THE BRIDGE, SEASON TWO [FX]

the bridge2
Tonight I’ll be watching the third episode of The Bridge. The Bridge had its Second Season debut a couple weeks ago on FX. I enjoyed the First Season with all of the quirky plots and characters. Mexican actor Demián Bichir returns as the emotional police detective Marco and German actress Diane Kruger reprises her role as the autistic El Paso police detective Sonya. But my favorite character is Matthew Lillard as Daniel Frye, an El Paso Times investigative reporter with a substance abuse problem. Drugs factor into the plots as a common demonstrator of life on the Mexican border. There’s also a serial killer loose, a conspiracy among the corrupt Mexican police to kill Marco, and a hunt for a girl who is living in the U.S. illegally to escape the drug cartels. If you’re looking for high quality drama to fill your Summer, consider The Bridge. You can easily catch up on episodes that are available On Demand.

LIFE ITSELF

LIFE ITSELF
Watching this documentary about Roger Ebert was an uncomfortable experience for me. Yes, I laughed at parts of the movie. After all, Roger Ebert was a funny guy. But watching the nurses suctioning out Roger’s air tube was unsettling. Steve James, the director, shows Roger in pain. He shows Roger being “difficult.” Life Itself is as much about Roger’s wife Chaz as it is about Roger. You can see Chaz’s strength empowering Roger. But Steve James also shows the exasperation that all care givers experience when their loved ones are resistant. This is an honest and revealing movie, just what Roger wanted when he started this project. Life Itself moved me, saddened me, and inspired me. It’s a great documentary. I expect Life Itself to win an Oscar next year. GRADE: A

OLD MARS Edited by George R. R. Martin & Gardner Dozois

old mars
Reading Old Mars inspired me to plan for a whole week about Mars. Bill Crider encouraged me so August 4 through August 10 will be MARS WEEK on this blog. I had dozens of books to choose from so it was fun coming up with titles you might not be familiar with. Enough of this hype, let’s get back to Old Mars. Martin and Dozois projected a Mars that Edgar Rice Burroughs wrote for: a Mars with canals and a breathable atmosphere (things we know don’t exist since we sent satellites to Mars). If you’re a fan of “traditional” (not scientific) Mars stories, you’ll find a lot to like in Old Mars. I liked “In the Tombs of the Martian Kings” by Mike Resnick the best. GRADE: B+
TABLE OF CONTENTS:
‘Martian Blood’ (Allen M. Steele)
‘The Ugly Duckling’ (Matthew Hughes)
‘The Wreck Of The Mars Adventure’ (David D. Levine)
‘Swords of Zar-tu-kan’ (S.M. Stirling)
‘Shoals’ (Mary Rosenblum)
‘In The Tombs of the Martian Kings’ (Mike Resnick)
‘Out Of Scarlight’ (Liz Williams)
‘The Dead Sea-Bottom Scrolls’ (Howard Waldrop)
‘A Man Without Honor’ (James S.A. Corey)
‘Written In Dust’ (Melinda Snodgrass)
‘The Lost Canal’ (Michael Moorcock)
‘The Sunstone’ (Phyllis Eisenstein)
‘King Of The Cheap Romance’ (Joe R. Lansdale)
‘Mariner’ (Chris Roberson)
‘The Queen Of Night’s Aria’ (Ian Mcdonald)

PUSS N BOOTS: NO FOOLS, NO FUN

puss-n-boots-1404935962
Puss n Boots consists of Sasha Dobson, Norah Jones, and Catherine Popper. If you’re a fan of three-part harmony, you’ll love No Fools, No Fun. At times, the songs sound like they’re being song by a female version of Crosby, Stills, and Nash. The marketing hype calls Puss n Boots an “alternative country band.” Take a listen to the sample below to see if their sound appeals to you. GRADE: C+
TRACK LISTING:
1 Leaving London
2 Bull Rider
3 Twilight
4 Sex Degrees Of Separation
5 Don’t Know What It Means
6 Down By the River
7 Tarnished Angel
8 Jesus, Etc.
9 Always
10 GTO
11 Pines
12 You’ll Forget Me
BONUS TRACKS:
13. Cry, Cry, Cry
14. In a Shanty In Old Shanty Town

ACOLYTES OF CTHULHU Edited by Robert M. Price

ACOLYTES OF CTHULHU
I’m a fan of H. P. Lovecraft and one of my guilty pleasures is to read stories by authors inspired by Lovecraft. ACOLYTES OF CTHULHU presents a chronological anthology of stories inspired by Lovecraft’s creepy world. My favorite stories in ACOLYTES OF CTHULHU are Manley Wade Wellman’s “The Letters of Cold Fire,” and Neil Gaiman’s “Shoggoth’s Old Peculiar.” This anthology is 468 pages and there’s something here for just about every taste: adventures, psychological suspense, noir, etc. I have a half dozen more Lovecraft-inspired anthologies on my shelf, most of them with stories by contemporary writers. This historical anthology includes plenty of old stories I wasn’t familiar with. A great value for $10! GRADE: B+
Introduction”, by Robert M. Price
“Doom of the House of Duryea”, by Earl Pierce, Jr. (1936)
“The Seventh Incantation”, by Joseph Payne Brennan (1963)
“From the Pits of Elder Blasphemy,” by Hugh B. Cave & Robert M. Price (2014)
“Black Noon”, by C. M. Eddy, Jr. (1967)
“The Jewels of Charlotte”, by Duane Rimel (1935)
“The Letters of Cold Fire”, by Manly Wade Wellman (1944)
“Horror at Vecra”, by Henry Hasse (1943)
“Out of the Jar”, by Charles R. Tanner (1940)
“The Earth-Brain”, by Edmond Hamilton (1932)
“Through the Alien Angle”, by Elwin G. Powers (1941)
“Legacy in Crystal”, by James Causey (1943)
“The Will of Claude Ashur”, by C. Hall Thompson (1947)
“The Final War”, by David H. Keller, M.D. (1949)
“The Dunstable Horror”, by Arthur Pendragon (1964)
“The Crib of Hell”, by Arthur Pendragon (1965)
“The Last Work of Pietro of Apono”, by Steffan B. Aletti (1969)
“The Eye of Horus”, by Steffan B. Aletti (1968)
“The Cellar Room”, by Steffan B. Aletti ((1969)
“Mythos”, by John Glasby (1961)
“There Are More Things”, by Jorge Luis Borges (1975)
“The Horror Out of Time”, by Randall Garrett (1978)
“The Recurring Doom”, by S. T. Joshi (1980)
“Necrotic Knowledge”, by Dirk W. Mosig (1976)
“Night Bus”, by Donald R. Burleson (1985)
“The Pewter Ring”, by Peter Cannon (1989)
“John Lehmann Alone”, by David Kaufman (1987)
“The Purple Death”, by Gustav Meyrink, translated by Kathleen Houlihan & Robert M. Price (1997)
“Mists of Death”, by Richard F. & Franklyn Searight (1999)
“Shoggoth’s Old Peculiar”, by Neil Gaiman (1998)

FORGOTTEN BOOKS #277: WYCLIFFE AND THE THREE-TOED PUSSY By W. J. Burley

WYCLIFFE AND THE THREE-TOED PUSSY
WYCLIFFE AND THE THREE-TOED PUSSY appeared in 1968. It launched a mystery series that lasted over 30 years and over 20 books. The mystery is set in the village of Kergwyns in Cornwall. The bizarre murder of a beautiful young woman puzzles Detective Superintendent Wycliffe because the only thing taken from the crime scene is the shoe and stocking from her left leg – exposing the murdered woman’s deformed foot. Wycliffe finds the victim sexually manipulated the men in her life. Wycliffe reminds me of Miss Marple who could dissect small town life. If you enjoy traditional detection, I highly recommend WYCLIFFE AND THE THREE-TOED PUSSY.

PROOF: THE SCIENCE OF BOOZE By Adam Rogers

proof the science of booze
Whiskey is basically distilled beer. That’s just one of the facts I learned from Adam Rogers’ informative Proof: The Science of Booze. Rogers provides scientific and historical insights on the production and refinement of liquor. It’s obvious Adam Rogers is obsessed with his subject. If you’re interested in how those libations we enjoy are made and tweaked, take a look at Proof. You’ll discover plenty of fun facts. GRADE: B+
TABLE OF CONTENTS:
1. Yeast
2. Sugar
3. Fermentation
4. Distillation
5. Aging
6. Smell and Taste
7. Body and Brain
8. Hangover
Conclusion
Acknowledgements
Notes
Bibliography
Index

THE SHELF: ADVENTURES IN EXTREME READING By Phyllis Rose

the shelf
Phyllis Rose embarks on a great reading experiment. She chooses a shelf at the New York Public Library at random and reads all the books on it. In the end, Rose reads 23 books by 11 authors: William Le Queux, Rhoda Lerman, Mikhail Lermontov, Lisa Lerner, Alexander Lernet-Holenia, Etienne Leroux, Gaston Leroux, James LeRossignol, Margaret Leroy, Alain-Rene Le Sale, and John Lescroart. Phyllis Rose honestly admits when some of the books she reads are “weak.” And, I was amused when she took a “break” from reading the random books to binge on Alan Furst’s spy novels. I found Phyllis Rose to be a perceptive critic. Her experiment is one I’m unlikely to replicate (I’m way too focused), but I admire Rose’s spirit. GRADE: B+
TABLE OF CONTENTS:
1. The Experiment Begins
2. The Myth of the Book: A Hero of Our Time
3. Literary Evolution: The Phantom of the Opera
4. The Universe Provides: Rhoda Lerman
5. Women and Fiction: A Question of Privilege
6. Domesticities: Margaret Leroy and Lisa Lerner
7. The Nightingale and the Lark: Lernet-Holenia and LeRossignol
8. Libraries: Making Space
9. Life and Adventures: Gil Blas
10. Serial Killers: Detective Fiction
11. Immortality

MONSTERS VS. ALIENS: SUPERSONIC JOYRIDE

monsters vs. aliens supersonic joyride
I picked up Monsters vs. Aliens: Supersonic Joyride at Sam’s Club for a mere $4.98. There are nine episodes on this DVD, over 3 hours of entertainment. Susan (who can grow into a giant), Link (the fish man), Bob the Blob, and Dr. Cockroach are back to fight alien menaces.
These episodes were first broadcast on Nickelodeon. I really liked the original DreamWorks movie. These animated episodes are great fun for kids of all ages! GRADE: A

24: LIVE ANOTHER DAY, SEASON FINALE

24 finale
24: Live Another Day concludes its abbreviated run tonight. The original 24 consisted of 24 1-hour episodes–each episode represented one hour in an action-filled day. I’m not a big Kiefer Sutherland fan, but he was effective as rogue agent Jack Bauer. I really liked Yvonne Strahovski as CIA agent Kate Morgan. I’m hoping she doesn’t get killed off in tonight’s explosive conclusion. It would be nice if 24 gets renewed for another season. It’s silly, but entertaining.