Category Archives: Featured Articles

29
Aug

Remembering My Grandfather

The phone rang at 6:02 on Tuesday morning.  Before I could even open my eyes I thought, “It’s not good news”.  It’s never good news when the phone rings that early in the morning. As I struggled to come fully awake, I heard my Mom’s voice telling me my grandfather had passed away.  He had lost his battle with liver cancer.  They say, sometimes, when you know it’s coming, bad news like this is easier to hear and process.  They’re wrong.

 

My grandfather was Kenneth Bailey, although he was always Papa (“pa-paw”) to me.  He was born in 1928 and lived his entire life in Buford, Ga.  He was married to my grandmother (Mema) for 61 years.  He has two daughters, four grandchildren, and five great-grandchildren.  And while all of those things are true, they really don’t get to the heart of the man that Papa was.

 

26
Aug

Book Giveaway – Enter to Win a Free Copy of “Lockdown” by Alexander Gordon Smith

We are hosting our first official book giveaway here at The Word Zombie.  We are giving away a free copy of “Lockdown” by Alexander Gordon Smith.  It’s the first book in Smith’s “Escape From Furnace” series (the third installment of which – “Death Sentence” was released on August 2nd of this year).

Beneath Heaven is Hell….Beneath Hell is Furnace! Furnace Penitentiary: the world’s most secure prison for young offenders, buried a mile beneath the earth’s surface. Convicted of a murder he didn’t commit, sentenced to life without parole, “new fish” Alex Sawyer knows he has two choices: find a way out, or resign himself to a death behind bars, in the darkness at the bottom of the world.

So, how do you enter to win the book?  Simple – just leave a comment below and you will receive one entry in the giveaway.  Want an even better chance to win?  Tweet the following and you will receive TWO entries into the contest – “Check out @thewordzombie and enter to win a free copy of “Lockdown” by Alexander Gordon Smith.  Visit them here – http://bit.ly/pRCZo6″

All entries (both comments and tweets) should be received by 5:00CST on Saturday, September 3, 2011.  You can both leave a comment and Tweet once each day between now and the 3rd.  The winner will be randomly chosen on Sunday, September 4th.  Thanks – and good luck!

 

www.alexandergordonsmith.com

http://us.macmillan.com/author/alexandergordonsmith

 

23
Aug

Review – “Samson and Denial” by Robert Ford

“Samson and Denial” is a new novella from Bob Ford.  Part good old-fashioned horror story, part character study on the necessity and danger of denial as a survival mechanism – it’s an engrossing story that hides a surprising depth.  Ford packs a hell of a lot (and a lot of hell) in to these 125 pages.

 

The story follows Samson, a man of not a few faults and shortcomings:

 

We’ve never met, you know me.  There’s someone like me in every crowd.

 

I’m the guy who always has a stain on his shirt or has his fly unzipped.  I’m the guy who leaves the men’s room with a ribbon of toilet paper trailing from the heel of his shoe.  On a Chinese calendar I’m the guy who’s born in the year of the pig or the rabbit or the cock.  Never something cool like the year of the tiger or the dragon.

 

I’m never the cool guy.

22
Aug

Review – “Ready Player One” by Ernest Cline

When I go back and watch a Spielberg film from the late 70s or early 80s, it has a certain look and feel to it – a tone that is instantly recognizable.  When I watch a sitcom from the 80s, it has a singular cadence that instantly puts me at ease, and prepares me to have my problems solved in 30 minutes or less.  When I play a video game from the late 70s or early 80s, it makes my fingers itch for a quarter.  And, when I read one of the books I loved when I was a teenager, it brings back the pure joy I would find in losing myself in another time and another place.  I spend so much time thinking about what I read now; it’s becoming more and more rare for me to find that unadulterated escape in a book anymore.  I found it when I read “Ready Player One” – and I loved it.

 

17
Aug

Review – “The Neighborhood” by Kelli Owen

When I reviewed Kelli Owen’s novel “Six Days” earlier this year, I had this to say:

 

Owen has set the bar very high with her debut novel, a bar I have no doubt she will be able to surpass.  Her blend of human observations, horror sensibilities, and gifted prose portend great things for her in the future.

 

With the release of her novella “The Neighborhood” in September, you will find that she is delivering quite nicely on that potential.

 

The titular neighborhood in the book is Neillsville, a town so small it “doesn’t even have its own Local Weather on the 8s”.  It’s the kind of small town where the idea of idyllic living is far more important, and far more real, than the living itself.  The kind of town where the best-kept secrets are the ones kept out in the open for everyone to see.

 

17
Aug

A message as relevant today as it was 60+ years ago

There was a time in this country when patriotism and love of freedom was something to be proud of – not something to be derided and mocked by the elite.  There was a time when success was lauded and put forth as something to aspire to – not something to be punished and taxed into extinction.  There was a time when freedom was cherished – not traded for the soft tyranny of “safety”.

I recently came across a cartoon from 1948 (thanks to the Thorum at bradthor.com), that is a relevant today as it was when it was made 63 years ago – perhaps even more so.  It’s a cartoon that puts forth a persuasive argument for the American way of life.  It’s a cartoon that tells you everything you need to know about the financial and jobs crisis we are currently in, and what the path back to prosperity looks like.  And, unfortunately – it’s a cartoon than would most likely never be made in today’s America:

When anybody preaches disunity – tries to pit one of us against the other through class warfare, race hatred, or religious intolerance – you know that person seeks to rob us of our freedom and to destroy our very lives.



Watch it.  Think about it.  Discuss it.  Pass it on.


11
Aug

My Interview with Brad Thor – “Full Black”

Last week I had the opportunity to attend a book signing in Little Rock, AR with Brad Thor.   Brad is wrapping up a promotional swing in support of his latest release “Full Black”.  (If you haven’t had a chance to read “Full Black”, it’s one of Brad’s best books to date.  You can read my review of it here.)  It was the first Brad Thor book signing I’ve had a chance to attend and after my experience – it definitely won’t be the last.

 

The signing was held at Books-A-Million in Little Rock.  That meant a 3 ½ hour drive for me.  I was a bit tired when I finally arrived, but the staff at Books-A-Million were all very helpful.  The setting for the event was casual and intimate.  When Brad arrived, he greeted the crowd and thanked everyone for coming out to support him.  He then spent the next half hour talking about a wide range of subjects; everything from the inspiration for “Full Black” (“I went out to people I knew in the intelligence and special operations community and I said – I write about what keeps me up at night.  This time, though, I want to know – what keeps you up at night?), an update on the adaptation of his Scot Harvath books into films (“We signed a big deal with Warner Brothers in November.”), and his views on Islam (“I’ve never been anti-Islam.  I’m definitely anti-Islamist.  There is a difference.  If you say your religion compels you to go kill people – your interpretation of your religion sucks.”)

 

After a few questions from the audience, Brad jumped in to signing books.  He was genuinely excited to meet and talk to his fans.  He took time to speak to everyone personally as they reached the table, he took pictures with anyone and everyone who asked, and he was happy to sign as many books as people had brought with them.  In short, he showed true class and an appreciation for those that have read and loved his books over the years.  (In another classy move, he invited any veterans and any parents with small children to come directly to the front of the line.  That, more than anything, impressed me – and spoke to his character.)

 

As the evening was wrapping up, only I was left, along with quite a few active members of the Thorum – Brad’s online discussion forum.  As I sat and listened to Brad talk with them, I was struck by the camaraderie they all shared.  It was more an easy conversation among friends than a book signing between author and fans.  I realized that I was seeing the true secret to the success of Brad Thor – a desire and willingness to truly connect with people.  To have a conversation – not just give a lecture.

 

After the event was over, every book signed and every picture taken, Brad was kind enough to spend some time talking with me.  It was great to sit down and chat with him in person.  He has an infectious energy about him and an engaging personality.  It was late, he was feeling a bit under the weather, but he was more than gracious with his time.  I hope you, faithful reader, enjoy our conversation.

1
Aug

Happy 30th Birthday MTV

30 years ago today, on August 1, 1981 – MTV made it’s debut on the country’s cable systems.  It was destined to change the face of popular music.  I was a spry ten years old at the time and had the fortune to spend the entirety of my musically formative years as part of the first MTV generation.  I don’t watch much MTV these days (have segued as so many others into the VH1 and/or CMT generation), but it still holds a special place in my life.  So – to celebrate its 30th birthday (just a month after my 40th), I thought I would take a few moments to look back at a few of my favorite MTV memories.

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…

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