Author Archives: Daimion

31
Jul

Review – “The Great American Awakening” by Senator Jim DeMint

It’s hard to believe it’s only been three years since Barack Obama was elected president, and not even a full year since the American public soundly rejected his socialist policies with a stinging election night rebuke in 2010.  The day after that election, Jim DeMint published an article outlining what the incoming Republican senators should expect in Washington.  I linked to that article on Facebook and posted the following thought -

 

You should read this article from Jim DeMint. I have to say – I wouldn’t mind seeing him challenge Obama in 2012. DeMint/Rubio 2012 anyone?

 

After reading “The Great American Awakening” by Senator DeMint, I believe it even more strongly that he has the answers to many of the problems we are facing today.

 

In “The Great American Awakening”, Senator DeMint chronicles the two years between Barak Obama’s election and the landslide Republican Congressional victory in 2010.  Looking back now, it’s easy to see the path from one Tuesday in November to the other.  Those two years, however, were a long march for conservatives.  People were enveloped in a self-congratulatory haze after electing America’s first black president.  Pundits were pronouncing an end to conservatism and the advent of permanent rule by the Democratic Party.  The future looked bleak.

 

28
Jul

Review – “The Broken Record” by Corey Smith

“The Broken Record” represents the next step in the evolution of Corey Smith that began with “Keeping Up with the Joneses”.  Like all of us, Smith has grown; he’s matured both as a person and as an artist.  Here, through a mix of new songs and reimagined tracks from previous albums, we are invited on a tour of the journey from where he started to where he finds himself today. It’s an arc that will generate knowing nods from anyone grappling with a moment of reflection in their life.  It’s also a damn good record.

 

This album has a different sound from much of what Corey has done in the past.  More robust, more polished, and more lush; it’s a record made with an ear towards a broader audience.  It’s not the same Corey Smith you heard on “Undertones” – but it’s still Corey Smith.    It’s that growth that may catch some longtime fans by surprise, and an issue that he addresses head-on with the intro to the album:

 

A man on the edge, I can’t take anymore

Here’s the broken record you’ve been askin’ for.

Over and over, I feel kinda strange,

Nothin’s different here, but everything’s changed…

25
Jul

Review – “Full Black” by Brad Thor

In my review of last year’s “Foreign Influence” by Brad Thor, I said the following:

 

If I have one criticism of the book it is that it reads like what it really is – a prologue.  The story is engaging, fast paced, and well written – but you can tell that it is essentially the foundation for a deeper and more far reaching narrative.

 

Tomorrow marks the release of that more far reaching narrative.  With “Full Black”, Thor pays off the promises found in “Foreign Influence” and delivers a thinking man’s thriller.  There’s plenty of action, military insight, and even more action – but there’s also a cogent political, social, and economic story woven into the fabric of the book.  Taking a step back and looking to the horizon, we find that while still dangerous, radical Islam is not the only enemy we face.  At times nuanced and at other times blunt, Thor pulls no punches in deconstructing the broader adversaries aligned against us in the world today. It’s a story about layers, and serves to lay the foundation for the continued evolution of both Thor as a storyteller and Scot Harvath as a character.

23
Jul

Granny

A few months back, my brother recorded a song he had written about our Granny.  It perfectly captures those trips up to Kentucky when we were kids, and later when we went up to visit her with kids of our own.

11
Jul

Guest Post – “Starving Artists” by Jared Sandman

Jared Sandman’s Blogbuster Tour 2011 runs from July 1st through August 31st.  His novels include Leviathan, The Wild Hunt and Dreamland, all of which are available at Amazon, Barnes & Noble and Smashwords.  His next book, The Shadow Wolves, will be released in August.  Follow him on Twitter (@JaredSandman) and be entered to win one of several $25 Amazon gift cards.  See rules at www.jaredsandman.com for eligibility.



Starving Artists

Today I’d like to talk a bit about the differences between an artist (or artiste, as they usually call themselves) and a professional.  I know too many people who take pride in being labeled starving artists.  They feel if a creative individual makes money off his or her work, its impact or the effort that went into crafting it is somehow diminished.  This appears the same across multiple art forms, from painting to music to writing.

The dirty secret is that starving artists don’t have to starve.  Creative types are generally terrible with numbers (especially money), so shrewd businessmen easily take advantage of them.  These snake oil salesmen no doubt amassed their own fortunes by co-opting others’ bright ideas and wouldn’t be able to conjure an original notion to save their hides.  The artists get exploited in the partnership only because they allow themselves to be.

No one should make more money off an idea than the person who originated it.  I cringe when I hear stories of writers who got paid $5,000 for their novel, then sold the film rights for another $5,000, after which some screenwriter is hired at ten times that rate to perform one-fourth the amount of work.

Artists wait for inspiration to strike.  I find the notion of a Muse too lofty and romantic.  Professionals understand there’s no magic involved in the creative process (well, maybe a pinch).  The only “trick” involves applying one’s talents to the project at hand and not giving up until it’s finished.  For writing a book, that may take anywhere from six months to a year or two.  A professional knows to handle the job like any other career, which requires a tremendous amount of self-motivation and self-discipline.  For example, I know if I don’t treat it like a real job, no one else will.

This warrants two separate skill sets, and many people have difficulty balancing both.  There are the faculties associated with the creative side of the business and those on the entrepreneurial end.  After spending eight months working on a book, pouring my blood and sweat onto the page, I wind up with something to which I’m emotionally and psychologically attached.  It’s my responsibility to set aside those feelings when it comes to selling the project.  I must take off my Creator cap and put on my Businessman cap.  This novel’s no longer my pride and joy; it’s an intellectual property set to be auctioned to the highest bidder.

I understand it’s not all about money.  When cash alone (and not passion) drives one’s motives, one creates art that’s devoid of soul because it was developed for a quick buck.  (In the publishing industry, look no further than James Patterson or Nicholas Sparks to find proof of that.)

Bestseller money isn’t necessary for every writer.  I think most would be quite happy simply making enough to afford such luxuries as health insurance or a retirement plan.  A comfortable living is all many professionals ask; after all, that’s the only way we can justify doing what we love.

And that’s one thing on which both artistes and professionals can agree.

7
Jul

“Les Miserables” – 25 Years Young

There’s a reason the music of your youth is the music that follows you throughout your life.  When you’re stumbling through the transition from adolescence to adulthood you make strong, immediate connections to things around you.  It’s the reason your first love is always so intense.  It’s the reason you feel invincible when you’re out with your friends.  It’s the foundation that leads to that nostalgic look back at “the good old days” in later years.  Those moments and memories that surround you during that time of your life become an integral part of who you are.  For me, one of those moments was with “Les Miserables”.

I came of musical age during the 80’s – hair metal, the birth of MTV, The King of Pop, and the advent of the “mega” Broadway musical.  For my money (and with no apology to “Phantom of the Opera” fans – I just never liked that show), there was none bigger than “Les Miserables”.  Debuting on Broadway in 1986, it became one of the most successful musicals of all time.

During my senior year in high school, we did a musical review.  The closing number was a medley of songs from “Les Miserables”.  I played the part of Marius.  We defended the barricades, Eponine died in my arms, and everyone dreamed of one day more.  It was the perfect exclamation point to that year and, in many ways, it was a much larger, if more subtle, metaphor for my entire high school experience (but that’s a story for another day).  It made a deep impression on me, and the music from the show would follow me and continue to fill me with wonder for the next 20 plus years.

5
Jul

My First 40 Trips Around The Sun

Birthdays are a time for celebration.  Once a year your family and friends come together to celebrate the simple fact that you exist.  Gifts are given, food is eaten, candles are lit and blown out, and of course, there is cake.  It’s a special day, no matter who you are or how old.

For me, birthdays are also a time of reflection, a time to think about the prior year and speculate on the year to come.  This year is no different, but it also marks a milestone for me.  This is the year I complete my 40th trip around the sun.  As the old saying goes, “40 is just a number”, and it’s true; but society still places a premium on each decade we mark off on this earth, so I feel I should, at least in some small way, do the same.

I am, by no means, a wise man.  I’ve made my way through these 40 years the best I could.  I’ve made my fair share of mistakes, but I’ve also had my fair share of moments in the sun.  Through it all, I’ve learned a lot of things – many, the hard way.  To mark today’s passing, I’ve decided to share some of those things with you – the 40 most important lessons in my life.  I can only hope they help my children navigate the way through their first 40 trips around the sun, to a place as good as I have.

  1. Your first love is not the same as your true love.  Both will linger with you your entire life, but true love is the only thing capable of filling the hole in your heart.

  2. Mascara doesn’t come easily out of hair that’s been teased and shellacked with Aquanet hairspray.

  3. Process is the last refuge of a weak mind.  It has its place and purpose, but action with thought is wasteful and lazy.

  4. Family is forever – no matter where you go; they’re always with you.

  5. Any man who can’t share his love of “Star Wars” with his children is a poor parent.

25
Jun

My own personal “7 Circles of Hell”

It’s been a really long week.  One of those weeks were it’s easy to sit back and focus on just how stressful and infuriating life can be sometimes.  I had to fly cross-country, so I had plenty of time to sit on planes and think.  I was crammed into seat 37E between a morbidly obese Panamanian woman and a John Waters look-alike who smelled like Doritos and Band-Aids, when I had an epiphany somewhere over New Mexico.  As trying as my week had been, it could have been far worse.  I could have had to deal with some of the things that really annoy me.  I could have been put in one of those situations that really set my teeth on edge.  I could have been trapped in one of what I call, “My Own Personal 7 Circles of Hell”.


#1:  Having a cashier ask for my credit card after I’ve already swiped it through the reader

Automation can be a good thing (just don’t tell Obama…).  It allows companies and businesses to be more efficient.  It can speed up simple transactions and save you valuable time during your day.  It can also drive you crazy.

One of the biggest changes at retail in the last few years has been the ubiquitous addition of credit card terminals at the register.  They’re everwhere – Walmart, Kmart, Carmart, Stuffyoudontneedmart – everyone has added the ability for you to swipe your credit card and pay your bill.  Put like that, it sounds great  – and in most cases it is.  Most, but not all.

Here’s what chaps my recently slimmed down posterior.  If they are going to give you an automated machine to swipe your card through, why do they still insist you then hand them your card for inspection.  If I’m going to hand it to Skippy the cashier anyway, shouldn’t he just go ahead and swipe it himself?  Why even give me the illusion of control over my own destiny?  It’s like a cruel joke: he allows me to swipe my card, put it back in my wallet, put my wallet back in my pocket, and THEN Skippy needs to see the card – or I can’t buy my fresh vine ripened tomatoes, can of turpentine, and Kittens with Mittens sticker book.

Really?  You just have to see the card? You just have to let me have one brief moment of retail freedom, then bring it all crashing down on my head like a twig house under the onslaught of Ye Olde Big Bad Wolf?  Thanks for nothing.  Just keep your credit card machines and false promises of manifest destiny in the hair care products aisle.  It’s almost enough to make me start using cash…

24
Jun

Corey Smith, “The Broken Record” Webisodes Part 3 – My Hometown

This week it’s time for the third webisode from Corey Smith, promoting his new album, “The Broken Record”. The new installment is called “My Hometown”. Corey talks why he loves living in Jefferson, Ga. and the emotional satisfaction that comes with his kids attending the same elementary school he did. Make sure to grab a copy of his new album “The Broken Record”, available now. My signed collector’s edition showed up today. I’ll be listening to it on the road this weekend and will have a review up next week. Stay tuned!




17
Jun

Review – “Deadline” by Mira Grant

When I finish a book, I usually like to let it sit for a few days before I start crafting my review.  I like to let it marinate, as it were, and bounce around unencumbered in the empty bell tower of my subconscious.  Not so with “Deadline”.  I just finished it seven minutes ago and felt compelled to grab the laptop, head out to the back porch, and start writing.  Why the rush?  Quite simply, I was blown away by the story and I have to share it with you.

“Deadline” is the second book in the Newsflesh trilogy from author Mira Grant.  The first book in the series, “Feed”, came out last year and landed the fifth spot on my “Top 11 of 2010” list.  As I said about it at the time –

Mira Grant constructs a world filled with characters and zombies that allow us to see not only what the zombie apocalypse might look like, but also forces us to ask the question – in a world full of danger, loss, and fear; how important is the truth?”

With “Deadline”, Grant dives headlong back into the world of “Feed” and shows us that some truths are more true than others.

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