Maggie Gyllenhaal plays Nessa Stein, head of the Stein Trust. She is trying to bring Israelis and Palestinians together through a billion-dollar fiber-optic project. Hugo Black, the writer and director of this 8-episode series, provides plenty of twists and turns in the plot. There’s kidnapping, assassinations, and double-dealing. If you missed this excellent series, it will be available in Blu-ray and DVD. I’m guessing the Sundance Channel will rebroadcast this, too. The talented cast delivers some great performances. I really liked Janet McTeer and Stephen Rea as MI6 operatives. Fans of spy novels will love this. GRADE: A


ancillary justice
Breq is a soldier who has spent 20 years searching for a weapon. The reasons why Breq ends up on an icy planet saving one of her former commanders from freezing to death lead back to a massacre in the past. Part of Ancillary Justice revolves around the politics of a galactic empire, part revolves around “ancillaries,” human bodies that Artificial Intelligences can inhabit. I wanted to like Ancillary Justice, but the frequent flashbacks made the story fragment. I’m a fan of John Harris’ cover artwork, but I don’t care for this cover at all, either. GRADE: C


While you’re reading this, Diane and I are on a Southwest flight to Albuquerque. Patrick’s busy travel schedule had an opening this week so we decided to visit him. Next month, Patrick heads to Hawaii for a computer conference. In February, he returns to South Korea. And there are several shorter trips between those jaunts.

Diane has visited Patrick in Albuquerque the past couple of years while I stayed home to work. I had “Personal Days” to use in 2014 (since I’m not going to BOUCHERCON) so we decided to use them for this quick trip. Have you been to Albuquerque? What should we visit? Where should we eat?


The Rockford Files, Season Two qualifies as a BARGAIN OF THE WEEK. This box set includes 6 DVDs with 18 hours of great entertainment! I found The Rockford Files, Season Two at BJ’s Warehouse for $9.99. I think The Rockford Files hit its stride in the Second Season. Some of the stars featured in these episodes are Rob Reiner, Louis Gossett, Jr., Linda Evans, Isaac Hayes, and Dick Butkus. And the BONUS FEATURES are terrific: the Original Series Pilot is included as well as Stephen J. Cannell’s commentary on the Second Season. This box set represents a great value at a great price!


Beth Fedyn, with wonderful generosity, sent me an Advanced Reading Copy of Writers on Literature & Literary Life From The New York Times Book Review. I love books like this! For those of you who are regular readers of The New York Times Book Review, you’ll recognize many of these “By The Book” interviews. However, I noticed that the interviews in this book seem to be the “expanded” versions that are available online. The format of “By the Book” is Q&A: “What is your favorite book?” and “What books are you currently reading?” are some of the standard questions. My favorite interview in this collection is with Neil Gaiman. Gaiman defends his love of the quirky writer Harry Stephen Keeler. Gaiman persuaded me to dig out a HSK novel and read it. If you’re curious about what other writers and celebrities are reading, you’ll find out in this book. Highly recommended! GRADE: A
Foreward by Scott Turow
Introduction by Pamela Paul
1. David Sedaris
2. Lena Dunham
3. Neil Gaiman
4. Mary Higgins Clark
5. Drew Gilpin Faust
6. Carl Hiaasen
7. John Irving
8. Elizabeeth Gilbert
9. Richard Ford
10. Colin Powell
11. David Eggers
12. Sylvia Nasar
13. Ira Glass
14. Junot Diaz
15. Joyce Carol Oates
16. Nicholson Baker
17. Emma Thompson
18. Michael Chabon
19. Jeffrey Eugenides
20. J. K. Rowling
21. David Mitchell
22. John Grisham
23. P. J. O’Rourke
24. Anne Lamott
25. Ian McEwan
26. Lee Child
27. Arnold Schwarzenegger
28. Francine Prose
29. Jared Diamond
30. Alain de Botton
31. Dave Barry
32. Katherine Boo
33. Marilynne Robinson
34. Sheryl Sandberg
35. Caroline Kennedy
36. Isabel Allende
37. Anna Quindlen
38. Jonathan Franzen
39. Hilary Mantel
40. Walter Mosley
41. Khaled Hosseini
42. Jeannette Walls
43. Dan Brown
44. Dan Savage
45. Christopher Buckley
46. Curtis Sittenfeld
47. James McBride
48. James Patterson
49. Jonathan Lethem
50. Jhumpa Lahiri
51. Richard Dawkins
52. Sting
53. Andrew Solomon
54. Malcolm Gladwell
55. Scott Turow
56. Donna Tartt
57. Ann Patchett
58. Amy Tan
59. Bryan Cranston
60. Michael Connelly
61. Neil DeGrassse Tyson
62. E. L. Doctorow
63. Chang-Rae Lee
64. Gary Shteyngart
65. Rachel Kushner


Buffalo Bills v Miami Dolphins
Bills fans are still reeling from the Overtime victory over the Chicago Bears and the purchase of the team by local billionaire Terry Pegula. What a week! And now the Home Opener features the Bills’ long-time AFC East rival: the Miami Dolphins. The Dolphins stunned the New England Patriots last Sunday with a second half rally. The weather here at Ralph Wilson Stadium will be sunny with a temperature of 63 degrees. Perfect football weather! Will all this week’s distractions cause the Bills to lose their focus? Can they build on all the good news this week and overcome the Dolphins? Stay tuned. How will your favorite NFL team do today?


Harry Potter–er–Daniel Radcliffe plays a med-school drop-out named Wallace. Wallace goes to a party at his former roommate’s apartment and meets Chantry (Zoe Kazan). Sparks immediately fly. But, Chantry lives with her boyfriend, Ben. So Wallace and Chantry agree to “just be friends.” Can men and women “just be friends” was a question at the heart of the classic romantic comedy, When Harry Met Sally. In fact, What If seems like a remake of When Harry Met Sally. The main problem with What If is that Nora Ephron did not write the script. I found myself wincing at some of the dialogue. But there’s on-screen chemistry between Radcliffe and Kazan to generate enough magic for me to recommend this movie. GRADE: B

FORGOTTEN BOOKS #285: TARZAN: THE LOST ADVENTURE By Edgar Rice Burroughs & Joe R. Lansdale

Joe R. Lansdale completed a story about Tarzan that Edgar Rice Burroughs left unfinished. The completed story was published in four parts by Dark Horse Comics before this single volume was issued in 1995. If you’re an Edgar Rice Burroughs fan and a Tarzan fan, you’ll want this adventure. Many people think the Tarzan series ended when Fritz Leiber’s authorized Tarzan and the Valley of Gold was published in 1966 as the 25th Tarzan novel. But, no. There were more! This Lansdale collaboration was followed by two further novels authorized by Edgar Rice Burroughs, Inc.. R. A. Salvatore’s 1997 Tarzan: The Epic Adventures, and Philip José Farmer’s 1999 The Dark Heart of Time are also worth reading. I haven’t seen the 21st Century Tarzan novels…yet.
1 The twenty four main books
1.1 Tarzan of the Apes (1912)
1.2 The Return of Tarzan (1913)
1.3 The Beasts of Tarzan (1914)
1.4 The Son of Tarzan (1914)
1.5 Tarzan and the Jewels of Opar (1916)
1.6 Jungle Tales of Tarzan (1919)
1.7 Tarzan the Untamed (1920)
1.8 Tarzan the Terrible (1921)
1.9 Tarzan and the Golden Lion (1922/23)
1.10 Tarzan and the Ant Men (1924)
1.11 Tarzan, Lord of the Jungle (1927/28)
1.12 Tarzan and the Lost Empire (1928)
1.13 Tarzan at the Earth’s Core (1929)
1.14 Tarzan the Invincible (1930/31)
1.15 Tarzan Triumphant (1931)
1.16 Tarzan and the City of Gold (1932)
1.17 Tarzan and the Lion Man (1933/34)
1.18 Tarzan and the Leopard Men (1935)
1.19 Tarzan’s Quest (1935/36)
1.20 Tarzan and the Forbidden City (1938)
1.21 Tarzan the Magnificent (1939)
1.22 Tarzan and the Foreign Legion (1947)
1.23 Tarzan and the Madman (1964)
1.24 Tarzan and the Castaways (1965)
2 Other official works
2.1 The Eternal Lover and The Mad King (1914–15, 1925, 1926)
2.2 The Adventures of Tarzan (1921, 2006)
2.3 Tarzan and the Tarzan Twins (1927/1936)
2.4 Tarzan and the Valley of Gold (1966)
2.5 Endless Quest Books
2.6 Tarzan: the Lost Adventure (1995)
2.7 Tarzan: The Epic Adventures (1996)
2.8 The Dark Heart of Time (1999)
2.9 Tarzan: The Greystoke Legacy (2011)
2.10 Tarzan: The Jungle Warrior (2012)
2.11 “Tarzan: The Savage Lands” (2013)


terry pegula
Local billionaire, Terry Pegula, just purchased the Buffalo Bills. He spent a reported $1.1 billion. Terry Pegula also owns the Buffalo Sabres, our NHL team. The other bidders to buy the Bills were Donald Trump and the Jon Bon Jovi Group. If The Donald had bought the Bills, he would have moved them to Los Angeles. If the Jon Bon Jovi Group–which was basically Canadian money interests–bought the Bills, they would have moved the team to Toronto.

With Terry Pegula and his wife Kim in charge now, the Buffalo Bills will be here for a generation. The headline on the front page of our local newsper, Buffalo News, said it all: THANKS A BILLION!


the supernatural enhancements
Told through documents, transcripts, letters, and cryptograms The Supernatural Enhancements masquerades as a haunted house novel. It’s not. Yes, the house has a ghost, but there’s more to this story than that. There’s a secret room, a garden maze (that hides some secrets), a strange energy that affects lights and beds and the inhabitants of the house. If you like codes and puzzles, this is the book for you. I liked The Supernatural Enhancements but I wish it were more spooky. GRADE: B