HOW TO FAIL AT ALMOST EVERYTHING AND STILL WIN BIG By Scott Adams

how to fail at almost everything
I’m a big fan of Dilbert and the ever-generous Beth Fedyn (knowing this) sent me Scott Adams clever How to Fail at Almost Everything and Still Win Big. I’ve read Scott Adams’ other books and enjoyed them. How to Fail at Almost Everything and Still Win Big tells the story of Scott Adams’ unlikely success. As Adams admits, he doesn’t have a lot of drawing talent. He’s mediocre at many things. But the synergy of all that mediocrity (plus a ton of luck) lead to Scott Adams’ success. I was fascinated by Adams’ physical problems: first, a hand problem that threatened to derail his cartooning career and second, a more serious problem that involved Adams’ speech center. The doctors told Adams his conditions were “incurable.” But Adams’ didn’t accept that and the stories of his struggles to overcome his problems are astonishing. Anyone who reads How to Fail at Almost Everything and Still Win Big can’t help but come away inspired. GRADE: B+

COLDEST FEBRUARY EVER

frozen falls
Buffalo’s weather statistics go back to the 1800s, but in all that time no February was colder than February 2015. In 145 years of of weather-keeping no February in Western New York history had these numbers:
10 days below zero
-10 degree temperature record low (for two days)
47 inches of snow
53 days of snow on the ground (all of February and part of January)–right now it’s about 3-feet deep
average daily temperature: 11 degrees
I’m hoping March is a much better month than the February we just endured! It was the coldest month ever! How was your winter?
buffalo snow

BRAZILIAN NIGHTS By Kenny G

brazilian nights
I’ve enjoyed Kenny G’s music for decades. Diane and I have seen Kenny G in concert three times. Only Elvis Presley’s Christmas album has sold more copies than Kenny G’s Christmas album, Miracles. Brazilian Nights is Kenny G’s new CD and I really like it. If you remember the popularity of Sergio Mendes and Brasil 66 in the Sixties, Brazilian Nights presents music in a similar musical style. If you’re looking for a pleasant, entertaining music CD, this is it. GRADE: A
TRACK LIST:
1. Bossa Antigua 3:48
2. Corcovado (Quiet Nights Of Quiet Stars) 7:30
3. Bossa Réal 7:36
4. Brazilian Nights 6:32
5. April Rain 6:48
6. Menina Moca 5:57
7. Bu Bossa 4:25
8. Clouds 5:37
9. Girl From Ipanema 5:33 $1.29
10. Summer Love 6:14
11. Loving You (Live) 3:22
12. G Bop (Live) 4:18
13. Forever In Love (Live) 5:41
14. Heart And Soul (Live)

FORGOTTEN BOOKS #309: SOME CAME RUNNING By James Jones

some came running book
Yes, Some Came Running is a 1,266-page book. It took James Jones six years to write it after the success of his first novel, From Here to Eternity. Sadly, Some Came Running was a financial flop. It’s lack of monetary success forced James Jones into writing a screenplay for The Longest Day in order to pay his bills. I didn’t know about Some Came Running until I read Lee Sandlin’s review in the Wall Street Journal. You can check it out here.

Dave Hirsh returns from World War II with what we know today is PTSD. Hirsh had some success as a writer before the war and tries to get back to writing. But he flies into rages, he chases women, and he drinks like a fish. Dave’s brother, Frank, is trying to build a financial empire. The brothers don’t get along and fight continually. The post-WWII world is changing and everyone is struggling to adapt. It’s been a long time since I’ve read a 1000+ page book, but I enjoyed this one. James Jones could have written another 5000 pages about these characters…and I would have read them. Jones has that kind of narrative power. I was able to find an unabridged copy of Some Came Running online for $12. The unabridged edition has never been reprinted. But it’s worth seeking out.

FORGOTTEN MUSIC #49: EVERYBODY’S GOT A STORY By Amanda Marshall

everybody's got a story
Amanda Marshall has a bizarre story, too. Marshall’s first CD, Amanda Marshall (1995), was terrific. Marshall’s next CD, Tuesday’s Child (1999), was very good, too. But my favorite Amanda Marshall album is Everybody’s Got a Story (2001). It includes “Double Agent,” one of my favorite songs. But after this CD, Amanda Marshall got into a long and bitter fight with her record company. No more original albums were released. Amanda Marshall’s career was over. For a brief time, she produced some enjoyable music. Then, it just stopped.
TRACK LIST:
1.”Everybody’s Got a Story” (Marshall, Mann, Molecules) – 4:11
2.”The Voice Inside” (Marshall, Mann, Molecules) – 3:01
3.”The Gypsy” (Marshall, Mann, Molecules) – 4:30
4.”Colleen (I Saw Him First)” (Marshall, Mann, Molecules) – 5:10
5.”Double Agent” (Marshall, Mann, Asher, Molecules) – 4:41
6.”Red Magic Marker” (Marshall, Mann, Asher, Molecules) – 3:26
7.”Sunday Morning After” (Marshall, Mann, Asher, Molecules) – 4:44
8.”Love Is My Witness” (Marshall, Mann) – 3:21
9.”Dizzy” (Marshall, Mann, Molecules) – 4:02
10.”Brand New Beau” (Marshall, Mann, Asher, Molecules) – 4:24
11.”Marry Me” (Marshall, Misener) – 3:51
12.”Inside the Tornado” (Amanda Marshall, Billy Mann) – 1:43

TRIGGER WARNING By Neil Gaiman

trigger warning
I’ve been a fan of Neil Gaiman’s work for years. I’ve read his previous short story collections and enjoyed them. One of the features I enjoy the most is Gaiman’s introductions to his stories. He tells you when, where, why, and how the story came about. Gaiman credits Harlan Ellison for inspiring him to write his clever introductions. Like Neil Gaiman, I remember reading Harlan Ellison’s short story collections and marveling at the scintillating introductions. No one wrote story introductions like Harlan Ellison! And now, no one writes introductions to stories like Neil Gaiman. Carl Anderson wrote a wonderful review of Trigger Warning here. Check it out. GRADE: A-
TABLE OF CONTENTS:
01. Making a Chair
02. A Lunar Labyrinth
03. The Thing about Cassandra
04. Down to the Sunless Sea
05. “The Truth is a Cave in the Black Mountains . . . “
06. My Last Landlady
07. Adventure Story
08. ORANGE
09. A Calender of Tales
10. The Case of Death and Honey
11. The Man Who Forgot Ray Bradbury
12. Jerusalem
13. Click-Clack the Rattlebag
14. An Invocation of Incuriousity
15. “And Weep, Like Alexander”
16. Nothing O’Clock
17. Pearls: A Fairy Tale
18. Kether to Malkuth
19. Feminine Endings
20. Observing the Formalities
21. The Sleeper and the Spindle
22. Witch Work
23. In Relig Odhrain
24. Black Dog

SOME CAME RUNNING

some came running - cinema quad movie poster (1).jpg
I spent last week reading James Jones’ Some Came Running. After I finished it, I wanted to see the movie version that stars Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, and Shirley MacClaine. The movie came out in 1959, just two years after the book was published. Frank Sinatra plays Dave Hirsh, a service man just returning home after serving in WWII. Home is Parkman, Illinois: a small town that’s growing after the war. Dave’s brother, Frank, owns a jewelry store and stands to make a lot of money as the town grows. Dean Martin plays Bama Dillert, a professional gambler who becomes attached to Dave Hirsh. Shirley MacLaine plays a loose woman named Ginnie Moorehead who falls in love with Dave Hirsh. Dave falls in love with Gwen French, a teacher. As you might suspect, plenty of complications ensue. The conclusion is slightly different from the novel version. I was impressed that the movie version of Some Came Running captured the essence of the 1,266-page book. Not a bad trick for a 2-hour movie. GRADE: B+

STILL ALICE

still_alice
Diane and I read Lisa Genova’s Still Alice years ago when it was first published. The story of a middle-aged college professor who discovers she’s suffering from early-onset Alzheimer’s is a chilling story. Julianne Moore’s performance in this movie version shows the heart-breaking decline of the professor’s memory and life. This is a grim movie, but well worth seeing. GRADE: B+

2015 OSCAR PREDICTIONS

julianne-moore-jpeg
I have no inside information. I have seen most of the Oscar nominated movies. Here are my guesses about who will win.
BEST MOVIE: Boyhood
BEST DIRECTOR: Richard Linklater, Boyhood
BEST ACTOR: Eddie Redmayne, The Theory of Everything
BEST ACTRESS: Julianne Moore, Still Alice
BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS: Patricia Arquette, Boyhood
BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR: J.K. Simmons, Whiplash

Who do you think will win?

NOW THAT WHAT I CALL MOVIES

NOW THAT'S WHAT I CALL MOVIES
I bought this CD because I thought I was getting a lot of value for my money. I like most of the songs and although I own a lot of them (on other CDs) it’s nice to have all 18 songs on one CD. The price was right, too: $9.99. My only quibble is that I wish Madonna’s “Live to Tell” had been included. GRADE: A
TRACK LIST:
1. Bohemian Rhapsody Queen 5:55
2. It Will Rain (From “Twilight”) Bruno Mars 4:17
3. I Will Always Love You Whitney Houston 4:31
4. My Heart Will Go On (Love Theme from “Titanic”) Celine Dion 4:40
5. Streets of Philadelphia Bruce Springsteen 3:16
6. Against All Odds (Take a Look at Me Now) Phil Collins 3:24
7. Kiss From a Rose Seal 3:38
8. Almost Paradise (Love Theme from “Footloose”) Mike Reno feat. Ann Wilson 3:49
9. Tiny Dancer Elton John 6:12 Album Only
10. God Only Knows The Beach Boys 2:53
11. How Deep Is Your Love Bee Gees 4:03
12. Brown Eyed Girl Van Morrison 3:04
13. Cups (Movie Version) Anna Kendrick 1:14
14. I Am a Man of Constant Sorrow (aus “O Brother, Where Art Thou?”) The Soggy Bottom Boys 3:10
15. Eye of the Tiger Survivor 4:06
16. Danger Zone Kenny Loggins 3:36
17. Hooked on a Feeling Blue Swede 2:53
18. Happy (From “Despicable Me 2″) Pharrell Williams