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THE GIRL IN THE SPIDER’S WEB


Claire Foy is brilliant as vengeful hacker, Lisbeth Salander. She’s the reason to watch The Girl in the Spider’s Web: A New Dragon Tattoo Story despite its predictable plot. Claire Foy’s Lisbeth Salander is 180 degrees from her role as The Queen on Netflix’s The Crown. I really liked Rooney Mara in David Fincher’s The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo (and wish Mara and Fincher had filmed the other two books in the Millennium series). Noomi Rapace’s Lisbeth Salander presents a strong, intense justice seeker in her trilogy of Swedish films. Claire Foy’s Salander, more caring and vulnerable (she takes a lot of punishment in this movie!), still projects her character’s relentless strength and cunning.

Part of the problems with The Girl in the Spider’s Web result from director and co-writer Fede Alvarez decisions. Alavarez is best known for his suspense film, Don’t Breathe, where a blind man stalks a trio of teenagers who broke into his house. In The Girl in the Spider’s Web, Lisbeth Salander finds herself being stalked by a mysterious gang who wants a computer program that cracks nuclear weapons’s security. This movie has a little bit of a Mission Impossible feel to it with the fight scenes and elaborate stunts. I wish Claire Foy’s Salander spent more time beating up Bad Guys. You can read my review of the book version of The Girl in the Spider’s Web here. GRADE: B+

FRIDAY’S FORGOTTEN BOOKS #502: END OF THE LINE By Bert & Dolores Hitchens




I’m a fan of the STARK HOUSE “Black Gat” series of reprints. The latest book in the series is Bert and Dolores Hitchens End of the Line, one of the railway detective mysteries from the 1950s. The Lobo Tunnel disaster, a deliberate “accident” where the train hit an obstruction in the Tunnel, remains an unsolved case. Two unlikely railway cops, John Farrel–a veteran detective with a drinking problem–and Calvin Saunders–a talented but inexperienced investigator–are assigned to the Lobo Tunnel cold case six years after the incident. Farrel and Saunders focus on the conductor, Parmenter, who has just served a five year sentence in a Mexican prison.

I enjoyed the detailed description of Peg Parmenter, the conductor’s troubled teen-age daughter. Peg wants to reconnect with her father, but senses that he is withholding information from her. As Farrel and Saunders unravel the sabotage scheme, the suspense ratchets up. From Page One End of the Line stays on track to take the reader on a wild ride. GRADE: B+
RAILWAY MYSTERY SERIES:
F.O.B. Murder (Doubleday CC, 1955); UK: 1957, American Bloodhound no. 154
One-Way Ticket (Doubleday CC, 1956); UK: 1958, American Bloodhound no. 193
End of Line (Doubleday CC, 1957); UK: 1958, American Bloodhound. no. 216
The Man Who Followed Women (Doubleday CC, 1959); UK: 1960, American Bloodhound no. 332
The Grudge (Doubleday, 1963); UK: 1964, American Bloodhound. no. 466

THE BEATLES: THE WHITE ALBUM (50TH ANNIVERSARY EDITION) 6-CD SET


Just in time for that Beatles fan on your Holiday Gift list, this new package offers plenty of New Stuff. For 50 years, The White Album has invited its listeners to venture forth and explore the breadth and ambition of its music, delighting and inspiring each new generation of listeners. The Beatles have now released a suite of lavishly presented White Album packages, including an expanded 6CD + Blu-ray package. The album’s 30 tracks are newly mixed by producer Giles Martin and mix engineer Sam Okell in stereo and 5.1 surround audio, joined by 27 early acoustic demos and 50 session takes, most of which are previously unreleased in any form. GRADE: B+
Track Listings
Disc: 1
1. Back In The U.S.S.R.
2. Dear Prudence
3. Glass Onion
4. Ob – La
5. Wild Honey Pie
6. The Continuing Story Of Bungalow Bill
7. While My Guitar Gently Weeps
8. Happiness Is A Warm Gun
9. Martha My Dear
10. I’m So Tired
11. Blackbird
12. Piggies
13. Rocky Racoon
14. Don’t Pass Me By
15. Why Don’t We Do It In The Road?
16. I Will
17. Julia
Disc: 2
1. Birthday
2. Yer Blues
3. Mother Nature’s Son
4. Everybody’s Got Something To Hide Except Me And My Monkey
5. Sexy Sadie
6. Helter Skelter
7. Long, Long, Long
8. Revolution 1
9. Honey Pie
10. Savoy Truffle
11. Cry Baby Cry
12. Revolution 9
13. Good Night
Disc: 3
1. Back In The U.S.S.R. (Esher Demo)
2. Dear Prudence (Esher Demo)
3. Glass Onion (Esher Demo)
4. Ob – La
5. The Continuing Story Of Bungalow Bill (Esher Demo)
6. While My Guitar Gently Weeps (Esher Demo)
7. Happiness Is A Warm Gun (Esher Demo)
8. I’m So Tired (Esher Demo)
9. Blackbird (Esher Demo)
10. Piggies (Esher Demo)
11. Rocky Raccoon (Esher Demo)
12. Julia (Esher Demo)
13. Yer Blues (Esher Demo)
14. Mother Nature’s Son (Esher Demo)
15. Everybody’s Got Something To Hide Except Me And My Monkey (Esher Demo)
16. Sexy Sadie (Esher Demo)
17. Revolution (Esher Demo)
18. Honey Pie (Esher Demo)
19. Cry Baby Cry (Esher Demo)
20. Sour Milk Sea (Esher Demo)
21. Junk (Esher Demo)
22. Child Of Nature (Esher Demo)
23. Circles (Esher Demo)
24. Mean Mr Mustard (Esher Demo)
25. Polythene Pam (Esher Demo)
26. Not Guilty (Esher Demo)
27. What’s The New Mary Jane (Esher Demo)
Disc: 4
1. Revolution 1 (Take 18)
2. A Beginning (Take 4)/Don’t Pass Me By (Take 7)
3. Blackbird (Take 28)
4. Everybody’s Got Something To Hide Except Me And My Monkey (Unnumbered Rehearsal)
5. Good Night (Unnumbered Rehearsal)
6. Good Night (Take 10 With A Guitar Part From Take 7)
7. Good Night (Take 22)
8. Ob – La
9. Revolution (Unnumbered Rehearsal)
10. Revolution (Take 14 Instrumental Backing Track)
11. Cry Baby Cry (Unnumbered Rehearsal)
12. Helter Skelter (First Version Take 2)
Disc: 5
1. Sexy Sadie (Take 3)
2. While My Guitar Gently Weeps (Acoustic Version Take 2)
3. Hey Jude (Take 1)
4. St Louis Blues (Studio Jam)
5. Not Guilty (Take 102)
6. Mother Nature’s Son (Take 15)
7. Yer Blues (Take 5 With Guide Vocal)
8. What’s The New Mary Jane (Take 1)
9. Rocky Raccoon (Take 8)
10. Back In The U.S.S.R. (Take 5 Instrumental Backing Track)
11. Dear Prudence (Vocal, Guitar & Drums)
12. Let It Be (Unnumbered Rehearsal)
13. While My Guitar Gently Weeps (Third Version Take 27)
14. (You’re So Square) Baby I Don’t Care (Studio Jam)
15. Helter Skelter (Second Version Take 17)
16. Glass Onion (Take 10)
Disc: 6
1. I Will (Take 13)
2. Blue Moon (Studio Jam)
3. I Will (Take 29)
4. Step Inside Love (Studio Jam)
5. Los Paranoias (Studio Jam)
6. Can You Take Me Back (Take 1)
7. Birthday (Take 2 Instrumental Backing Track)
8. Piggies (Take 12 Instrumental Backing Track)
9. Happiness Is A Warm Gun (Take 19)
10. Honey Pie (Instrumental Backing Track)
11. Savoy Truffle (Instrumental Backing Track)
12. Martha My Dear (Without Brass And Strings)
13. Long Long Long (Take 44)
14. I’m So Tired (Take 7)
15. I’m So Tired (Take 14)
16. The Continuing Story Of Bungalow Bill (Take 2)
17. Why Don’t We Do It In The Road? (Take 5)
18. Julia (Two Rehearsals)
19. The Inner Light (Take 6 Instrumental Backing Track)
20. Lady Madonna (Take 2 Piano & Drums)
21. Lady Madonna (Backing Vocals Take 3)
22. Across The Universe (Take 6)”

CITY OF INK By Elsa Hart


“Let us consider a different murder,” said Hamza. “The scene changes. Look again at the faces of the victims. There is no recent passion in their expressions, no flushed cheek, no kiss-swollen lips. It was not love that drew them to that room, but silver and secrets. And it was not jealous fury that tore their lives from them. The spectral husband fades, and is replace by a colder shadow.” (p. 161)

Former Imperial Librarian Li Du returns to 18th Century Beijing in the capacity of a humble assistant to Inspector Sun of the North Borough Office. Li Du took the position to secretly access records about his former mentor, Shu. Shu was executed years ago as part of a plot against the Emperor. Since Li Du was Shu’s friend, Li Du was exiled. The Emperor later lifted that exile which allowed Li Du to return to Beijing.

But, before Li Du can solve the mystery of Shu, he’s confronted by a double murder at the Black Tile Factory. The wife of the owner and a government official were found stabbed to death. Li Du resists the obvious conclusion that this a crime of passion. Instead, Li Du finds himself drawn into a web of corruption and conspiracy in the imperial capital.

I’ve read the first two Li Du mysteries. You can read my review of Jade Dragon Mountain here and The White Mirror here. You don’t have to read the previous two books to enjoy City of Ink. I enjoyed these different historical mysteries. GRADE: A

FIDDLER ON THE ROOF


I’ve seen Fiddler on the Roof five times and this version at the Shea’s Performing Arts Center is the best of the bunch. The story of Tevye, a Jewish milkman in the small Russian town of Anatevka in 1905, and his wife Golde and their five daughters lights up the stage in this updated musical. Director Barlett Sher’s staging for this touring company reflects his innovations for the Broadway production. Things are changing in Russia and those changes are reaching Tevye’s family. The musical starts with a song of “Tradition” which introduces one of the themes of this play. Tevye would like to stick with Tradition, but the marriages of his daughters test his resolve. Yehezkel Lazarov, who plays Tevye brilliantly in this touring version of Fiddler on the Roof, finds his ideals and religion tested as his daughters marry…untraditionally. I really enjoyed the performances of Mel Weyn as Tzeitel, Ruthy Froch as Hodel, and Natalie Powers as Chava. They sing the classic “Matchmaker, Matchmaker” in their innocence ignorant of the fates that await them. (My favorite is the bookish Chava!)

The dance sequences burst with energy, especially the fabulous Bottle Dance. Classic songs like “Sunrise, Sunset” and “If I Were a Rich Man” sound great! If this wonderful touring musical shows up in your neighborhood, I highly recommend it! GRADE: A
SONG LIST:
Act I
“Prologue: Tradition” – Tevye and Company
“Matchmaker, Matchmaker” – Tzeitel, Hodel and Chava
“If I Were a Rich Man” – Tevye
“Sabbath Prayer” – Tevye, Golde, Company
“To Life” – Tevye, Lazar Wolf, Russian soloist and Men
“Tevye’s Monologue” – Tevye
“Miracle of Miracles” – Motel
“Tevye’s Dream” – Tevye, Golde, Grandma Tzeitel, Rabbi, Fruma-Sarah and Company
“Sunrise, Sunset” – Tevye, Golde, Perchik, Hodel and Company
“The Bottle Dance” – Instrumental
Act II
“Entr’acte” – Orchestra
“Now I Have Everything” – Perchik and Hodel
“Tevye’s Rebuttal” – Tevye
“Do You Love Me?” – Tevye and Golde
“The Rumor/I Just Heard” – Yente and Villagers §
“Far From the Home I Love” – Hodel
“Chavaleh (Little Bird)” – Tevye
“Anatevka” – The Company

THE BYLINE BIBLE: GET PUBLISHED IN 5 WEEKS By Susan Shapiro


Susan Shapiro teaches writing at Columbia University. The goal for each student is to get published before the semester is over. Shapiro has published hundreds of articles and a dozen books so she knows the publishing process. Susan Shapiro points out that several of her successful students were retirees. Writing about retirement and its problems is fertile ground for the Baby Boomer audience. Shapiro presents an approach to producing quality work and how to stay productive. She shows how to find markets for the material you write. If you’re considering writing for some extra income, The Byline Bible is a practical guide to getting your work published. GRADE: B+
TABLE OF CONTENTS:
Dedication iii
Foreword / Peter Catapano (New York Times Editor) 1
Introduction 5
Chapter 1 — Where to start –Asssignment #1 13
Chapter 2 — The joy of getting killed 92
Chapter 3 — Finding your essay a home 102
Chapter 4 — Under cover 108
Chapter 5 — After yes: now what? 134
Chapter 6 — Writing regional –Assignment #2 146
Chapter 7 — It’s my opinion –Assignment #3 173
Chapter 8. — Selling short humor –Assignment #4 201
Chapter 9 — Secret service –Assignment #5
Chapter 10 — Pitch vs. writing 249
Glossary 258
Acknowledgements 262
About the Author 264
Index 265

CHICAGO BEARS VS. BUFFALO BILLS


Quarterback Nate Peterman (aka, “The Turnover Machine”) will be at the controls of the hapless Buffalo Bills offense today because the other two Bills QBs are hurt. The Bills opponent, the mighty Chicago Bears, is favored by 10 points. How will your favorite NFL fare today?

SHERLOCK’S LAST CASE


While we were in Boston visiting Katie (and seeing Hamilton) we also attended the Huntington Theatre Company’s play by Charles Marowitz, Sherlock’s Last Case. Maria Aitken directs a clever story where Sherlock is threatened by the son of Professor Moriarity. The staging alternates between Baker Street and a spooky cave. I enjoyed Rufus Collins as an arrogant Sherlock Holmes and Mark Zeisler as a frustrated Doctor Watson. Jane Ridley is a flighty Mrs. Hudson. Antoinette Robinson surprises as Liza Moriarity. And Malcolm Ingram presents a solid Inspector Lestrade. If you’re in the mood for a twisty Sherlock play, I recommend Sherlock’s Last Case. GRADE: B+

FRIDAY’S FORGOTTEN BOOKS #501: ASTOUNDING: JOHN W. CAMPBELL, ISAAC ASIMOV, ROBERT A. HEINLEIN, L. RON HUBBARD, AND THE GOLDEN AGE OF SCIENCE FICTION By Alec Nevala-Lee


During the 1940s and 1950s, ASTOUNDING SCIENCE FICTION magazine dominated the Science Fiction market. The best writers, the best stories, the best cover artwork found its way to the pages of the magazine edited by the legendary John W. Campbell. Alec Nevala-Lee’s well-written history, Astounding, shows how the key figures–Campbell, Asimov, Heinlein, and Hubbard–made that magazine the key factor in shaping the SF genre durning those decades.

I grew up reading Astounding as a kid. The Kelly Freas covers with the names of great Science Fiction writers inside were irresistible. I still treasure my July 1958 issue of Astounding Science Fiction featuring Jack Vance’s classic “The Miracle-Workers” on the cover. John W. Campbell was a “hands on” editor, frequently pitching ideas for stories to his stable of writers. Isaac Asimov gives credit to Campbell for assisting in the development of “The Three Laws of Robotics” and the “psychohistory” of the Foundation series.

Later, Campbell’s fascination with extrasensory perception and Dianetics caused Asimov and Heinlein to seek other markets. But for about 20 years, Astounding set the standard for the best Science Fiction could offer its loyal readers. If you want to know more about the history of SF, Astounding will enlighten and delight you! For another perspective on Astounding, James Wallace Harris offers an excellent review here. And Micheal Dirda’s fine review can be found here. GRADE: A
TABLE OF CONTENTS:
PROLOGUE: ASIMOV’S SWORD 1
PART I: WHO GOES THERE? (1907-1937) 15
1. The Boy from Another World (1910-1931) 17
2. Three Against the Gods (1907-1935) 35
3. Two Lost Souls (1931-1937) 53
PART II: GOLDEN AGE (1937-1941) 71
4. Brass Tacks (1937-1939) 73
5. The Analytical Laboratory (1938-1940) 99
6. In Times to Come (1939-1941) 127
PART III: THE INVADERS (1941-1945) 149
7. A Cold Fury (1941-1944) 151
8. The War of Inventions (1942-1944) 175
9. From “Deadline” to Hiroshima (1944-1945) 191
PART IV.: THE DOUBLE MINDS (1945-1951) 215
10. Black Magic and the Bomb (1945-1949) 217
11. The Modern Science of Mental Health (1945-1950) 241
12. The Dianetics Epidemic (1950-1951) 267
PART V: THE LAST EVOLUTION (1951-1971) 297
13. A Fundamental attack on the Problem (1951-1960) 299
14. Strangers in a Strange Land (1951-1969) 327
15. Twilight (1960-1971) 353
EPILOGUE: BEYOND THIS HORIZON 381
Acknowledgements 409
Notes 413
Bibliography 499
Index 509