Author Archives: george

WINTER TIDE (THE INNSMOUTH LEGACY) By Ruthanna Emrys


Imagine that the destruction of H. P. Lovecraft’s Deep Ones foothold village of Innsmouth resulted in the survivors being placed in internment camps (with the Japanese). And further, imagine a survivor, Alpha Marsh, recruited by the U.S. Government to help them determine if the Russians have stolen body-swapping secrets from Miskatonic University. So far, so good. But Winter Tide does not live up to its promise. The story sags in the middle. It goes on too long (366 pages). And, if you’re going to write a faux-Lovecraft novel, there better be a lot of dread lurking in those pages. Unfortunately, the story bogs down and tedium sets in. Disappointing. GRADE: C

GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY [Blu-ray]


Diane wants to see Guardians of the Galaxy 2, but she hadn’t seen the first Guardians of the Galaxy. I just happened to have the Blu-ray version of Guardians of the Galaxy and so we watched it over the weekend. Based on a MARVEL comic book series, Guardians of the Galaxy centers around Peter Quill (Chris Pratt) who was “taken” from Earth when he was a child. Quill grows up among a group of interstellar thieves called The Ravagers. Quill finds a rare artifact and suddenly he’s targeted by a green assassin named Gamora (Zoe Saldana) and a pair of adventurers–a cybernetic animal call Rocket (voiced by Bradley Cooper) and a walking tree named Groot (voiced by Vin Diesel). In prison, the group meets Drax (Dave Bautista) who has vowed vengeance on Bad Guy Ronan (Lee Pace). I really liked the cybernetic warrior, Nebula, played by my favorite Doctor Who Companion, Karen Gillan. Plenty of action and humor! Now Diane’s really looking forward to Guardinans of the Galaxy 2!. GRADE: A
BONUS FEATURES
Guide to the Galaxy with James Gunn (writer & director of Guardians of the Galaxy)
The Intergalactic Visual Effects for Guardians of the Galaxy
Gag Reel
Deleted Scenes with Commentary by James Gunn
Audio Commentary by James Gunn

LAST NIGHT, A SUPERHERO SAVED MY LIFE By Liesa Mignogna


Little did I know that Last Night, A Superhero Saved My Life was going to contain so many serious essays. For example, Delilah Dawson talks about her anger management issues which led her to admire The Hulk. Jamie Ford talks about his relationships and how he lost his virginity while under the influence of Daredevil and Elecktra. I preferred the lighter pieces in this anthology: Joe R. Lansdale on Batman’s influence in Lansdale’s writing career and Carrie Vaughn’s love of Wonder Woman. And, who knew Jodi Picoult wrote for comic books? “In the last issue I wrote for DC Comics, I wrote myself into the script, instructing the illustrator to make an Amazon warrior look like a certain red-haired novelist moonlighting as a comic book writer. And, sure enough, when the issue hit the stands, there was my alter ego…systematically beathing the crap out of Batman.” (p. 190) Last Night, A Superhero Saved My Life is full of surprises and great writing. Don’t miss this one! GRADE: A
TABLE OF CONTENTS:
INTRODUCTION
SUPERHEROES AND BEING HUMAN
Me and Batman and you / Austin Grossman —
On the Hulk: you wouldn’t like me when I’m angry / Delilah S. Dawson —
Dented hearts: a story of Iron Man / Anthony Breznican —
The weight of four-color justice / Christopher Golden —
SUPERHEROES AND LOVE
Daredevil, Elektra, and the ninja who stole my virginity / Jamie Ford —
Everything I know about love, I learned from Gambit and Rogue / Karina Cooper —
Spider-Manhattan / Scott Westerfeld —
How I spent my summer vacation with the Judas Contract / Brad Meltzer —
SUPERHEROES AND WRITING
How Batman saved my life / Joe R. Lansdale —
All the world is waiting for you / Carrie Vaughn —
The devil inside: how Matt Wagner’s Grendel saved my life / Brendan Deneen —
You never forget your first time / Neil Gaiman —
SUPERHEROES AND GENDER
We are not Amazons / Leigh Bardugo —
Weapon X / Ron Currie, Jr. —
Wonder Woman / Jodi Picoult —
SUPERHEROES AND CHILDHOOD
God of thunder / Kevin Seccia —
Underdog and me / Martin Kihn —
Superman: one rad dude / Jim Di Bartolo —
Some interstitial thoughts on the In-Betweener / Charles Yu —
SUPERHEROES AND TRAUMA
Becoming Bethany: a life in seven deaths / Alethea Kontis —
Swashbuckle my heart: an ode to Nightcrawler / Jenn Reese —
The hero I needed / Liesa Mignogna.

CABARET


Today we’re going to the Sheas Performing Arts Center to see the touring version of Cabaret. I’m anticipating seeing a performance unlike the famous Joel Grey and Liza Minnelli movie. We’ve seen stage versions of Cabaret twice. The story and the music stay fresh as Art mirrors current events. What do you think of Cabaret?

FATE OF THE FURIOUS


Fate of the Furious set box office records when it showed up in theaters a month ago. With a cast of Charlize Theron, Helen Mirren, Vin Diesel, Dwayne Johnson, Jason Statham, Kurt Russell, Ludacris, and Michelle Rodriguez as well as dozens of vehicles that explode, this movie has more action than dialogue. Yes, it’s all silly fun. But the hyper-kinetic production values are on the screen. Great popcorn movie! GRADE: A-

FORGOTTEN BOOKS #421: JUST THE WAY IT IS/BLONDE’S REQUIEM By James Hadley Chase


Greg Shepard’s Introduction traces the successful writing career of Rene Lodge Brabazon Raymond, aka “James Hadley Chase,” a British writer who wrote 90 thriller novels–most of them set in America. A James Hadley Chase novel features hard-boiled action and usually a noirish ending. STARK HOUSE has been reprinting omnibus editions of James Hdley Chase novels. This latest omnibus edition includes Just the Way It Is and Blonde’s Requiem. Just the Way It Is (1944) is the story of gangsters in a small town. What makes this novel unusual is Chase’s devleopment of two women characters: Lucille, a gangster’s moll, and Clare Russell, a plucky reporter. Blonde’s Requiem (1945) caused Chase problems because he borrowed heavily from Raymond Chandler’s Farewell, My Lovely in plot construction. The book has been out-of-print for 70 years.

If you’re looking for traditional thrillers with violence, deception, betrayal, and drama, this STARK HOUSE omnibus will fulfill your yearning for noir.

FORGOTTEN MUSIC #71: 25 JUKE BOX GREATS, VOL. II


I found 25 Juke Box Greats, Vol. II at a Library Book Sale. It cost me twenty-five cents. This CD includes plenty of songs I grew up listening to in my early teens. Who could forget Betty Everett’s “The Shoop Shoop Song”? How many of these songs do you remember? GRADE: B+
TRACK LIST:
1 –The Tokens The Lion Sleeps Tonight 2:37
2 –Peggy March I Will Follow Him 2:30
3 –Jackie DeShannon Put A Little Love In Your Heart 2:37
4 –Jay & The Americans Cara Mia 2:33
5 –Ray Peterson Tell Laura I Love Her 2:57
6 –Sam Cooke Twistin’ The Night Away 2:40
7 –The Highwaymen* Michael 2:47
8 –Fats Domino I’m Walkin’ 2:04
9 –Bobby Vee Rubber Ball 2:22
10 –Ernie K-Doe Mother-in-Law 2:34
11 –Johnny Tillotson It Keeps Right On A-Hurtin’ 2:49
12 –Gary Lewis & The Playboys This Diamond Ring 2:10
13 –Petula Clark I Know A Place 2:47
14 –Betty Everett The Shoop Shoop Song (It’s In His Kiss) 2:16
15 –Jan & Dean Surf City 2:28
16 –John Fred & His Playboy Band Judy In Disguise 2:55
17 –The Fleetwoods Come Softly To Me 2:25
18 –Peggy Lee Fever 3:22
19 –Everly Brothers, The* All I Have To Do Is Dream 2:21
20 –The Chiffons One Fine Day 2:10
21 –Marv Johnson I Love The Way You Love 2:39
22 –Dee Clark Raindrops 2:52
23 –Garnet Mimms & The Enchanters* Cry Baby 3:25
24 –Linda Scott I’ve Told Ev’ry Little Star 2:19
25 –Gene Vincent Be-Bop–A-Lula 2:34

FLIGHT OF THE EAGLE By Conrad Black


“[Benjamin Franklin] strongly objected to the British custom of prescribing the death penalty for far too many offenses, and of substituting for the gallows the transportation of such convicts to America. …[Franklin] sponsored the return to Britain of a shipload of rattlesnakes as a gesture of thanks for the receipt in America of so many hardened criminals.” (p. 33) Conrad Black’s Flight of the Eagle: The Grand Strategies That Brought America from Colonial Dependence to World Leadership includes dozens of stories like Ben Franklin and the rattlesnakes. Conrad Black admires many of the accomplishments of the United States, but can be critical when justified. This is a history book about the politics and the battles that forged America. If you’re looking for a thought-provoking single-volume history of the United States (only 700 pages!), Flight of the Eagle is the book for you. GRADE: A
TABLE OF CONTENTS:
Introductory Note By Henry A. Kissinger p. xi
ONE: The Aspirant State, 1754-1836 p. 1
Chapter 1: The Path to Independence: The British and Americans Defeat the French in America, 1754-1774 p. 2
Chapter 2: Independence: The Americans and French Defeat the British in America, 177-1789 p. 50
Chapter 3: Creating a New Republic and Launching It in the World, 1789-1809 p. 88
Chapter 4: Reconciling with Britain Abroad, and with Slavery at Home, 1809-1836 p. 128
TWO: The Predestined People, 1836-1933 p. 171
Chapter 5: Slavery: The House Divided, 1836-1860 p. 172
Chapter 6: Civil War and Reconstruction: The Agony and Triumph of the American Union, 1860-1889 p. 218
Chapter 7: A New Great Power in the World, 1889-1914 p. 264
Chapter 8: The Crisis of Democracy: World War, Isolationism, and Depression, 1914-1933 p. 308
THREE: The Indispensable Country, 1933-1957 p. 353
Chapter 9: Toward Americas Rendezvous with Destiny, 1933-1941 p. 354
Chapter 10: The Victory of Democracy in the West, 1941-1945 p. 398
Chapter 11: From World War to Cold War, 1945-1951 p. 444
Chapter 12: The Red Scare and the Free World, 1951-1957 p. 488
FOUR: The Supreme Nation, 1957-2013 p. 537
Chapter 13: Peace and Prosperity, 1957-1965 p. 538
Chapter 14: Vietnam and Détente: The Beginning of the End of the Cold War, 1965-1973 p. 574
Chapter 15: To the Summit of the World, 1973-1992 p. 618
Chapter 16: Waiting for the Future, 1992-2013 p. 666
Acknowledgments p. 701
Index p. 703

TEEN TITANS: THE JUDAS CONTRACT [Blu-ray]


Starfire, Beast Boy, Raven, Blue Beetle, Robin, Terra, and Nightwing take on the mysterious Brother Blood and his strange ally, Deathstroke. The Judas Contract was a ground-breaking comic book series. Now, it’s an intense DC animated movie. I’ve enjoyed these DC animated features over the past three years. The production values are very good and the scripts are very compelling. GRADE: A
SPECIAL FEATURES:
Titanic Minds: Reunited Wolfman and Perez
Villain Rising: Deathstroke
2 Bonus Cartoons
Sneak Peek at Forthcoming Batman and Harley Quinn

NO ONE CARES ABOUT CRAZY PEOPLE: THE CHAOS AND HEARTBREAK OF MENTAL HEALTH IN AMERICA By Ron Powers


The title of this book comes from Scott Walker’s aide, Kelly M. Rindfleisch, who dismissed mental health legislation with “No one cares about crazy people.” Ron Powers cares about crazy people because both of his sons suffered from schizophrenia. Powers’s older son, Dean, committed suicide when he was 21-years-old. The younger son still struggles with his mental health problems. Ron Powers provides an insightful and informative history of how mental health has been dealt with over the past 200 years. We’re a long way from chaining patients up in Bedlam, but when President Reagan closed several mental health facilities, he created a new class of mental health sufferers: the Homeless. Powers shows how the “promise” of new drugs to “cure” mental conditions like schizophrenia failed to deliver the benefits doctors and patients hoped for. Today, we’re mired in a stasis where mental health is relegated to the shadows despite the increasing numbers of people who suffer from depression and bi-polar disorders. No One Cares About Crazy People argues for a new approach to dealing with mental illnesses and shows what can be done when people focus on this important issue. GRADE: A
TABLE OF CONTENTS:
Preface xiii
1. Membrane 1
2. What Is Schizophrenia? 21
3. Regulars 39
4. Bedlam, Before and Beyond 56
5. Eugenics: Weeding Out the Mad 79
6. “A More Normal World” 103
7. “When They Were Young” 110
8. Madness and Genius 115
9. “If Only, If Only, If Only…” 128
10. Chaos and Heartbreak 142
11. The Great Unraveler 156
12. Surcease 175
13. Debacle 187
14. “Hey Fam—” 205
15. Antipsychotics 221
16. “Something Unexplainable” 245
17. “We Have Done Pitifully Little About Mental Illness” 264
18. “Primoshadino” 284
19. Red Sox 17, Yankees 1 297
20. Insanity and Icarus 299
21. Someone Cares About Crazy People 316
Epilogue 330
Acknowledgements 333
Notes 335
Index 349
About the Author 361