Author Archives: george

JUSTICE LEAGUE: COSMIC CLASH [Blu-ray]


I’m fan of these LEGO animated adventures. In the Justice League: Cosmic Clash Brainiac, the super-intelligent robot–wants to shrink the Earth so he can add our planet to his collection of minimized worlds. The Justice League–Superman, Wonder Woman, The Flash, Cyborg, Batman, and Green Lantern–take on Brainiac’s invasion, but three of the members of the Justice League are thrown back in Time: Superman, Wonder Woman, and Green Lantern. Batman and The Flash have to go back in Time to rescue them and then stop Brainiac’s plan before the Earth is the size of a tennis ball!

These LEGO animated movies are pure escapism. If you’re a fan of the Justice League and DC super-heroes, you’ll enjoy the clever (and funny!) Cosmic Clash. GRADE: B+

SPECIAL FEATURE: The Justice League Caught on Camera (Gag Reel)

THE MAN WHO WROTE THE PERFECT NOVEL: JOHN WILLIAMS, STONER, AND THE WRITING LIFE By Charles J. Shields


About 20 years ago, Bill Crider recommended a novel to me. It was John Williams’s Stoner (1965), a novel I had heard of but didn’t own at the time. I found a copy of Stoner and read it. Stoner tells the story of a farmer’s son who goes to college initially to become a better farmer. But Stoner falls in love with Literature and switches to becoming an English Major. Needless to say, his parents are disappointed because they planned on having Stoner work on the farm and continue the operation when they got too old. Stoner’s transition to academic life and becoming a professor provides an appealing story to guys like Bill and me who followed the same career trajectory.

Charles J. Shields’s biography of John Williams covers Williams’s three marriages, his many affairs, and his feud with Yvor Winters. I was more interested in the parts that dealt with Williams’s novels. I had no idea that Western writer Nelson C. Nye panned William’s Butcher’s Crossing in The New York Times Book Review. Nye wrote: “It is practically plotless, an account of four men who go out to hunt buffalo, find them, slaughter them, and are caught by cold weather…. The story, however, contains little excitement and moves as though hauled by a snail through a pond of molasses.” (p. 121)

Stoner achieved modest success when it was first published. Yes, Stoner is far from a perfect novel. But, as the years went by, Stoner attracted more of an audience. Now, it’s considered one of the finest novels of academic life ever written. Have you read Stoner? GRADE: B
TABLE OF CONTENTS:
Introduction ix
Part 1. Nothing But the Night
1. He comes from Texas 3
2. “Ho, ho! wasn’t I the character then?” 15
3. Rough draft 28
4. Key West 39
5. Alan Swallow
6. Love 58
Part 2. Butcher’s Crossing
7. The Winters Circle 73
8. “Natural liars are the best writers” 85
9. Butcher’s Crossing 100
10. Fiasco 112
Part. 3. Stoner
11. “It was that kind of world” 137
12. “The Williams affair” 153
13. Stoner 163
Part 4. Augustus
14. Bread loaf and “up on the hill” 183
15, The good guys 192
16. “Long life to the emperor!” 208
Part 5. The Sleep of Reason
Poem : “An old actor to his audience” 221
17. “How can such a son of a bitch have such talent?” 2
18. In extremis 233
Epilogue. John Williams redux 249
Acknowledgements 256
Notes 259
Works Consulted 286
A John Williams Bibliography 289
Index 297

NEW INTERIOR LIGHTS!



Diane decided our old dining room light needed replacement, as well as the light in the foyer and the light in the loft. The new dining room light has six lights and provides much more light than the old light. Same goes for the loft light. We’re waiting for the frosted glass for the foyer light (that’s why I’m not showing it right now). The lighting store we purchased the lights from offer an electrician to come out to your house and install the lights. Great feature! Are you planning to upgrade your lighting?

THE 50TH ANNIVERSARY OF THE WALK ON THE MOON and APOLLO: Atmospheres And Soundtracks By Brian Eno



I sat in front of our color TV back in 1969 with the rest of my family behind me as the low resolution TV feed from the Moon and Walter Cronkite’s commentary covered the first lunar landing. I was thrilled because landing on the Moon seemed an impossibility for so long. I grew up reading Science Fiction stories about traveling to the Moon so those stories instilled a love of space exploration in me (I did NOT want to be an astronaut, however). The Apollo 11 mission made history and boosted American morale during the Vietnam War. Did you watch the Moon Landing? Did you listen to Brian Eno’s famous Apollo music?

FRIDAY’S FORGOTTEN BOOKS #538: THE TRIUMPH OF THE SPIDER MONEY By Joyce Carol Oates


Joyce Carol Oates is a yearly contender for the Nobel Prize for Literature. Oates, writing at a high level over 50 years, produced an impressive body of work (although Oates occasionally gets criticized for writing “too much”). Oates has written crime novels under her “Rosamond Smith” pseudonym and psychological suspense novels under her “Lauren Kelly” pseudonym. HARD CASE CRIME’s publication of The Triumph of the Spider Monkey is the first definitive edition of the book that was published 40 years ago.

The Triumph of the Spider Monkey enters the mind of mentally disturbed Bobbie Gotteson. Bobbie was found abandoned in a bus station locker and grew up moving from one foster home to another, from one detention center to the next. Bobbie loves music so as soon as he’s able, he makes the trip to Hollywood to try to find a place in the music business. But years of neglect and abuse produces a youth with rage, paranoid delusions, and a tendency towards violence. Joyce Carol Oates captures the tortured mental landscapes of her characters like few other writers.

The second half of The Triumph of the Spider Monkey is a novella called “Love, Careless Love” that shows Gotteson’s violent rampage from the viewpoint of a woman who survived the experience. If you’re a fan of psychological suspense novels, The Triumph of the Spider Monkey will leave you sleeping with the lights on for a few nights. And you’ll love the great Robert McGinnis cover, too! Once again HARD CASE CRIME has rescued a classic book from the Mists of Time! GRADE: B+

NOIR FATALE Edited by Larry Correia & Kacey Ezell


BAEN Books loves themed Science Fiction and Fantasy anthologies and Noir Fatale edited by Correia and Ezell is their latest offering. Each story features a beautiful, troubled woman entangled in a dark web of danger and deceit. Noir Fatale includes an Anita Blake, Vampire Hunter tale called “Sweet Seduction.” My favorite stories are “Recruiting Exercise” by David Weber and “A Goddess in Red” by Griffin Barber. Weber’s futuristic tale centers around an assassination and an innocent bystander who happens to be in the Wrong Place at the Wrong Time. Griffin Barber, a writer I wasn’t familiar with, introduces the reader to Madame Sunderhaven, a practiced master of the Art of Necromancy. Sunderhaven and a thief plan a scheme to steal a valuable artifact from a heavily guarded and warded burial crypt. I love capers so I found “A Goddess in Red” very enjoyable.

Noir Fatale, with its variety of stories, settings, and characters offers something for just about every reading taste. Perfect escapist Summer Reading! I’m guessing that in a year we’ll be seeing Noir Fatale 2 from BAEN Books. GRADE: B
TABLE OF CONTENTS:
Dedication v
Acknowledgements vii
Editor’s Introduction: Kacey Ezell xi
Editor’s Introduction: Larry Correia xv
AIN’T NO SUNSHINE: Christopher L. Smith and Michael J. Ferguson 1
RECRUITING EXERCISE: David Weber 25
SPOILS OF WAR: Kacey Ezell 47
THE PRIVILEGES OF VIOLENCE: Steve Diamond 65
A GODDESS IN RED: Griffin Barber 91
KURO: Hinkley Correia 107
SWEET SEDUCTION: Laurell K. Hamilton 127
A STRING OF PEARLS: Alistair Kimble 155
HONEY FALL: Sarah A. Hoyt 177
THREE KATES: Mike Massa 199
WORTH THE SCARS OF DYING: Patrick M. Tracy 229
THE FROST QUEEN: Robert Buettner 255
BOMBSHELL: Larry Correia 277
About the Authors 307

THE INDISPENSABLE COMPOSERS: A PERSONAL GUIDE By Anthony Tommasini


I’ve been a big fan of Anthony Tommasini’s reviews and articles in the New York Times for years. The Indispensable Composers: A Personal Guide provides a guided tour of the composers Tommasini loves and the music they created. Tommasini takes a chronological approach while putting the composer and his music into a larger context. I particularly enjoyed Tommasini’s chapters on Haydn and Mozart.

In addition, I found Tommasini’s “Recommended Recordings” list useful. I have some of the recordings Tommasini recommends, but I’ll have to buy several that I don’t own. If you’re a fan of classical music, there’s a lot in The Indispensable Composers you’ll find fascinating and enlightening. Tommasini’s writing is clear and lucid. Highly recommended! Do you have a favorite classical composer? GRADE: A
TABLE OF CONTENTS:
AUTHOR’S NOTE xii
Introduction: The greatness complex 1
Creator of modern music : Claudio Monteverdi (1567-1643) 19
Music for use, devotion, and personal profit : Johann Sebastian Bach (1685-1750) 39
“Vast effects with simple means” : George Frideric Handel (1685-1759) 65
The “Vienna Four” : an introduction 91
“I had to be original” : Franz Joseph Haydn (1732-1809) 97
“Right here in my noodle” : Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (1756-1791) 113
The gift of inevitability : Ludwig van Beethoven (1770-1827) 145
“When I wished to sing of love it turned to sorrow” : Franz Schubert (1797-1828) 175
An unforgettable day in 1836 : Fryderyk Franciszek (Frédéric François) Chopin (1810-1849), Robert Schumann (1810-1856) 205
The Italian reformer and the German futurist : Giuseppe Verdi (1813-1901), Richard Wagner (1813-1883) 247
The synthesizer : Johannes Brahms (1833-1897) 307
The refined radical : Claude Debussy (1862-1918) 339
“The public will judge” : Giacomo Puccini (1858-1924) 369
New languages for a new century : Arnold Schoenberg (1874-1951), Igor Stravinsky (1882-1971), Bela Bartók (1881-1945) 397
EPILOGUE 433
Recommended recordings 441
Acknowledgements 447
Notes 449
INDEX 467

RIO BRAVO [DVD]


Rio Bravo is almost my favorite Western movie. Sure, The Searchers, Lonesome Dove, High Noon, and The Magnificent Seven are also contenders. But John Wayne, Dean Martin, Ricky Nelson, Angie Dickinson, and Walter Brennan bring gravitas to Rio Bravo that the other Westerns don’t quite match. An army of gunmen plan on springing a murderer from jail. Sheriff John T. Chance (John Wayne), his deputy with a drinking problem (Dean Martin), and the hobbling Walter Brennan are the only ones ready to defend the jail.

Director Howard Hawks elevated the Western movie genre with Red River. Hawk delivers a lean, incendiary story filled with suspense and thrills in Rio Bravo. Oh, and by the way, my very favorite Western is The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly. What’s your favorite Western movie? GRADE: A

SOULLESS: THE CASE AGAINST R. KELLY By Jim DeRogatis


In November 2000, Jim DeRogatis, the pop music critic at the Chicago Sun-Times, received a fax alleging R&B star R. Kelly had a problem with “young girls.” After conducting an investigation, DeRogatis published a story accusing R. Kelly of recruiting young girls, abusing them, and then paying them off for their silence. The result of these explosive findings…nothing.

No one seemed interested in these allegations. The music industry didn’t care as long as R. Kelly continued to churn out hits. The parents of the young girls took the payoffs and stayed quiet. But for 18 years, Jim DeRogatis stayed on the case and continued to collect more evidence. DeRogatis was sent a graphic video of R. Kelly that led to a 2008 child pornography trial. Just last week, R. Kelly was arrested on Federal charges that might finally stick. Soulless: The Case Against R. Kelly lays out the facts about Kelly’s conduct with underage girls for years. People wonder how billionaire Jeffrey Epstein managed to sexually abuse underage girls for years, too. Jim DeRogatis shows how powerful men get away with their dark activities…until they don’t. Impressive reporting! GRADE: A
TABLE OF CONTENTS:
Prologue: Robert’s Problem Is Young Girls p. 1
Part I
Chapter 1 He Gonna Grow Up Being a Shooter p. 7
Chapter 2 I Promise You p. 31
Chapter 3 There Are Lots of People Who Know About This p. 41
Chapter 4 School Ain’t Gonna Make You a Millionaire p. 53
Chapter 5 Numerous p. 80
Chapter 6 Trophies p. 100
Part II
Chapter 7 Go to Your Mailbox p. 111
Chapter 8 Victory by Delay p. 139
Chapter 9 Recent Unpleasantness p. 152
Chapter 10 The State of Illinois v. Robert Sylvester Kelly p. 168
Chapter 11 The Defense and the Verdict p. 192
Part III
Chapter 12 “How Old Are We Talking?” p. 211
Chapter 13 “It’s Just Music” p. 225
Chapter 14 The Cult p. 238
Chapter 15 Reckoning p. 263
Afterword p. 297
Acknowledgments p. 303

THE LOUDEST VOICE [Showtime]


Russell Crowe carries the load on SHOWTIME’s The Loudest Voice. Crowe channels Roger Ailes, the legendary TV Machievellian genius behind FOX NEWS. Based on Gabriel Sherman’s The Loudest Voice in the Room: How the Brilliant, Bombastic Roger Ailes Built Fox News – and Divided a Country, this 7-episode mini-series chronicles the rise of Ailes as he creates FOX NEWS and builds an audience. The two episodes aired so far shows how Roger Ailes leaves CNBC (and General Electric) and links up with Rupert Murdoch to form a unique new cable channel.

The FOX NEWS coverage of the 9/11 disaster boosted ratings and garnered an intensely loyal TV audience for the new cable channel. Russell Crowe should win an award for his role as the brilliant, but fatally flawed Ailes. Ailes’s treatment of women makes for uncomfortable viewing. His influence with the Bush Administration and the Republican Party grows. In the upcoming episodes, the sexual harassment accusations against Ailes grow despite the settlements Ailes and his lawyers negotiate. These sexual harassment actions bring Ailes’s FOX NEWS reign to an end in spectacular fashion. If you want to see the inside world of FOX NEWS and all the powerful characters, The Loudest Voice captures the creepiness of that world of sex and politics. GRADE: A
CAST AND CHARACTERS
Main
Russell Crowe as Roger Ailes
Seth MacFarlane as Brian Lewis
Sienna Miller as Beth Ailes
Simon McBurney as Rupert Murdoch
Annabelle Wallis as Laurie Luhn
Aleksa Palladino as Judy Laterza
Naomi Watts as Gretchen Carlson
Recurring
Josh Stamberg as Bill Shine
Mackenzie Astin as John Moody
Barry Watson as Lachlan Murdoch
Guy Boyd as Chet Collier
Josh Charles as Casey Close
Emory Cohen as Joe Lindsley
Patch Darragh as Sean Hannity
Lucy Owen as Suzanne Scott
David Whalen as Steve Doocy
John Finn as Jack Welch