Author Archives: george


Dr. Martha Claire Morris shares 25 years of research into the connection between diet and Alzheimer’s. The research found that study participants had a lower risk of Alzheimer’s disease and a slower rate of cognitive decline with:
1. an intake of vitamin E in their diet
2. intakes of vitamin B12, folate, and niacin
3. intakes of lutein, beta-carotene, and bio-flavonoids
4. consumption of seafood and omega-3 fatty acids
5. daily consumption of vegetables–in particular, leafy green vegetables
6. dietary fat comsposition that is low in saturated and trans-fats and high in vegetable fats
(p. 8)

As you might guess, possessed foods and fast foods accelerated cognitive decline. Morris also recommends berries (especially blueberries) because they are packed with antioxidants and phytrochemicals. And they taste good! In addition to all the research findings, Morris and her daughter, a nutritionist, include 80 brain-friendly recipes. I tried the Blueberry-Apple Pancakes (p. 143) and found them to be delicious!

If you want to stave off Alzheimer’s and dementia, Diet for the Mind is a good place to start. Are you worried about getting Alzheimer’s? GRADE: A
Introduction: Where the Heart and Mind Meet ix
Part I Mind-Healthy Science
Chapter 1 Cognitive Decline and Dementia 3
Chapter 2 Essential Nutrients for the Brain 33
Chapter 3 Foods for Everyday Eating 53
Chapter 4 Foods to Eat Every Week 69
Chapter 5 Brainless Foods That Harm the Mind 87
Chapter 6 Comparing the Mediterranean, DASH, and MIND Diets 103
Part II Mind-Healthy Lifestyle and Recipes
Chapter 7 Create Your Healthiest Life 119
Chapter 8 Breakfast 139
Chapter 9 Whole Grains 151
Chapter 10 Leafy Greens 167
Chapter 11 Other Vegetables 181
Chapter 12 Beans and Legumes 195
Chapter 13 Seafood and Poultry 211
Chapter 14 Entertaining 225
Chapter 15 Snacks and Desserts 239
Acknowledgments 251
Notes 255
Index 261

EMMA (1996) [DVD]

This is the last Emma version I’ll be reviewing for a long, long time. Kate Beckinsale plays a childish Emma in this Andrew Davies costume drama. Mark Strong (who usually plays Bad Guys) manages to animate the character of George Knightly. Olivia Williams captures the reticence of Jane Fairfax perfectly (and she sings very well, too!). While the four-hour Emma starring Romola Garai and Jonny Lee Miller is the Gold Standard for me (you can read my review here), this adaptation presents Jane Austen’s Emma in an entertaining compact version. Kate Beckinsale portrays a rich socialite and beautiful young woman who tries her hand at matchmaking. Of course, Emma’s efforts produce unforeseen consequences. Kate Beckinsale moved on to more exciting roles as a vampire in the Underworld series. Are you a fan of Kate Beckinsale…or Mark Strong? GRADE: B+

EMMA (2020)

My Emma binging continues with this new movie version directed by Autumn de Wilde. Yes, the screen radiates color and spectacle, ritzy Regency-era outfits and bonnets abound. England of 1815 never looked so good as de Wilde’s cameras capture the glamorized mansions with their luxurious furniture, paintings, and sculptures. Anya Taylor-Joy may be the most beautiful of all the Emmas in these film presentations of Jane Austen’s novel. Taylor-Joy plays Emma as petulant and occasionally arrogant–which makes her fall at the end of the movie much steeper than in most of the Emma films I’ve seen. The script is by Eleanor Catton who slowly builds the action throughout the movie. I’m a big Bill Nighy fan, but he is mostly wasted as the hypochondriac Mr. Woodhouse. Johnny Flynn plays Knightley without Jonny Lee Miller’s apparent aloofness. De Wilde makes it clear that her Knightley is hot for Emma early in the film. Mia Goth captures the fragility of Harriet Smith convincingly. Miranda Hart manages the difficult role of Miss Bates by making her character both a chatter-box and a woman with heart-rending vulnerabilities. Although she wasn’t given much to do, Amber Anderson as Jane Fairfax steals every scene she’s in.

Diane and I saw Emma at our local AMC theater with six other people in the audience. If this becomes typical of movie audiences in the time of the coronavirus, then a lot of movies are going to fail at the Box Office. GRADE: B

FRIDAY’S FORGOTTEN BOOKS #583: THE GREAT SF STORIES #20 (1958) Edited by Isaac Asimov & Martin H. Greenberg

This volume of THE GREAT SF STORIES series features two iconic stories. The first, Clifford D. Simak’s wonderful “The Big Front Yard,” brings back memories of reading the story in ASTOUNDING SCIENCE FICTION in the late 1950s. That issue had a brilliant Kelly Freas cover illustrating “The Big Front Yard” that remains etched in my memory.

The second story, C. M. Kornbluth’s dark “Two Dooms,” rocked my world when I first read it in the 1960s. Later, I learned Kornbluth died shortly after “Two Dooms” was published at the age of 34. Kornbluth shoveled snow from his driveway, which delayed him. Then, running to meet his train, Kornbluth suffered a fatal heart attack on the platform of the train station. What a tragic loss of a great talent!

Avram Davidson’s “All the Seas with Oysters, Silverberg’s “The Iron Chancellor,” and Sheckley’s “The Prize of Peril” still entertain after all the decades. But my favorite surprise in this anthology is Rog Phillips’s “The Yellow Pill” which cleverly explores the nature of Reality. Volume #20 of THE GREAT SF STORIES series is a winner! GRADE: A
Introduction 9
The Last of the Deliverers by Poul Anderson (MAGAZINE OF FANTASY & SCIENCE FICTION, February 1958) 13
The Feeling of Power by Isaac Asimov (MAGAZINE OF FANTASY & SCIENCE FICTION, February 1958) 29
Poor Little Warrior! by Brian W. Aldiss (MAGAZINE OF FANTASY & SCIENCE FICTION, April 1958) 41
The Iron Chancellor by Robert Silverberg (GALAXY, May 1958) 49
The Prize of Peril by Robert Sheckley (MAGAZINE OF FANTASY & SCIENCE FICTION, May 1958) 77
Or All the Seas with Oysters by Avram Davidson (GALAXY, May 1958) 99
Two Dooms by C. M. Kornbluth (Venture Science Fiction, July 1958) 111
The Big Front Yard by Clifford D. Simak (ASTOUNDING SCIENCE FICTION, October 1958) 167
The Burning of the Brain by Cordwainer Smith (IF, October 1958) 229
The Yellow Pill by Rog Phillips (ASTOUNDING SCIENCE FICTION, October 1958) 243
Unhuman Sacrifice by Katherine MacLean (ASTOUNDING SCIENCE FICITON, November 1958) 259
The Immortals by James E. Gunn (STAR SCIENCE FICTION #4) 297

TURBOTAX DELUXE for Tax Year 2019

I just finished doing our taxes with TURBOTAX DELUXE (including New York State taxes). You would think that doing taxes with just four sources of income–Diane’s pension and Social Security, my pension and Social Security–whipping through the Income and Deductions (we don’t have any that count with Trump’s new tax structure) would be a breeze. Nope. There’s still the Audit Risk Meter to contend with. Fortunately, we’re at Low Risk of an Audit based on our tax return.

The last few years we’ve had to pay both New York State and the Feds because we were estimating withholding from my pension and Social Security (I just started collecting it in the Summer of 2019) while phasing out Spousal Benefits. And our estimated withholding needed to be tweaked. Now, we’re getting pretty close to breaking even. We owe New York State ZERO! We owe the Feds a small amount. That’s about as good as it gets. With Trump’s tax strategy of forcing most people to take the Standard Deduction, our years of getting refunds are a thing of the Past. Have you done your taxes? Are you happy or sad?


Kent Morgan recommended John McPhee’s Draft No. 4 a little over a month ago. I managed to acquire a copy and finally got around to read it. I’ve always been a fan of John McPhee’s writing. Here’s McPhee on interviewing Richard Burton: “Burton was even easier to interview than Woody Allen because he interviewed himself. You just listened, and wrote down what he said.” (p. 111). McPhee writes about his work with Time magazine. I loved his stories about interviewing the mercurial Jackie Gleason for a Time cover story. Hilarious! McPhee also writes about dealing with the prissy William Shawn, editor of The New Yorker. Very funny! Will you learn to be a better writer by reading Draft No. 4? I hope so. But, if you don’t you’ll at least be entertained by McPhee’s tales of writing for great magazines. Thanks, Kent! I enjoyed every page! GRADE: A
Progression — 3
Structure — 17
Elicitation — 91
Frame of Reference — 115
Checkpoints — 129
Draft No. 4 — 157
Omission –177


Chinatown (1974) ended a era of great film-making as the Old Hollywood morphed into the Corporate Hollywood of today. Sam Wasson explores the changes in Hollywood and the making of one of the great movies of all time in The Big Goodbye. All the elements aligned: Jack Nicholson was at the top of his game. Robert Towne wrote one of the greatest scripts of all time. Robert “The Kid” Evans produced the film. And enigmatic Roman Polanski, reeling from the incredible death of his wife, Sharon Tate, returns to Los Angeles to direct a classic. I watched the Blu-ray version of Chinatown before I read Sam Wasson’s The Big Goodbye. Wasson’s account of the making of the movie adds much information that I didn’t know about the film. If you’re a fan of Chinatown, don’t miss The Big Goodbye! GRADE: A
Introduction: First Goodbyes — 1
Part One: JUSTICE — 3
Part Two: EUCALYPTUS — 47
Part Three: THE MOUNTAIN — 143
Part Four: GITTES VS. GITTES — 291
Acknowledgements — 333
Notes — 335
Index — 383


Tina Hay has an MBA from Havard and a knack of making complex and complicated financial concepts easily understood. Tina Hay uses doodles on napkins to illustrate financial topics like compound interest and how credit cards work. The doodles look like flow charts (check out the one on Bitcoin below). Napkin Finance covers all the basic financial topics and offers plenty of examples how you can improve your monetary position with a little tweaking. I especially enjoyed the “Chapter Quizzes” that help to make sure readers understand what they’ve been reading.

Most of the commentators on this blog would find much to ponder in Chapter 5: INTO THE SUNSET. Paying for retirement, dealing with Social Security, and the fundamentals of estate planning are all topics that concern us. Tina Hay lays it all out in an understandable fashion. And, for those of you who are about to do your taxes, Chapter 7: EZ Does It, provides some insights that might put more money in your pocket. Napkin Finance is one of the best personal finance books I’ve encountered. Highly recommended! GRADE: A
1. Money 101 — 1
Compound interest 2
Savings 4
Budget 7
Debt 10
Interest 14
Banks 17
Emergency Fund 20
Insurance 23
Chapter Quiz 26
2. Credit where it’s due — 30
Credit 31
Credit Cards 34
Improving Credit 37
FICO Credit Score 41
Chapter Quiz 44
3. Buy low, sell high — 48
Investing 49
Asset Classes 53
Diversification 56
Risk vs. Reward 59
Asset Allocation 63
Robo-Advisor 67
Chapter Quiz 70
4. Paying your dues — 74
Paying for College 75
Student Loans 78
529 Plan 85
Paying Off Student Loans 88
Chapter Quiz 92
5. Into the sunset — 96
Paying for Retirement 97
IRA vs. 401(k) 101
Social Security 104
Estate Planning 107
Chapter Quiz 110
6. A wild ride — 114
Stocks 115
Stock Market 118
Bull or Bear Market 122
Mutual Funds 126
ETFs 130
Bonds 134
What is an IPO? 137
Chapter Quiz 140
7. EZ does it — 144
Taxes 145
Tax Returns 148
1099 vs. W-2 Employee 152
Tax Deductions 156
Chapter Quiz 160
8. Go big — 164
Entrepreneurship 165
How to Start a Start-Up 168
Business Plan 172
Financing a Start-Up 175
Chapter Quiz 179
9. Voodoo economics — 182
GDP 183
Inflation 186
Recession 190
The Fed 193
Chapter Quiz 197
10. The bottom line — 200
Financial Statements 201
Profit & Loss 204
Balance Sheet 207
Liability 210
Chapter Quiz 213
11. The future of money — 216
Cryptocurrency 217
Bitcoin 221
Initial Coin Offering 224
Blockchain 227
Chapter Quiz 231
12. Wow your friends — 234
Rule of 72 235
Crowdfunding 238
Philanthropy 242
Hedge Funds 246
Invisible Hand 250
Game Theory 254
Chapter Quiz 257
Conclusion — 261
Acknowledgements — 263
Bibliography — 265


I confess: I’m not a big re-reader. In fact, I might reread only a couple of books per year. I do know a couple of prodigious re-readers: Art Scott and Steve Stilwell have reread the entire Nero Wolfe series over 50 times!

Vivian Gornick calls herself a chronic re-reader in this slim volume (161 pages) that mimics a memoir. I’m surprised at the books Gornick feels compelled to reread. Here’s a sample of what Gornick rereads:
Chapter One: D. H. Lawrence especially Sons and Lovers
Chapter Two: Collette especially The Vagabond and The Shackle
Chapter Three: Marguerite Duras especially The Lover
Chapter Four: Elizabeth Bowen especially The Death of the Heart, The Home in Paris and The Heat of the Day
Chapter Five: Delmore Schwartz especially The World is a Wedding and the short stories of A. B. Yehoshua
Chapter Six: Natalia Ginzburg especially Voices in the Evening and Family Sayings
Chapter Seven: J. I. Carr’s A Month in the Country and Pat Barker’s Regeneration
Chapter Eight: Doris Lessing’s Particularly Cats
Chapter Nine: Thomas Hardy especially Jude the Obscure

Interspersed with Gornick’s feelings about these books are details of Gornick’s life: her marriages, her divorces, her jobs, her travels, her cats. Gornick makes her case for re-reading, but it fell on deaf ears in this house. Are you a re-reader? What do you re-read? GRADE: B


The Great Concert of the Night blends memory and obsession into an odd novel. The narrator, after watching Le Grand Concert de la Nuit, a film in which his former lover – Imogen – plays a major role, begins to write about Imogen. For the next year, the narrator writes something every day about his lost love. The narrator’s journal becomes both a remembrence and an investigation of the character of the mysterious Imogen and her other relationships: with the narrator, with her family, with friends, and with her other lovers. Imogen emerges as a difficult and cryptic subject.

The Great Concert of the Night blends incidents from the writer’s memory and the present day, mixes scenes from Imogen’s films with aspects of Life. Sadly, Jonathan Buckley lost me when he introduced the visions of female saints, the history of medicine, and the festivals of ancient Rome into the already muddled narrative. The obsession with Imogen leads to a meditation on Life, but confusion and doubt prevail. I had to struggle to finish this book. How often do you think about the Past? GRADE: C