Technically, A Life With Ghosts is not meant to dive deep into why Steve Gonsales loves paranormal invstigation. What’s presented is a fond recollection of his time with TAPS.
Simon & Schuster
The question I have about Steve Gonsalves memoir, A Life With Ghosts, is if he truly wrote it all? I suspect Michael Aloisi may have contributed with the background information. Afterwards, the tone switches over to this ghost hunter’s voice. Thankfully, this consultant gets credited too and his credentials are listed on the back book sleeve cover.
Technically, Ghost Hunters was not the first reality tv style show about paranormal investigators. That credit goes to Most Haunted. Before then, there were television specials and one off documentaries which helped let people know that there’s something of a general (if not academic) interest in this subject. Loyd Auerbach is the leader in the field, and I’m surprised Gonsalves didn’t mention either him or That’s Incredible! Both were the closest thing to witnessing investigators in the field back then (the late 70s) and he’d be at that right impressionable age when both were featured on network television.
This author’s journey to the heart of rock and roll in Don’t Call It Hair Metal is the same as mine when when I discovered this genre at an early age.
May 16, 2023
Everything you want to know but were afraid to ask about what went on behind the scenes and in the evolution of heavy metal is well accounted for in Sean Kelly’s Don’t Call It Hair Metal. This deft exploration of the 80s music scene in 320 page book published by ECW Press is great at delving into the origin of many famous bands from the 70s onwards. From Slade to KISS to Ozzy Osbourne’s solo career after Black Sabbath, the examination even dives deep to reveal something new about each act that I’m a fan of.
This book isn’t about random bits of trivia. It’s an excellent scholarly study on why a lot of bands are still performing. What they produce is for the love of the sound, not the look, or even the glam that shook up the stage to draw in crowds. Alice Cooper is the godfather of the scene for a reason, and we get some great stories from various talents remembering those times.
Instead of exploring the decade as a whole, each chapter deals with a few years at a time. We get even more studies about how talents like Randy Roads developed their signature sound, and the interviews from industry observers and other fellow guitarists only add to the picture. Whether that’s about their heydays or something anecdotal, I’m certainly enjoying this read. It’s best not to power through this book, either, as there’s a lot of terrific quotes from the talents Kelly interviewed.
This author’s journey to the heart of rock and roll is the same as mine when when I discovered heavy metal at an early age. And to hear the stories about how some bands persevered is sweet. Also, to read about what this author believes are the best platinum hits only affirms why I loved one album over another. For me, Def Leppard‘s Pyromania will always be my number one album to put on the turntable. Twisted Sister never came into my radar until “We’re not Gonna Take It,” and watching them transform into a glam act; but after a while, they took the makeup off and went back to the sound that is their roots.
As this book insinuates, it’s not about the hair, but the intention of why each group wanted to make a dent in the industry. Poison and Ratt were huge during this time, and it’s not because of the acts put on stage, their life behind the scenes or something else. Regarding the former, Brett Michaels’ journey is a book in itself, and it’s been looked upon in those documentaries made by VH1.
Even MTV’s influence is recounted here, and without them and the music videos which showed these bands at their craziest (or best), I doubt this era would be remembered fondly. Kelly’s love for the genre and his personal journey makes for the perfect narrative device to move readers year to year, and I suspect writing Don’t Call It Hair Metal took more than a a year to craft. Although the preview edition doesn’t contain any snapshots, that may change when the hard copy finally comes out.
Sheridan le Fanu’s Carmilla gets a modern Chinese spin by Amy Chu and Soon Lee.
Dark Horse Comics Berger Books Imprint
Amy Chu and Soon Lee’s reinterpretation on Sheridan le Fanu’s Carmilla is all kinds of wonderful. Not only do we get a modern interpretation from a Chinese perspective but also Lee’s auburn design on the pages where it flashbacks, alluding to the original prose, is beautiful. Here, the vampire is named Violet, and the place she makes her base of operation may be named after the famous vampire we all know.
Here, Athena is a social worker wishing she can do more for those struggling to survive in Manhattan. Her life is okay, but it seems something is holding her back. When one of her patients turns up dead, she investigates in true Kolchak fashion and what she finds in that nightclub goes beyond simply confronting some pimp. She becomes enamoured, and as a lesbian herself, she understands what’s going on. But after meeting Violet, there’s more than meets the eye not only about this seductress but also this nightmare that soon unfolds.
While half of this picture book is about being close to those Immortal Guitar Axes, the other half is rich with some informative bit of history regarding that stringed instrument.
Immortal Guitar Axes is a perfect and heavy coffee-table book that’s sure to be an eye pleaser.It not only puts a lot of these beauties in the forefront, but also each instrument has a story too! Lisa S. Johnson‘s love for the six-string is very clear in the prose, and I suspect she did a lot of fieldwork to find out where some of them have disappeared to. Some were lost to history for one reason or another, and others thought destroyed.
For example, just when Peter Frampton (who played with many talents, ranging from David Bowie to Ringo Starr) thought he lost his beloved after the cargo plane crashed over Venezuela, it survived! Although not every guitar has a story like this one, what’s recounted is a look back about where it was either bought or made. Many artists’ instruments are profiled here, and while we already know everything about some axes, namely Brian May’s Red Special, others aren’t as widely known. I really appreciate the chapter about Suzi Quatro since it’s her music which got me to love that classic rock n’ roll all over again ever since I saw her on Happy Days.
I Want to Believe, An Investigator’s Archive delves into the backend that television shows rarely feature–getting to know the people. In this book by Jason Hewlett and Pete Renn, we get a down to earth interviews with various paranormal investigators from across the world (North America mostly) who are truly dedicated to this craft, and why they’ve made it their life’s passion.
To cap things off, we hear a story or two of their most memorable finds about the hereafter. They won’t send shivers down your spine, but here, you’ll get a better sense of what these people do than seeing a dramatized take on television. This book is a loose extension these author’s own YouTube series, We Want to Believe, where they investigate the occult.