Category Archives: Uncategorized

WEDNESDAY’S SHORT STORIES #6: DARK GODS by T. E. D. Klein

I recently reviewed T. E. D. Klein’s novel, The Ceremonies (you can read that review here), and decided to reread Klein’s novella collection, Dark Gods (1985). Dark Gods includes four long stories filled with dread.

“Children of the Kingdom” explores the relationship between a man and his grandfather. The assisted living facility where the grandfather resides deals with continuous gnawing of the power cords of the laundry machines. The owner claims it’s done by rats, but the culprit is much more menacing.

“Petey” takes place in a old home where a party is going on. One of the women at the party engages the other guests with a series of Tarot readings. And, the former owner of the house, now in an insane asylum, issues warnings…which are ignored. You can guess where this leads.

“Black Man With a Horn” is a moody story with the haunting presence of creatures from Lovecraft’s stories.

“Nadelman’s God” is my favorite story in Dark Gods. An advertising executive named Nadelman is contacted by a rock & roll group who want to use a poem he published in a college literary magazine as the lyric to one of their songs. Nadelman agrees and this leads to another situation years later when Nadelman receives a letter from a man who claims he’s following the “instructions” in the song to create a God. T.E.D. Klein writes stories that stay with you long after you finish reading them. GRADE: B+

Table of Contents:

Children of the kingdom — 1
Petey — 73
Black man with a horn — 129
Nadelman’s god — 175

AGATHA CHRISTIE’S MISS MARPLE: THE COMPLETE COLLECTION [9-DVD Set]

Yes, lightning can strike twice!

A couple of weeks ago, I visited a Salvation Army thrift store and to my amazement found AGATHA CHRISTIE’S POIROT: COMPLETE CASES COLLECTION [33 DVDs] for the incredible price of $3.99!

So I revisited that Salvation Army thrift store and to my surprise found AGATHA CHRISTIE’S MISS MARPLE: THE COMPLETE COLLECTION [9-DVD Set]. And once again the price was $3.99! (AMAZON has it at $49.98.) With Western NY pretty much shut down in the Orange Zone, I now have plenty of DVDs to watch and enjoy! Are you a Miss Marple/Joan Hickson fan?

EX-LIBRIS: 100 BOOKS TO READ AND REREAD By Michiko Kakutani

I’m a sucker for books like Michiko Kakutani’s Ex Libris: 100 Books to Read and Reread. Admittedly, the books recommended in this volume are diverse and not always appealing to my reading tastes. But rest assured, there is something for everyone in this book. Of course, some of these choices are a little bizarre. I did enjoy the mini-essays about each book.

How many of these books have you read? GRADE: A-

TABLE OF CONTENTS:

Introduction –13

Americanah by Chimamnda Ngozi Adichie — 21

The Light of the World by Elizabeth Alexander — 24

Muhammad Ali Books: –27

The Greatest: My Own Story by Muhammad Ali

The Muhammad Ali Reader, edited by Gerald Early

King of the World by David Remnick

The Tribute: Muhammad Ali, 1942-2016 by Sports Illustrated

Experience by Martin Amis –30

Winesburg, Ohio by Sherwood Anderson — 33

The Origins of Totalitarianism by Hannah Arendt — 35

The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood — 39

Collected Poems by W. H. Auden –42

Continental Drift by Russell Banks — 44

Books by Saul Bellow — 46

The Adventures of Augie March

Herzog

The Actual: A Novella

The Image by Daniel J. Boorstin — 48

Ficciones by Jorge Luis Borges — 50

The Moth Presents: All These Wonders, edited by Catherine Burns — 53

The Plague by Albert Camus — 56

The Passage of Power by Robert A. Caro. — 58

Pursuits of Happiness by Stanley Cavell — 60

Can’t We Talk About Something More Pleasant? by Roz Chast — 62

Books by Bruce Chatwin — 65

In Petagonia

What Am I Doing Here

The Sleepwalkers by Christopher Clark — 69

Books About Foreign Policy and the World — 72

The Retreat of Western Liberalism by Edward Luce

A World in Disarray by Richard Haass

Brother, I’m Dying by Edwidge Danticat –76

Underworld by Don DeLillo — 79

The Brief Wondrous Life Of Oscar Wao — 81

Books by Joan Didion — 84

Slouching Towards Bethlehem

The White Album

A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius by Dave Eggers — 88

The Collected stories of Deborah Eisenberg — 91

The Waste Land by T. S. Eliot — 93

Books by Joseph J. Ellis — 95

Founding Brothers

American Cration

Revolutionary Summer

American Dialogue

The Founders on American Democracy — 98

The Federalist Papers by Alexander Hamilton

George Washington’s Farewell Address

Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison — 103

As I Lay Dying — William Faulkner — 106

The Neapolitan Quartet by Elena Ferrante — 108

Books by David Finkel — 111

The Good Soldiers

Thank You for Your Service

Books About 9/11 and the War on Terror — 114

The Looming Tower by Lawrence Wright

The Forever War by Dexter Filkins

Anatomy of Terror by Ali Soufan

The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald — 119

Gould’s Book of Fish by Richard Flanagan — 122

The Letters of Gustave Flaubert, 1830-1857 — 126

Sinatra! The Song Is You by Will Friedwald — 128

One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez — 131

The Idea Factory by Jon Gertner — 133

The Peripheral by William Gibson — 137

The Examined Life by Stephen Grosz — 139

Seabiscuit by Laura Hillenbrand — 141

The Paranoid Style in American Politics by Richard Hofstadter — 143

The Odyssey by Homer — 145

Lab Girl by Hope Jahren — 148

The Liar’s Club by Mary Kart — 151

A Testament of Hope: The Essential Writings and Speeches by Martin Luther King, Jr. — 155

On Writing by Stephen King — 158

The Woman Warrior by Maxine Hong Kingston — 161

The Language of the Third Reich by Victor Klemperer — 164

Books About Democracy and Tyranny —167

On Tyranny by Timothy Snyder

How Democracies Die by Steven Levitsky & Daniel Ziblatt

The Sixth Extinction by Eliabeth Kolbert — 171

The Namesake by Jhumpa Lahiri — 174

Books by Jaron Lanier — 177

You Are Not a Gadget

Dawn of the New Everything

A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle — 180

Abraham Lincoln Books — 182

The Speeches of Writings of Abraham Lincoln, edited by Don E. Fehrenbacher

Lincoln at Gettysburg by Gary Wills

Lincoln by Fred Kaplan

Lincoln’s Sword by Douglas Moore

Arctic Dreams by Barry Lopez — 186

Blood Meridian, or, the Evening Redness in the West by Cormac McCarthy — 189

Atonement by Ian McEwan — 191

Moby-Dick by Herman Melville — 194

A Gate at the Stairs by Lorrie Moore — 197

Books by Toni Morrison — 201

Song of Solomon

Beloved

Books by Vladimir Nabokov — 203

The Stories of Vladimir Nabokov, edited by Dmitri Nabokov

Speak, Memory

Reading Lolita in Tehran by Azar Nafisi — 206

A House for Mr. Biswas by V. S. Naipaul — 209

Born a Crime Trevor Noah — 211

Books by Barack Obama — 214

Dreams from My Father

We Are the Change We Seek: The Speeches of Barack Obama, edited by E. J. Dionne, Jr., & Joy-Ann Reid

There There by Tommy Orange — 218

1984 by George Orwell — 220

The Moviegoer by Walker Percy — 223

Mason & Dixon by Thomas Pynchon — 225

Life by Keith Richards with James Fox — 227

The Life of Picasso by John Richardson — 231

Books About Work and Vocation — 234

Sick in the Head by Judd Apatow

The Right Kind of Crazy by Adam Steltzner with William Patrick

The Shepherd’s Life by James Rebanks

Do No Harm by Henry Marsh

Housekeeping by Marilynne Robinson 241

American Pastoral by Philip Roth — 243

The Harry Potter Novels by J. K. Rowling — 245

Books by Salman Rusdie — 248

Midnight’s Children

The Moor’s Last Sigh

Books by Oliver Sacks — 251

The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat, and Other Clinical Tales

An Anthropologist on Mars

Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak — 253

Books by Dr. Seuss — 255

Horton Hears a Who!

The Cat in the Hat

How the Grinch Stole Christmas!

Green Eggs and Ham

The Lorax

Oh, the Places You’ll Go!

The Plays of William Shakespeare — 257

Frankenstein by Mary Shelley — 261

Little Failure by Gary Shteyngart — 264

White Teeth by Zadie Smith — 266

My Beloved World by Sonia Sotomayor — 269

The Palm at the End of the Mind by Wallace Stevens 272

The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt — 275

Democracy in America by Alexis de Tocqueville — 277

The Lord of the Rings — J. R. R. Tolkien — 280

The Letters of Vincent Van Gogh — 283

On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous by Ocean Vuong — 285

The Poetry of Derek Walcott, 1948-2013 — 287

Infinite Jest by David Foster Wallace — 289

All the King’s Men by Robert Penn Warren — 292

Educated by Tara Westover — 294

The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead — 297

The World of Yesterday by Stefan Zweig — 299

BUFFALO BILLS BYE WEEK

After the “Hail Murray” play that ended the Arizona Cardinals game last Sunday with a bitter defeat for the Buffalo Bills, the Bills needed the Bye Week to heal and regroup for the last six games of the NFL regular season. When the Bills play the LA Chargers next Sunday, there could be snow in the forecast. How will your favorite NFL perform today?

IN THE ORANGE ZONE

Just a month ago, the Western NY coronavirus infection rate was 1%. Now it’s 6% and going up. Governor Cuomo has moved us from the Yellow Zone to the Orange Zone. On the horizon is the dreaded Red Zone when everything pretty much shuts down.

The Orange Zone designation forced the closure of my beloved Pool. Gyms and work-out places are also shut-down. No indoor dining in restaurants, but Take-Out is okay. No mass gatherings. Schools are closed for in-person classes, but distance learning is okay.

We’re going backwards. Instead of Opening Up, we’re Closing Down. And with Thanksgiving and the Holidays ahead, the covid-19 numbers are only going to rise. Those vaccines can’t get here fast enough! What are your plans for Thanksgiving and the Holidays?

FRIDAY’S FORGOTTEN BOOKS #618: THE MASK OF FU MANCHU By Sax Rohmer

Back in the 1960s, a paperback publisher called Pyramid Books brought out a series of Sax Rohmer volumes. Many featured the evil genius, Dr. Fu Manchu, whose goal was World Domination. Standing against the awesome might of Fu Manchu and his minions is Sir Denis Nayland Smith of Scotland Yard. In book after book, Nayland Smith thwarted the maniacal plots of the evil doctor. The Mask of Fu Manchu is a bit unusual because it is not set in England as most of the books are. The novel opens in Afghanistan and Persia and moves to Egypt. Dr. Fu Manchu, and his equally evil daughter, Fah Lo Suce, practice their cunning schemes to stroke groups who see the golden mask of the past as the key to their future.

“Sax Rohmer” was the pseudonym of Arthur Wade. He wrote 14 Fu Manchu novels as well as other tales that contained supernatural elements. Several movies were made based on Sax Rohmer’s books. Were you a Fu Manchu fan? GRADE: B

STEVIE NICKS: THE 24 KARAT GOLD TOUR [2-CD Set]

I’ve been a fan of Stevie Nicks since her early days with Fleetwood Mac. I followed Nicks during her solo career favoring her early albums over her later ones. I enjoyed her brand of rock & roll with its imagery and driving beats.

Stevie Nicks: The 24 Karat Gold Tour presents many of Stevie Nicks’s biggest hits along with some more obscure tunes from her albums. I liked “Stop Draggin’ My Heart Around” although the original version with Tom Petty is a classic. “Gypsy” was a crowd favorite. “Rhiannon” was the song that made Fleetwood Mac a successful group while “Landslide” has been covered by many other artists. All in all, I enjoyed these concert CDs. Diane and I saw Fleetwood Mac a couple years ago when they appeared in Buffalo ( you can read about the concert here). Are you a Stevie Nicks fan? GRADE: B+

TRACK LIST:

DISC ONE:

Gold And Braid (Live)
If Anyone Falls (Live)
Stop Draggin’ My Heart Around (Live)
Belle Fleur (Live)
Gypsy (Live)
Wild Heart / Bella Donna (Live)
Enchanted (Live)
New Orleans (Live)
Starshine (Live)
Moonlight (A Vampire’s Dream) [Live]

DISC TWO:

Stand Back (Live)
Crying In The Night (Live)
If You Were My Love (Live)
Gold Dust Woman (Live)
Edge Of Seventeen (Live)
Rhiannon (Live)
Landslide (Live)

WEDNESDAY’S SHORT STORIES #5: FAR FROM HOME By Walter Tevis

Walter Tevis is receiving renewed interest because of the Netflix series, The Queen’s Gambit, which is based on his novel of the same name. I’ve had Tevis’s short story collection on my shelf for decades so I decided to read Far From Home (1981). “Rent Control” is the story of a couple who discovers a way to stop Time. At first, the Time stoppage is just fun for them. But, later, the couple get obsessed with Time. “A Visit from Mother” and “Daddy” are two connected tales. A son gets a visit from the ghosts of his Mother and Daddy. A lot gets revealed as the son comes to grips with the dysfunctional dynamics of his family.

I also enjoyed “The Apothesosis of Myra” where a man commits murder on a strange planet and finds that he really isn’t rid of his victim. The stories in Far From Home display Walter Tevis’s unique vision of the human experience. Excellent stories by an excellent writer! GRADE: A

TABLE OF CONTENTS:

PART ONE: Close to home:

Rent control.–3

A visit from Mother.–15

Daddy.–29

The apothesosis of Myra.–43

Out of luck.–67

Echo.–85

Sitting in limbo.–105

PART TWO: Far from home:

The other end of the line.–123

The big bounce.–131

The goldbrick.–143

The ifth of oofth.–155

The scholar’s disciple.–167

Far from home.– 177

THE NAKED GUN [DVD]

During the coronavirus pandemic, we’ve been watching a lot of comedies. One of our favorites is The Naked Gun, a1988 crime comedy film directed by David Zucker and released by Paramount Pictures. The movie stars Leslie Nielsen as the bumbling police lieutenant Frank DrebinPriscilla PresleyRicardo MontalbánGeorge Kennedy, and O. J. Simpson also star in supporting roles. The Naked Gun is an extension of the TV series Police Squad which features slap-stick comedy and plenty of silliness. Leslie Nielsen’s dead-pan delivery of comic lines is legendary.

The Naked Gun was a hit movie and spawned two sequels: The Naked Gun ​2 12: The Smell of Fear (1991) and Naked Gun ​33 13: The Final Insult (1994). Are you a fan of these movies? What comedies are you watching during the Age of Coronavirus? GRADE: A

IS THIS ANYTHING? By Jerry Seinfeld

TV COOKING

I will never understand why they cook on TV.

I can’t smell it.

Can’t eat it.

Can’t taste it.

The end of the show they hold it up to the camera.

“Well here it is.

You can’t have any.

Thanks for watching.

Goodbye.”

Yes, this is an example of what you’ll find in Jerry Seinfeld’s new book, Is This Anything? According to Seinfeld, comedians ask each other “Is this anything?” when trying out new comedy material. So here are hundreds of Seinfeld jokes, some funny, some very funny, and a few clunkers. I loved the Seinfeld TV show from the start. Even today, if I’m channel surfing and run across a favorite Seinfeld episode, I’ll watch it even though I’ve seen it a dozen times. Are you fan of Jerry Seinfeld? GRADE: A

TABLE OF CONTENTS:

The Seventies — 1

The Eighties — 81

The Nineties — 205

The Double O’s — 251

The Teens — 353

Acknowledgements — 453

Index — 455