Page Title
These are some items that I've reviewed and recommend
"Things I Like" by Daniel Guyton
             TATS: THE EXPERIENCE

             "Kat Reynolds and Colleen Hammond Whitmore have composed a
             fantastic paean to one of the oldest counter-culture-slash-sub-culture
             art forms in Western society - the Tattoo. A fully-fleshed out (pun
             intended) multi-media performance extravaganza, "Tats: The
             Experience" incorporates dance, theatre, puppetry, and body art in a
             fluid, yet surprisingly character-driven script. The play (though,
             truthfully, it is much more of an event than a play) primarily follows Mattie,
along with Len, Dinah, Nash, Ansley, Sue and more, as they explore the
motivations, causes, feelings, and reactions to the body art which they, or their
friends have obtained. While the individual tattoos and body art are the primary
characters here (make no mistake, this is NOT Death of a Salesman), the script
still manages to follow (believably, heartwarmingly, and hilariously at times), the
stories of 16 characters (all played by 7 actors), who have (or have witnessed) said
tattoos. As performance art, the script excels. It allows ample room for
choreography, music, dance, shadow-puppets, actual puppets, beautiful set
designs and multi-media imagery galore. But as a play, it accomplishes even
more. It actually gives us people to care about. Real human characters who can
interact with the dancing, the music, the shadow puppets, etc, and not be... well,
"overshadowed" by the imagery. As I read through the script, I laughed, I grew
thoughtful, I felt genuine sympathy, and I found myself understanding and accepting
tattoos in a way I had never thought before. This play truly is an "experience" - both
for those beTATted and non-beTATted alike."

-Daniel Guyton
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DOUGH BOY

"Peter Marino has crafted a brilliant book for anyone who has ever experienced
insecurity (and let's face it, who hasn't?). "Dough Boy" is designed for teens, but
reads well for adults. His dialogue is witty and sharp, particularly in the character of
Tristan, who is unpopular with his classmates, but with a self-deprecating wit that
is often laugh-out-loud hilarious to the reader. When I first heard the book was for
teens, I had doubts if I would enjoy it (I'm a 31-year old man). Certainly at moments
I wished the book would be darker, or use fiercer language, but then reminded
myself that such words would not be appropriate for 13-17 year olds. As written, the
book is PERFECT for that age level, and still VERY GOOD for folks in my age group
as well. Though I occasionally felt that I would have cursed more than Tristan in
similar scenarios, I respected Marino's restraint, and found it all the more
endearing by the end.

I found all of Dough Boy's characters to be honest, believable, and so well
described that I could imagine each of them popping up in my daily life. Marino's
primary achievement in this novel is the lack of stereotypes. Oh sure, some
characters start out as the jock, the loser, the hot chick, and so on, but he ladens
each character with such depth, such pathos, and such dimension, I found myself
even empathizing with the "villains". While detesting how certain characters treated
Tristan, I never felt that those characters were two-dimensional or cliched. I found
each character to be fully human and believable.

It is a tribute to Marino's extreme talent as a writer that I felt engaged by each and
every character; engulfed in laughter or tears by each and every scene, and the only
time I ever felt disappointed was when the book was over, and I knew I'd not be
able to follow Tristan's journey any further.

At times in the novel, I felt reminded of a recent news story in which a young boy
committed suicide because of all the bullying he received at school. I worried
endlessly through the novel that Tristan might follow the same course. I don't wish
to reveal the ultimate outcome, or spoil the suspense, but as other reviewers have
commented, the book leaves you with hope, wonderment, and delight at the world
by the close of the novel. It truly is magnificent, and I'm not exaggerating when I say I
was moved to tears, AND fits of hysterical laughter at many different times
throughout.

I cannot say enough great things about this novel, except "Thank God Marino wrote
another one!" Magic and Misery is another beautiful tome by the same author which
follows through on the debut promise of "Dough Boy", and which I'll review on the
appropriate page. I'm so impressed by this author, I cannot say enough great
things about him. You MUST read these books, and you must recommend them to
the teenagers in your life. You won't regret it.

Sincerely,
Daniel Guyton (Playwright, Author)
www.danguyton.com
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MAGIC AND MISERY

"Peter Marino (author of "Dough Boy") has crafted yet another brilliant book for
anyone who has ever experienced insecurity (and let's face it, who hasn't?). The
book is designed for teens, but reads well for adults. In fact, I would argue that
"Magic and Misery" reads even better for adults than "Dough Boy", although both
would be great reads for any age.

Marino's dialogue is witty and sharp, particularly in the characters of TJ and Pan,
who are best friends, despite being unpopular with their classmates. The two
share a self-deprecating wit that is often laugh-out-loud hilarious to the reader.
Unlike Dough Boy, this book centers on a young girl, who is not nearly as
unpopular as Tristan. Because of that, the humor is not quite as sharp or biting as
it is in "Dough Boy", but it is still present, and the novel is still hysterically funny at
times.

While I would argue that "Dough Boy" is simultaneously funnier and more
depressing than "Magic and Misery", this novel is no less effective or well-written. It
simply has a more even, and in many ways, more mature tone. As before, the
characters are fully defined and three-dimensional.

The boys in school are still mean, as they were in "dough boy", but the meanness
in this novel has mostly to due with TJ's poor economic background, along with the
general boredom of growing up in a small town. While TJ interprets their cruelty as
being about her appearance, it's obvious from other characters' reactions to her
that she is a lot more attractive than she believes herself to be.

While this novel has two clearly defined villains (in Samsonite and Torno), the
novelist does show us other sides to the villains' personalities (for instance, Torno
has two ailing and elderly grandparents whom he has affection for), and it's made
clear that their meanness is more reflective of their boredom than their cruelty. Not
that their meanness is any less painful for TJ or Pan, but it makes the reader
understand that even the "Villains" can be human. I'd like to see that in a "Twilight"
novel please! :O)

I found all of Magic's characters to be honest, believable, and so well described that
I could imagine each of them popping up in my daily life. Marino's primary
achievement in both novels is the lack of stereotypes. Oh sure, some characters
start out as the dumb jock, the gay guy, the awkward girl, and so on, but he ladens
each character with such depth, such pathos, and such dimension, I found myself
empathizing with all of the characters, including the parents and the villains. While
detesting how certain characters treated TJ and Pan, I never felt that those
characters were two-dimensional or cliched. I found each character to be fully
human and believable.

When I first heard these books were for teens, I had doubts if I would enjoy them
(I'm a 31-year old man). Certainly at moments I wished "Dough Boy" would be
darker, but I never had that wish with this novel. While it isn't "dark" per se, the tone
felt right. It felt suspenseful, mysterious, funny, and sad at all the right moments. I
actually teared up at several key sections, and found myself laughing out loud at
several others.

While "Dough Boy" is absolutely perfect for ages 13 and up, I have reservations
recommending this book for people under 16. Unlike "Dough Boy", this novel
touches on sex in a slightly more adult fashion. Never going into extreme details, I
certainly wouldn't associate this book with trashy romance novels, but it does deal
with the issue in a much more frank manner that some under the age of 16 may not
be comfortable with (or, more specifically, their PARENTS may not be comfortable
with young teens reading it). Still, the novel is always tasteful, exceedingly honest,
and believable. There is nothing trashy or reprehensible about the way sex is
treated in this novel; it is simply frank at points which may upset some parents.
Teens who have had sex, have thought about it, or are familiar with the subject will
probably have no issue with the way it is treated here.

Marino is a master at his craft, and frankly, I believe he is at the top of his game with
this novel. It is a tribute to his extreme talent as a writer that I felt engaged by each
and every character; engulfed in laughter or tears by each and every scene. When
"Dough Boy" ended, I felt a slight disappointment, like I wished there was more. It
was a brilliant novel, but it left me with a craving. At the end of "Magic", I felt
complete. Perhaps the two novels together gave me what I wanted, or perhaps
"Magic" simply has a more satisfying finale. I don't know why. In any case, I felt at
ease, like I was in the hands of a master novelist reading these books, and I
believe you'll enjoy them as well.

I cannot say enough great things about this writer, and I cannot wait for the next
amazing book to come from Peter Marino."

Sincerely,
Daniel Guyton (Playwright, Author)


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MACKIN (self-titled album)

I just purchased the self-titled debut by the band Mackin, and it kicks a--! It's also
hilarious! With songs like "Take a Nap", "I Like Beer" and "Big Muscles" I found
myself laughing, while banging my head involuntarily to the beat. These guys are
catchy as hell, and fun to boot. Great for a drive to the beach, or for having a brew
while watching TV wrestling. Sadly, they won't win any Grammy's for best
songwriting, but they're far better than most of the snoozy pop crap on MTV these
days. If "Weird Al" had sex with Megadeth, their baby would sound a lot like Mackin.