Category Archives: Uncategorized

KEN BURNS’ HEMINGWAY [PBS]

I’ve read a fair amount of Ernest Hemingway’s work over the years and a couple Hemingway biographies to boot, but Ken Burns’ Hemingway on PBS captures the essence of the man and shows many of his vulnerabilities.

What surprised me was the number of head injuries Hemingway sustained over his life. He was concussed during his war years as well as being injured by shrapnel which may have affected his circulation in later years. Hemingway was concussed again in Paris while trying to install a lamp. Some of Hemingway’s erratic behavior might have been caused by brain damage from these head injuries, like the Chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) many National Football League players suffer from.

In my opinion, Hemingway did his best work in the 1920s with In Our Time, The Sun Also Rises, and A Farewell to Arms. In 1954, Hemingway won the Nobel Prize for Literature, but books like The Old Man and the Sea lack the scope and power of his early books. Are you a Hemingway fan? Do you have a favorite book of his? Did you watch Ken Burns’ Hemingway? GRADE: A

FRIDAY’S FORGOTTEN BOOKS #635: The Lover / The Mistress / The Passionate By Carter Brown

Stark House continues to publish their omnibus reprints of Carter Brown’s (aka, Alan Geoffrey Yates) Al Wheeler mysteries. There are 54 Al Wheeler mysteries and this omnibus volume includes #13, #14, and #15.

The Lover (1958) involves Lieutenant Al Wheeler of the Pine City police force investigating a cult of sun worshipers and the subsequent murder of one of the followers. Led by The Prophet, a grand fund-raising scheme generates a lot of cash which plays a key role in the plot. GRADE: B

The Mistress (1958) starts with one of the more shocking beginnings of any of the Al Wheeler books: the murder of Sheriff Lavers’ niece, Linda Scott. Scott had been working in Las Vegas but suddenly appeared in Pine City. Shortly thereafter, Linda Scott’s body was dumped at the Sheriff’s doorstep. Lavers’ suspects Scott was murdered by Howard Fletcher, a Vegas tycoon who was forced out by The Syndicate. Fletcher had offered Sheriff Lavers a lucrative deal to allow him to open a casino in Pine City, but Lavers turned him down. Fletcher then threatened Lavers with “one final warning”–which Lavers interpreted as the murder of his niece. Al Wheeler isn’t so sure. GRADE: B

My favorite Al Wheeler novel in this collection is The Passionate (1959). Corpses appear and disappear forcing Al Wheeler to apply his canny analytical powers to solve a very twisty mystery. The Calthorpe sisters, two eccentric women with oodles of money and seduction on their minds, send Wheeler into a whirlwind of plots where death and greed and danger blend together. Don’t miss this one! GRADE: A

In his excellent Introduction, Nicholas Litchfield notes that Anthony Boucher was a fan of Carter Brown and wrote positive reviews of his work. Litchfield also says that Marlene Dietrich and John F. Kennedy were avid readers of Carter Brown novels. With humor, smart dialogue, sexy women, and mysteries with a Python’s grip, these Al Wheeler novels deliver unique entertainment!

NON-STOP ’90s ROCK

There are plenty of One-Hit Wonders on this CD from 2001. Have you heard from the Butthole Surfers lately? Or Dog’s Eye View? I do hear Eagle-Eye Cherry’s “Save Tonight” on our local rock radio station from time to time.

How many of these “hits” from the 1990s do you remember? Any favorites? GRADE: B

TRACK LIST:

1Counting CrowsMr. Jones Written-By – Adam Frederic Duritz*, Charles Thomas Gillingham*, David Lynn Bryson*, Matthew Mark Malley*, Steve BowmanWritten-By – Adam Frederic Duritz*, Charles Thomas Gillingham*, David Lynn Bryson*, Matthew Mark Malley*, Steve Bowman4:34
2Gin BlossomsHey Jealousy Written-By – Doug HopkinsWritten-By – Doug Hopkins3:58
3Marcy PlaygroundSex And Candy Written-By – John K. Wozniak*Written-By – John K. Wozniak*2:55
4Deep Blue SomethingBreakfast At Tiffany’s Written-By – Todd PipesWritten-By – Todd Pipes4:20
5Soul Asylum (2)Runaway Train Written-By – David PirnerWritten-By – David Pirner4:29
6Toad The Wet SprocketAll I Want Written-By – Dean DinningGlen PhillipsRandel Guss*, Todd NicholsWritten-By – Dean DinningGlen PhillipsRandel Guss*, Todd Nichols3:19
7Spin DoctorsLittle Miss Can’t Be Wrong Written-By – Aaron ComessChris BarronEric SchenkmanMark White (2)Written-By – Aaron ComessChris BarronEric SchenkmanMark White (2)3:57
8Ben Folds FiveBrick Written-By – Ben FoldsDarren JesseeWritten-By – Ben FoldsDarren Jessee4:35
9Dog’s Eye ViewEverything Falls Apart Written-By – P. Stuart*Written-By – P. Stuart*3:56
10The Presidents Of The United States Of AmericaLump Written-By – Chris BallewDavid Dederer*, Jason FinnWritten-By – Chris BallewDavid Dederer*, Jason Finn2:16
11Verve Pipe*–The Freshmen Written-By – Brian Vander ArkWritten-By – Brian Vander Ark4:32
12Blind MelonNo Rain Written-By – Eric Smith*, Chris Thorn*, Glen GrahamThomas Stevens*, Richard Hoon*Written-By – Eric Smith*, Chris Thorn*, Glen GrahamThomas Stevens*, Richard Hoon*3:38
13Porno For PyrosPets Written-By – Martyn LeNoblePerry FarrellPeter DiStefanoStephen PerkinsWritten-By – Martyn LeNoblePerry FarrellPeter DiStefanoStephen Perkins3:39
14Butthole SurfersPepper Written-By – G. Haynes*, K. Coffey*, P. Leary*Written-By – G. Haynes*, K. Coffey*, P. Leary*4:58
15LenSteal My Sunshine Written-By – Gregg DiamondMarc CostanzoWritten-By – Gregg DiamondMarc Costanzo4:29
16Mazzy StarFade Into You Written-By – David RobackHope SandovalWritten-By – David RobackHope Sandoval4:54
17Tracy BonhamMother Mother Written-By – Tracy BonhamWritten-By – Tracy Bonham3:03
18Eagle-Eye CherrySave Tonight Written-By – Eagle-Eye CherryWritten-By – Eagle-Eye Cherry3:59

WEDNESDAY’S SHORT STORIES #19: NEBULA AWARDS SHOWCASE #54 Edited by Nibedita Sen

I’ve been reading these NEBULA AWARD volumes for…54 years. Yes, I started at the beginning and kept track of the best of SF for decades. However, I would have to say that Nebula Awards Showcase #54 is one of the oddest anthologies in the series. The oddity comes from a big chunk of the book being “EXCERPTS” from Nebula nominees for the Novel Category. I’ve read the entire ARTIFICIAL CONDITION: THE MURDERBOT DIARIES by Martha Wells. Loved it! But you only get a small sample here. The same for the excerpt for “The Tea Master and the Detective” by Aliette de  Bodard. Loved it! But a little sample isn’t as satisfying as reading the entire novel like I did.

My favorite story in this collection is “The Court Magician” by Sarah Pinsker  where a magician makes a Faustian bargain with dire consequences.

I was disappointed by Nebula Awards Showcase #54 but maybe you’ll like it better than I did. GRADE: B-

TABLE OF CONTENTS:

  • Introduction by Nibedita Sen — vii
  • “It’s Dangerous to Go Alone” by Kate Dollarhyde  — 1
  • “Into the Spider-verse: A Classic Origin Story in Bold New Color” by Brandon O’Brien  — 5
  • “The Secret Lives of the Nine Negro Teeth of George Washington” by P. Djèlí Clark*  –9
  • “Interview for the End of the World” by Rhett C. Bruno — 21
  • “And Yet” by A. T. Greenblatt — 45
  • “A Witch’s Guide to Escape: A Practical Compendium of  Portal Fantasies” by Alix E. Harrow — 63
  • “The Court Magician” by Sarah Pinsker — 81
  • “The Only Harmless Great Thing” by Brooke Bolander* — 91
  • “The Last Banquet of Temporal Confections” by Tina Connolly — 149
  • “An Agent of Utopia” by Andy Duncan — 175
  • “The Substance of My Lives, The Accidents of Our Births” by José Pablo Iriarte — 211
  • “The Rule of Three” by Lawrence M. Schoen — 237
  • “Messenger” by R.R. Virdi & Yudhanjaya Wijeratne — 287
  • Excerpt: “The Tea Master and the Detective” by Aliette de  Bodard* — 313
  • Excerpt: “Fire Ant” by Jonathan P. Brazee — 331
  • Excerpt: “The Black God’s Drums” by P. Djèlí Clark — 353
  • Excerpt: “Alice Payne Arrives” by Kate Heartfield — 377
  • Excerpt: “Gods, Monsters, and the Lucky Peach” by Kelly Robson — 401
  • Excerpt: “Artificial Condition: The Murderbot Diaries” by  Martha Wells — 429
  • Excerpt: The Calculating Stars by Mary Robinette Kowal* — 447
  • Biographies — 457
  • About the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America — 467
  • About the Nebula Awards — 469

TINA [HBO Max]

Directed by Dan Lindsay and T.J. Martin, this HBO documentary shows Tina Turner’s early fame while dealing with the Tina’s private torments chiefly her husband, Ike, physically abusing her. The incredible part of Tina’s story is her return to the world stage as a global phenomenon in the 1980s after struggling with multiple professional problems.

What I liked best about this documentary, was the inclusion of in-depth interviews with Angela Bassett, Oprah Winfrey, journalist Kurt Loder, playwright Katori Hall, and Tina’s husband Erwin Bach. I’ve been a fan of Tina Turner’s music since the 1960s. I witnessed her amazing climb from obscurity in the 1970s to superstardom in the 1980s and beyond.

Never-before-seen footage and plenty of music segments make Tina a must-see event if you’re a fan. GRADE: A

THE POLYMATH: A CULTURAL HISTORY FROM LEONARDO da VINCI TO SUSAN SONTAG By Peter Burke

Peter Burke defines a polymath as “someone who is interested in and learning about many subjects.” Burke also invokes Isaiah Berlin’s famous remark about scholars that he called “foxes” who know “many things” and “hedgehogs” who know “one important thing.” Essentially, this is a book about people who are good at many things (think Sherlock Holmes and Elon Musk) rather than those who specialize and concentrate on one area (think Einstein and Dr. Fauci).

Burke generates a list of 500 polymaths from history. He discusses how culture can encourage the development of polymaths. And Burke shows that polymaths, like Leibniz and Francis Bacon, impact their countries with their far-reaching discoveries.

When I was a college professor, I had the choice of concentrating on a single area of Business (like teaching multiple sections of ACCOUNTING like some of my colleagues did) or teach a variety of courses (MARKETING, MANAGEMENT, ORGANIZATIONAL BEHAVIOR, etc.). I chose variety so perhaps there’s a little polymath in me. Are you a polymath? GRADE: B+

TABLE OF CONTENTS:

List of Plates viii

Preface and Acknowledgements x

Introduction: What is a Polymath? – 1

1 East and West – 10

2 The Age of the ‘Renaissance Man’, 1400-1600 – 26

3 The Age of ‘Monsters of Erudition’, 1600-1700 – 47

4 The Age of the ‘Man of Letters’, 1700-1850 – 83

5 The Age of Territoriality, 1850-2000 – 127

6 A Group Portrait – 170

7 Habitats – 191

8 The Age of Interdisciplinarity – 213

Coda: Towards a Third Crisis – 240

Appendix: 500 Western Polymaths – 247

Notes – 278

Further Reading – 316

Index – 318

THE BLESSING & THE CURSE: THE JEWISH PEOPLE AND THEIR BOOKS IN THE TWENTIETH CENTURY By Adam Kirsch

Adam Kirsch’s ambitious goal in The Blessing & The Curse is to identify and analyze the best books written by Jews in the 20th Century. I’ve read 22 of the books Krisch writes about–by Kafka, Roth, Cynthia Ozick, Isaac Bashevis Singer, Elie Wiesel, Anne Frank, Hannah Arendt, Bellow, Grace Paley, and Bernard Malamud. Of course, there’s about a 100 books Krisch writes about that I haven’t read so I’ve added a dozen or more books to my Want List.

If you’re interested in excellent historical literary criticism, Adam Kirsch’s The Blessing & The Curse is first-rate. Have you read any of these books? GRADE: A

Table of Contents

Introduction ix

I Europe: The Future Disappears

The Road into the Open by Arthur Schnitzler and The Trial Franz Kafka 3

Red Cavalry Isaac Babel 15

Satan in Goray Isaac Bashevis Singer 22

The Diary of Victor Klemperer 29

The Diary of Anne Frank 38

Night Elie Wiesel 46

Survival in Auschwitz Primo Levi 54

Eichmann in Jerusalem Hannah Arendt 62

II America: At Home in Exile

The Rise of David Levinsky Abraham Cahan 73

Bread Givers Anzia Yezierska 81

Stories by Delmore Schwartz and A Walker in the City Alfred Kazin 87

The Adventures of Augie March and The Victim Saul Bellow 96

Stories Bernard Malamud 105

Goodbye, Columbus and Portnoy’s Complaint Philip Roth 112

Stories Grace Paley 123

Stories Cynthia Ozick 129

Angels in America Tony Kushner 138

III Israel: Life in a Dream

Only Yesterday S. Y. Agnon 147

The Diary of Hannah Senesh 156

Khirbet Khizeh S. Yizhar 162

Where the Jackals Howl Amos Oz 169

See Under: Love David Grossman 179

Mr Mani A. B. Yehoshua 188

Dolly City Orly Castel-Bloom 194

Poems Yehuda Amichai 198

IV Making Judaism Modern

Three Addresses on Judaism Martin Buber 205

Religion of Reason out of the Sources of Judaism Hermann Cohen 211

Judaism as a Civilization Mordecai Kaplan 220

Halakhic Man Joseph Soloveitchik 229

God in Search of Man Abraham Joshua Heschel 237

To Mend the World Emil Fackenheim 245

Standing Again at Sinai Judith Plaskow 253

Select Bibliography 259

Index 263

FRIDAY’S FORGOTTEN BOOKS #634: FULL DARK HOUSE By Christopher Fowler

Full Dark House (2003) is the only book I can remember encountering where the detectives both solve their first case…and their last case in the same book. Yes, there is a bit of shifting the story from the Present to the Past and back again, but Christopher Fowler manages to pull it off.

Full Dark House is the first book in The Peculiar Crimes Unit Series (aka, Bryant & May Series) which now has 19 volumes in it. The action jumps from 1940 and The Blitz to the present. Bryant and May investigate a series of murders at a London theater as the Nazi bombs wreck havoc and devastation around the city. In the present, a bomb ends the life of one of the detectives leaving the survivor to seek clues from the past to solve the case.

If you’re looking for a change-of-pace mystery that leisurely moves from red herring to red herring, Full Dark House will take you on a winding trip in two different time-lines. GRADE: B+

BAEZ SINGS DYLAN

This compilation CD from 1997 features several Bob Dylan songs that are rarely played like “Dear Landlord,” “Walls of Redwing,” and “Drifter’s Escape.” Some listeners–like me–will find some of Joan Baez’s renditions of some of these Dylan songs a little too pretty, a little to precious. For example, I struggled to listen to “I Dream I Saw St. Augustine” because of the slow pacing that seemed negate Baez’s crystalline voice. Some reviewers have complained that the recording quality is substandard. I found the sound quality varies from song to song.

If you’re a fan of Joan Baez and/or Bob Dylan, you’ll find a lot to like on Baez Sings Dylan. GRADE: B+

Tracklist

1Love Minus Zero/No Limit2:43
2It’s All Over Now, Baby Blue3:26
3You Ain’t Goin’ Nowhere3:01
4It Ain’t Me Babe3:21
5I Pity The Poor Immigrant3:48
6Tears Of Rage4:22
7Love Is Just A Four-Letter Word4:28
8I Dream I Saw St. Augustine3:17
9Farewell, Angelina3:15
10Dear Landlord3:00
11One Too Many Mornings3:13
12I Shall Be Released3:57
13Boots Of Spanish Leather4:34
14Daddy, You Been On My Mind2:20
15Restless Farewell5:50
16Don’t Think Twice, It’s Alright3:13
17Walls Of Red Wing3:52
18Drifter’s Escape2:56
19Walkin’ Down The Line3:23
20North Country Blues5:02