Category Archives: Uncategorized

REMASTERED PART 1 By Kate Bush


I’m a big fan of Kate Bush’s music so when I heard that Kate was remastering all of her classic albums, I was eager to listen to the result. Scintillating sound! Remastered Part 1 delivers a box set of seven CDs full of Kate Bush’s unique songs. Here are the seven albums included in this set:
THE KICK INSIDE (1978)
LIONHEART (1978)
NEVER FOR EVER (1980)
THE DREAMING (1982)
HOUNDS OF LOVE (1985)
THE SENSUAL WORLD (1989)
THE RED SHOES (1993)

Remastered Part 2 is scheduled for 2019. It will be another boxed set of Kate Bush’s later albums. If you’re a Kate Bush fan, this is a must-buy! A perfect holiday gift (to yourself!). Do you have a favorite Kate Bush song? GRADE: A

THE OLD MAN AND THE GUN


Robert Redford announced that The Old Man and the Gun would be his last movie. I thought this was an odd choice of a movie as Redford’s last acting gig. Redford plays a genial bank robber. Sometimes Redford uses Danny Glover and Tom Waits as assistants on his bigger heists. Redford meets Sissy Spacek (a rancher) and you think she might reform him. Casey Affleck is the cop hunting Redford down. The Old Man and the Gun meanders from stickup to stickup. I kept waiting for some magic to happen, but this languid movie just ends. Do you have a favorite Robert Redford movie? GRADE: C

The Buffalo News movie critic, Jeff Simon, generated a list of Robert Redford’s best movies. How many have you seen?
1. THE CANDIDATE (1972)
2. ALL IS LOST (2013)
3. ALL THE PRESIDENT’S MEN (1976)
4. DOWNHILL RACER (1969)
5. BUTCH CASSIDY AND THE SUNDANCE KID (1969)
6. THE WAY WE WERE (1973)
7. OUT OF AFRICA (1985)
8. THE ELECTRIC HORSEMAN (1979)
9. BAREFOOT IN THE PARK (1967)
10. THE STING (1073)
11. THREE DAYS OF THE CONDOR (1975)
12. INSIDE DAISY CLOVER (1965)
13. THE NATURAL (1984)
14. A WALK IN THE WOODS (1012)
15. OUR SOULS AT NIGHT (2017)

SO MANY DOORS By Oakley Hall


This Hard Case Crime reprint of Oakley Hall’s 1950 novel, So Many Doors, features a new cover painting by Robert McGinnis. Working from never before seen reference photographs from iconic paperback cover artist Robert Maguire, McGinnis creates a classic painting suggestive of the 1950s style of artwork.

So Many Doors tells the story of Jack Ward, a hard-working construction laborer, and the women in his life. Jack meets Vassilia Caroline Baird, known as V, and a torrid affair begins. But, their relationship is rocky. Jack marries Gene Geary, but he’s still in love with V. V marries old, but rich Roger Denton. But both Jack and V lust after each other despite their marriages. This novel of betrayal, lies, and obsessive love erupts with a powerful, tragic conclusion. If you’re in the mood for moody novel reminiscent of John Steinbeck at his best, give So Many Doors a try. GRADE: B+

OUR TRIP TO New Orleans





We spent last week with Jeff and Jackie Meyerson, Maggie Mason, Beth Fedyn and Wilba Swearingen in New Orleans. We stayed in a strategically located Marriott Residence Inn on St. Jospeh’s Street. The highlight of our visit was a Sunday trip to Slidell where Deb and John put on a fabulous feast for us: BBQ, brisket, Pina Colada chicken, fish, spicy slaw, potato salad, fruit salad, yummy rolls, and plenty of drink choices. Jackie brought cheesecake from New York City for dessert. Everyone enjoyed the food and fun conversation!

On Monday, we and the Meyersons had lunch at Mother’s Restaurant. Real New Orleans food! Later, Diane and I met up with our niece–the CSI forensic investigator who works in Slidell–and her husband at Emeril’s restaurant (just one block away from our hotel). Once again, the food was outstanding! Diane and I both went with the pork chop. For dessert, Diane chose the wonderful Banana Cream Pie (Diane said afterword it was the best Banana Cream Pie she ever tasted!). I went with Emeril’s signature dessert: Chocolate Soufflé. Super yummy!

On Tuesday, we visited the World War II Museum (just a couple blocks from our hotel). Diane’s father fought in Europe during WWII and my father served on a destroyer in the Pacific. We found the various exhibits and film of the battlefields riveting. After about three hours, we departed the Museum but we’ll return to see more the next time we visit New Orleans.

On Wednesday, we flew from New Orleans to Orlando (where it was 84 degrees). Our flight from Orlando to Buffalo was bumpy. When we landed in Buffalo, the temperature was 30 degrees. Later that night, we were hit with a couple of inches of snow. Big difference from New Orleans and Orlando! We had a lot of fun with our friends and family. Jeff and Jackie coordinated the trip to Deb’s house and rented a huge vehicle that would carry all seven of us. Thanks, Jeff & Jackie!

FANTASTIC BEASTS: THE CRIMES OF GRINDELWALD


When we walked out of Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald at the end of the movie, Diane said, “I need the Cliff Notes to this.” I can’t imagine what a single-digit age kid would think of this film with its convoluted plots and schemes. These new adventures of magizoologist Newt Scamander (Eddie Redmanyne), less twitchy than in the first Fantastic Beasts movie, center around Johnny Depp’s character, Grindelwald. Newt’s allies, baker Jacob Kowalski (Dan Fogler), and magical sisters Queenie (Alison Sudol) and Porpentina (Katherine Waterston), show up in Paris just as Grindelwald sets his trap for Credence (a powerful wizard with Obscurial powers). Grindelwald needs Credence in order to kill Albus Dumbledore (Jude Law).

If this summary doesn’t make sense, blame the movie. GRADE: C+

FRIDAY’S FORGOTTEN BOOKS #503: A Rival From the Grave: The Complete Tales of Jules de Grandin, Volume Four By Seabury Quinn


A Rival From the Grave is the fourth volume of the Complete Tales of Jules de Grandin, the detective who investigates the supernatural. Seabury Quinn wrote over 90 of these tales for Weird Tales from the 1920s to the 1940s. In those times, these stories of ghosts and goblins and all manner of eerie creatures proved to be popular with the readership. I’m fond of these atmospheric stories, but I advise you to read them a few at a time. Seabury Quinn developed a template and used his successful storytelling model in nearly all of these scary stories. My reviews of the previous three Seabury Quinn volumes can be found here, here, and here. The fifth and final volume of the Complete Tales of Jules de Grandin will be published in 2019. GRADE: A

TABLE OF CONTENTS:
Introduction—George A. Vanderburgh and Robert E. Weinberg
Keeping the Golden Age Alive—Mike Ashley

1933
The Chosen of Vishnu (Weird Tales, August 1933)
Malay Horror (Weird Tales, September 1933)
The Mansion of Unholy Magic (Weird Tales, October 1933)
Red Gauntlets of Czerni (Weird Tales, December 1933*)

1934
The Red Knife of Hassan (Weird Tales, January 1934)
The Jest of Warburg Tantavul (Weird Tales, September 1934)

1935
Hands of the Dead (Weird Tales, January 1935)
The Black Orchid (Weird Tales, August 1935)
The Dead-Alive Mummy (Weird Tales, October 1935)

1936
A Rival from the Grave (Weird Tales, January 1936)
Witch-House (Weird Tales, November 1936)

1937
Children of the Bat (Weird Tales, January 1937)
Satan’s Palimpsest (Weird Tales, September 1937)
Pledged to the Dead (Weird Tales, October 1937)
Living Buddhess (Weird Tales, November 1937)
Flames of Vengeance (Weird Tales, December 1937)

1938
Frozen Beauty (Weird Tales, February 1938)
Incense of Abomination (Weird Tales, March 1938)

AMERICAN AUDACITY: IN DEFENSE OF LITERARY DARING By William Giraldi


William Giraldi’s American Audacity begins with a couple audacious statements: Giraldi says Emily Dickinson is the best American poet and no one other than an American could have written Moby Dick. American Audacity explores dozens of literary topics and a gaggle of writers.

I enjoyed the essays on Cynthia Ozick, David Denby, Lionel Trilling, and Joseph Epstein–all critics whose books I’ve read faithfully over the years. Giraldi’s essay on Moby Dick is thought-provoking. “Darkness There: Edgar Allan Poe” forced me to go to my Library of America Poe volume and reread some stories. And after reading Giraldi on Daniel Woodrell, I wanted to drop everything and read some Woodrell. If you’re hungering for some intelligent, well written literary essays, you’ll find what you’re looking for in William Giraldi’s American Audacity. GRADE: A
TABLE OF CONTENTS:
INTRODUCTION: American Audacity xi
AMERICAN MOMENTS
Creative destruction — 3
Problem of the Catholic novelist — 15
Bibliophile — 31
Art of hate mail — 46
Writer’s immortality — 60
American bestsellers — 73
Single shade of grey — 83
Memoir now — 91
Terms of terror — 102
Promise of happiness — 108
AMERICAN CRITICS
Thinking Things Anew: Cynthia Ozick — 117
School of Fish: Stanley Fish –125
Death and the Sun: Katie Roiphe –140
Clearer Air: David Denby — 146
Ideal Critic: Lionel Trilling — 160
Why to Read: Wendy Lesser — 165
Living Labyrinth: Harold Bloom — 170
The Tomahawk: James Wolcott — 185
Against Dullness: Joseph Epstein — 192
Unmaking It: Norman Podhoretz — 206
On Literature and Love. 219
AMERICAN STORIES
The Magican: Allan Gurganus — 233
Mockingbird, Incorporated: Harper Lee — 267
The Devil and James Baldwin –292
Satan is a Whaler: Moby Dick. — 308
Darkness There: Edgar Allan Poe — 321
The Hedonist: Carl Van Vechten — 340
Fabled Beyond: Daniel Woodrell — 355
Sick in God: Christian Wiman — 362
What We Share: Elizabeth Spencer — 370
Only the Mess: Padgett Powell — 377
Thrill Me: Barry Hannah — 387
Truth to Spirit: Lauren Slater — 400
Far from God: Denis Johnson — 410
On Influence: Cormac McCarthy — 420
Fabled Waste: Child of God — 426
The Monkey’s Business: Francine Prose — 433
The Ballad of Mom and Dad: Richard Ford — 438
Acknowledgements — 443
Index — 445

THE LABYRINTH INDEX By Charles Stross


I’m a fan of Charles Stross’s THE LAUNDRY series about a secret British agency who defends the planet from threats from other dimensions. Things have gone from Bad to Worse as The Labyrinth Index opens with the American President on the run from a takeover of a cabal intent on waking Cthulhu. The cabal has cast a geas that makes everyone in the U.S. forget there is a President! A team of British agents is sent to the United States to help restore sanity (and memory). It takes too many pages for Stross to set up his huge climatic ending, but there’s action and fireworks to burn in the final section of The Labyrinth Index. Good, but not great. GRADE: B
THE LAUNDRY FILES SERIES:
The Atrocity Archives (2004)
The Jennifer Morgue (2006)
Down on the Farm (2008 novelette)
Overtime (2009 novelette)
The Fuller Memorandum (2010)
The Apocalypse Codex (2012)
Equoid (2013 novelette)
The Rhesus Chart (2014)
The Annihilation Score (2015)
The Nightmare Stacks (2016)
The Delirium Brief (2017)
The Labyrinth Index (2018)

JUSTICE LEAGUE UNLIMITED: THE COMPLETE SERIES [Blu-ray]


I’m a big fan of the Justice League animated series. For my money, Justice League Unlimited is the best of all the various versions. The graphics are great, the storylines are compelling. Batman, Superman, Wonder Woman, Flash, the Martian Man-hunter, Green Lantern, and Hawkgirl–the Original Seven Justice Leaguers–are joined by Green Arrow, Supergirl, and Black Canary. I enjoyed the unusual superhero pairings and the variety of plots. Lex Luthor and the Legion of Doom menace the planet so the story arc over several episodes keeps the suspense high. With this package, you get 3 Blu-ray Discs with 897 minutes of action and thrills. If you’re a fan of the Justice League, you’ll love this! GRADE: A

NONE OF MY BUSINESS: P.J. EXPLAINS MONEY, BANKING, DEBT, EQUITY, ASSETS, LIABILITIES, AND WHY HE’S NOT RICH AND NEITHER ARE YOU By P. J. O’Rourke


With a Recession looming in 2019, P. J. O’Rourke’s None of My Business arrives to explain the U. S. Economy and the dangers ahead. When the 2018 Republican Tax Cut gave a trillion dollar windfall to the One Percent, it gave the Economy a “sugar high.” Billions of dollars poured into the Stock Market (where else would you park your money?). And, of course, the Stock Market went up. The Rich got Richer.

But now that stimulus is starting to fade. The Stock Market has become more volatile. Down days, blamed on Trump’s tariffs, drag the indexes down. I believe we’re seeing the beginning of a Bear Market for the next two years (at least!). P. J. O’Rourke provides some additional evidence to support the case for an upcoming Recession. Time to start preparing for some Rough Times ahead! GRADE: A-
TABLE OF CONTENTS:
Foreword: Why I’m not rich and you aren’t either 1
Section I: How I learned economics by watching people try to kill each other
Introduction — 9
Lesson One: The power of the economic impulse — 12
Lesson Two: The real secret behind all investment scams — 17
Lesson Three: (Topic for discussion) If you want hard money, how hard do you have to be to get it? — 22
Section II: Money and banking
Introduction — 29
The strange, shape-shifting symbol of value — 32
My own personal central bank — 38
Negative interest rates: not only wrong but evil — 44
Debt jubilee — 48
Section III: Mutant capitalism
Introduction: The mutants — 57
One good thing about mutant capitalists: they aren’t playing Monopoly — 69
What are corporations for? — 75
Section IV: The transition
Introduction: The digital age and which digit it’s giving us — 81
A brief history of economic transitions — 87
A blockhead confronts the blockchain — 92
What’s the connection? — 100
What has the digital revolution done to print media? — 106
Five lessons about the digital economy from a member of the digital generation — 112
Innovation: it’s all in your head — 118
Innovations that get no respect — 125
Unnovations — 131
Six geniuses (plus some cartoon animators) try to see into the future — 135
A ray of hope in the contest between man and machine — 144
Section V: Consumption
Introduction: Some thoughts on the history of trade — 151
The price of being middle class — 157
Armchair predictions about consumer trends — 164
Consumer trends among the “grumpies” — 169
Consumer trends among the “grumpies,” part 2 — 173
Summing up American consumer trends — 178
All the money in the world — 182
Section VI: Random walk
Introduction — 193
Five things I know about China — 195
Doubts about Asia — 202
Thoughts while cleaning the chicken coop — 209
Six lessons from a man on horseback — 214
Sympathy for the devil — 219
Reform or deform? — 223
Free-for-all! — 231
Acknowledgements — 239