Monthly Archives: April 2009

TASTY By Roy Finamore

“On the reheating of pasta: Purists say you’re not supposed to do it. And to that I say, in the words of Nero Wolfe, pfui.” Any cookbook writer who quotes Nero Wolfe is aces in my book. Tasty has plenty of good recipes. I’m going to try “Ricotta Pancakes” and the frittatas. And Finamore’s technique of reheating pasta, of course. Yummy!

THE BARCHESTER CHRONICLES

I’m a huge Alan Rickman fan so I was curious to see him in the role of the supercilious and odious Obadiah Slope, Chaplin to the Bishop of Barchester. Rickman, I’m happy to report, is wonderfully smarmy. Geraldine McEwan is wonderful as the Bishop’s harridan wife, Mrs. Proudie, and Susan Hampshire brilliantly plays the beautiful invalid, Signora Madeline Neroni. This 1982 BBC mini-series is based on Anthony Trollope’s The Warden and Barchester Towers. Of course this 374 minute mini-series can’t capture the subtlety of Trollope’s work, but this is a nice try. GRADE: B.

THE YGGYSSEY By Daniel Pinkwater

Daniel Pinkwater writes loopy, goofy, and devilishly clever books. They’re marketed to the “Young Adult” market, but there’s plenty here to appeal to adult sensibilities. This sequel to The Neddiad is narrated by Yggdrasil Birnbaum (Iggy for short), a teenage girl who lives in a Hollywood hotel in the 1950s. Of course, the hotel is haunted. The subtitle of The Yggyssey is “How Iggy Wondered What Happened to All the Ghosts, Found Out, and Went There” which pretty much gives the plot away. But there’s magic and witches and plenty of adventure. If you want a book with a “sense of wonder,” The Yggyssey has it in spades.

BILLY WILDER DVD COLLECTION

It’s bargain time again. How would you like The Apartment , Avanti!, The Fortune Cookie, Irma la Douce , Kiss Me Stupid , One Two Three, The Private Life of Sherlock Holmes, Some Like It Hot, and Witness for the Prosecution for $39.95 on salebooks.com? AMAZON wants $107.99 for the same thing. You can’t go wrong buying these classic films.

2009 NFL DRAFT–PANIC TIME!

A week before the Draft, the Buffalo Bills traded their only All-Pro player, disgruntled left tackle Jason Peters, to the Philadelphia Eagles for a First Round pick and a Fourth Round pick. During the Dick Jauron era, the Bills struggled to three consecutive 7-9 seasons. It’s an open secret that if the Bills don’t make the playoffs this season, senile owner Ralph Wilson will fire the entire coaching staff. That explains the desperation signing of Terrell Owens. The Bills need more talent to compete in the AFC East where they lost ALL of their games to their division rivals last year: the Jets, the Patriots, and the Dolphins. However, after missing the playoffs for 10 years, the Bills are mired in mediocrity. I suspect their fortunes won’t change until the ownership changes.

FROM BEYOND

Barbara Crampton looks hot in her dominatrix outfit which I’m sure you recall is NOT a scene in H. P. Lovecraft’s “From Beyond.” Let’s just chalk it up to artistic license. The movie pretty much follows the plot of the short story: two scientists build a glowing RESONATOR that stimulates the pineal gland allowing them to see and enter the sixth dimension. Unfortunately, one of the scientists gets eaten by one of the alien dimensional creatures which results in a merged identity. There’s still the sexy psychiatrist, the cop who used to play in the NFL, and those snaky things that keep popping out of everyone’s foreheads. Like The Re-Animator, this movie lacks Lovecraftean suspense and dread, but substitutes lots of gore instead. GRADE: C

FORGOTTEN BOOKS #14: CHRONOPOLIS & THE CRYSTAL WORLD By J. G. Ballard

With J. G. Ballard’s recent death, it’s time to assess his impact. I loved Ballard’s early work, and that’s why I choose Chronopolis, a fabulous short story collection that includes “The Voices of Time,” “The Terminal Beach,” “Billenium,” “The Garden of Time,” and “The Drowned Giant.” These are classic stories that reward rereading. I’m also recommending what I consider Ballard’s best novel, The Crystal World. Almost all of Ballard’s work is apocalyptic, but The Crystal World destroys the world most beautifully. And the first edition had the incredible wrap-around cover of Max Ernst’s Eye of Silence. I dutifully read Ballard’s later works like Crash and Concrete Island as they were published, but they lacked the impact of his earlier works. Ballard was a singular talent. We won’t see his like again.

STINGRAY: THE COMPLETE SERIES

I’m wallowing in nostagia again. For a mere $29.95, you can be the proud owner of Stingray: The Complete Series from Daedalus Books (salebooks.com). AMAZON wants $74.95 for the same set. I grew up watching Stingray. From their secret headquarters at Marineville, the members of the World Aquanaut Security Patrol (WASP) battle the Aquaphibians, undersea warriors who want to rid the world of all surface dwellers. At first, it seems quaint to watch marionettes when we’re used to high tech special effects. But the magic of Stingray is that you start to care about the story and the characters and forget about the strings. This DVD collection includes all 39 episodes, digitally remastered. Total fun!

BLACK & WHITE NIGHT with Roy Orbison and Friends (Deluxe Edition)

Can you imagine being in the audience and watching Roy Orbison, Bruce Springsteen, Jackson Brown, T-Bone Burnett, Elvis Costello, J. D. Souther, and Tom Waits perform songs like “Only the Lonely,” “Blue Bayou,” “It’s Over,” and “Pretty Woman”? Can you imagine a brace of backup singers like Bonnie Raitt, Jennifer Warnes, and k. d. lang? This Showtime concert from 1987 might be one of the best concerts ever filmed. There’s oodles of talent here. If you haven’t seen it, you need to run out and find it. The Deluxe Edition includes a CD with all the songs on it so you can play it in your car and dream of your golden yesterdays past at every stoplight. GRADE: A.

EAST OF ANGEL TOWN By Peter Cincotti

When I first heard “Lay Your Body Down (Goodbye Philadelphia)” on the radio I thought, “This sounds like Billy Joel.” But, of course, it wasn’t. It was Peter Cincotti who seems to be channeling Billy Joe with his singing and piano playing. If you’re a fan of Billy Joel, you need to give Peter Cincotti a try. GRADE: B.