Category Archives: Uncategorized


As we hunker down to wait out the coronavirus outbreak, Diane and I are battling the urge to eat, eat, eat. Fortunately, Mark Bittman (author of HOW TO COOK EVERYTHING and Dr. Katz (founder of the True Health Initiative) supply some correctives with their new book, How to Eat. Bittman and Katz review the pluses and minuses of current diets: Mediterranean, Veganism, Paleo, DASH, Keto, and others. Then, based on the latest research, Bittman and Katz recommend a sensible approach to eating in healthy ways. I especially liked the sections on inflammation, antioxidants, fake meat, and vitamins/supplements. If you’re trying to cope with eating in the Time of Coronavirus, How to Eat provides a lot of answers. What are your favorite foods? I’m dealing with my chocolate ice cream addiction. GRADE: A
Introduction: Science, sense, and Mashed Banana vii
QUESTIONING THE QUESTIONS (Why do we even need to ask how to eat?) 1
How Did We Get Here? 3
ANSWERING THE QUESTIONS (All about eating and health–a multi-course Q&A) 9
What is the Best Diet? 11
On Weight Loss 20
Specific Diets: 35
The Mediterranean Diet 35
Veganism and Part-Time Veganism 40
Intermittent Fasting 48
Paleo Diets 52
The DASH Diet 58
Anti-inflammatory Diets 61
The Low-FODMAP Diet 63
The Keto Diet 66
The Whole30 70
Diet Patterns and Lifestyle 71
When Should I Eat? 71
On Variety 74
Snacking 77
Eating Local 79
Foods and Ingredients: 82
Fruits and Vegetables 85
Whole Grains 90
Beans 96
Dairy 101
Meat 111
Fake Meat 119
Fish 120
Cooking Oils 123
Superfoods 138
Drinks 140
Nutrition 101: Macronutrients, Micronutrients, and Body Responses: 150
Protein 151
Carbohydrates 155
Fat 160
Cholesterol 164
Inflammation 168
Sugar 171
Salt 179
Antioxidants 182
Vitamins and Supplements 184
The Microbiome 189
QUESTIONING THE ANSWERS (On science and sense, or, how we know what we know) 195
On Research 197
The Forest versus the Trees 201
Research Methods: On Site Does Not Fit All 208
Conclusion 221
Select Source Material 223
Index 231


Today, Diane and I planned to drive into Buffalo to watch the performance of Hello Dolly! at the Shea’s Performing Arts Center. But Governor Andrew Cuomo of New York State has banned all events with 500 people which effectively cancelled Hello Dolly! because of the coronavirus. Both of us have seen the movie version of Hello Dolly. But, this musical version had been garnering good reviews so we’re missing a good performance by Broadway veteran Carolee Carmello. Many of our friends have retreated into “self-quarantine” mode until the coronavirus outbreak gets resolved. How are you dealing with the coronavirus? What do you think of Hello Dolly!?


The Editors of Rotten Tomatoes, the movie review web site, published this compendium of reviews of “Rotten Movies” (movies with a 59% or less rating) to spark further analysis and debate. I haven’t seen all these movies (my best guess is I’ve see maybe 25%) but some of the ratings (in percentages) of the movies I have seen seem a bit low. For example, I liked Buffy the Vampire Slayer better than the critics. The same with Die Hard: With a Vengeance. These were not great movies, but I found them fun and entertaining. How many of these “Rotten Movies” have you seen? Do you think any of them should be rated higher? Rotten Movies We All Love is a browser’s delight! GRADE: A
Forward by Paul Feig — x
INTRODUCTION by Joel Meares, Editor-In-Chief, ROTTEN TOMATOES — xiii
People’s choice : box office slayers and household names — 1
Every Which Way But Loose (1978) 37% — 2
Problem Child (1990) 0% — 4
Book Club (2018) 54% — 5
Cocktail (1988) 5% — 6
Hocus Pocus (1993) 33% — 8
The Holiday (2006) 48% — 10
Bad Boys (1995) 42% — 12
Stepmom (1998) 45% — 13
Space Jam (1996) 43% –14
I, Robot (2004) 56% — 16
Hello, Dolly! (1969) 43% — 18
CRITIC ESSAY by Monica Castillo: Maleficent 92014) 54% — 21
The First Wives Club (1996) 49% — 24
The ‘Burbs (1989) 53% — 26
Teen Wolf (1985) 44% — 28
Twins (1988) 44% — 29
Young Guns (1988) 41% — 30
San Andreas (2015) 51% — 32
CRITIC ESSAY by Kristen Lopez: The Greatest Showman (2017) 55% — 35
So bad they’re good : incomparably weird sci-fi and fantasy — 39
Cherry 2000 (1987) 40% — 40
I Come in Peace (Dark Angel) (1990) 31% — 42
Zardoz (1974) 50% — 44
The Lord of the Rings (1978) 50% — 46
Robot Monster 36% — 47
Masters of the Universe (1987) 17% — 50
CRITIC ESSAY by Leonard Martin: Bela Lugosi Meets a Brooklyn Gorilla (1952) 29% — 53
INFORGRAPHIC: 1994: The Rottenest Year Ever — 56
Not their best work (or so they said) : rare rottens from big-name fresh directors — 59
The Wiz (1978) 44% — 60
A Chorus Line 40% — 62
Hook (1991) 26% — 64
CRITIC ESSAY by Jessica Kiang: The Portrait of a Lady (1996) 45% — 67
The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou) (2004) 56% — 70
Willow (1988) 50% — 72
Marie Antoinette (2006) 56% — 74
Legend (1985) 36% — 75
CRITIC ESSAY by K. Austin Collins: Miami Vice (2006) 46% — 77
Cult leaders : hard to love for many, loved very hard by some — 81
Wet Hot American Summer (2001) 36% — 82
But I’m a Cheerleader (1999) 39% — 84
CRITIC ESSAY by Nathan Rabin: MacGruber (2010) 48% — 87
Valley of the Dolls (1967) 33% — 90
Death Becomes Her (1992) 52% — 92
Xanadu (1980) 24% — 93
CRITIC ESSAY by Eric Kohn: Gummo (1997) 35% — 95
The Last Dragon (1985) 59% — 98
Empire Records (1995) 29% –99
Burlesque (2010) 36% — 100
CRITIC ESSAY by Terri White: The Craft (1996) 57% — 103
Mars Attacks! (1996) 53% — 106
The Cell (2000) 45% — 108
Mommie Dearest (3981) 50% — 110
Ahead of their time : oh, now we get it — 115
The Strangers (2008) 48% — 116
The Trip (1967) 36% — 118
CRITIC ESSAY by Bilge Eribi: Event Horizon (2007) 53% — 121
Jennifer’s Body (2009) 44% — 124
The Frisco Kid (1979) 50% — 125
The Cable Guy (1996) 53% — 126
Ishtar (1987) 38% –128
CRITIC ESSAY by David Stratton: Across the Universe (2007) 53% — 131
The Watcher in the Woods (1980) 48% — 134
In the Cut (2003) 33% — 136
Buffy the Vampire Slayer (1992) 35% — 137
Harlem Nights (1989) 21% –138
CRITIC ESSAY by David Fear: The Way of the Gun (2000) 45% — 141
Practical Magic (1998) 21% — 144
American Dreams (2006) 38% — 145
Blade (1998) 54% — 146
Sequels worth a second look : follow-ups that recaptured the magic–or made strange magic of their own — 149
Home Alone 2: Lost in New York (1992) 32% — 150
Teenage Mutant Nina Turtles II: The Secret of the Ooze (1991) 35% — 152
CRITIC ESSAY by Amy Nicholson: Rocky IV (1985) 40% — 155
Dracula’s Daughter (1936) 55% — 158
Die Hard: With a Vengeance (1995) 52% — 159
Grease 2 (1982) 38% — 160
Scream 3 (2000) 39% — 161
Return to Oz (1985) 52% — 162
CRITIC ESSAY by Candice Frederick: Friday the 13th Part 2 (1981) 29% — 165
The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift (2006) 38% — 168
Beneath the Planet of the Apes (1970) 38% — 170
Jurassic Park III (2001) 49% — 172
Basic instincts : just because they make us laugh, scream, and pump our fists — 177
Robin Hood: Men in Tights (1993) 40% — 178
Faster (2010) 42% — 180
Bloodsport (1988) 39% — 181
CRITIC ESSAY by Joshua Rothkopf: Step Brothers (2008) 55% — 183
See No Evil, Hear No Evil (1989) 28% — 186
Hot Rod (2007) 39% –187
King Arthur: Legend of the Sword (2017) 31% — 188
Two Thousand Maniacs! (1964) 43% — 189
Orca–The Killer Whale (1977) 7% — 190
Tango & Cash (1989) 31% — 191
CRITIC ESSAY by April Wolfe: Dr. Giggles (1992) 17% — 193
The Amityville Horror (1979) 29% — 196
Police Academy (1984) 54% — 198
Three Amigos! (1986) 46% — 199
Reign of Fire (2002) 42% — 200
Clash of the Titans (2010) 27% — 201
CRITIC ESSAY by Jen Yamato: Road House (1989) 38% — 203
I Know What You Did Last Summer (1997) 42% — 206
Zombi 2 (1980) 42% — 206
Ace Ventura: Pet Detective (1994) 42% — 209
Over the Top (1987) 27% — 210
Billy Madison (1995) 40% — 212
Clifford (1994) 10% — 213
INDEX — 216


PS Publishing has collected four of Matthew Hughes’s short novels into a nice paperback edition called Forays of a Fat Man. The fat man in question is Luff Imbry, a master thief, forger, and confidence man who resides in a faux-Dying Earth future similar to Jack Vance’s Old Earth. Each of the adventures in this book take Luff Imbry to exotic locales and sinister dangers. I own the original editions of these stories, but they are now out-of-print and very expensive. This paperback edition deserves to be enjoyed by fans of Hughes and Vance. Quartet and Triptych involves a living maze with deadly protectors. The Yellow Cabochan presents Luff Imbry with an opportunity to secure a fortune (you can read my review here.) ┬áCheck out my reviews of Of Whimsies and Noubles here, and Epiphanies here. Entertaining and fun! GRADE: B+ (for all four stories)
Introduction — vii
Quartet and Triptych — 3
The Yellow Cabochan — 79
Of Whimsies and Noubles — 151
Epiphanies — 221

THE DRIFTER By Nicholas Petrie

I was standing in line at the Circulation Desk to check out some books at the Library. The woman ahead of me had an armful of Robert Parker’s Spenser novels. “I’m rereading the Spensers in order,” she confided to me. We chatted and I mentioned I’d just finished reading a Jack Reacher novel. She said, “Have you read the Peter Ash series? They’re better than Jack Reacher!” So, of course, I tracked down a copy of the first book in the Peter Ash series, The Drifter and read it in a day. Yes, there are some similarities between Peter Ash and Jack Reacher. Both have military backgrounds. Reacher was a military cop, Ash was a Marine with deployments in Afghanistan and Iraq.

The differences between Ash and Reacher are more mental than physical. Ash has Post-Tramatic-Stress-Disorder (PTSD) which causes him to react whenever he’s inside a building or any enclosure. So Ash sleeps outside (mostly in his truck) and works outside as a handy-man. When Ash’s best friend commits suicide in Milwaukee, Ash travels to the city to try to help his friend’s wife and kids. Things go to a different level when Ash finds a suitcase with $400,000 in it while he’s fixing his dead friend’s wife’s porch. The suitcase also has some plastic explosives in it, too.

Like a Jack Reacher novel, once things get rolling it’s action, violence, and mayhem that keep the pages turning. I need to read the other Peter Ash novels before I can weigh in on whether Ash is better than Reacher. But the competition–so far–is a close one! GRADE: B+
The Drifter (2016)
Burning Bright (2017)
Light It Up (2018)
Tear It Down (2019)
The Wild One (2020)

THE TRUANTS By Kate Weinberg

Kate Weinberg’s first novel, The Truants, is being marketed as a mystery. It contains many of those mystery aspects: a suspicious death, some secrets from the Past that disrupt the Present, and a whole lot of lying. The narrator of The Truants is 19-year-old Jessica Walker. Jess, as she prefers to be called, attends East Anglia College solely to be in a class taught by charismatic Professor Lorna Clay. Dr. Clay’s course on Agatha Christie both binds the two major characters together, but also plants the seeds of the book’s puzzles. Jess is dating Nick, another student, when she finds herself strongly attracted to the boyfriend of her roommate, Georgie. Dr. Clay advises Jess to “think about triangles.” Could this be an allusion to The ABC Murders or something else? Instead of triangles, Jess thinks about sex.

It takes until page 130 for a death to show up, but then more deaths–Past and Present–complicate the plot until the oblique conclusion. Many of Agatha Christie’s mysteries were full of repellent characters, but there was always Miss Marple and Poirot to deliver Morality and Justice. The conclusion of The Truants just left me flat. GRADE: C


The only commonality between Robert Parker’s Spenser and Mark Wahlberg’s Spenser is the name. Forget Parker’s private eye, forget Spenser’s best friend Hawk, and forget Spenser’s psychiatrist girl friend Susan. Mark Wahlberg plays a former cop who is sent to prison for beating up his boss. Wahlberg serves his five-year sentence and the Netflix movie opens with Wahlberg being released. His ditzy girl friend, Cissy, shows up at the prison to greet him, but Wahlberg avoids her. Cissy is a dog boarder played by Iliza Shlesinger. Later in this movie, Cissy enters a Men’s Room and “seduces” Wahlberg. It’s an awkward scene in this current sexual behavior era.

My favorite character in Spenser Confidential is Black Panther actor Winston Duke who plays Hawk as an aspiring Mixed Marshal Arts fighter. After overcoming some initial hostility, Wahlberg and Duke start to work together to solve the murder of Wahlberg’s former boss and a cop who seems to have been framed for the murder. The script, by L.A. Confidential writers Sean O’Keefe and Brian Helgeland, veers towards vigilante justice in The A-Team fashion. Director Peter Berg (Lone Survivor, Deepwater Horizon, and Patriot’s Day) keeps things moving even if the plot is a bit loopy. Will there be more Spenser Confidential episodes? In the Age of the Coronavirus and people hunkering down, I think it’s a good bet that we’ll be seeing Mark Wahlberg’s Spenser again. Were you a fan of Spenser: For Hire? GRADE: C


Dr. Martha Claire Morris shares 25 years of research into the connection between diet and Alzheimer’s. The research found that study participants had a lower risk of Alzheimer’s disease and a slower rate of cognitive decline with:
1. an intake of vitamin E in their diet
2. intakes of vitamin B12, folate, and niacin
3. intakes of lutein, beta-carotene, and bio-flavonoids
4. consumption of seafood and omega-3 fatty acids
5. daily consumption of vegetables–in particular, leafy green vegetables
6. dietary fat comsposition that is low in saturated and trans-fats and high in vegetable fats
(p. 8)

As you might guess, possessed foods and fast foods accelerated cognitive decline. Morris also recommends berries (especially blueberries) because they are packed with antioxidants and phytrochemicals. And they taste good! In addition to all the research findings, Morris and her daughter, a nutritionist, include 80 brain-friendly recipes. I tried the Blueberry-Apple Pancakes (p. 143) and found them to be delicious!

If you want to stave off Alzheimer’s and dementia, Diet for the Mind is a good place to start. Are you worried about getting Alzheimer’s? GRADE: A
Introduction: Where the Heart and Mind Meet ix
Part I Mind-Healthy Science
Chapter 1 Cognitive Decline and Dementia 3
Chapter 2 Essential Nutrients for the Brain 33
Chapter 3 Foods for Everyday Eating 53
Chapter 4 Foods to Eat Every Week 69
Chapter 5 Brainless Foods That Harm the Mind 87
Chapter 6 Comparing the Mediterranean, DASH, and MIND Diets 103
Part II Mind-Healthy Lifestyle and Recipes
Chapter 7 Create Your Healthiest Life 119
Chapter 8 Breakfast 139
Chapter 9 Whole Grains 151
Chapter 10 Leafy Greens 167
Chapter 11 Other Vegetables 181
Chapter 12 Beans and Legumes 195
Chapter 13 Seafood and Poultry 211
Chapter 14 Entertaining 225
Chapter 15 Snacks and Desserts 239
Acknowledgments 251
Notes 255
Index 261

EMMA (1996) [DVD]

This is the last Emma version I’ll be reviewing for a long, long time. Kate Beckinsale plays a childish Emma in this Andrew Davies costume drama. Mark Strong (who usually plays Bad Guys) manages to animate the character of George Knightly. Olivia Williams captures the reticence of Jane Fairfax perfectly (and she sings very well, too!). While the four-hour Emma starring Romola Garai and Jonny Lee Miller is the Gold Standard for me (you can read my review here), this adaptation presents Jane Austen’s Emma in an entertaining compact version. Kate Beckinsale portrays a rich socialite and beautiful young woman who tries her hand at matchmaking. Of course, Emma’s efforts produce unforeseen consequences. Kate Beckinsale moved on to more exciting roles as a vampire in the Underworld series. Are you a fan of Kate Beckinsale…or Mark Strong? GRADE: B+

EMMA (2020)

My Emma binging continues with this new movie version directed by Autumn de Wilde. Yes, the screen radiates color and spectacle, ritzy Regency-era outfits and bonnets abound. England of 1815 never looked so good as de Wilde’s cameras capture the glamorized mansions with their luxurious furniture, paintings, and sculptures. Anya Taylor-Joy may be the most beautiful of all the Emmas in these film presentations of Jane Austen’s novel. Taylor-Joy plays Emma as petulant and occasionally arrogant–which makes her fall at the end of the movie much steeper than in most of the Emma films I’ve seen. The script is by Eleanor Catton who slowly builds the action throughout the movie. I’m a big Bill Nighy fan, but he is mostly wasted as the hypochondriac Mr. Woodhouse. Johnny Flynn plays Knightley without Jonny Lee Miller’s apparent aloofness. De Wilde makes it clear that her Knightley is hot for Emma early in the film. Mia Goth captures the fragility of Harriet Smith convincingly. Miranda Hart manages the difficult role of Miss Bates by making her character both a chatter-box and a woman with heart-rending vulnerabilities. Although she wasn’t given much to do, Amber Anderson as Jane Fairfax steals every scene she’s in.

Diane and I saw Emma at our local AMC theater with six other people in the audience. If this becomes typical of movie audiences in the time of the coronavirus, then a lot of movies are going to fail at the Box Office. GRADE: B