the bridge2 fx
The second season of The Bridge was less compelling than the first season. The Big Difference is that the second season had many more subplots than the first season. And that slowed the action down and focused attention on other actors. Diane Kruger, the German actress who plays Detective Sonya Cross of the El Paso Police Department, is brilliant. She plays a detective who’s autistic. Sonya Cross was partnered with another brilliant actor, Demian Bichir, as Juarez police detective Marco Ruiz. The rest of the cast is talented as well especially the druggie reporter, Daniel Frye, played convincingly by Matthew Lillard. This season’s focus has been on Mexican drug lord, Fausto Galvan (played menacingly well by Ramón Franco). If The Bridge is renewed for a third season, I hope the scripts become tighter and more focused.


The_Far_Pavilions BOOK
Trishankupune recommended The Far Pavilions to me. I enjoy historical fiction and I haven’t read many books about India so The Far Pavilions sounded intriguing. Plus, I had a paperback copy of The Far Pavilions on my shelf for years. M. M. Kaye sets her novel in British Raj in India. She shows the sweep of cultures, religions, beliefs–and the conflicts that result. Kaye lived in India and knows what she’s writing about.

The British military is under stress. Change is in the air. Kaye also presents situations where chaste and religious beliefs separate people who the reader will want to get together. She tells her story through a character who was raised in the Indian culture for his first 11 years. Then, he’s sent back to England for schooling, and returns to serve on the frontier. When he accompanies a wedding party, he discovers his first love. Then things really get complicated!

After I read the novel, I watched The Far Pavilions DVD series (also on my shelf for years). The five-hour series was first broadcast in the States on HBO with Ben Cross, Amy Irving, Christopher Lee, Omar Sharif, and John Gielgud. The mini-series tries to capture the scope of the massive novel, but many of the novel’s subplots never make it on film. The film is a blend adventure, action, and romance. As it tells its story, the film offers a window into aspects of colonial India that I knew nothing about. If you’re a history buff, or want to learn more about India, I highly recommend The Far Pavilions, both the novel and the mini-series. Thanks for the recommendation, Trishankupune! GRADE: A


essays in biography
joseph epstein
I’ve been an admirer of Joseph Epstein’s essays for decades. I first encountered Epstein’s work in the pages of The American Scholar. Epstein was the editor and wrote an essay for each issue. Many times, Epstein’s essay was the best piece in that issue of The American Scholar. What I like most about Epstein’s essays is that they are clearly written. No murky prose, no convoluted sentences, no head-scratching vocabulary. I always came away from reading an Epstein essay knowing more than I did before I started reading it. Epstein writes about literature, politics, history, and culture. Take a look at the range of his interests in the listing of essays below. If you’re in the mood for some sparkling essays, you’ll find them here. GRADE: A
George Washington
Henry Adams and Henry James
George Santayana
Adlai Stevenson
Henry Luce
Ralph Ellison
Isaac Rosenfeld
Saul Bellow
Bernard Malamud
Dwight Macdonald
Gore Vidal
Irving Howe
Alfred Kazin
Irving Kristol
Arthur M. Schlesinger, Jr.
A. J. Liebling
John Frederick Nims
Susan Sontag

Max Beerbohm
George Eliot
Maurice Bowra.
T. S. Eliot
Cyril Connolly
Isaah Berlin
Hugh Trevor-Roper
John Gross

Popular Culture
Alfred Kinsey
Charles Van Doren
W. C. Fields
Irving Thalberg
George Gershwin
Joe DiMaggio
Michael Jordan
James Wolcott
Malcolm Gladwell

And Others
Erich Heller
Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn
V. S. Naipaul and Paul Theroux
Matthew Shanahan


buffalo bills vs. houston texans
After last week’s 22-10 loss to the San Diego Chargers, the Buffalo Bills need a win badly. It’s hard to win on the road in the NFL, but the Bills won their first game of the season on the road in Chicago. The Bills’ former quarterback, Ryan Fitzpatrick, is now the starting QB for the Houston Texans. There will be riots in the streets of Buffalo if our old QB beats us today. How do you think your favorite NFL team will do today?


I read Lawrence Block’s A Walk Among the Tombstones when it was published back in the early Nineties. It’s the 10th book in the Matthew Scudder series. Scudder is a former cop who is a recovering alcoholic. He’s a private investigator who does “favors” for people who reward him with “gifts.” Scudder is asked to investigate the murder of a woman and discovers a series of similar murders. Liam Neeson plays an effective Scudder. A Walk Among the Tombstones is one of the creepiest books Lawrence Block ever wrote and the movie captures that creepiness very effectively. It wouldn’t surprise me to see Liam Neeson in another Matthew Scudder movie. GRADE: B

FORGOTTEN BOOKS #287: SHADOWS OVER BAKER STREET Edited by Michael Reaves & John Pelan

shadows over baker street
My favorite story in this Sherlock Holmes meets H. P. Lovecraft collection of original stories is “A Study in Emerald” by Neil Gaiman. Most of the stories in this volume follow the A. Conan Doyle template: Watson narrating an adventure. But Neil Gaiman goes in a different direction and produces a very off-beat story of the Cthulhu Mythos. I also enjoyed “Tiger! Tiger!” by Elizabeth Bear who features Irene Adler instead of Holmes and Watson. Of the traditional format stories, I liked John Pelan’s “The Mystery of the Worm,” Michael Reaves’ “The Adventure of the Arab’s Manuscript,” and Richard A. Lupoff’s “The Adventure of the Voorish Sign.” If you’re a fan of Sherlock Holmes and H. P. Lovecraft, you’ll find some fun stories in Shadows Over Baker Street.” GRADE: B+
“A Study in Emerald” 1881 (This story won Neil Gaiman the 2004 Hugo Award for Best Short Story)
“Tiger! Tiger!” 1882 Elizabeth Bear
“The Case of the Wavy Black Dagger” 1884 Steve Perry
“A Case of Royal Blood” 1888 Steven-Elliot Altman (Narrated by H.G. Wells)
“The Weeping Masks” 1890 James Lowder
“Art in the Blood” 1892 Brian Stableford
“The Curious Case of Miss Violet Stone” 1894 Poppy Z. Brite, David Ferguson
“The Adventure of the Antiquarian’s Niece” 1894 Barbara Hambly (Thomas Carnacki is one of the main characters)
“The Mystery of the Worm” 1894 John Pelan (Dr. Nikola also appears; an annotated version of this story was published in Studies in Modern Horror, issue no. 3 )
“The Mystery of the Hanged Man’s Puzzle” 1897 Paul Finch
“The Horror of the Many Faces” 1898 Tim Lebbon
“The Adventure of the Arab’s Manuscript” 1898 Michael Reaves
“The Drowned Geologist” 1898 Caitlín R. Kiernan
“A Case of Insomnia” 1899 John P. Vourlis
“The Adventure of the Voorish Sign” 1899 Richard A. Lupoff
“The Adventure of Exham Priory” 1901 F. Gwynplaine MacIntyre
“Death Did Not Become Him” 1902 David Niall Wilson, Patricia Lee Macomber
“Nightmare in Wax” 1915 Simon Clark


John Barry
The first soundtrack albums I bought as a kid were the soundtracks to the James Bond movies. I bought Goldfinger first (because that was the first Bond movie I saw), and then I bought From Russia With Love (great cover!), and later, Thunderball. I wore the grooves out on all of them. I’ve always liked John Barry’s music. If you look at the track list of this CD, you’ll see all of the action and adventure movies he’s been involved with. Barry’s a very versatile composer. Sadly, John Barry’s style of brassy music isn’t popular today. Movie soundtracks today seem to compilations of current songs or retro-songs (the songs on The Guardians of the Galaxy soundtrack are mostly from the 1970s). But I still like this music and continue to listen to it. Do you have a favorite John Barry piece of music?
1 Goldfinger (2:41)
2 The James Bond Theme (2:01)
3 From Russia with Love (2:54)
4 Thunderball (2:33)
5 007 (1:48)
6 You Only Live Twice (2:22)
7 On Her Majesty’s Secret Service (2:03)
8 Diamonds Are Forever (2:26)
9 All Time High (3:56)
10 Until September (4:25)
11 King Kong (2:37)
12 Zulu (2:45)
13 Pawnee Attack, Pt. 1 & 2 (4:05)
14 Kicking Bird’s Gift (2:06)
15 Journey to Fort Sedgewick (2:40)
16 Two Socks (The Wolf Theme) (1:32)
17 Farewell and Finale, Pts. 1 & 2 (9:52)
18 Did You Call Me (5:24)
19 The Specialist (5:39)


the second rumpole omnibus
Choosing a book to take with you on a trip is always a little chancy. You want a book that will hold your interest. You want a book that you won’t finish reading leaving you nothing to read. And you want a book that’s fun to read. The Second Rumpole Omnibus was the book I chose to take with me on my flights to and from Albuquerque. Our itinerary, compliments of Southwest Airlines, took us from Buffalo to Baltimore (1 hour), then Baltimore to Albuquerque (4 hours). On the trip back, with typical airline logic, we flew from Albuquerque to Phoenix (1 hour) and Phoenix to Buffalo (4 hours). In those 10 hours of reading, I managed to read about 600 pages of this 654-page book. The Rumpole stories delighted me and the tedious travel hours flew by. You can’t ask more from a book than that. GRADE: A
Table of Contents:
Rumpole for the Defence
Rumpole and the confession of guilt
Rumpole and the gentle art of blackmail
Rumpole and the dear departed
Rumpole and the rotten apple
Rumpole and the expert witness
Rumpole and the spirit of Christmas
Rumpole and the boat people
Rumpole and the Golden Thread
Rumpole and the genuine article
Rumpole and the golden thread
Rumpole and the old boy net
Rumpole and the female of the species
Rumpole and the sporting life
Rumpole and the last resort
Rumpole’s Last Case
“Rumpole and the Winter Break”
“Rumpole and the Blind Tasting”
“Rumpole and the Bright Seraphim”
“Rumpole and the Judge’s Elbow”
“Rumpole and the Official Secret”
“Rumpole and the Old, Old Story”
“Rumpole’s Last Case”


Fans of Breaking Bad will love this “Breaking Bad” donut from Albuquerque. Diane and I drove to Rebel Donuts to find this amazing creation. Diane brought the donut in the photo back to our daughter, Katie. She ate it and announced, “Best donut ever!”


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