Author

Michael Ruscoe

Michael Ruscoe has 201 articles published.

Michael Ruscoe is a writer, teacher, and musician living in Southern Connecticut. He is the author of the novel, "From the Stray Cat Files: You’ll Do Anything," the anthology, "Baseball: A Treasury of Art and Literature," and numerous educational texts. An instructor at Southern Connecticut State University, Ruscoe is also lead singer and songwriter for the indie band Save the Androids! In his spare time he earns karma for his next life by ardently following the New York Mets. The proud father of two children, Ruscoe also cares for and supports a pair of goldfish, who, in all honesty, are not very good conversationalists.

VMA Week’s Friday Flashback: 4 Bios of Rock ‘n’ Roll Musicians Who Shaped a Genre

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As we wrap up BookTrib’s VMA Week, we thought we would revisit our article from 2015 about artists who shaped musical genres and were pioneers in the industry. Here is a review of 4 books that are just as relevant as when we first ran this piece. Where would I be without rock ‘n’ roll? I can’t even imagine. Rock ‘n’ roll has been the soundtrack of my life, and the background music to untold millions of people throughout generations. It’s at once a musical joy and a primal shout, a release of defiance, elation, and energy all put to the rhythm of an irresistible backbeat. And in the face of changing millennial musical tastes, I can only answer with…

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V is For Vegetables in Your Thanksgiving Side Dishes

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I have to admit, I came to vegetables relatively late in life. Oh, sure, while growing up, I ate them. But for the most part, they were the out-of-the-can, boiled-beyond-recognition variety. Even on Thanksgiving, we gave thanks for the vegetables on our table—but we gave extra thanks for the mashed potatoes and stuffing. In the years since I’ve discovered what surrounding the bird with delicious vegetable dishes can do for my health and my waistline. And I’m teaching my offspring, Mr. Picky and Miss Sweet Tooth, the joys of veggies. In fact, the sides have become the focus of our Thanksgiving feast. To help me out, this year I’m turning to Michael Anthony’s glorious new cookbook, V is for Vegetables:…

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Review: If You Like House of Cards, You’ll Love Saint Underground

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Fans of future noir recognize the world of their genre as a deadly and caustic mix of technology and whiskey-soaked nightmares that are just plausible enough to be real. And the reality created by these works are often intense, terrifying—and just plain fun. Such is the case with Saint Underground by Adam Dunn, the third in the series of novels set in a dystopian vision of New York City during “the Second Great Depression.” In the first two novels, Dunn traced the death-spiral of the Greatest City in the World by following New York City detectives Sixto Santiago and Everett More through the murder and mayhem taking place on the streets and in the halls of government and high finance.…

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The New Cleanse: Eat Tacos and Get In Shape!

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The holidays are way over, and at this point if you’re one of those January-resolution makers, you’ve probably abandoned that. Let’s be honest, we all have really great intentions! Now that the New Year is in full swing, and we’re in the 2016 routine, it’s important to know that giving something up just to get in shape isn’t always the answer. We may wan to cleanse our bodies of all the wickedly delicious things we gorged ourselves on over the past couple of months, but fortunately, this doesn’t mean that we’re sentenced to rice cakes and celery stalks. We’ve found a couple of books that will help get back in shape without sacrificing the flavors we love. Our first “cleanse” is…

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Charity Will Transform Your Life and Make You Happy

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It’s better to give than to receive, the old cliché tells us, but why is this true? Is this some sort of Puritanical message designed to purge us of the sin of selfishness? Or could this old saying hold the secret to something more? Giving does more than just make us better people, says author and philanthropy advisor Jenny Santi. The act of giving, Santi says, holds a transformative power—it’s “the most satisfying thing you’ll ever do.” And in her new book The Giving Way to Happiness: Stories and Science Behind the Transformative Power of Giving (Tarcher Books; October 27, 2015), she gives us a look at all the ways that giving can change our lives. Santi has spent her…

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Nerd Audiences Assemble! The Must-See Films of 2016

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When last we left the eager movie-going public, we were looking over the cornucopia of films that will be unleashed upon nerdy audiences this year. What else does 2016 have in store? Prepare yourself, movie buffs. Make sure you circle May 6 on your calendar. That’s the release date of Captain America: Civil War (geez, Batman fighting Superman, Cap fighting Iron Man—these superheroes have a temper, don’t they?). This movie may as well be called Avengers III, since if features pretty much the entire super-team, with the exceptions of Thor and the Hulk (who, rumor has it, will be duking it out in the upcoming Thor: Ragnarok, due in 2017).   The month will close with another big-time super-group in…

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Finding Joy: Build a Better Brain in 2016

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It’s a new year, and everyone has resolutions. We’re going to lose weight and stay fit. We’re going to quit smoking and eat healthier. We’re going to save money, travel to new places, and spend more time with the family. These are all great ideas, but very few of us will actually adopt resolutions that will address perhaps the most important aspect of our lives: our mental health. Good mental health often goes ignored; we tend to take it for granted. Poor mental health, on the other hand, can cripple every aspect of our lives. Stress, depression, anxiety, anger, inability to focus, or any of the myriad symptoms we might suffer can distance us from our loved ones, keep us…

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After Star Wars: Great Geek Movies to Look Forward to in 2016

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It’s a magical time, isn’t it? The lights, the music, the gathering with friends to celebrate. Of course, I’m not talking about the holidays. Sure, they’re nice. But for nerdy movie fans, the real celebration is Star Wars VII: The Force Awakens. After years of anticipation, Disney is delivering on the long-awaited return to our favorite galaxy far, far away. But after we’ve seen the movie—and seen it again three, four, or 12 times—what do we have to look forward to? Fortunately, the answer is plenty. Hollywood has gotten the message full well that there’s gold in them thar nerdy hills, and as a result, 2016 will be brimming with geeky goodness in the movie theater. There are hours and…

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It’s Getting Chili: Southwestern Recipes You Need for Easy Entertaining

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Even though the weather has been temperate, ‘tis the season to be outdoors—picking Christmas trees, skating, ogling holiday store windows or maybe even a round of caroling with friends. After hours outside, what could be better afterward than a steaming bowl of chili—or better yet, dreaming about a trip to the Southwest, where two feet of snow is only something we might see on television? We have two books that might help with each—one with a collection of great chili recipes, and another with tales and recipes from New Mexico (sorry, you’re going to have to arrange for airfare to the Southwest yourself). The Chili Cookbook by Robb Walsh (Ten Speed Press, September 2015) is a collection of all the…

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How Humans Evolved to Have Too Much of a Good Thing

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Another New Year’s Day is coming up fast, and with it, another set of resolutions. And if you’re like 32 percent of all Americans, losing weight is at the top of your list. But of course, by early February (right around the time of the Feast of the Blessed Super Bowl) that resolution will be gone, and you’ll have decided that you’re just predisposed to put on weight. In other words, the reason you can’t squeeze into those jeans any more is probably exactly what you suspected—it’s all in your genes. The evidence agrees with you. A new book by a nationally renowned doctor has a radical explanation for our individual (and national) weight crisis, along with a host of…

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3 Books That Would Make Great Movies for Hanukkah

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One of my favorite parts of the holiday season is watching the multitude of Christmas movies we’ve spent our lives with. I love A Charlie Brown Christmas, I cry like a baby at the end of It’s a Wonderful Life, and each year sparks a new debate over which is the best version of A Christmas Carol. For me, holiday movies are as much a part of the season as eggnog and lights on the tree. The problem, however, is that I have a son who’s Jewish. And while he celebrates both holidays, I always feel bad that there are so few quality movies that help him celebrate Hanukkah. Sure, there’s Eight Crazy Nights, Full-Court Miracle and even The Hebrew…

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Jeffrey Pfeffer on Leadership: Fixing Workplaces and Careers One Truth at a Time

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In a world full of books, webinars, sensitivity training, TED Talks and employee retreats, you’d think that by now, we’d have gotten the hang of leadership. Not so, says bestselling author and noted Stanford business school management expert Jeffrey Pfeffer. Surveys from far and wide tell us that leadership is failing at an alarming rate. Employee distrust of their leaders is widespread. Leader tenure is decreasing as more and more talented individuals suffer from career burn-out. Data indicates that about 50 percent of leaders are failing their employees, their organizations or themselves in one way or another. How can this happen when so many self-proclaimed leadership experts are so willing to sell us the solution to the problem? The first…

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From Captain America to Batman v. Superman: Superheroes Are Taking Over

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Forget about Hillary vs. Bernie. Never mind Trump vs. Carson. The real action online is in a slew of geek-tastic movie trailers that are dropping faster than late-Autumn leaves. Last week saw the release of the latest trailer for Captain America: Civil War, a movie that may as well be titled Avengers 3. As with most trailers, the cuts are quick, the action is lightning-fast, and you are compelled to watch it over and over and over again (Holy crap—it’s Black Panther! No! What happened to War Machine? And just what the heck is up with that crazy shield duet that Cap and Bucky are playing on Iron Man’s noggin?).     And then, just as our hearts were starting…

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Tom Hanks Uses a Typewriter and You Should, Too

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I’m typing these words on a computer, and you’re reading them from one. The ideas begin in my head, flow down my arms into the keyboard, and then they’re digitized and blasted through the great, endless expanse of the Internet. Your computer snags them and turns them into letters on a screen, which pour through your eyes and re-form as ideas in your brains. At no point, though, are the ideas or the words that represented them rendered in anything physical. You can’t touch them or hold them, and if I don’t like the way they come out, I can’t snatch them up, crumple them into a ball, and toss them into the wastebasket. In the days of yore, I…

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Could Vaccines and Antibiotics Prevent Mental Illness?

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Usually, mental illness grabs the public’s attention when it’s linked to a terrible tragedy, such as a mass shooting or a particularly heart-wrenching suicide. The public’s reaction usually is to mourn, and then to go about their lives. They dismiss the mentally ill by thinking, “These people are weak. They were brought up wrong. They’re crazy. They have something wrong with them.” Now, however, in her new book Infectious Madness: the Surprising Science of How We “Catch” Mental Illness (Little, Brown; October 6, 2015) award-winning investigative science writer Harriet A. Washington presents compelling evidence that mentally ill people weren’t merely “born that way.” She claims that many mental illnesses aren’t genetic. They’re caused by viruses, much the same way viruses…

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Finding an Island of Hope in a Sea of Depression is The Happiness Quest

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There are many ways to try to visualize major clinical depression, a disorder that affects one out of every five women and one out of every eight men. The picture I always found most accurate comes from a scene in the Tom Hanks movie Cast Away. One moment, he’s on a plane, safe and comfortable. He’s flying through a storm, but it’s being navigated. All is well. Suddenly, the wind roars through the cabin, the plane plummets towards its doom, the captain and crew scream in confusion and terror. The plane crashes into the sea. Hanks’ character is underwater, but through a stroke of fate, he makes his way to the surface, along with an inflatable life raft. He climbs…

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