If it seems like everyone you know is playing Dungeons & Dragons, it’s because they are! After nearly five decades, the iconic roleplaying game is more popular than ever. Famous Hollywood actors and directors, therapists, educators, politicians, kids, parents, and grandparents all count themselves as fans. In Welcome to Dragon Talk, hosts of the official D&D podcast Shelly Mazzanoble and Greg Tito and their surprising guests show how this beloved pastime has amassed a diverse, tight-knit following of players who defy stereotypes.
This is a blog about recreational hobbies that I am interested in (music, TV, movies, books). I also talk about what's on my mind or things that happen in life around me. Please feel free to post comments; I want this to be an interactive dialogue. If you like what you read, please share it with your friends. Thanks.
Wednesday, August 31, 2022
Book Review: Welcome to Dragon Talk
Sunday, August 28, 2022
Book Review: The Come Up - An Oral History of the Rise of Hip-Hop
The music that would come to be known as hip-hop was born at a party in the Bronx in the summer of 1973. Now, fifty years later, it’s the most popular music genre in America. Just as jazz did in the first half of the twentieth century, hip-hop and its groundbreaking DJs and artists—nearly all of them people of color from some of America’s most overlooked communities—pushed the boundaries of music to new frontiers, while transfixing the country’s youth and reshaping fashion, art, and even language.
And yet, the stories of many hip-hop pioneers and their individual contributions in the pre-Internet days of mixtapes and word of mouth are rarely heard—and some are at risk of being lost forever. Now, in The Come Up, the New York Times bestselling author Jonathan Abrams offers the most comprehensive account so far of hip-hop’s rise, a multi-decade chronicle told in the voices of the people who made it happen.
Thursday, August 25, 2022
Book Review: Jar of Hearts
When she was sixteen years old, Angela Wong—one of the most popular girls in school—disappeared without a trace. Nobody ever suspected that her best friend, Georgina Shaw, now an executive and rising star at her Seattle pharmaceutical company, was involved in any way. Certainly not Kaiser Brody, who was close with both girls back in high school.
But fourteen years later, Angela's remains are discovered in the woods near Geo's childhood home. Kaiser—now a detective with Seattle PD—finally learns the truth: Angela was a victim of Calvin James To the authorities, Calvin is a serial killer of several women. But to Geo, he's something else entirely. Back in high school, he was Geo's first love. Turbulent and often volatile, their relationship bordered on obsession from the moment they met right up until the night Angela was killed.
Sunday, August 21, 2022
Book Review: Chuck Berry - An American Life
Best known as the groundbreaking artist behind classics like “Johnny B. Goode,” “Maybellene,” “You Never Can Tell” and “Roll Over Beethoven,” Chuck Berry was a man of wild contradictions, whose motives and motivations were often shrouded in mystery. After all, how did a teenage delinquent come to write so many songs that transformed American culture? And, once he achieved fame and recognition, why did he put his career in danger with a lifetime’s worth of reckless personal behavior? Throughout his life, Berry refused to shed light on either the mastery or the missteps, leaving the complexity that encapsulated his life and underscored his music largely unexplored—until now.
Friday, August 19, 2022
Book Review: 1980 - America's Pivotal Year
1980 was a turning point in American history. When the year began, it was still very much the 1970s, with Jimmy Carter in the White House, a sluggish economy marked by high inflation, and the disco still riding the airwaves. When it ended, Ronald Reagan won the presidency in a landslide, inaugurating a rightward turn in American politics and culture. We still feel the effects of this tectonic shift today, as even subsequent Democratic administrations have offered neoliberal economic and social policies that owe more to Reagan than to FDR or LBJ. To understand what the American public was thinking during this pivotal year, we need to examine what they were reading, listening to, and watching.
Wednesday, August 17, 2022
Book Review: Blade Runner 2019 volume 1
Return to the original rain-soaked dystopic world of Los Angeles, 2019. A hardboiled future noir world of renegade Replicants, deadly femme fatales, Spinners and bloody, violent death!
There's a new Blade Runner in town, and she's out for blood. Replicant blood. When a rich industrialist's wife and young daughter go missing, seemingly the victims of a Replicant kidnapping, Blade Runner Ash is called in to rescue them before they end up on a slab or worse. As Ash's investigation deepens she uncovers a shocking secret that could very well end up costing her her life.
Monday, August 15, 2022
Book Review: Charlie's Good Tonight
Charlie Watts was one of the most decorated musicians in the world, having joined the Rolling Stones, a few months after their formation, early in 1963. A student of jazz drumming, he was headhunted by the band after bumping into them regularly in London’s rhythm and blues clubs. Once installed at the drum seat, he didn’t miss a gig, album or tour in his 60 years in the band. He was there throughout the swinging sixties, the early shot at superstardom and the Stones' world conquest; and throughout the debauchery of the 1970s, typified by 1972's Exile on Main St., considered one of the great albums of the century. By the 1980s, Charlie was battling his own demons, but emerged unscathed to enhance his unparalleled reputation even further over the ensuing decades.
Thursday, August 11, 2022
Book Review: The MGM Effect
Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer’s emblem, which has opened thousands of movies since 1924, is the most recognized corporate symbol in the world. Not just in the entertainment industry, it should be noted, but of any industry, anywhere, in the history of human civilization. But MGM has been a competitively insignificant force in the motion picture industry for nearly as long as it once, decades ago, dominated that industry.
In fact, the MGM lion now presides not over movies alone, but over thirty world-class resorts, and is, or has been, also a recognized leader in the fields of real estate, theme parks, casinos, golf courses, consumer products, and even airlines, all around the world. But the MGM mystique remains. The MGM Effect is a look at what made MGM the Mount Rushmore of studios, how it presented itself to the world, and how it influenced everything from set design to merchandising to music and dance, and continues to do so today.
Tuesday, August 9, 2022
Book Review: ABBA At 50
After winning 1974’s Eurovision Song Contest with their song “Waterloo,” ABBA catapulted to fame, capturing hearts across the globe with their melodic and ever-so-catchy pop songs. Formed in Stockholm, in 1972 by Agnetha Fältskog, Björn Ulvaeus, Benny Andersson, and Anni-Frid “Frida” Lyngstad, ABBA became one of the most commercially successful acts in the history of popular music, topping the charts worldwide with classic hits such as “Dancing Queen,” “Gimme! Gimme! Gimme! (A Man after Midnight),” “SOS,” and “Knowing Me, Knowing You.”
Monday, August 8, 2022
Book Review: Lady Gaga - Applause
As one of the world’s best-selling musicians, Lady Gaga has set the musical bar high. Since her debut album, The Fame (2008), she has sold more than 124 million records and scooped numerous awards, including twelve Grammy Awards and eighteen MTV Music Video Awards.
Yet she is much more than a musician. At the helm of the Haus of Gaga—a close-knit circle of behind-the-scenes creatives—Lady Gaga is a performance artist like no other; her forward-thinking fashions and innovations mark her out as the ultimate maverick.
Saturday, August 6, 2022
Book Review: Full House
In hardcover for the first time, Full House: A Wild Cards collection brings together the Wild Cards stories that have been previously published on Tor.com, including works from: Daniel Abraham, Cherie Priest, David D. Levine, Walter Jon Williams, Paul Cornell, Carrie Vaughn, Caroline Spector, Stephen Leigh, Melinda M. Snodgrass and more! Editted by George R.R. Martin.
Friday, August 5, 2022
Book Review: The Intimate City
As New York came to a halt with COVID, Michael Kimmelman composed an email to a group of architects, historians, writers, and friends, inviting them to take a walk. Wherever they liked, he wrote—preferably someplace meaningful to them, someplace that illuminated the city and what they loved about it. At first, the goal was distraction. At a scary moment when everything seemed uncertain, walking around New York served as a reminder of all the ways the city was still a rock, joy, and inspiration. What began with a lighthearted trip to explore Broadway’s shuttered theater district and a stroll along Museum Mile when the museums were closed soon took on a much larger meaning and ambition. These intimate, funny, richly detailed conversations between Kimmelman and his companions became anchors for millions of Times readers during the pandemic. The walks unpacked the essence of urban life and its social fabric—the history, plans, laws, feats of structural engineering, architectural highlights, and everyday realities that make up a place Kimmelman calls “humanity’s greatest achievement.”
Book Review: The Bullet That Missed
It is an ordinary Thursday, and things should finally be returning to normal. Except trouble is never far away where the Thursday Murder Club are concerned. A decade-old cold case—their favorite kind--leads them to a local news legend and a murder with no body and no answers. Then a new foe pays Elizabeth a visit. Her mission? Kill or be killed. Suddenly the cold case has become red hot.
While Elizabeth wrestles with her conscience (and a gun), Joyce, Ron, and Ibrahim chase down the clues with help from old friends and new. But can the gang solve the mystery and save Elizabeth before the murderer strikes again?