Phoenix Island

There has been a great deal of hype surrounding this, the debut novel from John Dixon.

It was optioned for (read that as: it inspired) a CBS TV show before it was even published, which is quite the impressive feat. Now, because I believe in honesty above all else, I shall take a few lines to give you a brief flurry of thoughts on Intelligence, the show inspired by this novel.

I watched the pilot, actually about 26 minutes of it, before I called it a day. I was so excited, having finished the book, but after seeing what the network delivered I was annoyed. By “inspired,” the creator really means “Hey, I think the idea of a super chip we plug into someone’s brain and it makes them superhero-y is badass; I’m taking it and writing an anemic show about governmenty spy-like action crap and giving it that NCIS pallor, and then I shall sit in my trailer and count my anticipated millions. Muwhahaha!”

I found that disheartening. The incredibly drawn characters and tension notched up with painful precision is gone, replaced with CGI effects and stiff acting. So yeah, I didn’t like the show.

I loved the book, so let me clarify why I choose to air my possibly unpopular view of the show as a preface to my book review. It’s because the book is THAT good and it deserves to be read and win your heart on its own merits. If you watched Intelligence and bought the book expecting to read that sort of pap, you’ll be disappointed. Well, unless you happen to also have taste, then you’ll probably be wisely won over. Or if you bought the book, read it, and then tuned into the show expecting to have your ass handed to you a week at a time. Guess what? More disappointment.

I do this as a measure of disclosure. The show might be good if you like that sort of thing. I don’t. I’m not a fan of much in the way of modern TV shows. The book is great. It deserves to be known as that. Enough ranting. Now, about Phoenix Island

The novel starts with the grim introduction of young Carl Freeman, a boy with a lot of problems but a big heart. He does the wrong things for the right reasons and finds himself on the other side of the judge’s bench.

Through further mishaps and circumstances, Carl finds himself sentenced to time on Phoenix Island, a sort of military boot camp from hell/juvi prison. He and the other troubled youth are subjected to degradation and horrific mental tortures under the guise of toughening them up, which really is a device for weeding out the stronger personalities.

As the story progresses, friends are made as well as enemies. There is brutality and dissension. There is fear and realization. And by the time we reach the stunning climax (think Lord of the Flies meets the first forty minutes of Full Metal Jacket) there is serious emotional conflict.

I have been purposefully vague about the major plot points, mainly because when put up against the depth and realism of the characters and the human progression of their journey, I feel the less you know going in, the better the experience will be.

I will, however, give you some things you have to look forward to: fighting, pigs, sharks, bugs, fighting, bad jokes, sweat, fighting, medical experimentation, fighting, and growing up, in more ways than one.

Phoenix Island is one heavy book. The prose is tight and smooth. Very real and easy to read. If this is Dixon’s debut, sign me up for anything he puts out.

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American Horror Story: The Drinking Game

Let’s play a drinking game! Yay!

Now here’s the plan: I’m gonna put in the first episode of American Horror Story. Every time we see a horror movie cliché, take a shot. Here’s some vodka I stole from my dad.


Foreboding house like in The Haunting. Take a shot.

Creepy twins like in The Shining. Take a shot.

Handicapped child with mystical connection to the paranormal like in The Stand. Take a shot.

Kids being assholes, like THOSE ASSHOLE KIDS ACROSS THE STREET. Take a shot.

Oh God. We haven’t even gotten to the OPENING CREDITS YET! This might be tough, guys.

Anyone else feel like playing Contra? What was the code for 99 lives again?

Oh yeah, TV show. Uh…family moves into foreboding house like in Amityville Horror. Take a shot.

Previous owners = murder/suicide, also like in Amityville Horror. Take a shot.

Crap. I’m hammered. You hammered? Cause I’m… Hey, your friend doesn’t look so good, are his eyes normally like that…

Dad in show = psychiatrist who wants to see his patients in his own home…where his teenage daughter lives? Take two shots ’cause that’s JUST STUPID.

Take another shot, cause this show is STILL ON and doesn’t seem to be ending any time soon.

Hold on. Hold on. Just keep swallowing and turn down the A/C. Not gonna puke. I’m a CHAMP. Why’s your buddy screaming over in the corner?

You hammered? ‘Cause I am HAMMERED!1

Uhhhh. Reviuwelz?>

TV SHOW! Take a shot, cause it’s a TV SHOW! On TV! Wish I was on TV—I got the looks, mom says so {} :D I AM DAPPER

Nothing cool or scary is happening, just like in The Happening. Take a shot.

Dylan McDermott’s bare ass…

…okay, guys. Here’s the part where we diverge. You stick to the vodka I gave you. I’m moving on to bleach to see if that helps. Wait, is that blood on your shirt? Oh, good. Not your blood? Good.

[ written and recorded after watching American Horror Story ]

All right, back to it. Dylan McDermott sees a hot chick, but she’s really all wrinkly and in disguise, just like in The Shining. Take a shot.

Oh, God. Bleach is different, guys. I don’t know what you’re drawing on my wall right now, but I’m telling you, this bleach? Not a party.

DO NOT DRINK BLEACH. I’m not feeling…

This cannot be. We are now watching Dylan McDermott whacking off. Bare-assed—again. Done, we are done. Take two more shots to retain your sanity and stop the video. Hey, someone has blue pixie sticks in the laundry room…gonna get me some, hold on, I’ll be back in a jiff.


Author’s Note:

The somewhat embarrassing publication of this review stemmed from the unfortunate situation of having nothing else written, on account of a last minute and unexpected hospital stay in which my stomach was pumped, revealing a lethal combination of vodka, bleach, and five teaspoons of powdered laundry detergent. Upon returning to the mansion where I live (NOT my mom’s basement, as rumors would have you believe), I found (in addition to three eviscerated bodies and a green-glowing portal with a woman’s unending, desperate sobs emanating from the other side) this review of American Horror Story. I can only assume it was I myself who wrote it, in the midst of whatever horror had occurred around me.

That being said, I think it safest for all of us if we forget this terrible, cliché-ridden show ever existed and never, NEVER attempt to finish a complete episode, lest we risk our very souls.

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