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THE HUNT FOR RED OCTOBER [DVD]

In 1984, I read a book that surprisingly made it to the top of the Best Sellers List: Tom Clancy’s The Hunt for Red October. Clancy would go on from that shockingly successful novel to dominate the Military Tech genre at the end of the Cold War.

The Hunt for Red October is the story of a captain of a Russian submarine who wants to defect with his crew and the advanced technology on the nuclear sub. Jack Ryan, a military analyst (who would go on to star in many more Clancy novels and their movie versions), believes the captain’s story, but elements of the Government think the captain wants to launch a nuclear attack on the U.S. instead. Jack Ryan is given three days to confirm or deny the captain’s true intentions.

The 1990 movie version of The Hunt for Red October stars Sean Connery as the Russian captain and Alec Baldwin as Jack Ryan. Both actors are brilliant in their roles. However, Alec Baldwin blew his chance at starring as Jack Ryan in future movies when he described his boss, Disney studio Chairman Jeffrey Katzenberg, as “the eighth dwarf — Greedy.”

Are you a fan of the Jack Ryan movies? Do you like Tom Clancy’s novels? GRADE: A

SCANDINAVIAN NOIR: In Pursuit of a Mystery By Wendy Lesser

 If you’re a fan of Lisbeth Salander (aka, The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo) and Henning Mankell’s earnest Kurt Wallander you’ll find Scandinavian Noir an informative exploration of mysteries from Norway, Sweden, and Denmark.

Wendy Lesser takes the reader on a tour of Jo Nesbo’s Harry Hole novels and Stieg Larsson’s noirish mysteries as well as the Martin Beck series of police procedurals by Maj Sjöwall and Per Wahlöö. If you’re interested in this genre, you’ll find much to learn and enjoy in Scandinavian Noir. GRADE: B+

TABLE OF CONTENTS:

Caveat Lector3(2)
Fiction As Reality5(124)
Reality As Fiction129(126)
Appendix: An Annotated List Of Mysteries And Thrillers255(18)
Acknowledgments273

MISSION IMPOSSIBLE: COMPLETE FIRST SEASON [4-DVD Box Set]

Back in September 1966, I was wowed by a new program called Mission Impossible on CBS. Back in those days, a TV season included way more episodes (25 or more!) than today’s truncated TV seasons. This DVD box set holds all 28 episodes from the first season of Mission Impossible. I loved the planning and execution of what was essentially a caper each week. This group, with each member possessing a special skill, meticulously planned a complicated mission to accomplish a goal.

I thought casting Greg Morris as the group’s “tech specialist” was cutting edge for the Sixties. Loved Martin Landau’s brilliant disguises. And, of course, like most 17-year-olds of that time, I had a crush on Barbara Bain.

Mission Impossible lasted for seven seasons and I remember enjoying every one. Sure, the formula got a little stale in the last season, but I enjoyed the format and the cast right up until the end of the series. Were you a fan of the Mission Impossible TV series? Did you have a favorite character? GRADE: A-

THE POSTUTOPIAN ADVENTURES OF DARGER AND SURPLUS By Michael Swanwick

Michael Swanwick has won Hugo Awards and Nebula Awards and is considered one of the best Science Fiction writers. I’ve been a fan of Swanwick’s Darger and Surplus short stories and now Subterranean Press has collected them and published this wonderful collection.

Aubrey Darger is a con artist who can blend into any group. His partner, Sir Blackthorpe Ravenscairn de Plus Preieux (aka, Surplus), is a genetically modified dog with a keen intelligence–and talks. This unlikely duo might remind you of Fafhrd and the Grey Mouser (without the swords) given their tendencies toward larceny and adventures. The setting is the Future where the survivors of a brutal war between Artificial Intelligences and humanity live in a steampunk world where technology is feared (with good reason).

In these stories, Darger and Surplus scheme their way into Buckingham Palace and create havoc, fall in love (with disastrous consequences), and are captured by a living hotel. If you’re in the mood of something completely different, THE POSTUTOPIAN ADVENTURES OF DARGER AND SURPLUS delivers escapist fun. GRADE: A

TABLE OF CONTENTS:

Introduction:

  • Mother Goose’s Errant Sons 9

Stories:

  • The Dog Said Bow-Wow 15
  • The Little Cat Laughed to See Such Sport 39
  • Girls and Boys, Come Out to Play 63
  • Tawny Petticoats 99
  • There Was An Old Woman 139
  • Appendix:
  • Introduction to Appendix: A Little Smoke and a Mirror or Three 175
  • Smoke and Mirrors: Four Scenes from the Postutopian Future 181

FRIDAY’S FORGOTTEN BOOKS #595: ROD SERLING’S NIGHT GALLERY READER Edited by Carol Serling, Charles G. Waugh & Martin H. Greenberg

I loved watching The Twilight Zone as a kid. But I really enjoyed Rod Serling’s Night Gallery, too. I recognized some of the episodes right away because I had read the stories by H. P. Lovecraft, C. M. Kornbluth, and Fritz Leiber that the episodes were based on. Take a look at the Table of Contents and you’ll see some familiar authors and stories.

The Introduction by Carol Serling extolls her husband’s love of horror and the supernatural. And, Carol Serling discusses the projects cut short by Rod Serling’s untimely death at the age of 50 after heart surgery in 1975.

How many of these stories do you recognize. Were you a fan of Night Gallery? GRADE: A

TABLE OF CONTENTS:

  • x – Introduction – Carol Serling
  • 1 – The Escape Route – Rod Serling – na The Season to be Wary, Little Brown: Boston, 1967
  • 71 – The Dead Man – Fritz Leiber – nv Weird Tales Nov ’50
  • 104 – The Little Black Bag – C. M. Kornbluth – nv Astounding Jul ’50
  • 138 – The House – André Maurois – vi Harper’s Jun ’31
  • 141 – The Boy Who Predicted Earthquakes – Margaret St. Clair – ss Maclean’s, 1950
  • 152 – The Academy – David Ely – ss Playboy Jun ’65
  • 163 – The Devil Is Not Mocked – Manly Wade Wellman – ss Unknown Jun ’43
  • 171 – Brenda – Margaret St. Clair – ss Weird Tales Mar ’54
  • 184 – Big Surprise [“What Was in the Box”] – Richard Matheson – ss EQMM Apr ’59
  • 191 – House—with Ghost – August Derleth – ss Lonesome Places, Arkham: Sauk City, WI, 1962
  • 199 – The Dark Boy – August Derleth – ss F&SF Feb ’57
  • 215 – Pickman’s Model – H. P. Lovecraft – ss Weird Tales Oct ’27
  • 230 – Cool Air – H. P. Lovecraft – ss Tales of Magic and Mystery Mar ’28; Weird Tales Sep ’39
  • 240 – Sorworth Place [“Old Place of Sorworth”; Ralph Bain] – Russell Kirk – nv London Mystery #14 ’52
  • 261 –The Return of the Sorcerer – Clark Ashton Smith – ss Strange Tales of Mystery and Terror in September 1931
  • 279 – The Girl with the Hungry Eyes – Fritz Leiber – ss The Girl With the Hungry Eyes, ed. Donald A. Wollheim, Avon, 1949
  • 297 – The Horsehair Trunk – Davis Grubb – ss Colliers May 25 ’46; ; as “The Secret Darkness”, EQMM Oct ’56
  • 308 – The Ring with the Velvet Ropes – Edward D. Hoch – ss With Malice Toward All, ed. Robert L. Fish, Putnam, 1968

FORGOTTEN MUSIC #99: ROCK ARTIFACTS, VOLUMES 1, 2, 3, & 4

This is the strangest set of music compilation CDs I own. If you look at the various Track Lists, you’ll see what I mean. The songs are from various eras of Rock-and-Roll, various styles, some obscure groups, odd choices, and strange combinations of songs/artists. The accompanying documentation goes into some detail about how these songs came about: songwriters, producers, etc.

The “concept” behind this series was to take songs from the Columbia Records and Epic Records vaults and remix and remaster the sound. Several of these songs appear in true stereo for the first time on these discs. The choices seem bizarre to me, but there are some gems here. And, the sound is fabulous! These buffed up songs are all spiffed up for new audiences.

Do you recognize these songs? Any favorites here? GRADE: B+

Tracklist: Volume 1

1The Looking Glass*Jimmy Loves Mary-Anne Written-By – E. Lurie*3:24
2GrinWhite Lies Written-By – N. Lofgren*3:27
3Chase (5)Get It On Written-By – B. Chase*, T. Richards*2:59
4Pacific Gas & ElectricAre You Ready? Written-By – C. Allen*, J. Hill*5:46
5SweathogHallelujah Written-By – G. Zekley*, M. Bottler*, R. Twain*2:58
6MashmakhanAs The Years Go By Written-By – P. Senecal*3:45
7Chi ColtraneThunder And Lightning Written-By – C. Coltrane*3:01
8The Spiral Starecase*More Today Than Yesterday Written-By – P. Upton*2:54
9Sly & The Family StoneHot Fun In The Summertime Written-By – S. Stewart*3:03
10RedboneMaggie Written-By – L. Vegas*5:07
11ArgentHold Your Head Up Written-By – C. White*, R. Argent*6:16
12The Spiral Starecase*No One For Me To Turn To Written-By – P. Upton*2:31
13Keith BarbourEcho Park Written-By – B. Clifford*3:43
14ChristieYellow River Written-By – J. Christie*2:45
15RedboneThe Witch Queen Of New Orleans Written-By – L. Vegas*, P. Vegas*2:55
16The Isley BrothersThat Lady Written-By – The Isleys*5:02

Tracklist: Volume 2

1The Addrisi Brothers*We’ve Got To Get It On Again Written-By – D. Addrisi*, D. Addrisi*2:45
2The ArborsThe Letter Written-By – W.C. Thompson*3:30
3CymarronRings Written-By – A. Harvey*, E. Reeves*2:31
4The Looking Glass*Brandy (You’re A Fine Girl) Written-By – E. Lurie*2:55
5Chicory*Son Of My Father Written-By – G. Moroder*, M. Holm*, P. Bellotte*3:11
6Clint HolmesPlayground In My Mind Written-By – L. Pockriss*, P. Vance*2:54
7Johnny NashStir It Up Written-By – B. Marley*3:02
8RedboneCome And Get Your Love Written-By – L. Vegas*4:58
9Albert HammondIt Never Rains In Southern California Written-By – A. Hammond*, M. Hazlewood*3:50
10Dave LogginsPlease Come To Boston Written-By – D. Loggins*4:08
11Johnny NashI Can See Clearly Now Written-By – J. Nash*2:43
12Michael Murphey*Wildfire Written-By – L. Cansler*, M. Murphey*4:48
13Albert HammondI’m A Train Written-By – A. Hammond*, M. Hazlewood*3:21
14Burton CummingsStand Tall Written-By – B. Cummings*3:43
15Walter EganMagnet And Steel Written-By – W. Egan*3:24
16Paul Davis (3)I Go Crazy Written-By – P. Davis*3:54

Tracklist: Volume 3

1Derek (3)Cinnamon2:43
2The BuckinghamsHey Baby (They’re Playing Our Song)2:48
3The CyrklePlease Don’t Ever Leave Me1:57
4Scott McKenzieSan Francisco2:59
5The Pozo-Seco SingersI Can Make It With You2:17
6Don & The GoodtimesI Could Be So Good To You3:18
7Chad & JeremyI Don’t Wanna Lose You Baby3:07
8The TremeloesEven The Bad Times Are Good2:37
9LuluTo Sir With Love2:44
10The BuckinghamsSusan2:56
11The CyrkleI Wish You Could Be Here2:49
12Scott McKenzieLike An Old Time Movie3:16
13The Third RailRun Run Run1:57
14The Avante-Garde*Naturally Stoned2:12
15The Clefs Of Lavender Hill*Stop!-Get A Ticket2:22
16Sagittarius (2)My World Fell Down2:55

Tracklist: Volume 4

1The BuckinghamsKind Of A Drag2:07
2The Rip ChordsThree Window Coupe1:57
3Chad & JeremyDistant Shores2:44
4Jan & DeanYellow Balloon2:35
5The Cryan Shames*Sugar And Spice2:29
6The TremeloesSilence Is Golden3:08
7LuluBest Of Both Worlds3:02
8The BuckinghamsLawdy Miss Clawdy2:06
9Chad & JeremyTeenage Failure3:27
10The Cryan Shames*I Wanna Meet You2:06
11The ArborsA Symphony For Susan2:35
12Georgie FameThe Ballad Of Bonnie And Clyde3:10
13The Union Gap*Woman Woman3:33
14LuluMorning Dew2:48
15Chad* & Jill*The Cruel War3:09
16Tim RoseHey Joe (You Shot Your Woman Down)4:52

WHAT WE DO IN THE SHADOWS, Season Two [FX]

Season Two of What We Do in the Shadows delivers more dark humor than the First Season. The premise is that a group of vampires resides in a house in Staten Island, New York. This American mockumentary comedy horror television series was created by Jemaine Clemen and features Nandor (a warrior vampire hundreds of years old), Laszlo, and Nadja (a romantically linked vampire couple); Colin Robinson, an energy vampire (who drains people of their energy instead of their blood); and Guillermo, Nandor’s familiar, who is secretly a Vampire Killer. 

The fun of this series revolves around the vampires trying to adjust to contemporary society and technology. Guillermo (Harvey Guillén), assists the group in hopes Nandor (Kayvan Novak) will turn him into a vampire. Laszlo (Matt Berry) and Nadja (Natasia Charlotte Demetriou) provide romantic interests, but they also have roguish natures that take them into unusual situations. Colin Robinson (Mark Proksch), the world’s most boring vampire, cunningly drains energy in many comic settings. I particularly enjoyed the episode where Colin tracks down an Internet troll.

Clearly, dark humor may not be the genre people want to indulge in during the Age of the Coronavirus. But, for something completely different and funny (at least to me), I recommend this quirky series. GRADE: A

THE ROAD WARRIOR/MAD MAX BEYOND THUNDERDOME [DVD]

In these dystopian times, it’s always comforting to think “It could always be worse.” Worse, in this case, are two Mad Max movies: The Road Warrior and Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome. Civilization has collapsed and anarchy rules.

In The Road Warrior Mad Max, played my Mel Gibson, reluctantly helps an lonely colony surrounded by a savage biker gang. In Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome we’re treated to Tina Turner running a gladiatorial arena complete with chainsaws! Yes, the coronavirus pandemic is bad, but these Futures are much, much worse!

Are we facing the End Times as some of our religious friends warn us? Are things going to get better…or worse? Should we all start practicing our chainsaw skills? GRADE: B+ (for both movies)