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Slaves to Do These Things (2009): Selling One’s Soul to God Is to Betray the Other

Slaves to Do These Things (2009): Selling One’s Soul to God Is to Betray the Other

Amy King, Slaves to Do These Things (BlazeVOX Books, 2009)

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Carpentry is a dirty business. photo credit: Amazon

Every once in a while, I run across a poet—the last one was Timothy Donnelly, over a decade ago—whose work feels like it’s introducing me to a new language, one that is parallel to ours, but lying just beneath the surface, a language where quotidian words are used in new, unfamiliar, and exciting ways. Slaves to Do These Things is steeped in this kind of language, but still oddly grounded; it feels kind of like an unholy union between Donnelly and, say, Matthea Harvey. And since I basically worship both those poets, you probably know what I’m going to say here.

By the way, if you’re reading this on the day I post it, head on over to Folder Magazine. King is the featured poet this month. (The timing of the posting of this review is, of course, not a coincidence at all. Both King and Folder deserve far, far more exposure than they have gotten to date.)

I come for you on the people’s chariot
interpreted in nightgown,
sidelined, and smoking,
breakfast huevos in hand,
for we are poorer figures with lust,
and poorer still, talking this city
from block into block into
that which sells
a plastic surprise
in the snake oil’s morning,
a unisex of truth bearing.”

…begins “Stimulus Package”, and you see what I mean? “The people’s chariot interpreted in nightgown.” That feels like something that would make perfect sense if you just looked at it a slightly different way. And it works. Some of the language in here just blew me away. (I singled out the line “Leaning into backdrafts just to glow”, from “The Fear of Hope Is Also Beautiful”, in a social media post the other day.)

I’m stunned, and kind of in love, and need to get my hands on everything this woman has ever written. *****

Plagued (2013): At Last, Someone Found a Reason to Visit Missouri

Better Hero Army, Plagued: The Midamerica Zombie Half-Breed Experiment (Storyteller Press, 2013)

Plagued

If every zombie looked like that, would anyone actually MIND the apocalypse? photo credit: Amazon

First off: if you’re going to use a pseudonym, at least make it sound like a human being’s name. Otherwise, you might find yourself releasing books under a name like Bolaji Worldstar77. Or Sunshine 44. Or Better Hero Army.

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The 30-Minute Blowjob (XXXX): After Reading This, You Still Have 28 Minutes to Practice

The 30-Minute Blowjob (XXXX): After Reading This, You Still Have 28 Minutes to Practice

photo credit: Oregon State University

Eva Arlington, The 30 Minute Blowjob: How to Give Him the Best BJ Ever in 30 Minutes or Less (no publisher listed, no date listed)

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I’m always impressed when a cover design uses a fresh, exciting metaphor. photo credit: my copy

In the bedroom, tramp, bitch, slut, and whore are all interchangeable and synonymous with babycakes, honey, and ‘I Love You’.”

Even if the rest of the slim, common-sense volume were packed to the brim with the Secrets of the Ancient Mayan Temple Prostitutes or something, that sentence on its own would drop my rating here three stars or more. And since it’s not, well, there’s not too far to go before hitting zero.

Finding Dory (2016): Sigourney Weaver, Savior of the Universe

Finding Dory (2016): Sigourney Weaver, Savior of the Universe

Finding Dory (Andrew Stanton and Angus MacLane, 2016)

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It’s a big ocean. photo credit: classymommy.com

To me, and I know I am in the minority on this, Finding Nemo (2003) has always been one of Pixar’s minor successes; it’s nowhere near as awful as their worst output, like Cars 2 or Wall-E, but it’s nowhere near as good as their classics (Toy Story, Monsters Inc.). And since Pixar’s track record with post-TS2 sequels has been, to put it kindly, abysmal, I wouldn’t have even gone to see Finding Dory if my four-year-old hadn’t begged. And I wasn’t exactly predisposed to liking it today; the mall had a Pokémon Go event going on, so it took half an hour to find a parking spot, and of course at a Saturday matinee, the theater was full of loud toddlers. (I’m not going to say mine is a model, but his mother and I have taught him that quiet is necessary in a cinema, and he mostly gets it.) And yet, I walked out of that theater amazed. Finding Dory is a far, far superior film to its predecessor, and continues the jaw-dropping revitalization of Pixar that started with Inside Out and The Good Dinosaur last year.

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Sarah Swallows (2012): …But You Don’t Have To

photo credit: Oregon State University

Francine Forthright, Sarah Swallows (Mmmmmore, 2012)

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This might have been less offensive had she swallowed lye. photo credit: my copy

SPOILER ALERT

Spoiler Alert!

There is one way to get an instant and automatic zero-star rating from me: include a scene that starts out as rape and ends as conventional sex. It’s even worse when that scene is the entire book. (zero)

The Conjuring 2 (2016): If You Don’t Shift This Crate of Brillo Pads by Friday, Vengeance Will Be Mine

The Conjuring 2 (James Wan, 2016)

conjuring2

They’re baaaaaaaaaaack… photo credit: movie-list.com

There’s a scene in The Conjuring 2—very early on in the movie, so this isn’t a spoiler of any sort—that really drives home how important cinematography is to an effective horror film. It starts with Billy Hodgson (Benjamin Haigh in his feature debut) has just gone downstairs to get a glass of water, and is sleepily on his way back up to bed. When he gets to the second floor, he stubs his toe on one of his toy fire trucks. After turning off the annoying light and sound features, he nudges it with his foot so it rolls into the tent he has erected in an alcove just at the top of the stairs. He stumbles back to his room. The camera moves with him, and the tent is always in the background. He almost gets there when there’s a sound of grinding metal, which we know is the sound the fire truck makes when it rolls across the floor, and the sirens go off very briefly—less than a second. He pauses for a moment, decides he must have been hearing things, and keeps on back to bed. As he’s getting ready, we can see a small portion of the tent through the doorway. The bottom of what we can see is about waist-high, so if you know anything at all about horror films, you’re expecting something to come bursting out of that tent. Instead, we hear the lights and sirens again, and cinematographer Don Burgess cuts to the bottom of the doorframe just as the fire truck comes rolling slowly up to the doorjamb. It’s just a beautifully shot scene, playing with the audience’s expectations and demolishing them at every turn, and it sets up the viewer to expect that this is not going to be your average horror film, at least not from the DP’s perspective. (If you search “conjuring 2 fire engine” on YouTube, you’ll find the sequence that happens just after this.)

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Four of Hearts (2013): Deuce of Spades

Four of Hearts (Eric Haywood, 2013)

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Revised tagline: some legs can’t be uncrossed. photo credit: galleryhip.com

First off: while I don’t necessarily consider talking about the content of a character’s character to be a spoiler for a movie, there are those who might. As such, this review can be considered to have spoilers. Proceed with caution.

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