Category Archives: Uncategorized

CHAOS ON CATNET By Naomi Kritzer

I really enjoyed Catfishing on CatNet (2019) which won an Edgar Award for Best Young Adult Mystery (you can read my review here). Chaos on CatNet has just been published and I enjoyed this sequel just as much as the original novel.

Naomi Kritzer puts teenager Steph and her programmer mother in danger in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Steph meets a new friend at school, Nell, whose mother is an ardent follower of a religious cult. The cult’s social media encourages destructive and violent acts. Steph and Nell, with the help of their Artificial Intelligence ally, CheshireCat, try to discover the source and strategy behind the rioting.

Once again, the teenagers are way ahead of the adults in investigating the strange conspiracies swirling around the cult and the social media app. If you’re in mood for following a group of intrepid teenagers threatened by mysterious forces as they penetrate the secrets that have national implications, Chaos on CatNet amps up the suspense and thrills! GRADE: A

FRIDAY’S FORGOTTEN BOOKS #638: VOYAGERS: TWELVE JOURNEYS THROUGH SPACE & TIME By Robert Silverberg

This new collection of Science Fiction stories by Robert Silverberg includes some classics like “In Another Country” and “Ship-Sister, Star-Sister” as well as some very early stories from the 1950s and early 1960s like “The Sixth Palace” and “Why.”

“In Another Country” is a companion story to C. L. Moore’s very moving “Vintage Season” where a group of Time Travelers visit the Past at certain key moments. “Ship-Sister, Star-Sister” concerns a pair of sisters who are linked through telepathy. But when their thoughts are interrupted by static, they make an incredible discovery.

“The Sixth Palace” is a puzzle story. A robot guards a deserted palace full of rare and valuable objects. The robot will only let someone have access to the riches if they answer its questions correctly. Many have failed (and were destroyed by the robot) but two adventurers are willing to try anyway.

“We Are For the Dark” is the longest story in this collection. It concerns a religious cult that seeks to form a galactic empire, but at the extreme margins, something is going very wrong. A trouble-shooter is sent to find out what is happening and discovers something astonishing.

In addition to these great stories, Silverberg also provides interesting Introductions to each story putting them in context and revealing how the stories actually came to be written. If you’re looking for some wonderful reading, I highly recommend Voyagers. GRADE: A

TABLE OF CONTENTS:

Introduction by Robert Silverberg — i

In Another Country — 1

Travelers — 81

Chip Runner — 101

Looking For The Fountain — 119

Ship-Sister, Star-Sister — 144

The Changeling — 173

We Are For The Dark — 196

The Trouble With Sempoanga — 271

The Sixth Palace — 283

Why? — 297

The Pleasure Of Their Company — 312

Thebes Of The Hundred Gates — 331

MAD ABOUT YOU: THE FINAL FRONTIER

Back in the 1990s, TV shows started issuing soundtracks just like movies did. One of those TV shows was Mad About You.

Mad About You was an American sitcom television series starring Paul Reiser and Helen Hunt as a married couple in New York City. The series proved successful with a total of 164 half-hour episodes for seven seasons.

Mad About You  aired on NBC from September 23, 1992, to May 24, 1999, winning numerous awards including four Golden Globe Awards and twelve Primetime Emmy Awards. The show’s theme song, “Final Frontier”, was composed by Paul Reiser and Don Was.  “Final Frontier” was originally performed by Andrew Gold, but a version performed by Anita Baker made its debut in Season 5, Were you a fan of Mad About You? Do you remember this music? GRADE: B

TRACK LIST:

1Andrew GoldFinal Frontier (TV Theme)1:09
2Faith HillWho I Am4:19
3“No Pressure”0:36
4The Young RascalsI’ve Been Lonely Too Long2:05
5Etta JamesAt Last!2:58
6“That’s Marriage?”0:40
7Sarah McLachlanIce Cream2:43
8Eric Martin (2)I Love The Way You Love Me3:38
9Lyle LovettNobody Knows Me3:04
10Elvis CostelloSneaky Feelings2:09
11“A Talk In The Park”0:30
12Julia FordhamLove & Forgiveness4:17
13“A Magic Moment”0:30
14Marc CohnThe Things We’ve Handed Down4:40
15BeBe WinansLullabye For You4:03
16Hootie & The BlowfishShe Crawls Away4:06
17Nil LaraMy First Child5:40
18John LennonBeautiful Boy (Darling Boy)4:04
19The Tony Rich ProjectBaby Girl2:24
20“Unconditional Love”0:22
21Anita BakerMad About You – The Final Frontier3:44

WEDNESDAY’S SHORT STORIES # 23: THE SIX DIRECTIONS OF SPACE By Alastair Reynolds

Subterranean Press published this Alastair Reynolds novella in 2008 and I just got around to reading it. Ariunaa Boecheng (aka, Yellow Dog) is an secret agent for a Mongol dominated galactic empire. But, at the edge of the Empire, mysterious phantom ships keep appearing. Ariunaa is sent to investigate, but is discovered and tortured by the local warlord, Qilian. Qilian, once he determines who Ariunaa really is, puts her in charge of the search for more phantom ship artifacts.

When a live survivor from one of the phantom ships is recovered, Qilian joins Ariunaa and the pilot on a mission to find the source of these alien incursions.

Like most Alastair Reynolds stories, space opera aspects dominate the action. If you’re in the mood for some galactic adventures, The Six Directions of Space will deliver some epic thrills. GRADE: A

WAHL STREET (HBO Max)

Whether you like Mark Wahlberg (aka, Marky Mark) or not, you’ll appreciate the relentless work ethic this actor and entrepreneur displays in this HBO documentary series. In six half-hour segments, we watch Wahlberg trying to get the businesses he’s invested in to become successful. F45 is a workout company with a number of gyms for people who want to be physically fit. Wahlberg not only shows his rigorous workout routine, he makes commercials for F45.

Municipal is a start-up clothing company that Wahlberg thinks has potential to appeal to an audience who want comfortable clothing with basic style. Wahlberg is also interested in investing in Green Zebra, a healthy food chain of convenience stores. And, of course, there’s Wahlburgers, the restaurant chain run by Wahlberg’s brother, Bob. And all this activity is filmed by Wahlberg’s production company, Unrealistic Ideas.

All of these businesses come crashing down when the Coronavirus Pandemic hits. Wahlberg’s relentless work ethic can’t overcome the effects of the virus as the gyms close, his movie is put on hold, the clothing company’s rollout is delayed, and Green Zebra starts shutting down stores. If I was still teaching Business at the College, I’d show this series to my students. Hard decisions are made, people lose their jobs, tons of money are lost. I hope there’s a Season Two of Wahl Street in the works. GRADE: A

DOSTOYEVSKY READS HEGEL IN SIBERIA AND BURSTS INTO TEARS By Laszlo F. Foldenyi

I’m sure Wolf is familiar with Laszlo F. Foldenyi, a professor at the University of Theater, Film, and Television in Budapest. I’ve read a fair amount of Dostoyevsky and Hegel so the title attracted me to this book of essays (translated from the Hungarian by Ottilie Mulzet).

Of course my favorite essay in Foldenyi’s volume is “Dostoyevsky Reads Hegel in Siberia and Bursts into Tears.” Dostoyevsky spent four years in Siberia (not his choice). During that time, he somehow came into contact with a friendly prison official who shared Hegel’s Lectures on the Philosophy of World History with Dostoyevsky. Foldenyi makes a strong case that that book influenced Dostoyevsky’s writings.

I enjoyed the other essays, but the essay that stands out for me is “A Capacity for Amazement: Canetti’s Crowds and Power Fifty Years Later.” Around 1969, I bought a copy of Crowds and Power and read it. I remember being impressed by Canetti’s range of knowledge. After reading Foldenyi’s essay, I wanted to drop everything and reread Crowds and Power. If you’re in the mood for some thought-provoking essays, take a look at Dostoyevsky Reads Hegel in Siberia and Bursts into Tears. GRADE: B+

TABLE OF CONTENTS:

Preface vii

Mass and Spirit 3

Dostoyevsky Reads Hegel in Siberia and Bursts into Tears 19

The Globe-shaped Tower: The Tower of Babel at the Turn of the Millennium 51

Belief in the Devil 67

Happiness and Melancholy 77

“For All but Fools Know Fear Sometimes”: Fear and Freedom 101

The Shadow of the Whole: The Romantic Fragment 123

“Only That Which Never Ceases to Hurt Stays in the Memory”: Variations on the Human Body, Subjugated by Fantasies of Power 145

Sleep and the Dream 171

A Natural Scientist in Reverse 183

Kleist Dies and Dies and Dies 193

The Fatal Theater of Antonin Artaud 219

A Capacity for Amazement: Canetti’s Crowds and Power Fifty Years Later 247

Notes 269

Credits 283

NFL DRAFT 2021

The 2021 NFL Draft is over. The Bills are happy with their two massive Defensive Ends and their 6″8″ Offensive Tackle. The rest of these draft picks will have to compete hard for a position on this team. How did your favorite NFL team do in the Draft?

  • Round 5, Pick No. 161: Tommy Doyle, OT, Miami (Ohio)
  • Round 6, Pick No. 203: Marquez Stevenson, WR, Houston
  • Round 6, Pick No. 212: Damar Hamlin, S, Pitt
  • Round 6, Pick No. 213: Rachad Wildgoose, CB, Wisconsin
  • Round 7, Pick No. 236: Jack Anderson, G, Texas Tech

MASTERS: PORTRAITS OF GREAT TEACHERS Edited by Joseph Epstein

I’ve been lucky over the years with the number of great teachers who helped educate me. Mr. Molyneux, my Ninth Grade English teacher, praised my writing and helped me get published in a student poetry anthology.

At Marquette University, Roger Mitchell conducted wonderful Creative Writing classes that helped students like me learn about the Writing Process. Michael McCanless, chain-smoking constantly, conducted a masterful class in Shakespeare that revealed many subtleties in the Bard’s work.

And my doctoral committee Chairman, Bob Daly, guided my fumbling attempts to write a dissertation into a book we both liked. In Masters: Portraits of Great Teachers (1981) Joseph Epstein collects 18 essays that reveal the admiration and influence great teachers had on their students.

Of all these great teachers, the two I wish I had classes with are Hannah Arendt and Leo Strauss. The essays on these two iconic professors praise their vast knowledge and the regard they held for their students. Did you have a Great Teacher? GRADE: A

TABLE OF CONTENTS:

CONTRIBUTORS — vii

Introduction / Joseph Epstein — xi

Christian Gauss / Edmund Wilson — 1

Morris R. Cohen — fifty years later / Sidney Hook — 24

Alfred North Whitehead : Plato’s lost dialogue / Joseph Gerard Brennan — 47

Teggart of Berkeley / Robert Nisbet — 69

Nadia Boulanger / Suzanne R. Hoover — 88

F.O. Matthiessen / Kenneth S. Lynn — 103

Arthur O. Lovejoy / Lewis S. Feuer — 119

Yvor Winters of Stanford / Gerald Graff — 140

John William Miller / George P. Brockway — 155

Ruth Benedict / Victor Barnouw — 165

John Crowe Ransom / Anthony Hecht — 178

Hannah Arendt / Peter Stern & Jean Yarbrough — 189

The education of a scientist / Jeremy Bernstein — 212

I.A. Richards / Helen Vendler — 226

C.S. Lewis as a teacher / John Wain — 236

Leo Strauss : becoming naïve again / Werner J. Dannhauser — 252

FRIDAY’S FORGOTTEN BOOKS #637: CONNIE/MEG By Robert Silverberg

It’s no secret that many Science Fiction and Mystery writers earned extra money churning out “erotic” novels for publishers like Midwood, Beacon, Nightstand, and Tower back in the 1950s and 1960s. Isaac Asimov, Lawrence Block, Bill Pronzini, and Donald E. Westlake all did it. And, so did Robert Silverberg. Stark House has just reprinted Connie/Meg in a new omnibus edition.

Connie (1959) begins with a tragic incident that sends the young girl across the country to stay with her grandparents in the wake of the terrible event. Connie, only 17-years-old, opts to travel to San Francisco instead staying with her family. Once there, Connie decides to embark on a career as a call-girl. Silverberg presents a sympathy portrait of a confused and anxious girl who makes some Bad Decisions.

In Connie, written under the pseudonym of “Loren Beachamp,” Silverberg shows how easily a young girl’s life can unravel with nightmarish consequences. GRADE: B

Meg (1960) tells the story of a young woman driven to achieve stardom. Meg Tandler from Harmons Glen, Idaho, arrives in New York City determined to be a star like Marilyn Monroe or Jayne Mansfield. But Meg has no acting or dancing experience and finds nothing but rejection at the Auditions she tries out for. Meg meets ancient theatrical agent Max Bonaventura, who is also down on his luck. Max sees something in Meg (mostly her physical presence) and begins to build a career for her. First, Meg wins some beauty contests (by sleeping with the guy running the contests). Next, Max gets Meg some minor film roles, but that gives Meg exposure and leads to plenty of publicity.

The saddest part of Meg for me is the “You Can’t Go Home Again” chapter. Max talks Meg into returning to her family in Idaho for a visit. Meg is “welcomed” with hostility and contempt by her mother who rejects Meg’s use of her sexuality to became a movie star. Meg also discovers, when she returns to Hollywood to achieve even more success, that her life is empty and lonely. Silverberg treats both of his women characters with respect and realism. Both women face desperation and find ways to deal with it. GRADE: B+