Rich and Shane share some random shit they fucking love
Sometimes on the weekends, we talk to each other via Slack off and on all day, sometimes talking business and planning strategies, sometimes just bullshitting because we are brothers from different mothers and we have a ton of common interests. And during those bullshit sessions, we often talk about things we love and we thought you might love some of them too, so here we are sharing with a few with you each week. Check back every Sunday for more Slices. Our interests are many and our lists of favorite things are boundless.
Books of Blood by Clive Barker
What really needs to be said about these wonderful, darkly disturbing books from the beautiful mind of Clive Barker? It was pushing the mid-eighties and I as a fan was beginning to despair for the horror genre. It felt like I had read all the important stuff there was, or most of it anyway (I was wrong, but I was young and foolish), and the industry was starting to slow down on the publication of new materials. “Horror” was becoming a big, mean, dirty word again and, unless your name was pretty goddamn big, the markets were sparse. But in 1984 my despair, albeit only temporarily, was wiped away by Barker’s Books of Blood, those amazing collections of terror, sex, and body horror that, along with Ketchum’s Off Season, were set to change the way I looked at horror fiction as a whole. Prior to that, though I didn’t know it, my reading in the genre had been pretty sedate, and, compared to these books, tame. But Barker changed all that in one fell swoop with these books and to this day, there are very few events that have been able to come close to matching the magic that was the Books of Blood.
One of those legendary bands that defined the rockers of my generation, Rush first hit the scene in 1974, but it wasn’t until 1976 that they really obtained rock and roll superstardom with the one to punch ofAll the World’s a Stage and 2112, the one I’m talking about here. 2112 is the perfect example of the types of rock operas that had been popularized by such as Led Zeppelin, Queen, and Alice Cooper, but Rush did it their own way, bringing to the stage a signature sound that was kind of like a cross between AC/DC and Procol Harum but was, when all was said and done, all Geddy Lee, Alex Lifeson, and Neal Peart, three legends of the stage that didn’t take long after that to become household names and that, if you haven’t already, you should definitely familiarize yourself with.
When it comes to superstars of the horror genre, there are few names as prominent as the great Joe Lansdale, and his iconic Hap and Leonard crime series is by now legendary among lovers of good, gritty, pulp fiction. But that’s not all Joe’s good at. In fact, it isn’t even what he’s good at. Those are the books that pay the bills for him, certainly, but they aren’t the books that make him a great American novelist. That honor goes to stories likeThe Bottoms, Edge of Dark Water, and this one right here, The Thicket. These are the novels that take Joe’s work and launch it into a whole other stratosphere, putting him on a level with authors like Cormac McCarthy, Elmore Leonard, and James Ellroy. If you haven’t read this novel and those others I’ve mentioned, you don’t really know Joe Lansdale at all and you’d be doing yourself a favor to unfuck that as soon as possible.
Right about now, if you know me, you’re wondering, “who are you and what the hell have you done with Shane?” Well, don’t worry, it’s really me, and yes, I really do fucking love this movie and everything about it. Logan Lerman brought in a nearly perfect performance with his role as Charlie, the titular “wallflower,” and Emma Watson delivered what is far and away the most powerful performance of her career to date. A perfectly rendered coming-of-age tale full of human emotion, joy, and heartbreak, and one that brought tears to this hardass’s eyes more than a few times during the telling of it. All of the cast brought their A games to the table as did writer/director Stephen Chbosky, who also wrote the novel, and it’s a beautiful, heart-warming film (and book) that I can’t recommend highly enough. Find it and stream it. See if you don’t love it too.
I could describe this book most succinctly as, “Just. Fucking. Wow.” Two nights ago I picked upIn the Scrape with the intention of perusing a paragraph or two before moving on to the other stuff I was currently reading. But nix that plan, Shane. Two hours later I closed the book on a 100 page novella that got me in it’s vice-like grip and absolutely refused to let me go. Another coming-of-age story, it’s chock full of brutality and beauty and more human emotion than you can imagine packed into what end up seeming like such a few short pages. It’s a crime story for the masses that will surely appeal to lovers of all types of genre fiction and it’s a book that I fucking guarantee will be way high up on my best of the year list this December. No way anything will come along that’s good enough to knock it off of there.
I have a confession to make. For all the horror and crime movies I watch chock full of monsters, evil and bloodthirsty villains, I have a soft spot for Rom-Coms. Sue me. Always Be My Maybe is comedian Ali Wong’s first leading role in a film and she delivers an excellent performance that should make her a rising star in Hollywood. The film follows two childhood friends from San Francisco who haven’t spoken in over a decade after their brief moment of romance ended badly. In the years after they seperated, Sasha has gone on to become a highly successful celebrity chef while Marcus still lives and works with his father while performing with his high school band Hello Peril. When Sasha returns to San Francisco, she runs into Marcus, and its obvious that there is still a connection there. While the spark remains, their two different lifestyles create complications in their relationship. Always Be My Maybe is filled with hilarious moments, a killer soundtrack, great story and a surprise actor that will delight viewers and is responsible for some gut-busting laughs. I mean seriously name the last movie – let alone a rom-com- that featured Alice in Chains and Collective Soul in the soundtrack? While all of these things help make Always Be My Maybe a great movie, the real driving force is the natural chemistry between Ali Wong and Randall Park. Trust me, you definitely need to check this movie out. Normally I would post the trailer, but I feel like it kind of spoils part of the movie. So instead, I’m going to go with a song from Marcus’ band Hello Peril. Also, can someone please convince Randall Park to keep making music?
I forget how I first heard of this book, but I do know it was right around the time I was gearing up to go college. I was totally immersed in indie rock and the whole DIY scene, and when I finally saw this book on the shelves, I didn’t think twice about picking it up. The book features interviews with band members, associates, and fans and also features excerpts from fanzines and other sources from the era. I mean this book offers in-depth and insightful chapters on Black Flag, Minutemen, Sonic Youth, Dinosaur Jr, Big Black, Fugazi and Mudhoney to name a few. If your a fan of indie rock from this time period, this is absolutely essential reading, Not only was it enjoyable to dive deep into the histories of my favorite bands, it helped shaped the person I am today and inspired me to chase my dreams. Reading about the creativity that drove these bands and their DIY ethic taught me that anything is possible if you work hard enough for it. I briefly ran a record label which was a lifelong dream of mine and it also inspired me to reach out to Shane and begin building Ink Heist. Even if you are only mildly interested in this genre and time period of music, this book is easily one of the best rock music books of all time.
I wanted to read more crime this year and one of the first books I picked up was this debut novel from Angel Louis Colon. The novel follows career hitman Bryan Walsh as he attempts to get revenge for the death of his brother after a lifetime of dealing in the criminal underworld finally catches up with him. As he struggles with the demons of his past that haunt him every day, Walsh embarks on a violent and bloody journey in a quest to make some small penance for the damage he has caused. This novel consumed me as Colon’s writing is lean, mean and utterly engaging. I couldn’t tear myself away from this book for long and it’s one of the best crime debuts I’ve ever read. The characterization is excellent and complex, with each character leaping off the page with distinctive personalities and motives. Walsh is an interesting protagonist because hes extremely good at what he does and has used it to build a life for himself. It may not be a moral life, but that’s what makes his struggles of conscience so engaging as the novel progresses. There is a tinge of horror sprinkled throughout in scenes that are used to exemplify Walsh’s regret that should appeal to fans of both crime and horror. Hell Chose Me is a pitch-perfect crime noir that marks the arrival of a fresh, powerful voice in the genre. If you don’t already have any of Colon’s works on your shelf, you’ll want to rectify that immediately.
Paper Tigers was my first exposure to Damien’s work and it left one hell of an impression. Damien takes a traditional horror set-up of hauntings and ghosts and reinvents it with an imaginative story that is sure to captivate dark fiction fans. The less I describe of the plot the better, but I can’t recall another horror tale that takes the same angle as Paper Tigers. Also, Damien creates one of the genre’s most memorable protagonists in recent memory. This woman has gone through hell and back and bears both physical and mental scars from her tragedy. She struggles with regaining a sense of normalcy, but she manages to push on even as shes faced with increasing darkness and pain. Damien is a gifted writer and storyteller that I honestly feels way more recognition in horror circles. Her prose is so captivating that you’ll find it hard to pull away as Alison ventures down a path of terror and evil loaded with inventive scares. Paper Tigers is an excellent starting point for new readers and then I recommend diving into her short fiction. “The Floating Girls: A Documentary” and “On the Other Side of the Door, Everything Changes” are two of my all-time favorite short stories and you can check those out in her Apex collection Cry Your Way Home, which was on my “Best of” list last year.
I randomly discovered Autolux back in high school shortly after discovering Failure for the first time. Broken up for almost a decade, I decided to look into what the band members were up to after the dissolution of the band. That’s when I saw bassist Greg Edwards was in a band called Autolux, who recently released their first album, Future Perfect. I was obsessed after the first listen. They’re an alternative band that meshes a variety of influences with a shoegaze vibe to create a brooding, atmospheric sound that sounds both strikingly unique and familiar at the same time. It sounds like a bit of a cop out, but even though this record was released over a decade ago, they sound like a band ripped from the future. Nothing exemplifies that better than the use of their song “Soft Scene” in the futuristic, dystopian Netflix show Altered Carbon. Also, I feel it’s worth mentioning that Carla Azar is a straight-up badass on the drums and she doesn’t get nearly the credit she deserves. I’ve enjoyed all of their albums, but I chose Future Perfect because it’s one of those rare albums that is flawless front to back, seguing perfectly in between tracks. If you’re looking for an engaging, addictive listen, this is the album for you.
That’s all for now. Check back next week for more Sunday Slices. Find your new favorite thing!
Click here to see all our Sunday Slices columns.