Tag: Biography

Gunnar Hansen’s Chain Saw Confidential

Chain Saw Confidential: How We Made the World’s Most Notorious Horror Movie
Author: Gunnar Hansen
Published: September 24, 2013

Reviewed By: Kim
Kim’s Rating: 5 stars

Book Description:

When The Texas Chain Saw Massacre first hit movie screens in 1974 it was both reviled and championed. To critics, it was either “a degrading, senseless misuse of film and time” or “an intelligent, absorbing and deeply disturbing horror film.” However it was an immediate hit with audiences. Banned and celebrated, showcased at the Cannes film festival and included in the New York MoMA’s collection, it has now come to be recognized widely as one of the greatest horror movies of all time.

A six-foot-four poet fresh out of grad school with limited acting experience, Gunnar Hansen played the masked, chain-saw-wielding Leatherface. His terrifying portrayal and the inventive work of the cast and crew would give the film the authentic power of nightmare, even while the gritty, grueling, and often dangerous independent production would test everyone involved, and lay the foundations for myths surrounding the film that endure even today.

Critically-acclaimed author Hansen here tells the real story of the making of the film, its release, and reception, offering unknown behind-the-scenes details, a harrowingly entertaining account of the adventures of low-budget filmmaking, illuminating insights on the film’s enduring and influential place in the horror genre and our culture, and a thoughtful meditation on why we love to be scared in the first place.

Kim’s Review:

A while ago, I made the admission that I love horror. I can blame Ivan for introducing me to horror movies, but even before that, I loved the horror genre in books. The scarier the better! Ivan and our friend, Adam, have talked about Texas Chainsaw Massacre before and I had begged Ivan to watch it with me. He included the soundtrack from the remake on his Halloween playlist and that theme is seriously the scariest score I have ever heard, but I couldn’t watch the remake until I watched the original, so I asked Ivan again to watch it with me. Finally, FINALLY, we sat down to watch it . . . blew my friggin mind! I jumped, I squealed, I shut my eyes, I asked why . . . but what shocked me was that a week afterward, I was still pondering. Ivan has a habit of asking me what I’m thinking about while we’re driving, and that week, I answered “The Texas Chainsaw Massacre.” He got so excited and we ended up having conservation after conversation about this dang movie!

I have to say, I really love Chainsaw! It’s violent and graphic and horrible, but it’s riveting! I was so intrigued and continue to be so! Audible had a Halloween sale and look! A book by the man who played Leatherface all about the filming of the movie!!! I bought it, and listened to it, and now I want to watch Chainsaw again!! I learned so much; the people behind this movie were just as crazy as you’d expect. Reading about the dinner scene was enlightening and I was surprised at how horrible the filming was for the cast and crew. I am so sad that Gunnar Hansen is dead and I can never meet him. Toby Hooper, the director, is also dead . . . I was born in the wrong decade. This book isn’t for everybody, but if you are a horror fan, then this book is for you! I absolutely recommend it and the original movie!

Purchase Links:
Amazon US
Amazon UK

Here is the movie trailer for the 1974 version of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre:

Capital Gaines

Capital Gaines: Smart Things I Learned Doing Stupid Stuff
Author and Narrator: Chip Gaines
Published: October 17, 2017

Reviewed By: Jessica
Dates Read: December 11-13, 2018
Jessica’s Rating: 3 stars

Book Description:

The funny and talented Chip Gaines is well known to millions of people as a TV star, renovation expert, bestselling author, husband to Joanna, and father of 4 in Waco, Texas. But long before the world took notice, Chip was a serial entrepreneur who was always ready for the next challenge, even if it didn’t quite work out as planned. Whether it was buying a neighborhood laundromat or talking a bank into a loan for some equipment to start a lawn-mowing service, Chip always knew that the most important thing was to take that first step.

In Capital Gaines, we walk alongside him as he relives some of his craziest antics and the lessons learned along the way. His mentors taught him to never give up and his family showed him what it meant to always have a positive attitude despite your circumstances. Throw in a natural daredevil personality and a willingness to do (or eat!) just about anything, and you have the life and daily activity of Chip Gaines.

Capital Gaines is the perfect book for anyone looking to succeed not only in business but more importantly in life.

Jessica’s Review:

I previously listened to The Magnolia Story which was narrated by both Chip and Joanna Gaines. (My review is here).  Capital Gaines is a bit of a ‘rehash’ of it but solely from Chip’s perspective. I must say I have only ever seen Fixer Upper once when my car was getting serviced, so I don’t really know much of their story other than what I read in Magnolia Story.

Chip is the better narrator of the couple, so I enjoyed listening to his narration.  Chip’s writing is more juvenile than Joanna’s and it seems like he writes the way he talks. He comes off on the impulsive side.  Several times he talks about the cover of the book and how it came to be. Honestly, I did not care about it and the cover is not that great of a picture. But he is proud of it, so go for it Chip.  The book comes off a bit scattered, and maybe that’s how Chip is himself. 

I did like how he talks about his faith in God. I am curious about their show, though it is off the air now.  I may try to find a couple of episodes to watch and ‘get to know’ the Gaines’.

I would say Capital Gaines would be for fans of the show Fixer Upper. 

Purchase Links:
Amazon US
Amazon UK


Blog Blitz: The Little Gate-Crasher

Today I am one of the blogs sharing my review for the blog blitz for The Little Gate-Crasher: The Life and Photos of Mace Bugen by Gabrielle Kaplan-Mayer.

Book Description:

Mace Bugen might have been an achondroplastic dwarf, 43 inches tall with an average size head and torso set on small, twisted legs—but that didn’t mean he was an idiot or a pushover. In truth, he was smarter than most; over the years, he learned to effectively turn what society in those days called a handicap into a powerful tool he could use to his advantage.

“When I was a kid,” he once said, “I’d ask myself, Why is that guy on the football team? Why can’t I be on the team? Why didn’t God give me the height so I could be the hero?”

“Then at some point I figured it out: I gotta do something special to let ’em know I’m me.”

In The Little Gate Crasher: The Life And Photos Of Mace BugenI remember my amazing great-Uncle Mace Bugen through his journey as a first-generation Jewish-American kid in working class Philipsburg, NJ to becoming the first celebrity selfie-artist—way ahead of his time.

Featuring vintage photos of Mace with his exploits, The Little Gate Crasher captures three decades of American pop culture, seen through the unique lens of Mace and his gate-crashing exploits.

Underneath his antics, we meet a complex man who continually defies others expectations and meets life on his own terms. Mace becomes a successful businessman and devoted son to his aging parents. But in his gate-crashing antics, we best get to see Mace’s unique combination of guile, cunning and sense of entitlement, which he used to engineer photos of himself with some of the biggest celebrities of his day. If people were going to stare at him all of his life, he would give them something to see.

The Little Gate Crasher features over 50 vintage photos of Mace with celebrities, athletes and politicians, including Babe Ruth, Hank Aaron, Muhammed Ali, Richard Nixon, Jane Russel, Joe DiMaggio and more.

The Little Gate Crasher: The Life and Photos of Mace Bugen
Author: Gabrielle Kaplan-Mayer
Published: April 18, 2016
110 pages

Reviewed By: Jessica
Date Read: August 26, 2018
Jessica’s Rating: 4 stars

Jessica’s Review:

You see a picture of Mace Bugen and think “I know him from somewhere!” He’s one of those faces you won’t forget, and not just because of his size.  Mace was an achondroplastic dwarf who did not let his small stature get the best of him, instead of blaming his height, he accepted it!  His size was the equivalent to a four year old. He was ahead of his time taking what we now know of as selfies with some of the biggest celebrities, politicians and sports figures  of his time! Sometimes the celebrities were willing participants; sometimes the pictures are blurry in his creative ‘photo-bomb’ attempts to get photos. He even got a photo with Former President Nixon and the man who would later develop the polio vaccine: Dr. Jonas Salk.

This book is more than just a picture book of a man with celebrities: we learn about him, his family (which includes the author) and his life in this biography.  The author, Gabrielle Kaplan-Mayer is his great-niece and she put her heart and soul into this book. Mace may have been short in stature but his personality and antics were larger than life. This should be a book everyone should have, it would make a perfect coffee table book.

Purchase Links:
Amazon US

Amazon UK

Moishe Morris “Mace” Bugen
June 12, 1915- October 31, 1982

About the Author:

Gabrielle Kaplan-Mayer is an experienced educator, author and speaker. At Jewish Learning Venture, she works as Director of Whole Community Inclusion and leads disability awareness programs for the Philadelphia Jewish community. Her most recent book The Little Gate Crasher, a memoir of her Great-Uncle, who overcame society’s prejudices about dwarfism to lead a remarkable life, was one of the national book selections for 2017 Jewish Disability Awareness & Inclusion Month. Gabby writes for and edits The New York Jewish Week’s The New Normal: Blogging Disability and is also a featured Philly parenting blogger for WHYY’s newsworks. Gabby holds a B.F.A. in theatre and creative writing from Emerson College and an M.A. in Jewish Studies from the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College.

Contact Gabrielle:
Twitter @gabkaplanmayer


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