Category Archives: Uncategorized

MY CPAP DONATION

Back when I taught at the College, I was covered by a Cadillac Blue Cross/Blue Shield health plan. And, one of the benefits was that when I needed a CPAP (Continuous Positive Airway Pressure) machine to treat my sleep apnea, BC/BS bought it for me. About every 5-7 years, they would contact me and say, “It’s time for a new CPAP machine” even though the CPAPs I had were working fine.

That’s how I ended up with three working CPAP breathing machines in my closet. Then, with the coronavirus pandemic raging in my county, I called Memorial Hospital (who is treating Covid-19 patients) in Niagara Falls, NY and spoke to the Head of the Respiratory Unit. “I’d like to donate three CPAP machines to you, ” I offered. “We have three patients who could use them right now,” she answered.

So I loaded the three CPAP machines into my Rogue and drove to Memorial Hospital. When I got there, I was I greeted by a nurse wearing a mask, gown, and gloves. She had a small cart. I opened the hatch of the Rogue and she took out the CPAPs and carted them away.

A local business in Western NY has a contract to convert CPAP and BiPAP machines into ventilators. Check out the link below. I glad I had some equipment that I could donate for the Greater Good!

https://www.wgrz.com/article/news/health/coronavirus/buffalo-startup-turns-cpaps-into-ventilators/71-241e03aa-ccd9-4483-9868-0efb68b015db

CATFISHING ON CATNET By Naomi Kritzer

Catfishing on CatNet by Naomi Kritzer is a Young Adult novel that features a newly conscious Artificial Intelligence. The AI (who sometimes calls itself CheshireCat) runs an online social media web site named CatNet.

The narration of Catfishing on CatNet alternates between the AI and a smart 16-year-old high school student named Stephanie who deals with a difficulty forming friendships (and getting enough credits to graduate from High School) because her stressed mother moves her from small town to small town at almost random intervals to evade Stephanie’s father who is stalking them. 

Unlike the AI in The Terminator series, Kritzer’s AI is helpful and loves cats. Up to this time, the AI has just been supportive of the groups on her web site, but when Stephanie and her mother are threatened, the AI decides to take action.

In addition to dealing with her stalker father, Steph tries to make friends in the Real World. Her friends on CatNet are dispersed throughout the country. Yet, they play important roles when Steph is confronted by danger. Kritzer also provides comedy to break up the tension. Reprogramming the robot intended to teach SEX EDUCATION in a HEALTH class cracked me up!

Catfishing on CatNet presents several important issues within an exciting story. Kritzer captures the angst of teenage life and piles on more tension with an abusive father secretly lurking. I can’t wait to read the next book in this series! GRADE: A

GODZILLA: KING OF THE MONSTERS

What’s worse than a coronavirus pandemic?

How about a a world devastated by giant, powerful monsters! My friend Glenn Morton gave me this Blu-ray edition of Godzilla: King of the Monsters after he realized he had inadvertently bought TWO copies (I’ve done that myself numerous times).

In this latest installment of Godzilla, a group of eco-terrorists seek to free the monsters (aka, Titans) to destroy our polluting and unworthy civilization. Once the monsters have done their deadly work, the eco-terrorists believe they can rebuild a clean, sustaining culture.

Meanwhile, another group called Monarch determines the Titans have been infiltrated by a creature not-of-Earth: Monster Zero. Monster Zero has three heads and flies. The other monsters like Rodan and Mothra fall under Monster Zero’s sway. Monarch is convinced on Godzilla can save us.

As you might suspect, there are plenty of battle scenes. Cities get crushed. I could have done without the lame family of dysfunction subplot. But, if you’re looking for action and excitement and thrills, Godzilla: King of the Monsters delivers. Are you a Godzilla fan? GRADE: B

OUR NEW CORONAVIRUS MASKS!

Diane’s friend Sandie (who taught with Diane for years and is a member of Diane’s Book Club) is a master at sewing who offered to make us a pair of coronavirus masks. I chose the Super Hero theme and Diane chose a Blue theme (her favorite color). Do you have a coronavirus mask?

AIRPLANE: “DON’T CALL ME SHIRLEY!” EDITION [DVD]

Humor can be the best medicine. That’s why my viewing lately has been featuring funny movies that have delighted me over the decades.  Leslie Nielsen cracks me up every time I watch this film. In fact, Airplane (1980)  was listed at #10 on the American Film Institute’s best comedies of all time. 

With cameos by Rod Steiger, Lloyd Bridges, Kareem Abdul Jabar as well as the unforgettable Barbara Billingsley (aka, June Cleaver)–whose role as as a passenger who could “speak jive” makes me laugh every time I see it–Airplane produces more hilarity than most comedies.

Are you a fan of Airplane?

FORGOTTEN BOOKS #587: THE UNORTHODOX CORPSE/DEATH ON THE DOWNBEAT/THE BLONDE (Al Wheeler Mysteries #10-12)

Way back in the early 1960s, I started reading Carter Brown’s Al Wheeler series. I enjoyed the wacky plots and Wheeler’s skirt-chasing tendencies.

Stark House is reprinting the novels in Al Wheeler series. The latest omnibus volume includes The Unorthodox Corpse, Death on the Downbeat, and The Blonde, the 10th, 11th,  and 12th Al Wheeler mysteries.  The Unorthodox Corpse was first published in Australia by Horwitz Publications of Australia in 1957 and then revised for the U.S. market and published by Signet Books in 1961. Death on the Downbeat was published by Horwitz in 1958, then revised for the U.S. as The Corpse. Signet published The Corpse in 1958.  The Blonde was published by both Horwitz and Signet in 1958. Stark House reprints the original Australian versions in this omnibus edition.

The Unorthodox Corpse was one of the first Al Wheelers I read as a teenager back in the early 1960s. Wheeler gives a speech at an exclusive finishing school with a student body of 50 gorgeous girls. After Wheeler delivers his speech, a magician, The Great Mephisto, steps up to entertain the audience. The lights go out..and when the lights come on, one of the young girls is found with a knife in her back. I liken The Unorthodox Corpse to a screw-ball comedy. Wheeler play fast and loose to nail the killer.

Death on the Downbeat opens with Wheeler on a date at a jazz club with Annabelle Jackson, the constant object of his desire. But, a member of the audience takes the stage…and catches a bullet. The date turns into a murder investigation.

The Blonde features the most convoluted of these three mysteries. Wheeler is sent to protect two women who are getting death threats. And, of course, one of them is blown up with a bomb! Wheeler deals with TV people, mobsters, and constant deception before he finally reveal the cunning plot.

If you’re looking for humor, action, and wackiness you’ll find it in abundance in this wonderful Stark House omnibus! GRADE: A

You can read my reviews of the other Al Wheeler volumes here, here, and here.

PLAGUE LAND By S. D. Sykes

Sometimes, I get in the mood for a Medieval mystery. And, of course, with the coronavirus raging, S. D. Sykes’s Plague Land checked all the boxes. This is the first book in the Somershill Manor series. Oswald de Lacy, the youngest son of Lord Somershill, is called back home from the monastery where he was placed after his father and two older brothers die of the Black Death.

The 14th Century was a grim time and Sykes shows the lack of medical knowledge and the grip of superstition on the villagers of Somershill Manor. Oswald has to deal with his conniving Mother and scheming sister. Fortunately, Oswald has his Benedictine Brother, Peter, as an older and wiser companion. Oswald has no idea how to run an estate or how to deal with disgruntled villagers. But Peter does.

In addition to the post-plague problems, the politics of rural life, a murder committed has been committed. As Lord Sumershill, Oswald feels that he must solve the crime and prevent the murderer from striking again. All in all, Plague Land is an entertaining Medieval mystery. GRADE: B+

MONTY PYTHON AND THE HOLY GRAIL

During dismal times, a funny movie can lift your spirits. One of my go-to funny movies is Monty Python and the Holy Grail. I first saw it in 1975 when it first came out. Loved it! I used my University of Wisconsin Student ID to get a reduced rate at the local movie theater. I saw Monty Python and the Holy Grail twelve times.

Then I bought the VHS version (remember them?). Later, I bought the DVD version. And finally, I bought the 40th Anniversary Blu-ray version. The constant among all these versions: silliness. I enjoy the silly jokes, the surreal storyline, and the wacky characters.

And, this Blu-ray Disc is full of funny features:

Terry Jones Introduces the Outtakes
Enlightening Commentaries by Terry Gilliam & Terry Jones, Plus General Complaints and Back-Biting by John Cleese, Eric Idle & Michael Palin
Join Michael Palin and Terry Jones in their Special Documentary: The Quest For The Holy Grail Locations
Monty Python And The Holy Grail In Lego!
Japanese Version
How To Use Your Coconuts (An Educational Film)
BBC Film Night
Terry Gilliam Introduces His Lost Animation Reel
Meanwhile, King Arthur & Sir Bedevere…
Elephant & Castle
Run Away!
The Tale of Sir Robin
The Tale of Sir Lancelot
Three Mindless Sing-Alongs
Henry 4th
Cast Directory Photo Gallery
Holy Grail Blu-ray Credits

Are you a Monty Python fan? GRADE: A