’d love to see a sequel to it, but I don’t think there are any on the horizon. I Love McCall’s artwork in general, always enjoy it when I see that he’s done a new cover for the New Yorker. One part of this book was published in the New Yorkers “Shouts and Murmurs” section (I’ve submitted stuff to that particular section before, and I’ve been officially rejected (instead of just ignored) and I consider that a high mark, and even though I don’t have proof, I have a feeling that one of my submissions inspired another story that was published in the Shouts and Murmurs section. I’ll do another blog post on that at some point… not sure how I feel about it to tell you the truth) the part do the book was the “Worlds Longest Fireplace.” I already did a post on this book, and if your interested you can read it here.

200 Classic Cartoons – this is a great bargain bin DVD with 200 cartoon shorts on it: Popeye, Betty Boop, the Three Stooges, Mr. Piper, etc. unfortunately half the DVDs do not work on the PS2 I watch them on. I’m considering bringing an actual DVD player upstairs so I can get through more of the DVDs. But I have other things to do, so maybe not. 2021 Update – this year, since I upgraded to a Blu-Ray player, I was able to watch all the DVD’s this time around

The End of the Tour – There are two David Foster Wallace Movies, and this one is by far the better one. Brief Interviews with Hideous Men (the directorial debut of John Krasinski) shows why Wallace movies are no easy task. This movie on the other hand is about David Lipsky (played by Jesse Eisenberg) interviewing Wallace (Jason Segal) at the tail end of the book tour for Infinite Jest. It is almost entirely dialogue between the two. This time watching it (it’s the 3rd or 4th time) I decided to turn in the commentary, which provided some very interesting insite to the film process and highlighting that this is actually a period film, and the more messed up part is that the 90s are now so long ago that they can be a “period.” This film grows on me more and more each time I watch it, and I think I may now start watching it more often, then just once a year, but it is a good winter movie, so I’ll at least do that.

Groundhog Day – other people have their own definitions, but for me Christmas Season lasts from Thanksgiving Day to Groundhog Day. On Groundhog Day I take down all the Christmas decorations, change the wallpaper on my phone from a Christmas theme to something else, stop listening to Christmas carols, etc. and most importantly, watch the movie Groundhog Day. This time I actually watched it both for the holiday and because it was up next in my Mega DVD Marathon, it’s nice how these things work out sometimes. I have three movies that I put in the category of my favorite movie of all time, and as I get older, Groundhog Day seems to be the one rising above the others. It is the perfect blend of Comedy, drama, romance and speculation, with an unusual if not nearly unique (for the time) plot. Like Bill Murray living the same day over and over again, I could watch this movie over and over again (and I have), I’d watch it more often if there wasn’t so much other stuff to do.

Secrets of the Gnomes – I already covered this book in a lengthy blogpost, and my opinion of it has only been magnified since then. I would like to read the rest of the books in the series but they are rare, expensive, and also difficult to categorize which books are actually part of the series. In the meantime this book will do, as rereading it is always a good experience.

St. Elmo’s Fire – this is the 3rd time I watched this movie. I usually run it after Groundhog Day, as it is a movie I want to see yearly, it takes place largely in the winter, and both movies have Andie McDowel. Though she is much less important this movie. Unfortunately because of time constraints this year I did not get to watch it on Groundhog Day, but I did get to watch it shortly after.

Skyward Sword – although Skyward Sword is not my favorite Zelda game, it’s a good one, and I usually spend a good bit of time in the winter playing through it. This tradition though is somewhat on Hiatus, I didn’t do it during the last 2 years (because of Breath of the Wild) and I didn’t do it this year either because of the Links Awakening Remake. Maybe next year I will get back into plying this game in the winter, but we’ll see. Supposedly it’s coming to the Switch with better controls, and I’ll be there for it. there will be a big blogpost coming about all things Zelda, but before then you can read my 35th Anniversary Post if you have not done so already.

Aladdin – starting last year, I began a new tradition of playing Aladdin on the Genesis (actually the switch this year) while listening to my Aladdin soundtrack vinyl picturedisk, watching the Aladdin movie and wearing my Aladdin T-Shirt. My goal is to beat the game before the record finishes. I’m pretty good at it at this juncture, it was the first game I ever got and still one of my favorites.

2021 update

This blog post was written (for the most part) in the winter of 2020. For 2021 I have added a few stories and a few movies to the list. So I will go over the additions in brief here.

New stories added: “Bontshe the Silent” by I.L. Peretz, “Chava” by Sholem Alechim, “The Family Meadow” by John Updike, “Introduction to the Bugumbo Snuffbox” by Kirt Vonnigut (this is where he talks about how to write a good short story), “I Have No Mouth and I Must Scream” by Harlan Ellison, “Kola Street” by Sholem Acsh, “The Kugelmass Episode” by Woody Allen, “Matza for the Rich” by Abraham Reisin, “My Father Sits in the Dark” by Jerome Weidman, “The New Ventrans” by Karen Russell, “Red Nails” by Robert E. Howard, “Repent Harloqui, Said the Tik Tok Man” by Harlan Ellison, “The Report on the Barnhouse Effect” by Kurt Vonnegut, “Rhetoric and the Math Mellowdrama” by David Foster Wallace, “This Is Water” by David Foster Wallace, “Westward the Course of Empire Makes its Way” by David Foster Wallace, “The Whore of Mensa” by Woody Allan, “The World of Ice and Fire” by George R.R. Martin, and 2BR02B by Kurt Vonnegut. Some of these “stories” are quite long, and this playlist will take quite a while to get through, hopefully it will be completed before the spring. As of right now, I’m on “Oblivion” it will take me well into the spring barring any unforeseen events.

I’ve also made a more significant list of movies/TV shows to watch in the winter, and used RNG to select them. This is the list I’ve created: 1 – Mega DVD Marathon, 2 – 200 Classic Cartoons, 3 – Aladdin, 4 – Back to the Future (the Animated Series), 5 – Conan the Barbarian/Conan the Destroyer/Red Sonja, 6 – David the Gnome (because I watch it once a season), 7 – The End of the Tour, 8 – Garfield & Friends, 9 – Mickey’s 60th Birthday, 10 – St. Elmo’s Fire, 11 – Sealab 2021 (because this is the year that show took place, I’ll be watching it 21 times this year (if all goes well) and doing a lengthy blog post on it), 12 – Seinfeld (I plan to watch the series once a year henseforth), 13 – TV Toon’s to Go (because I watch it once a season).

We are all hoping for a better year this year, let’s hope we get it. Thanks for reading as always, and I hope you will be back for the next blog post… it shouldn’t be long.

The Legend of Zelda 35th Anniversary

Intro

As you may already know, and as you can probably see from my collection pictured supra, I am a fan of the Zelda series… a big fan. I’ve done blog posts on The Legend of Zelda; I own, played, and beaten 10 of them. Twilight Princess (the first one I played) is still my favorite, and I’ve probably put more hours into Breath of the Wild than any other video game (with a possible acceptation of Flight Simulator).

There are lots of people out there predicting what exactly will be done for the 35th anniversary of Zelda, and I want to join the discussion myself. Now I should point out that this is just a guess, I have no inside information, and I may be very far off in my guess. I have three and a half guesses here.

Regardless, whatever is done it is very unlikely that I will be disappointed in whatever is done, the Zelda team routinely supplies us with solid videos games, that are innovative, new, and still familiar; the worst of which are still worth playing multiple times (the CD-i games notwithstanding).
Without further ado, here are my three guesses:

Option 0 – The Legend of Zelda: The Faces of Gamalon.

No this is not a guess because it’s so unlikely. If the CD-I games are given a good faith upgrade and re-release, I think everyone in the world will be very surprised, and I don’t see that happening.

Other non or half guesses

The Legend of Zelda: 35th Anniversary Collectors Edition, like the rare disk released in 2003, this would be a collection of all consul Zelda games from the first up to (maybe) Skyward Sword, not significantly upgraded. Yes, I’d pick it up, but I’d prefer the real guesses below.

Since the Switch is more of a handheld system that can play on the TV, as opposed to a dedicated TV system, the collector’s edition may have all the handheld releases instead of the consul releases. Still unlikely though.
Another possibility is that they don’t release anything other than Breath of the Wild 2, and yes I am very much looking forward to that release, but I still hope they will pay tribute to the past in one of the other ways listed below.

Option 1 – The Legend of Zelda 3D All-Stars

I doubt this title will be used because “All-Stars” doesn’t seem to fit the Zelda MO, but it seems to be the widest held belief that the Zelda 35th Anniversary will be made up of a trio of 3D Zelda games which is likely to be: Ocarina of Time, Twilight Princess, and Skyward Sword. This would follow the same dynamic as the Super Mario 3D All-Stars, which had one game from the N64, one from the Game Cube, and one from the Wii.

I would love to see this collection. Ocarina is considered the best video game of all time. I’ve only played Ocarina on the 3DS and didn’t enjoy it as much as everyone else, because of the small screen. Seeing this game on the big screen in HD (or at least upgraded graphics) and even seeing it on the “mini” switch screen would also help me appreciate it as much as this game seems to deserve. Twilight Princess, I would love to see on the switch, as I said earlier it’s my favorite of the Zelda games. And Skyward Sword – this is a strange one, personally, I love it, and I usually play through it in the winter, however it was marred by misguided controls and has been poorly remembered because of this, if they fix the controls this game might finally get the respect it deserves by the masses. Even a solo HD remaster, with improved controls would be welcome. But I would prefer and hope, that they do a three-pack.

Other games that could be put in the 3 pack could be Wind Waker and Majora’s Mask. I don’t see them doing 5 games in one unless it’s Nintendo’s apology for the Super Mario 3D All-Stars (which I have and am enjoying so far, but the community seems a little pissy about it).

The production of this game should not be too difficult, I don’t know what exactly HD up-scaling entails, but in the case of Twilight Princess there would be very little work as it already had an HD remake for the Wii U. and with Ocarina they may just use the 3ds version. Skyward Sword would be the most difficult upgrade for the team as the controls would have to be reworked along with the graphics, but it would be worth it because the game has some really good things in it.

Option 2 – The Legend of Zelda: the 35th Anniversary

Wait a minute, isn’t that the title of this post? Yes, but here’s the idea. If the Zelda team has the resources, this would make for a very interesting game indeed, but it would require a lot of work on their part.

Take the original Zelda game, the very first one, and run it as a 3D Zelda game through the Breath of the Wild or Twilight Princess Engine. Everything would be in the same place as it is on the regular Zelda map, but you would now get to see it from a 3D perspective.

It may be helpful to add NPC’s that our a little less cryptic and a little more helpful so the game is not so difficult to follow, but I would still keep the free-roaming nature of the game, and perhaps even making it possible to beat the game entirely without the sword (without glitches to do so).

For an added bonus, throw in 8 additional dungeons (scattered throughout the world, each one a representation of one of the other major Zelda console releases. And perhaps also add a book found in an abandoned library that covered the overarching story for the whole series, or as it were the series up to that point in the chronology on that branch of the timeline (which is actually most of the series), maybe you get a heart piece or gold rupee for reading the whole book.

This would be a major project for the Zelda Team, more so than the other two options, but it would be perhaps the best way of truly honoring the history and the origin of the legend of Zelda. And would probably require years of work, so maybe they should save it for the 40th or even 50th anniversary.

Option 3 – The Legend of Zelda: Retro-Modern All-Stars

I seriously doubt that will be the title of the game, but I think there is a significant chance that we might see this game.


This would be another trio of remakes, but unlike Option 1, it will not be remakes of 3d games, but instead remakes of the first three Zelda games: The Legend of Zelda, Adventure of Link, and a Link to the Past, all of which would be redone in the Links Awakening 2019 Engine.

I do not know what making a game like this would entail, but I get the feeling that now that the engine is already built, adopting other top-down Zelda games into it would not be terribly difficult or time-consuming.
Somebody named BlobVanDam already made a remake of a Link to the Past in the Awakening Engine.

Zelda II is the only Zelda game that is largely a 2D platformer, and although that was the standard game model of the past, even now, 35 years later, it is still very much alive and well, with games like AVGN, Shovel Knight, Sonic Mania, etc. and there were short platforming segments of Links Awakening. So redoing Zelda II with a retro-modern diorama look, may breathe new life into a game that for a long long time has been considered the black sheep of the Zelda series. Which brings me to option 3.5.

Option 3.5 – The Legend of Zelda: Return of the Black Sheep

Less likely than any of the other games on here, but let’s just say for argument sake the Zelda team wants to breathe new life into its less remembered releases. If that were the case then on one card: Skyward Sword HD Remake, Zelda II Retro Modern Remake, and (why not) Faces of Gamalon (Faces of Evil and Wand of Gamalon (two of the three CD-i games) combined, and more importantly improved).

Conclusion

Now, in my opinion, I think that Option 3 is both the most likely scenario and also the one I’d like to see the most… kind of. It’s a tough call between that or an upgraded Skyward Sword. So maybe Return of the Black Sheep would be my favorite (but that’s much less likely).

My reason for thinking that option 3 is the most likely scenario, is because they developed a very unusual engine for Links Awakening, and I would think they would want to use it to remake some other games. Especially with the positive response of Links Awakening 2019.

If that holds true then I would also expect that the original Zelda is most prime for a remake in the retro-modern look, while a Link to the Past is perhaps the most loved of the top-down Zelda’s, so it too should get an upgrade, and since they would likely do a three-pack, Zelda II would be the best choice for the last slot. Though they may go with one of the other handheld games instead (I wouldn’t mind seeing Minish Cap redone either).

As I said in the beginning, I have no idea what direction they will actually go. But I am looking forward to finding out.

I will be updating this blog post twice.

One update will be on how close I was to what actually is released. I’ll rank it on a score of 100. And I’ll be fair and honest with my score, and explain how I came up with it compared to the final product.

The second update will be a quick review of the actually released, after some time playing the game.

Until then, stay tuned, and game on for Wisdom Power, and Courage.

Year in Review – 2020 – The Numbers

Hours Spent Writing: 395

Hours Spent Reading: 423

Hours Spent Watching Movies: 98

Hours Spent Playing Video Games: 349

Hours Spent Video Editing: 23

Pieces Published: 1

New Pieces Written: 8

  • 4 Short Stories
  • 2 Collections
  • 1 NaNoWriMo Novel (in Rough)
  • 1 Flash Creative Non-Fiction

Blog Posts Posted: 9 (not counting Year in Reviews)

Books Read: 32

Books Read (1st time): 23

Books Read (on paper): 5

Stories Read (total): 158

Stories Read (1st time): 14

Movies Watched (1st time): 44

Movies Watched: 82

Video Games Beaten: 32

Video Games Collected: 22

Vinyl Records Collected: 19

DVD’s Collected: 44

Toys Collected: 4

Pulps Collected: 3

Books Collected: 7

Year in Review – 2020 – Wake-Up Songs

For those of you who may be new here, or may have forgotten, I often wake up with a song stuck in my head, and I keep a running list of those songs. I’ve put the list here with links (where appropriat) for each song.

1/1 Glad to Meet You by United Corea

1/6 Fly for Your Life by Gunship (one of if not the best music videos of all time, check it out)

1/7 Sell Out by Reel Big Fish

1/9 Cosmic Rings by Crack the Code

1/10 Fruitcakes by Jimmy Buffett

1/13 Tiptoe Through the Tulips by Tiny Tim (no idea where this one came from)

1/14 Nothing’s Gonna Stop Us Now by Starship

1/17 Rosanna by Toto

1/23 Mouse Love Rice by Khoi My

1/25 Wishing Well by Terence Trent D’Arby

1/26 Wishing Well by Terence Trent D’Arby

1/27 Young Americans by David Bowie

1/29 Opus 17 (Don’t You Worry Bout Me) by the 4 Seasons*

2/1 Goodbye to You by Scandal

2/2 Groundhog Day Commercial (Best commercial ever made)

2/3 Send My Love (To Your New Lover) by Adele (no clip – hate this song)

2/4 Head Over Feet by Alanis Morrissette

2/5 Another Time by Edguy*

2/6 the Sanford and Son Theme Song

2/8 the Coco Krispies Theme Song

2/9 I Don’t Care by Ed Sheeran and Justin Bieber

2/10 Mouse Love Rice by Khoi My

2/13 Love Yourself by Justin Bieber

2/24 Boss Theme from Quackshot

3/1 Turning Japanese by the Vapors

3/3 Grape Aerosmith by Tobacco

3/5 A Serial Killer’s Wet Dream by Dress 2 Kill

3/6 Fly for Your Life by Gunship

3/8 What’s Up Doc (Can We Rock) by Fu-Schnickens

3/9 One Particular Harbor by Jimmy Buffet

3/10 Alphabetical Slaughter by Papoose (whether you like rap or not this song is impressive)

3/12 Head Over Feet by Alanis Morrissette

3/13 Its Magic from Mickey’s 60th Birthday

3/16 Shooting Star/I Want Out by Eddie Antonini

3/17 The Rare Old Mountain Dew by the Irish Rovers

3/19 DNA by A Flock of Seagulls*

3/22 Funny Little Things from the Hobbit

3/26 Shine by Kygo

3/27 Bobby McGee by Janis Joplin

3/28 I’ll Tell Me Ma by the Clan (this is the song I wash my hands to…FYI)

3/29 Cryin’ by Aerosmith

3/31 Funny Little Things from the Hobbit

4/1 Seasons in the Sun by Terry Jack

4/3 In Living Color Theme Song

4/5 Virus Alert by Weird Al Yankovik

4/6 Never Had a Friend Like Me from Aladdin*

4/12 Bobby McGee by Janis Joplin

4/14 Mouse Love Rice by Khoi My

4/15 99 luffballons by Nena

4/17 Singularity by Sunset Protocol

4/21 the Ninth by Beethoven*

4/23 Cryin’ by Aerosmith

4/24 Need You Now by Lady Antebellum (no link)

4/29 Bobby McGee by Janis Joplin

5/1 Never Dance Again by Sunset Neon

5/2 Fly for Your Life by Gunship

5/5 Deal With God by Infinity Frequencies

5/8 Shooting Star/I Want Out by Eddie Antonini

5/12 Inside Out by Eve 6

5/13 We Can Work It Out by the Beatles

5/16 I’ll fly Away by Fire from Heaven

5/18 David the Gnome Dancing Music (can’t find specific video, song starts at ~10:00)

5/19 Get Off It by Casual

5/20 Funny Little Things from the Hobbit

5/21 Why Can’t This Be Love by Van Halen

5/22 Won’t You Be My Neighbor from Mr. Rodgers

5/23 I’m Just a Fool by Lets Talk

5/24 Rabbit of Seville

5/25 Mother Teressa the Musical from Naked Gun 33 1/3

5/26 Toxic Cave from Sonic Spinball

5/28 Bobby McGee by Janis Joplin

5/29 Activate by FM Attack

6/4 Boys of Summer by Don Henley

6/14 Brandy (You’re a Fine Girl) by Looking Glass

6/17 Eat Until I Die from Fun and Fancy Free

6/18 Somebody Told Me by the Killers

6/19 My Boyfriend’s Back by the Angels

6/21 Seasons in the Sun by Terry Jacks (that is a hard song to listen to)

6/23 Let it Be by the Beatles

6/24 Inspector Gadget Incidental Music

6/26 The Runaround by Blues Traveler

7/2 Wanderer by Ensiferum

7/3 The Catch of the Century by Edguy

7/4 I Thought This Was America from South Park

7/5 Gigantic by the Pixies

7/6 (same) – I should note that this isn’t a very good song, and I only listened to it once, on the 4th from a skateboarding video, but the song is so repetitive that it’s just going to be stuck there for a while.

7/9 I Wanna Hold Your Hand by the Beatles (I rarely listen to the Beatles, im not sure why they’ve showed up so much this year.)

7/12 Can’t Take My Eyes Off of You by Frankie Valli

7/14 Mouse Love Rice by Khoi My

7/15 ‘85 Again by Robert Parker

7/16 Islamic Dance (uncut video – here’s the remix)

7/19 The Emerald City by the Tossers

7/20 In the Year 252525 from Futurama

7/22 Help Me Rhonda by The Beach Boys*

7/23 Hash Browns Clip from Squidbillies

7/24 You’re Still the One by Shania Twain

7/25 The Muppets Annual Carol Sing

7/26 Jungle Love by Morris Day and the Time

7/31 Lover Your Feller Man from Squidbillies

8/4 ABC by Michael Jackson

8/7 Theme Song from Perfect Strangers

8/10 I Get No Kick from Champagne from Blazing Saddles

8/11 What’cha Want by Beastie Boys

8/13 Finnagan’s Wake – the novel is written in a sort of Paudoenglish and when I woke up I kept hearing lines from it.

8/19 Tequila by the Champs

8/20 ‘85 Again by Robert Parker

8/21 You Don’t Know Me by Ray Charles (from Groundhog Day)

8/22 Rush Hour by Vincenzo Salvia

8/23 Something About Us by Daft Punk

8/24 Blazing Saddles Theme Song

8/25 Bad Girls by M.I.A (also a great Music Video)

8/30 My Oh My by Aqua

8/31 I’m Gonna Fly by Sydney Forest (from this trailer)

9/3 In the Ghetto by Elvis Presley

9/4 I’ll fly Away by Fire from Heaven

9/8 Blinding Lights by The Weeknd

9/10 A Whiter Shade of Pale by Procol Harum

9/11 Love to Love You Baby by Donna Summers

9/13 Peter Speaking Italian from Family Guy

9/15 Blinding Lights by The Weeknd

9/17 The Emerald City by the Tossers

9/19 Peter Fighting With Kyle from Family Guy

9/20 the Bureaucrat Song from Futurama

9/21 Promised Land by Anastasia

9/22 The Real Folk Blues by Seatbelts

9/23 Victory Song by Ensiferum (one of my all time favorite songs)

9/28 We Three Kings from a Claymation Christmas Celebration

10/3 I Am Woman by Helen Reddy

10/4 Brain Stew/Jaded by Green Day

10/5 Come With Me by Puff Daddy

10/6 Jump by Van Halen

10/7 the 80s Never Went Away by Stromfire

10/8 Slacker by Tech N9ne

10/10 Say Goodbye to Hollywood by Billy Joel

10/9 We Are The Party by the Ex-Girlfriends

10/12 Wave of History by the Downtown Boys

10/13 Jolly Old St. Nicolas by Ray Connif Singers

10/14 What’s Up Doc (Can We Rock) by Fu-Schnickens

10/16 Father Time by Stratavarious

10/20 Having a Party by Sam Cooke

10/22 Big Bill Hell’s commercial

19/25 Sultan’s Palace Theme from Aladdin on the Genesis

10/27 Lucky Like That by Clea

10/28 In Da Club by 50 Cent

10/29 Humanity by Aqaria

10/30 Inside Out by Eve 6

10/31 Jaded by Areosmith

11/2 Free Market Threat from the Daily Show

11/3 Mr. Write’s Theme from Links Awakening

11/7 Wait for Sleep by Dream Theater*

11/13 Beautiful Sunday by Danial Boon

11/15 The Garfield Rap from Garfield and Friends

11/21 I’ll Tell Me Ma by the Clan

11/22 Chicken and Ham from South Park

11/25 alright we got a strange one – Rudolf the Red Nose Reindeer sung to the toon of a slow minor key Jewish polka, the song at the end of this video [starts at 18:13], and that story is pretty good too if your interested, read by Jerry Stiller (RIP).

11/28 Santa Clouse is Coming to Town by the Jackson 5

12/2 My Robot Friend from South Park

12/3 YMCA by the Village People

12/13 Sun (Keeper of the Dreams) by Eddy Antonini

12/14 Little Johnny Snowball by Red Buttons

12/17 Bonus Stage Music from Golden Axe

12/19 Girls by the Beastie Boys

12/20 Santa Claus got Stuck in my Chimney by Ella Fitzgerald

12/23 Calling You by Raccoons

12/26 California Girls by the Beach Boys*

Year in Review – 2020 – Collection

for collecting: * = New Product

DVDs Collected

  • Howl’s Moving Castle*
  • Once Upon a Time in Hollywood*
  • ICarly – ISpace Out
  • Man of the Year
  • Kiki’s Delivery Service*
  • Quantum Leap Season 1*
  • The Best of Jayce and the Wheeled Warriors*
  • Inspector Gadget Season 1 Volume 1*
  • Monster Squad*
  • Jersey Boys*
  • King Arthur and the Knights of Justice: the Complete Series*
  • Aladdin (Blu-Ray/DVD)*
  • The Little Mermaid (Blu-Ray/DVD)*
  • Aqua Teen Hunger Force Vol. 7*
  • Penguin Highway (Blu-Ray/DVD)*
  • It’s Ernest*
  • Just Shoot Me Seasons 1&2*
  • The Magic School Bus Rides Again Blast Off*
  • Where the Wild Things Are*
  • Talespin Vol. 3*
  • Merlin*
  • My Favorite Year*
  • Terminator 2: The Ultimate Edition
  • Sprited Away (Blu-Ray/DVD)*
  • Cowboy Bebop: The Complete Series (Blu-Ray)*
  • MST3K – Season 12 – The Guntlet*
  • School House Rock – 30th Anniversary Edition*
  • Tom and Jerry and Friends*
  • Ran (Blu-Ray)*
  • Cheers – Season 8*
  • RifTrax – Summer Shorts Beach Party (Live)*
  • Garfield – Happy Holidays Garfield*
  • Greetings
  • Friday the 13th (Uncut)
  • Hi, Mom!
  • Hot Shorts!
  • Hot Shorts! Part Deux
  • National Lampoon’s Loaded Weapon 1*
  • The Omen
  • The Prestige*
  • Sesame Street – Follow That Bird*
  • Red Sonja*
  • Saturday Morning Cartoons of the 70s Vol. 1*
  • Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark*

Video Games Collected

  • Clue (Gen)
  • Risk (Gen)
  • Daffy Duck: The Marvin Mission (SNES)
  • Defenders of the Crown (NES)
  • The Rocketeer (NES)
  • Tetris Worlds (GC – Disk only)
  • Namco Museum (GC – Disk only)
  • Yoshie’s Craft World (Switch)*
  • Super Smash Bros. Ultimate (Switch)*
  • Classic Disney Games: Aladdin/Lion King (Switch)*
  • Saturday Morning RPG (Switch-Download)
  • 198X (Switch-Download)
  • Sega Genesis Classics (Switch)*
  • Paper Mario: the Origomi King (Switch)*
  • Beauty and the Beast: Bell’s Quest (Gen)
  • Tiny Toon Adventures (Gen)
  • Ecco: Tides of Time (Gen)
  • Who Framed Rodger Rabbit (NES)
  • Finishing Universe Simulator (Switch-Download)
  • Mother Russia Bleeds (Switch-Download)
  • Super Mario 3D All-Stars (Switch)*
  • Hyrule Wariors: Age of Calamity (Switch)*

Vinyl Collected

  • Gap Band IV by the Gap Band
  • Tales to Warm Your Mind – The Irish Rovers
  • String Quartet in A Minor – Beethoven
  • 2nd Vault of Golden Hits – by the 4 Seasons
  • Original Oldies Vol. 12 – Various
  • Dream Theory in Malaya – John Hassel
  • The Swing – INXS
  • Scritti Pollitti – Cupid et Psyche 85
  • Schoenberg – Transfigured Night
  • Stockowski Play’s Bach
  • Songs from the Yom Kipour War
  • Schosticovich – Symphony 1 & 9
  • The Beach Boys – California Girls & All Summer Long
  • Elliot Carter – Sonata for Flute Obeo Cello & Harpsicord
  • William Albright – New Music for Organ
  • Theater of Salvation by Edguy*
  • Naked Eyes by Naked Eyes
  • Abacab by Genesis*
  • The Ghostbusters Soundtrack*

Toys Collected

  • Winston Zedenmore – Funko Pop
  • Link (Link’s Awakening) – Amiibo
  • Sam’s Friend – Funko Pop
  • Mortal Kombat – Raiden

Pulp Magazines

  • Golden Fleece October 1938 (reproduction)
  • Original Science Fiction – February 1959
  • Analog Science Fiction – November 2018

Books

  • The William H. Gass Reader
  • The Evil B.B. Chow by Steve Almond
  • The Insanity Defense by Woody Allen
  • With a Difference by Nick Gregorio and Francis Daulerio
  • Who’s Irish by Gish Jen
  • Candyfreak by Steve Almond (Audio Book)
  • Menu Design in America by Jim Heimann

Year in Review – 2020 – Consumption

Books Read

New Books:

(Best to Worst. *= Books read on Paper)

  • Armada by Ernest Cline
  • If It Bleeds by Stephen King
  • Devolution by Max Brooks
  • Candyfreak by Steve Almond
  • The Pioneers by David McCullough
  • Uncommon Type: Some Stories by Tom Hanks
  • With a Difference by Nick Gregorio and Frances Daulero*
  • Give Me Back My Legions by Harry Turtledove
  • Getting Even by Woody Allen*
  • Exhalation: Stories by Ted Chaing
  • The Evil B.B. Chow and Other Stories by Steve Almond*
  • Drive Your Plow Over the Bones of the Dead by Olga Tokarczuk
  • Yiddish Story Time by Lenord Nemoy (host)
  • The Lands of Ice and Fire by George R. R. Martin
  • The Fork, the Witch and the Worm by Christopher Paolini
  • The Pearl by John Steinbeck
  • Welcome to Deadhouse by R. L. Stine
  • 50 Classic Motion Pictures by David Zinmin*
  • Welcome to Camp Nightmare by R. L. Stine
  • One Day at Horrorland by R. L. Stine
  • Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell
  • Rip Van Winkle and Other Stories by Washington Irving
  • Paris for One and Other Stories by Jojo Moyes

All Books:

(In Order Read)

  • Blood Meridian or the Evening Redness in the West by Cormac McCarthy
  • This Land was Made for You and Me (But Mostly for Me) by Bruce McCall*
  • The Broom of the System by David Foster Wallace
  • Secrets of the Gnomes by Wil Huygen*
  • Exhalation: Stories by Ted Chaing
  • Give Me Back My Legions by Harry Turtledove
  • Rip Van Winkle and Other Stories by Washington Irving
  • Paris for One by Jojo Moyes
  • The Tunnel by William H. Gass
  • The World of Ice and Fire by George R.R. Martin
  • The Pearl by John Steinbeck
  • The Pioneers by David McCullough
  • The World of Ice and Fire by George R.R. Martin
  • 50 Classic Motion Pictures by David Zinmin*
  • With a Difference by Nick Gregorio and Frances Daulero
  • Blood Meridian or the Evening Redness in the West by Cormac McCarthy
  • Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell
  • One Day at Horrorland by R. L. Stine
  • Welcome to Camp Nightmare by R. L. Stine
  • Welcome to Deadhouse by R. L. Stine
  • The World of Ice and Fire by George R.R. Martin
  • Getting Even by Woody Allen*
  • Armada by Ernest Cline
  • Uncommon Type: Some Stories by Tom Hanks
  • If It Bleeds by Stephen King
  • The Fork, the Witch and the Worm by Christopher Paolini
  • The Evil B.B. Chow and Other Stories by Steve Almond*
  • The World of Ice and Fire by George R.R. Martin
  • Candyfreak by Steve Almond
  • Drive Your Plow Over the Bones of the Dead by Olga Tokarczuk
  • Yiddish Story Time by Lenord Nemoy (host)
  • A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens

New Stories Read (Not from Collections)

  • Ismadin and the Holy Carpet by E. Hoffman Price
  • The Executioner [link] by Robert Leslie Bellem
  • Naga’s Kiss by E. Hoffman Price
  • The Ocean Full of Bowling Balls by J.D. Salinger
  • I Sexually Identify as an Attack Helicopter by Isabel Fall
  • You Can’t Take it With You by Jimmy Buffett
  • Hooked in the Heart by Jimmy Buffett
  • The Doom That Came to Sarnath by H.P. Lovecraft
  • Beyond the Wall of Sleep by H.P. Lovecraft
  • Delivery Guaranteed by Calvin M. Knox
  • The Omnibot Inccodent by Ernest Cline
  • The Fallen Kingdom by Haruki Murikami
  • Dreamboat by A. Bertram Chandler
  • Yes, Mason There Is a Santa Claus by Carrie McCrossen
  • “Repent Harloquin” said the Tiktok Man by Harlon Ellison

New Movies Watched

(Best to Worst)

(*= saw the movie before, but didn’t remember it)

  • Kiki’s Delivery Service
  • Key Largo
  • Anomalisa
  • Jojo Rabbit
  • Cowboy Bebop (The Complete Series)
  • Kiss Kiss Bang Bang
  • National Lampoon’s Loaded Weapon 1
  • Once Upon a Time in Hollywood
  • Raging Bull
  • Inherent Vice
  • Joker
  • Life of Brian*
  • The Terminator
  • Stiff Upper Lips
  • 10 Cloverfield Lane
  • Cloud Atlas
  • My Favorite Year
  • We’re No Angels
  • The Hobbit (1977)*
  • Hugo
  • The Little Mermaid
  • Creepshow
  • Batman 1989
  • Jersey Boys
  • Rocky
  • Hoosiers
  • Once Upon a Time in America
  • Stripes
  • Day of the Fight
  • Scorpio Rising
  • MST3K – The Painted Hills
  • Another Fine Mess
  • The Blacksmith (1925)
  • Immortal Beloved
  • From Here to Eternity
  • The Phantom Tollbooth*
  • Harold and Kumar Escape from Guantanamo Bay
  • Bull Durham
  • His Girl Friday
  • Something to Sing About
  • Second Chorus
  • Pot-O-Gold
  • Made for Each Other

All Movies Watched (in order):

  • * = Never seen before/don’t remember
  • Key Largo*
  • What’s Up Tiger Lilly
  • International House
  • It’s a Gift
  • Once Upon a Time in Hollywood*
  • The End of the Tour (with commentary)*
  • Bull Durham*
  • Hoosiers*
  • Monty Python and the Holy Grail
  • Raging Bull*
  • Rocky*
  • Anomalisa*
  • Joker*
  • The Phantom Tollbooth*
  • Harold and Kumar go to White Castle
  • Harold and Kumar Escape from Guantanemo Bay*
  • Another Fine Mess*
  • Heathers
  • Monty Python’s The Life of Brian*
  • History of the World Pt. 1
  • Hero
  • The Hitchhicker’s Guide to the Galaxy
  • Hitler: The Rise of Evil
  • The Hobbit (1977)*
  • Monty Python and the Holy Grail
  • Hugo*
  • The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. Toad
  • Something to Sing About*
  • His Girl Friday*
  • Made for Each Other*
  • Second Chorus*
  • Key Largo*
  • Pot-O-Gold*
  • Who Framed Rodger Rabbit
  • The Blacksmith (1925)*
  • His Girl Friday
  • Identity
  • Immortal Beloved*
  • Kiki’s Delivery Service*
  • Melody Time
  • Kiki’s Delivery Service
  • Day of the Fight*
  • Jojo Rabbit*
  • Inception
  • Inherent Vice*
  • Insane Clown Posse: Six Jokerz Unauthorized
  • Scorpio Rising*
  • Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back
  • the Monster Squad
  • Kiki’s Delivery Service
  • Jersey Boys*
  • The Monster Squad
  • The Terminator
  • From Here to Eternity
  • Kiki’s Delivery Service
  • Once Upon a Time in America*
  • Kiss Kiss Bang Bang*
  • Labyrinth
  • Ghostbusters
  • Blazing Saddles
  • Groundhog Day
  • Stripes*
  • 10 Cloverfield Lane*
  • Cloud Atlas*
  • Lawrence of Arabia
  • Monty Python’s The Life of Brian
  • The Little Mermaid*
  • Stiff Upper Lips*
  • The Looney Looney Looney Bugs Bunny Movie
  • The Bugs Bunny Road Runner Movies
  • Bug’s Bunny’s Third Movie: 1001 Rabbit Tails
  • Clue
  • Creepshow*
  • Ghostbusters 2
  • Monster Squad
  • The VVitch
  • Ghostbusters
  • The Rocky Horror Picture Show
  • Batman 1989*
  • Kiki’s Delivery Service
  • Cowboy Bebop (The Complete Series)*
  • The Adventures of Ichibod and Mr. Toad
  • The Toxic Avenger
  • Beetlejuice
  • The Nightmare Before Christmas
  • MST3K the Movie
  • MST3K – The Painted Hills*
  • My Favorite Year*
  • The Adventures of Ichibod and Mr. Toad
  • We’re No Angels*
  • The Polar Express
  • National Lampoon’s Loaded Weapon*
  • What’s Up Tiger Lilly
  • The Nightmare Before Christmas
  • The Lord of the Rings Pt. 1 – The Fellowship of the Ring
  • The Lord of the Rings Pt. 2 – The Two Towers
  • The Lord of the Rings Pt. 3 – The Return of the King

Video Games Beaten:

  • The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening (Switch)
  • Sonic Mania – Sonic Campaign (Switch)
  • Aladdin (Genesis-Switch)
  • Aladdin (Gameboy-Switch)
  • A Boy and His Blob (NES)
  • Yoshie’s Craft World (Switch)
  • The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past (SNES-Switch)
  • Saturday Morning RPG (Switch)
  • The Legend of Zelda (NES-Switch)
  • Sonic Mania – Knuckles Campaign (Switch)
  • Sonic 1 (Genesis-Switch)
  • Toejam & Earl (Genesis-Switch)
  • Streets of Rage (Genesis-Switch)
  • Sonic 2 (Genesis-Switch)
  • Streets of Rage II (Genesis-Switch)
  • Golden Axe (Genesis-Switch)
  • 198X (Switch-Download)
  • Paper Mario: Origami King (Switch)
  • Sonic Mania – Tales Campaign (Switch)
  • The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess (Wii)
  • The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild (Switch – All Divine Beasts, Master Sword, Dark Link, and all hidden memories)
  • Solomon’s Key (NES-Switch)

Video Games Played Heavily (Not Beaten):

  • Super Smash Bros. Ultimate (Switch)
  • Classic Disney Games: Aladdin/Lion King (Switch)
  • Super Mario 64 (Switch)