I’ll watch anything with Jessica Chastain in it. Jessica Chastain plays a woman dealing with loss. In fact, The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby is all about loss in various forms. James McAvoy plays Eleanor Rigby’s husband. He has plenty of issues, too. William Hurt appears as Eleanor Rigby’s father, Isabelle Huppert plays Mary Rigby (Eleanor’s Mother), and Jess Weixler plays Eleanor’s sister, Katy Rigby. As you can see, this is a talented cast. But the actress who steals every scene she’s in is Viola Davis as Professor Lillian Friedman whose class Eleanor Rigby takes after her loss. I would have liked to see more of Viola Davis’ character–but that would have made this a far different movie. The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby almost overwhelms the viewer with sadness. Be prepared, if you decide to see this film. GRADE: B


Diane and I almost quit watching Under the Dome, Season Two several times this summer. A dead woman resurrected, characters leaving the dome…and coming back under the dome, and some crazy weather conditions are just some of the weird plot twists that had us throwing up our hands in disbelief. We’ll be watching tonight, but if Under the Dome is renewed for a third season, we won’t be watching.

Already, the 2014 TV season is shaping up to be a disaster. The only program I’m eager to see is tonight’s Gotham, a prequel to the Batman series. I think this is a high risk/high reward gamble by FOX. If the program fails to deliver for the ardent fans, it will crash and burn quick. What new programs are you watching?


Bryan Scott, Philip Rivers
The San Diego Chargers dominated the Super Bowl winning Seattle Seahawks last Sunday in a 30-21 win. Today, the Chargers are in town to face the 2-0 Bills. This will be a Major Test for the young Bills. Philip Rivers is the best quarterback they’ve faced this season. Somehow, the Bills defense needs to find a way to control All-World Tight End Antonio Gates who scored three TDs against the Seahawks. How will your team do today?

HAMMERED By Kevin Hearne

Hammered is the 3rd book in the IRON DRUID series. Kevin Hearne’s books feature the last Druid who lives in contemporary Tempe, Arizona. But legendary and mythological characters are everywhere. The Druid’s lawyers are partners: a werewolf for day work and a vampire for Night Court. In Hammered, the Druid heads for Asgard to confront the Norse gods–and one in particular. You’ll be able to make a Good Guess who that is from the title of this book. The IRON DRUID series is silly and fun. If you’re looking for light, entertaining contemporary fantasy these books fit the bill. GRADE: B


smoke and mirrors
Neil Gaiman is one of my favorite writers and this early collection from 1998 shows off his talents before he hit the Big Time. Gaiman is a crafty writer who dabbles in fantasy and science fiction. My favorite stories in this collection are based on Gaiman’s version of H. P. Lovecarft’s Cthulhu Mythos: “Shoggoth’s Old Peculiar” and “Only the End of the World Again.” The range of stories here span Hollywood pastiches to apocalyptic tales. I was surprised that this book was published in hardcover by Avon Books (remember them?). If you’re in the mood for some delicious fiction, you’ll find it here.
Reading the Entrails – a Rondel about the pleasures and perils of fortune-telling
The Wedding Present – a story included in the introduction
Chivalry – a story about the Holy Grail written for an anthology by Marty Greenberg
Nicholas Was… – a very short story (100 words) used for a Christmas card
The Price – on the subject of cats and angels
Troll Bridge – an adult retelling of The Three Billy Goats Gruff written for the anthology Snow White, Blood Red by Ellen Datlow and Terri Windling
Don’t Ask Jack – inspired by a demonic jack-in-the-box sculpture by Lisa Snellings
The Goldfish Pool and Other Stories
Eaten (Scenes from a Moving picture) †
The White Road – a narrative poem retelling some old English folktales
Queen of Knives (for Eric Stern’s opera of the same name see Queen of Knives) – a narrative poem about stage magic
The Facts in the Case of the Departure of Miss Finch †‡
Changes – written for Lisa Tuttle about gender reflection
The Daughter of Owls – written in the style of John Aubrey
Shoggoth’s Old Peculiar
Virus – written for the anthology Digital Dreams by David Barrett[disambiguation needed] about computer fiction
Looking for the Girl – commissioned by Penthouse for their 20th anniversary issue
Only the End of the World Again
Bay Wolf – a story poem retelling Beowulf as a futuristic episode of “Baywatch”
Fifteen Painted Cards from a Vampire Tarot †
We Can Get Them For You Wholesale
One Life, Furnished in Early Moorcock – written for an anthology of Elric stories by Michael Moorcock
Cold Colors – inspired by computers and black magic
The Sweeper of Dreams – inspired by a Lisa Snellings statue
Foreign Parts
Vampire Sestina – a poem originally published in Fantasy Tales and later reprinted in the Mammoth Book of Vampires by Stephen Jones
Mouse – a short story inspired by Raymond Carver and written for Touch Wood, edited by Pete Crowther
The Sea Change
How Do You Think It Feels? †‡
When We Went to See the End of the World by Dawnie Morningside, age 11¼
Desert Wind – written for Robin Anders of Boiled in Lead to accompany one of his tracks
Tastings – included in the anthology of erotic fantasy stories, Sirens by Ellen Datlow and Terri Windling
In the End †*
Babycakes – written to include in a benefit for PETA
Murder Mysteries – a detective story written for the anthology Midnight Graffiti by Jessie Horsting
Snow, Glass, Apples



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