PARIS CAN WAIT


Diane Lane plays a beautiful but neglected wife of film producer Alec Baldwin. Lane has painful ears from the flight from America to France. Baldwin flies to Budapest on business (he’s only on-screen in Paris Can Wait for about two minutes). Baldwin’s business associate, Jacques (played brilliantly by Arnaud Viard), offers to drive Diane Lane to Paris in his ancient Peugeot. Jacques is the kind of guy who knows where to find the best food, the best cheese, the best wine, the best roses, and the best museums. And, Jacques cleverly finds reasons to stop along the way to Paris to show off his culinary accumen and his exquisite taste in wine.

The whole focus of Paris Can Wait–besides the distractions of the fabulously filmed food and wine and chocolate and landscapes–is whether Diane Lane lets herself be seduced by the likable Frenchman. You won’t be surprised by the ending. GRADE: B-

FORGOTTEN BOOKS #429: WAR & PEACE By Leo Tolsoy


War & Peace isn’t so much forgotten as ignored. This edition, translated by Anthony Briggs, weighs in at 1400 pages. Many readers are put off by the size of this tome. And, after reading War & Peace I can safely state that there’s more PEACE in War & Peace than WAR. Tolstoy details an aristocratic society threaten by invasion by Napoleon and his armies.

I read War & Peace because I’ll be seeing Natasha, Pierre & the Great Comet of 1812 tomorrow on Broadway, a play based on War & Peace.

If you’re thinking of reading War & Peace there are plenty of translations to choose from. I picked the Anthony Briggs translation of War & Peace after reading Patrick Crabtree’s blog here. Patrick Crabtree compares a dozen translations of War & Peace and gives the positives and negatives of each. Well worth a look! Have you read War & Peace? Do you want to?

THE FOURTH TURNING: AN AMERICAN PROPHECY By William Strauss & Neil Howe


President Trump’s Svengali, Steve Bannion, cites The Fourth Turning (1997) in the development of his world-view. I decided to read The Fourth Turning to try to understand the mind-set of the White House’s chief strategist. The subtitle of The Fourth Turning says: “What the Cycles of History Tell Us About America’s Next Rendezvous With Destiny.” Sounds a lot like Isaac Asimov’s “psychohistory.” As you might expect The Fourth Turning predicts Bad Things will happen if we don’t get our act together. Strauss and Howe spend a great deal of their book showing “historical cycles” and then extrapolating to the future. Although The Fourth Turning deals with historical trends, I’m unconvinced those trends actually predict our future. Strauss and Howe miss the opioid crisis, the health care crisis, the shooting of black men crisis, etc. GRADE: C
TABLE OF CONTENTS:
Winter Comes Again
Part I-Seasons
Seasons of Time
Seasons of Life
Cycles of History
Gray Champions
Part II-Turnings
The First Turning-American High, 1946-1964
The Second Turning-Consciousness Revolution, 1964-1984
The Third Turning-Culture Wars, 1984-2005?
Fourth Turnings in History; A Fourth Turning Prophecy
Part Three-Preparations
Preparing for the Fourth Turning
The Eternal Return
Acknowledgments
Notes
Index

FARGO, SEASON THREE FINALE


I’ve enjoyed Season Three of FARGO more than the first two season (which were very good). Ewan McGregor plays two roles: brothers Emmit Stussy (successful businessman) and Ray Stussy (bridge fanatic and loser). Carrie Coon plays Gloria Burgle, a cop who is frustrated in her investigation by her superiors. Mary Elizabeth Winstead (from Brain Dead) plays Nikki Swango, an ex-con with a passion for bridge and Ray’s girl friend. David Thewlis (who plays Ares in Wonder Woman) is V.M. Varga, a dark international business man with criminal tendencies. Unexpected plot changes are a hallmark of this series and Season Three has them in spades. I highly recommend the entire FARGO series. Prepare to be surprised. GRADE: A

STALINGRAD [Blu-ray]


Stalingrad (2013) shows the drama and horror of war. Many military experts claim the Battle for Stalingrad, which lasted for seven months, affected the outcome of World War II. Director Fedor Bondarchuk takes the approach of focusing on a small group of Russian soldiers whose mission is to hold a strategic apartment building from the Nazis. The Nazis launch several attacks on the building, but the Russians manage to fight them off. Bondarchuk also weaves the stories of the civilians of Stalingrad into his movie. They are caught between two forces engaged in urban warfare and life becomes day-to-day survival with bombs and bullets flying around them. If you’re in the mood for a classic war story full of heroism and bravery, Stalingrad will stir your blood. GRADE: B+

NEW KITCHEN CEILING LIGHT


One of the guys I swim with at the pool each day is an electrician. His name is Mark and he’s between jobs right now. “Do you have anything electrical that needs to be done around your home?” Mark asked me one day. I put the question to Diane and she said, “I’d like all of our electrical outlets replaced with new ones.” I took this answer back to Mark and he agreed to come out and replace all of our 50 electrical outlets.

Of course, one thing leads to another. Diane hated our kitchen light (the square one above). She wanted a new light. So when she asked Mark about it, Mark said, “Buy a new light and I’ll install it for you.” Diane took me to a lighting place and after about an hour of looking at lights, Diane decided on the Quozel light that looks like a teardrop above. After Mark was done replacing all of our outlets, he installed the new light and Diane is delighted. Are you planning any home improves this Summer?

ROUGH NIGHT


Kate McKinnon and Scarlett Johansson are largely wasted in Rough Night. The premise is a Girls Go Wild bachelorette weekend that goes wrong. Rough Night is based on Peter Berg’s Very Bad Things from 1998. In this new version with a female cast, very bad things do happen…it’s just that they aren’t very funny. Even though this movie is only 101 minutes long, it seems a lot longer. The last 10 minutes holds a few surprises, but you’ll find this movie more aggravating than humorous. GRADE: C

PSA 2017


I just received my PSA (Prostate-specific antigen) test results. I scored a 1.1 which is the same number I had in 2016. Just call me Mr. Consistent. I know there’s been recent debate about the usefulness of the PSA in older men, but I’m a Believer.

Detecting prostate cancel early is a key component to effective treatment. The PSA test is basically the best tool to accomplish that diagnosis. I know a lot of health insurance companies don’t want to pay for it especially for older patients. But detecting a problem early rather than late makes all the difference. If you’re 50 years old or older, I urge you to get a PSA test every year. If you have a man you love in your life, urge him to have a PSA test yearly. And, if your PSA is above 5.0, take action quickly!

FORGOTTEN BOOKS #428: THE STAR TREK READER By James Blish


James Blish had a successful career as a Science Fiction writer before he started writing “novelizations” of Star Trek episodes. But, as fate would have it, Blish is almost entirely remembered today because of his Star Trek work. James Blish wrote a dozen books of stories based on Star Trek episodes. The Star Trek Reader is an omnibus of three of those volumes. Now, you would think the editors would approach reprinting those volumes in chronological order…but no. The second, third, and eighth books are included in this omnibus edition. The other nine books were collected in other omnibus volumes, but in some ways this first volume is the best. Three of my favorite Star Trek episodes are included: “Arena” (teleplay by Gene L. Coon based on a story by Fredric Brown), “The City On the Edge of Forever,” (teleplay by Harlan Ellison), and “The Trouble With Tribbles” (teleplay by David Gerrold). What’s your favorite Star Trek episode?
TABLE OF CONTENTS:
Book 1: Star trek 2.
Arena.
A taste of Armageddon.
Tomorrow is yesterday.
Errand of mercy.
Court martial.
Operation: annihilate!
The city on the edge of forever.
Space seed.
Book 2: Star trek 3.
The trouble with tribbles.
The last gunfight.
The doomsday machine.
Assignment: Earth.
Mirror, mirror.
Friday’s child.
Amok time.
Book 3: Star trek 8.
Spock’s brain.
The enemy within.
Catspaw.
Where no man has gone before.
Wolf in the fold.
For the world is hollow and I have touched the sky.

PAWN By Timothy Zahn


I’ve enjoyed Timothy Zahn’s BLACKCOLLAR and COBRA Science Fiction series over the years. Zahn is a prolific SF writer who has written over 30 novels. Pawn features an alien abduction of an alcoholic woman named Nichole Hammond. Her life on the mean streets of Philadelphia vanishes when Nicole wakes up on a giant starship a thousand light-years from Earth. Nicole is told she’s a “Sibyl,” a human who can communicate with the mind that controls the vessel. So far, so good. But Pawn gets bogged down in Nichole and her work crew fixing broken components of the ship. There’s also a tedious plot centering around food dispensers. After 350 pages, we finally get some Answers about what’s going on (mostly to set up a sequel). But I won’t be reading it. GRADE: C