short book review from brian mcvey, aka “prolific” / “the aztext” (burlington hip-hopper and novel-reader)

partial review of the novel “rehabilitation”:
or,
“this is not me blowin’ smoke…” by brian mcvey- producer, performer, member of “the aztext”:

*

let me start by saying, to put this into writing will not do it justice.

i absolutely am LOVING your book. honestly bro, the first 80ish pages, where Jack is walking the streets of Burlington and in his head a lot… i couldn’t put the book down. to hear his take on local establishments (city market, UVM, etc) was unreal. i am going to re-read and highlight my fave lines… but one that stuck out like crazy was when he was commenting on having to re-learn how to socialize without booze. i wish i could remember the exact line, but, yowzahs!

the descriptions, flashbacks and just overall use of language have me in complete disbelief that I KNOW YOU.

more review to come when i’m finished.. but honestly, i can’t stop talking about it. you should be SO FLIPPIN’ PROUD OF YOURSELF.

it says it’s your second novel… what was the first? when will there be a third?

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jude throws knuckles

“I’m not jokin’,” said the brown-haired kindergarten boy.

My son, removing his snow clothes, looked over. “You’re not jokin’ about what, Porter?”

The boy blinked. “…I’m not jokin’,” he said again.

Moral: kids repeat what they hear.

*

Later that same week, I pulled up into the parent’s queue and sat idling, waiting for the kids to be released. I hadn’t quite made it up to the little corral where they contain the buggers until each parent opens the car door and sucks them up, when one of the teacher’s aides came walking up to me in the car, toting my son, Jude, by the hand.

I got out of the car.

“What’s up?”

“Jude struck another boy today,” she said. Her cheeks were apple-red. It was cold, but she was also flustered, I could tell. “He hit him once and left a red mark on his cheek. Then he hit him again and left a scratch.”

I looked at my boy’s fingernails. “I’ll have to trim those,” I said.

“Please, for us.” She said.

For us, I thought. What an odd phrasing. Then I asked, “Who was the little boy?”

“I can’t tell you that,” she said, “but, Jude knows.”

So, I apologized profusely and promised we would have a long talk about it, my son and I.  All the while though, I was thinking, she can’t tell me who the other boy is? Double odd.

But that’s the way things are today. Everybody is protected by some law or act or another. There’s no one-room schoolhouse anymore. It’s a compound of little potential lawsuits running around.

As we drove away I asked, “Jude, who was it?” He was remorseful, crying a little. No jury would convict him. “Porter,” he said.

“Why? Why did you hit him?”

“Because I was reading a book and he came over.”

Oh, makes sense, I thought. “But why did you hit him?”

“Because I hit him with my hand, with my fingernail.”

“No, Jude, that’s not why, that’s how. What made you mad?”

“Because I was reading.”

“What else?”

“I don’t know.”

“Jude, you don’t just hit someone because you are reading. If so, the subways of New York would be a constant brawl. Did you want to read by yourself?”

“Yeah. I wanted to be alone.”

Ah, I thought. Let the healing begin.

Moral of the story: Interrogate your children like they are a prisoner of war.

*

That was Friday. It was MLK weekend, so school resumed on Tuesday. I didn’t make a huge fuss over the event during the weekend break. I figure too much attention brought to a negative thing only makes a kid think, wow, look at all the special attention I’m getting when I do something bad. But, I didn’t ignore it, either. Here and there we’d talked about it, as part of normal conversation. Then I sprung it on him Tuesday morning when we got into the classroom that we were going to apologize to little Porter (who is, incidentally, about half a foot taller and at least fifteen pounds heavier than my son.)

“Jude, can you tell Porter you’re sorry?”

Porter, I saw, didn’t have a visible mark on him. Both young men were amenable to to the concilliatory exchange. Jude said, “I’m sorry I hit you, Porter.”

Porter was sort of half-smiling, looking around, probably thinking of red balloons and plastic toy horses. He said, “Thank you, Jude.”

And it was done.

Moral of the story: kids are quick to forgive.

three short rightings

you drive through town, and you pass by the bar. it’s been over a year since you’ve had a drink.

outside the bar, you glimpse men standing and smoking. you imagine it: the dirty, wet snow at your feet, the potential skirmish in the air, the cheesy pate of smokermen skin, and the smell of liquor and fried wires beneath the flesh.

the clack of billiard balls inside. the guitar chords coming from the jukebox. it’s warm inside there, warm in your stomach as you pull in the shot of SoCo and drink your next full-bodied beer. you laugh easy, you swap stories, you play pool, you drink until your heart’s content.

but outside, right there on that slushy sidewalk is where it lays. in the yellowed eyes, in the crisp crackle of coats in the cold, the cigarettes held to whitened lips, the smell of blue smoke and the flat shush of traffic going by on the street. always something looming, always something possible, all very important things to discuss; and then the dips into silence, like riding through a valley in the night, the cold whistling in your ears.

*

have to be careful now. i can feel the end in your kiss. can see the snake beneath the garden’s undergrowth. my cup runneth over; don’t want the well to run dry. made a home; not ready to fold up the tent. so much more life to live. so much that will have to be given back. that’s what’s left. to give back and to give back. i mince no thought that i bear it as a duty, and as a plea for life.

further strength, greater endruance. the course remains the same.

*

i want to scrub the sky of all the clouds. i want to chuck everything and start anew. i want to see the burning bits of paper float like large ash. i want to hear the crackle and gunshot of snapping wood. i want to scour myself until my skin is red, and tear my hair back with a horse brush.

i want to rake the trees clean with my finger nails. to comb all the bracken from the forest. so all that is left is dirt, fine and even-grained; a silt that covers all.

*

yeah, i wrote a movie review. i, too, have succumbed: avatar

saw avatar last weekend.  since i’m a very important person, i have to put in my two cents about it.  *sigh*…everybody’s an expert…

so.  the glaring disparity of the film was that the goegousness and revolutionariness of the scope was totally undermatched with the derivative, ho-hum story.  we’ve seen “dances with wolves”, “pocahontas”, “braveheart:, etc.  nothing new was under the alien sun.

i was wrong to have thought that james cameron had based the film on source material – a video game.  maybe, like cameron dreamt of the world of ‘pandora’ fifteen years ago, i dreamt of the video game “avatar.”

so, cameron is fully accountable for any dislikes.  and, then again, that’s exactly what he was: accountable to his audience, and to the studio which financed a nearly half billion dollar film.  you can’t risk alienating any significant portion of your potential audience by following a story that branches off from the main trunk of Hero Goes Native and Saves the World.  you just can’t. 

what would have been interesting would’ve been to follow a thread about the root system of the forest, and how it so mimicked the mapping of a human brain, or computers.  that incredible synergy – that entropy whereby all becomes sameness – it’s fascinating.  forest = computer = human brain.  it’s all the same.  and i don’t mean just story-wise, i mean, in reality.  i believe it is.  all roads lead to Rome.

any, i was underwhelmed by avatar.  that’s just how it shakes out of the tree; the first hour was highly engaging and i got that sense, sort of otherworldly (no pun intended), with the 3D and the breadth and beauty of the world.  there were moments when i was lost in it, rotoscoped right out of this universe.  but after the first hour, as the film fell into the inevitable formulaic trappings, i grew bored.  things started to heat-up and blow-up and i started to yawn.  people ran around frantically on screen uttering cheesy, pat lines and my knee started to bounce and i wished i could go have a cigarette and was looking at my watch. 

it came ’round again for a moment after the first big war, as the now-refugee blue cat people regrouped and our hero prepared to tame the dragon-beast, unite the clans, and save the planet – there were a few moments in there that i actually paid attention to, because they were fresh.  but it collapsed again into the usual ruckus, and rally cries rang out and the score crashed and choired (and sounded JUST like another score or two i’d heard before.)

speaking of which, the sound the horses made (with the extra legs, hmmm), was the same sound used for the velociraptors in ‘jurassic park’, when they call each other, a kind of french-horn chuffing that made sense for the bird-like dinosaurs, but not for the six-legged horses.  the marrying of iridescent aquatic life with dinosaur-ish forest creatures was neat-ish, and the land-of-the-lost giant mushrooms and plants and this and that was kinda cool.  the best moment came at night, with the forest lit up and the two beautiful cat people under the spell of the sensuousness of it all – i wanted to stay and live in there with them, even if the giant panther-dinosaur with the predator face and t-rex growl (a la jurassic park) was out prowling around. 

the thing is, despite all of this smarmy criticism of mine, the images and the feelings associated with the world of the film remained with me after i saw it, and into that night, and even followed me into the next morning.  despite the generic story, some of the silliness of the forest animals and their sounds, and missed opportunities, there was something so sensual and ancient about the blue cat people that it stained me.  and sustained me.  it’s just that when you have something so elevated in scope and technology, you wish – and even expect – that the story would match it.  you want to take this incredible world and explore it – not just touch on a few things before going for the usual thrills.  and while that may be what you want, it’s not reality.  reality is that a film of this size costs more than money.  what it costs is the canvassing respect for each potential member of the audience, and then particularly for those most likely to feel that ‘avatar’ was the best movie they’d ever seen:  the 13 year-olds.  and, not coincidentally, i don’t think, those same 13 year-olds are not as apt to find the story derivative, as they likely haven’t seen very many of the films it so smacks of.   not like an old fart like me has.