I’m sure most of you have already received your Economic Stimulus payment. We filed our income tax through Turbotax which somehow delayed our payment. But, better late than never! We plan on using this extra money for charitable purposes in these troubled times. How do you plan to use your Economic Stimulus payment?
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
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:
|Fiction As Reality||5||(124)|
|Reality As Fiction||129||(126)|
|Appendix: An Annotated List Of Mysteries And Thrillers||255||(18)|
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-
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:
- Mother Goose’s Errant Sons 9
- 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
- Introduction to Appendix: A Little Smoke and a Mirror or Three 175
- Smoke and Mirrors: Four Scenes from the Postutopian Future 181
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
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
|1||–The Looking Glass*||Jimmy Loves Mary-Anne Written-By – E. Lurie*||3:24|
|2||–Grin||White Lies Written-By – N. Lofgren*||3:27|
|3||–Chase (5)||Get It On Written-By – B. Chase*, T. Richards*||2:59|
|4||–Pacific Gas & Electric||Are You Ready? Written-By – C. Allen*, J. Hill*||5:46|
|5||–Sweathog||Hallelujah Written-By – G. Zekley*, M. Bottler*, R. Twain*||2:58|
|6||–Mashmakhan||As The Years Go By Written-By – P. Senecal*||3:45|
|7||–Chi Coltrane||Thunder And Lightning Written-By – C. Coltrane*||3:01|
|8||–The Spiral Starecase*||More Today Than Yesterday Written-By – P. Upton*||2:54|
|9||–Sly & The Family Stone||Hot Fun In The Summertime Written-By – S. Stewart*||3:03|
|10||–Redbone||Maggie Written-By – L. Vegas*||5:07|
|11||–Argent||Hold Your Head Up Written-By – C. White*, R. Argent*||6:16|
|12||–The Spiral Starecase*||No One For Me To Turn To Written-By – P. Upton*||2:31|
|13||–Keith Barbour||Echo Park Written-By – B. Clifford*||3:43|
|14||–Christie||Yellow River Written-By – J. Christie*||2:45|
|15||–Redbone||The Witch Queen Of New Orleans Written-By – L. Vegas*, P. Vegas*||2:55|
|16||–The Isley Brothers||That Lady Written-By – The Isleys*||5:02|
Tracklist: Volume 2
|1||–The Addrisi Brothers*||We’ve Got To Get It On Again Written-By – D. Addrisi*, D. Addrisi*||2:45|
|2||–The Arbors||The Letter Written-By – W.C. Thompson*||3:30|
|3||–Cymarron||Rings Written-By – A. Harvey*, E. Reeves*||2:31|
|4||–The Looking Glass*||Brandy (You’re A Fine Girl) Written-By – E. Lurie*||2:55|
|5||–Chicory*||Son Of My Father Written-By – G. Moroder*, M. Holm*, P. Bellotte*||3:11|
|6||–Clint Holmes||Playground In My Mind Written-By – L. Pockriss*, P. Vance*||2:54|
|7||–Johnny Nash||Stir It Up Written-By – B. Marley*||3:02|
|8||–Redbone||Come And Get Your Love Written-By – L. Vegas*||4:58|
|9||–Albert Hammond||It Never Rains In Southern California Written-By – A. Hammond*, M. Hazlewood*||3:50|
|10||–Dave Loggins||Please Come To Boston Written-By – D. Loggins*||4:08|
|11||–Johnny Nash||I Can See Clearly Now Written-By – J. Nash*||2:43|
|12||–Michael Murphey*||Wildfire Written-By – L. Cansler*, M. Murphey*||4:48|
|13||–Albert Hammond||I’m A Train Written-By – A. Hammond*, M. Hazlewood*||3:21|
|14||–Burton Cummings||Stand Tall Written-By – B. Cummings*||3:43|
|15||–Walter Egan||Magnet And Steel Written-By – W. Egan*||3:24|
|16||–Paul Davis (3)||I Go Crazy Written-By – P. Davis*||3:54|
Tracklist: Volume 3
|2||–The Buckinghams||Hey Baby (They’re Playing Our Song)||2:48|
|3||–The Cyrkle||Please Don’t Ever Leave Me||1:57|
|4||–Scott McKenzie||San Francisco||2:59|
|5||–The Pozo-Seco Singers||I Can Make It With You||2:17|
|6||–Don & The Goodtimes||I Could Be So Good To You||3:18|
|7||–Chad & Jeremy||I Don’t Wanna Lose You Baby||3:07|
|8||–The Tremeloes||Even The Bad Times Are Good||2:37|
|9||–Lulu||To Sir With Love||2:44|
|11||–The Cyrkle||I Wish You Could Be Here||2:49|
|12||–Scott McKenzie||Like An Old Time Movie||3:16|
|13||–The Third Rail||Run Run Run||1:57|
|14||–The Avante-Garde*||Naturally Stoned||2:12|
|15||–The Clefs Of Lavender Hill*||Stop!-Get A Ticket||2:22|
|16||–Sagittarius (2)||My World Fell Down||2:55|
Tracklist: Volume 4
|1||–The Buckinghams||Kind Of A Drag||2:07|
|2||–The Rip Chords||Three Window Coupe||1:57|
|3||–Chad & Jeremy||Distant Shores||2:44|
|4||–Jan & Dean||Yellow Balloon||2:35|
|5||–The Cryan Shames*||Sugar And Spice||2:29|
|6||–The Tremeloes||Silence Is Golden||3:08|
|7||–Lulu||Best Of Both Worlds||3:02|
|8||–The Buckinghams||Lawdy Miss Clawdy||2:06|
|9||–Chad & Jeremy||Teenage Failure||3:27|
|10||–The Cryan Shames*||I Wanna Meet You||2:06|
|11||–The Arbors||A Symphony For Susan||2:35|
|12||–Georgie Fame||The Ballad Of Bonnie And Clyde||3:10|
|13||–The Union Gap*||Woman Woman||3:33|
|15||–Chad* & Jill*||The Cruel War||3:09|
|16||–Tim Rose||Hey Joe (You Shot Your Woman Down)||4:52|
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
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)