Pelican by Emily O’Neill (A Review)

Originally posted on Sundog Lit Blog:

112 pages | $16

O’Neill knows how to listen to language, to tease out all the possibilities it has to offer (after all, she claims to owe her poetic education to the Cantab Louge in Cambridge, home of the Boston Poetry Slam, and what better space is there to learn how to load each word like a weapon?). Her list of publications and awards then comes as no surprise: Pelican won the Pamet River Prize from YesYes Books, and “de los Muertos,” included in the collection, was selected by Jericho Brown as the winner of the Gigantic Sequins’ second annual poetry contest. This debut collection does confirm that hers is a voice to watch, a voice urgent and impressive in its accuracy.

Death and loss permeate each and every poem in Pelican, but Emily O’Neill doesn’t do maudlin: she gives new edges to an…

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A rant about seriousness in pop culture, Simon Pegg, and moral complexity

Daniel Casey:

“emotionally and morally complex stories make emotionally and morally complex people”

Originally posted on The Stake:

simon-pegg-star-trekIn an interview with Radio Times, Simon Pegg said that we culture consumers are being rendered unserious:

Now we’re essentially all consuming very childish things – comic books, superheroes. Adults are watching this stuff, and taking it seriously.

It is a kind of dumbing down, in a way, because it’s taking our focus away from real-world issues. Films used to be about challenging, emotional journeys or moral questions that might make you walk away and re-evaluate how you felt about … whatever.

The nuances of Pegg’s argument go beyond the above quote, and his clarifying remarks add further to his point (be sure to read them). But the crux is really this: culture is being dumbed-down by our celebration of superheroes, spectacle, comic-books and all the unserious things that define our current pop culture landscape.

That’s the argument. Is he correct? Or being a condescending ass?

Devin Faraci of Birth. Movies…

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Book Review: When Shadows Fall by Bruce Blake

Novels about gods and demons, monsters and magic, tend to lose me early on. When I think about it for a moment, this seems odd given the love I’ve had for mythology since I was a child. I wasn’t into dinosaurs as a seven/eight year old boy, I was into Edith Hamilton. So maybe I’ve just convinced myself I’m burnt out. 

In an effort to revise my tastes I’ve come to Bruce Blake’s When Shadows Fall, the first book of his new epic fantasy series The Small Gods.

When Shadows Fall is superbly paced and character driven. For a story premised on prophecy, as a reader it’s less about figuring out some divine mystery and more about watching characters discover their fates. Blake isn’t a new author (he’s written two other fantasy series), so we’re encountering a steady hand as we enter the world of Small Gods and When Shadows Fall is a very promising start. 

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Slaves in Silk Cages: A Book Review of RJ Price’s Trouble

RJ Price’s debut fantasy novel Trouble, the first of her Seat of Magic series, is an engrossing story, one that compels a reader’s sustained attention. Trouble demands active reading, which means piecing together clues, anticipating questions, and speculating. Although information is revealed and presented in standard exposition and in dialogue, none of it feels forced or rote, which is itself a talent within the genre.

Trouble is well paced, realistically crafted, and vivid. And rather than being merely escapist fiction, it pushes against ingrained tropes and assumptions so prevalent in the genre without being preachy. 

A complex magic system is often superfluous to a well-crafted story just as an expansive geography usually obscures a story’s shallowness. RJ Price avoids both of these pitfalls by creating a world wherein the setting is focused (the intrigue at a royal court) and the magic pragmatic (a force that keeps the lights on and the water running). Yet at no point in the story do readers feel that they are getting only a sliver of the world, a meagre or undeveloped portion. 

Price is also able to subvert the standard romance dynamic by creating social norms that are at once strange but clearly familiar. This is a world of binaries, where women control magic and men try to control them. The tension of Price’s world is deeply rooted in gender politics, but it would be wrongheaded to claim there is an agenda. 

Lady Aren Argnern, our heroine, doesn’t want a lord or a prince, she doesn’t want to rule the kingdom, she has no interest in some kind of revenge or petty melodrama. Rather, she simply wants to find a place where she can live in peace and freedom. Her dream is simply to let be.

This, of course, can’t be allowed. 

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Foodiesphere: Three Quickies–Kale Feta Quiche, Flaxseed Chicken, & Parmesan Kale and Bacon

Kale Feta Quiche

You can never go wrong with a quiche or, as one of my friend’s children call it, ‘egg pie.’ I had to get milk and coffee the other day and while in the grocery store I discovered  a dozen eggs on sale for .59 cents and a bushel of organic kale on sale for .99 cents. Turns out the most expensive ingredient in this dish was the feta crumbles.


6 eggs 
cup of milk 
4 oz. feta crumbles
half a bundle of chopped kale
tablespoon of olive oil

In a bowl, beat the eggs, milk, and feta. Set aside. Make sure the kale is well chopped. In a skillet, heat up the oil and saute the kale for between 5-10 minutes. 
Preheat oven to 350. Put the kale into a 10-12 inch pie dish, then pour the egg mixture over it all. Spread evenly, then place in oven to bake for 30-40 minutes.

Flaxseed Chicken

I’ve been trying to find more ways to get flaxseed into my diet. I’ve used it as a substitute for flour in a couple of soups and in pancakes, both were merely adequate. I decided that I would try my hand at encrusting or breading chicken with ground flax. It didn’t look pretty but it tasted okay. Again, my flax dish was merely adequate, but at least, it’s easy. 


1 lb of chicken breasts or chicken breast tenders cut into cubes 
a cup of ground flaxseed 
half a cup of shredded Parmesan cheese
one egg 
teaspoon of salt & pepper

I use a coffee grinder to turn my flaxseed into a course flour (the health benefits of flaxseed only come through if the flax is ground). Mix the flax, cheese, and salt and pepper in a bowl. Set aside. In a smaller dish, beat the egg well. Then take the chicken, dip it into the egg, roll it in the flax mixture, and put into your baking dish. Sprinkle remaining flax mixture over the chicken then put your dish into the oven at 350 for 30-40 minutes.

Parmesan Kale & Bacon 

Kale isn’t so great. So I decided to pair it with bacon because…why not. This turned out to be really easy and made for a great tasting and filling lunch or dinner side.


6 strips of bacon 
3 cloves garlic, diced 
tablespoon of olive oil 
half a bundle of chopped kale
quarter cup of Parmesan cheese

Cut the bacon into half inch sections. In a skillet, saute bacon and garlic. Just before the bacon is cooked to your liking, add the kale and olive oil. Stir until the kale is dark green and wilty, roughly 10-15 minutes. Remove from heat, sprinkle cheese over, and serve.