I Kill Giants

To those fighting their own giants,
You’re stronger than you think.

I Kill GiantsI Kill Giants is one of those book that I have heard a lot about but never seemed to encounter out in the world. Recently I made a list of graphic novels to buy and this one somehow came out of my brain and made the list. Earlier this week I had the opportunity to order a few things and the book ended up as one of the four I ordered.  I wasn’t sure what to expect and what I got was something few different than what I had in my mind. It is a wonderful book.  Emotional, tough to read at a few points and it ended up touching my heart in a way no book has ever done. It is a book I think everyone would benefit from reading.

Describing the book without giving away the story is difficult and I think it is critical that one goes into the story without too much prior knowledge of what is going on. Barbara Thorson is a girl struggling through 5th grade. She is a bit of an outcast and he insistence that she is a giant killer has isolated her from both her family and the the rest of the world. She is clearly too intelligent for her own good and as a result comes off as a real smart ass to everyone including those people trying to help her and be a part of her life. Barbara seems to be the typical outsider that plays D&D and has nothing but disdain for the rest of the world because they just don’t understand what is really happening.

As the story progresses, it becomes clear that Barbara is dealing with something far worse than teachers that don’t understand her and bullies that won’t leave her alone. This is where the story shines. Barbara’s story is slowly revealed through the course of the book and by the end it is tough not to find the tears flowing. I mean that literally. This book got hard for me to read. It is a book about friendship, about accepting the world as it is, and about letting go.

One of the things I really got out of this was a reminded that you never know what is going on in someone else’s life. It is a phrase often stated but remains just as true as ever. We would do well not to assume anything about a person when we don’t know enough about them. Even the most perfect person has their own struggles and battles. Best to keep that in mind before we pass judgement.

Joe Kelly’s story and JM Ken Nimura’s art work well together to tell Barabara’s story.  This is a black an white comic but don’t let that push you away. I think the format works very well for this book. Although the art isn’t complicated in detail it is worth taking time to appreciate.  Their are subtleties there that I suspect many would miss but it adds to the development of Barbara’s world. Frightening when it needs to be frightening and joyous when it needs to be joyous. I wish I knew more about these creators but I believe this is my first experience with them but I intend to seek out more of their work.

I Kill Giants is a touchingly beautiful story that I can’t recommend highly enough. It might not work for kids under 12 and there are some adult references in the book but overall it has something to say to all of us, young and old. Seek it out if you can or just borrow my copy if you can’t. I would love to talk to you about it.

Up Periscope

PeriscopeAlong with YouTube, another obsession in my house has been Periscope. If you haven’t already given this service a whirl, I highly recommend it. Periscope is a video broadcast service connected to Twitter.  Simply put, it allows you to broadcast video from your smart phone or other video enabled device to your Twitter followers.  Well, at least those that are also running Periscope anyway. They can type messages to you and stroke your ego a bit by giving your broadcast “hearts” by taping on the screen. You are able to talk back to those users and respond to the comment stream that comes up on your screen. Typing comments back would be difficult and honestly I don’t know if that functionality exists but I can’t come up with a reason to want to do that while you are broadcasting.

I like this service for a couple of reasons. First, it is live. YouTube gets a lot of press and it does allow live streaming but it is a bit clunky to use on the fly. That is the second thing I like about Periscope.  It is dead simple to use. A couple of clicks and you are broadcasting.  I also like you it is connected to Twitter. You have the options of connecting to all of your connections when you start up the app but I chose not to at first.  If you DO chose to add those you follow to Periscope you can be overwhelmed with broadcast notifications. I chose to add people manually and it has worked out a little better.  The nice thing, however, is if one of you Twitter followers installs Periscope and starts their first broadcast then you will get a notification (if you haven’t turned notifications off). This allows you to add someone once they are using Periscope. It keeps the following list manageable.

I see services like this becoming larger parts of our lives in both what we allow the world to see of our lives but also what we see of the world.  My wife loves watching this rice farmer in Asia broadcast what he is doing out in the field. There are broadcasts from all over the world going on right now and I find that pretty cool. Sometimes finding something interesting can be a bit of a trick though. Narcissism plays a big part in Periscope and most people are not worth watching but the good stuff is out there if you keep looking.

Check it out and, as always, you can follow me @jeffreysmoore on Twitter and Periscope.



Testing the Waters of the YouTube Pool

Emily spends most of her free time cruising around YouTube. This means that as a family we are also watching more YouTube content than ever before. It is really wonderful how much great content is out there just waiting to be consumed.  Educational content, entertainment, news, and literally anything else you need information on is out there. Of course a whole lot of completely worthless junk is out there too. They don’t make jokes about cat videos without some basis in fact.

I have been playing around with YouTube since the early days but have never loaded many videos myself. That might start changing. Oh, don’t worry about having to watch me. That won’t happen. I have a face for radio and a voice for the printed word. I am playing around with our GoPro though so you will likely see those kind of videos on my YouTube channel.  Stuff like this for example.

I need to work on editing more but this was only a test.  If there is something you would like to see let me know. I probably won’t film it but you never get anything if you don’t ask!

Still Here

I am constantly amazed at how fast time moves the older I get.  February, March, April, and now May have all come and almost gone and to me I still feel like Christmas was just a few days ago. I think of all the things that come with getting older that is the one curiosity that I keep coming back to. I try not to dwell on it to much because if I do I start to realize the if my life expectancy is anything like my father’s then I am two thirds done with my time on Earth and that scares me. Really and honestly it frightens me to a point that in those quiet moments in the day when I am left alone with my thoughts I can imagine myself going insane from the fear of death.  It passes and I move on but those moments are real and something I didn’t experience until the last year or so.

With that being said, in some ways I am happier than ever. I am really enjoying life with my wife and daughter. We are working well as a family.  We are having fun and most of the time truly seem to enjoy being around each other. Emily is reaching the age where she can talk deeply and knowledgeably about many things and we have some great discussions.  The three of us really work well together and have been having some wonderful family experiences. I look forward seeing how our family continues to evolve over time.

The year anniversary of my father’s death came and went and I did not really address it publicly. I just couldn’t find words that fit how I felt. I miss him a lot.  More now than right after when he passed. I am having a hard time with the thought of “never again” when it comes to talking to him and the further removed I am from his death the more real and painful that reality becomes.  He was a good person, better than I will ever be, and someone I didn’t have enough time with when he was here.

One of the great things in life is finding or understanding your purpose. I am not sure I have it right yet but I get the strong impression that my purpose is to be a father. I don’t know if I am doing it right but I enjoy the hell out of it and watching Emily grow up has been the real joy of my life. I don’t know how often it happens but in our case Emily really is greater than the sum of parts that came to make her.  I believe Cindy would agree with me on that.  She is smart and funny and has a kindness in her that I never had. I hope the world does not burn it out of her. If she can be that person when she is 30 then I would feel like I did my job.

Anyway, I am still here, alive and kicking. At least for another day anyway.  There are only a few hours left so I think I will be able to close this one out. We’ll just have to wait and see how tomorrow goes.

Revival by Stephen King


“Revival” By Stephen King

Those that know me at all know that I have been a Stephen King fan since I started reading “adult” novels. I remember my mom borrowing them from a library and I guess I picked up on the buzz surrounding his work during those early years. Eventually my mom even had a few of his books on the shelf at home. I vividly remember reading her copies of The Dead Zone and Firestarter to this very day. Reading those books was like watching an R rated movie when you were too you to really be doing so.  There was something forbidden and dangerous about it and that made it all the more interesting and exciting. Of course my parents never really censored books from my so I wasn’t doing anything off-limits but it still felt like it. I was hooked from the very first book I read and I have been hooked ever since.

I have to admit that I haven’t been as enamored with King’s work the last few years. I have spoken often about the change in his writing after his accident. His mastery of the craft has not changed but the stories just don’t have the same punch as what I remember from those early works. I will certainly admit that we are both older and that may influence both his writing and my experience reading his writing but I still argue that he has softened over time. The other thing of note is that those early books, the ones that really put him on the map, were written under a cloud of addiction. King overcame alcohol and drug addiction during his career and while this admirable and I am really glad he is still around there is no denying that mind altering substances can enhance the creative process. Whether it is age, the accident, sobriety, or just the well starting to run dry, King’s work doesn’t strike me in the same way it once did. There are always flashes of the old King in his more recent work but nothing every comes together quite like Pet Sematary or IT. At least not for me anyway and Revival is no different.

Revival is about a young boy who crosses paths with a minister that has come to his town to take over the local church. Reverend Jacobs is also fairly young but is married with a child and seems to have a very content life. It is a life, however, that hides a mystery and a very peculiar hobby.  The boy, Jamie Morton, encounters the Reverend Jacobs at several points throughout his life and although Jacobs helps Jamie out of a very serious situation the price that Jamie has to pay is very unexpected. It seems the Reverend might be messing around with things that aren’t exactly in the bible.

I figure that is enough of a plot outline to get you interested.  What I really want to talk about is my thoughts on the book after I finished it.  There will likely be spoilers scattered about from this point on so be aware.  I won’t warn you again.

I liked the book. I looked forward to reading it every day. Jamie is an interesting character even if he is all too familiar to King’s “constant readers”. What is regretful here is that Charles Jacobs is the more interesting character and way too little of him is seen in the book. He pops up that the critical points and then all but disappears. While I expect King intends Jacobs to be mostly a cipher I really would have like a little more with him. In fact, that is what I think this book is missing. There isn’t enough of the antagonist so there isn’t enough tension or intense beats within the story. It is just a slow build to the climax which happens about 15 pages or so before the end of the book. It is over quickly and then you get that very King ending where even though the danger has passed, nothing is quite back to normal and the hero always has some kind of debt to repay. For me it was just a kind of tired end and one that I have read many times before in other forms. I had the same criticism of Doctor Sleep and this book follows much of that book’s structure. It is so disappointing. I desperately want to have those same experiences that I had with King when I was younger but nothing seems to deliver. Maybe the experience is different for people that have not read a lot of King’s work. I wonder.

I also want to address one specific problem I have with the book.  This is absolutely for those that have read the book and I would love to hear from anyone else on the subject. Jacobs is almost a sympathetic character. The kind of pain someone must go through losing their wife and child like he did must be almost too much to bear. Jacobs’s decent into obsession is understandable but there is something that King leaves out and it is bugging me. He clearly cured Con’s condition with the “secret electricity” at the beginning of the book. That is the only explanation of Con’s behavior at the end. Given that this is true then Jacobs had already acquired some of this hidden knowledge BEFORE he came to Harlow. How did he come by this knowledge? What inspired his experiments with this knowledge BEFORE his family was taken from him? I want to know more about how he ended up with this knowledge. If he was messing around with this stuff from a young age then it is harder to see him as sympathetic. This is the root of my disappointment with the book. Jacobs is the interesting character, not Jaime. I think if this had been written in King’s early career we would know more about what Jacobs was up to prior to meeting the Morton’s. It is frustrating to see threads of things that would have been very interesting but were never fully developed.

Negatives aside, I still enjoyed the book. I always enjoy King’s books, even the bad ones and this isn’t a bad one.  Not to me. I just think way too much potentially interesting stuff was left out.  That and the quick way things ended. I wanted something deeper and I didn’t get it. Oh well, it was still a good read and I certainly would recommend it. I am admittedly a harsh critic of King. I think the biggest fans of any creator tend to be the hardest on what they create. High expectations and all of that. I have two more King books on my shelf and there are 3 or 4 more out there that I don’t own. I still plan on getting to them eventually. Once a constant reader, always a constant reader.