Six Dance Lessons in Six Weeks is a play about a lonely retired woman, Lily Harrison, who hires an acerbic dance instructor, Michael Minetti, to give her private dance lessons. In Lily’s gulf-front condo in St. Petersburg Beach, Florida the two dance partners both dance and spar over their problems in living their troubled lives. What begins as an stormy relationship evokes into a friendship as these two people from very different backgrounds reveal their secrets, fears, and hopes while dancing the Swing, Tango, Waltz, Foxtrot, Cha-Cha, and Contemporary Dance. Diane and I really enjoyed the local performance we saw. A movie version starring Gena Rowlands hasn’t shown up here yet, but Diane is interested in seeing it. If Six Dance Lessons in Six Weeks shows up in your neighborhood, I recommend you go see it. You won’t be disappointed. GRADE: B+
“Marshall McCoy” was a pseudonym of Australian writer Leonard Frank Meares who published over 700 books in his career. He wrote plenty of adventures about “Larry & Streak,” a pair of cowboy knights-errant. In Gun Glory for Texans (1968) the pair defend the Lone Star state against slander. Plenty of vivid gunplay results! One reason the Marshall McCoy series published by Bantam Books was so popular was the covers done by James Bama (yes, the same James Bama that did the cover artwork for the Doc Savage series). These Marshall McCoy paperbacks have become very collectible, but if you run across a copy you’ll find some fine action writing, too!
Angela Hewitt, in her notes to this CD, says Bach’s The Art of Fugue challenged her much more than Bach’s Goldberg Variations and other works. In the short video clip below, Hewitt talks about her decision to record this late work of Bach. I have several recordings of The Art of Fugue, but Angela Hewitt’s new CD is on heavy rotation at the Kelley house. If you haven’t had a chance to listen to this moving music, here’s your chance! GRADE: A
Steven Pinker’s The Sense of Style explores contemporary grammar and writing. I really liked Pinker’s analysis of the difference of writing style between John Keegan’s classic A History of Warfare with John Mueller’s incisive The Remnants of War (pages 171-183). Such detailed explanations show just how writing can be improved. If you’re interested in giving your writing style a boost, Pinker’s lucid book will help. There are insights on every page! GRADE: B+
Table of Contents:
Chapter 1: Good Writing
Chapter 2: A Window Onto the World
Chapter 3: The Curse of Knowledge
Chapter 4: The Web, The Tree, and The String
Chapter 5: Arcs of Coherence
Chapter 6: Tell Right From Wrong
I’m not a big soccer fan, but I enjoyed this bio-pic about Brian Clough, one of England’s greatest soccer managers. If you’re interested in coaching styles, Clough’s is unique. Michael Sheen’s performance is astonishing! The screenplay was written by Peter Morgan (The Queen and Frost/Nixon). Director Tom Hooper captures the team dynamics and the essence of leadership. The cast is strong–Timothy Spall (Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire), Colm Meaney (Law Abiding Citizen), and Jim Broadbent (Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince)–and there are plenty of dramatic scenes. Most sports movies are ho-hum. Not this one! GRADE: A
Dull, dull, dull. I had high hopes for Gotham, the Batman prequel on FOX. But after four sluggish episodes I’m bailing out. Gotham is a corrupt city. James Gordon is the only honest cop on the Gotham police force. Bruce Wayne is a 12-year-old kid. Catwoman is a 13-year-old living on the streets. The Penguin is washing dishes in a gangster’s restaurant. This is not quite what I expected. Are you still watching Gotham? What programs from this new season have you given up on?
After the 37-22 beat-down that the New England Patriots put on the Bills last Sunday, the Bills suddenly find themselves facing a team they might be able to defeat. The Minnesota Vikings don’t have suspended All-World running back, Adrian Peterson, and are playing a rookie quarterback, Teddy Bridgewater. The Bills need a win badly: they’re already two games behind the Patriots in the AFC East standings. How will your favorite NFL team do today?
Back in 1996, John Lanchester’s The Debt to Pleasure burst on the mystery scene. It’s a wicked novel. Lanchester went on to write three more novels and a handful of non-fiction books. John Lanchester’s latest non-fiction book, How to Speak Money: What the Money People Say–And What It Really Means explains complicated financial concepts like credit default swaps in clear, simple terms. I’m considering using How to Speak Money in my INVESTMENTS class next semester. We all need to know more about how money works. This book does a terrific job in making the complex understandable. GRADE: A
Heavy Planet includes Hal Clement’s famous science fiction novel, Mission of Gravity and its lesser known sequel, Star Light. The premise of Mission of Gravity is a mission to recover a scientific probe on the super-jovan planet of Mesklin where the surface gravity varies from 3 Earth gravities at the the equator to 700 Earth gravities at the poles. On this high-gravity planet, a “day” is 18 minutes! And yet, Mesklin has life in the form of intelligent, centipede-like creatures. Mission of Gravity was published in 1953 and Star Light was published in 1973. If you haven’t read these wonderful science fiction novels, you’re in for plenty of delight! Highly recommended!
I reviewed the first two books of Jeff Vandermeer’s Southern Reach trilogy here. Basically, a region of the United States has an alien infestation. The military call it “Area X.” They maintain a blockade around the area. Teams of scientists are sent into Area X, but they either die, disappear, or return deranged. I liked the first book in the series, Annihilation, best. I think Jeff Vandermeer needed to read some J. G. Ballard who also wrote about alien infestion, but much more effectively. Vandermeer’s constant flashbacks and second-person narration annoyed me. I can’t really recommend this trilogy. GRADE: C-