I enjoy the series of Sherlock Holmes pastiches that TITAN BOOKS publishes. Here are two books that feature a mash-up of Holmes and H. G. Wells’ War of the Worlds. The first book, Manly Wade Wellman’s Sherlock Holmes and War of the Worlds, was first published in 1975. TITAN BOOKS reprinted the book in their “The Further Adventures of Sherlock Holmes” series in 2009.
The action in Sherlock Holmes and War of the Worlds begins when Holmes buys a crystal egg in a variety shop in London. He discovers it actually is a communication device that links Earth with…Mars! Holmes shares his discovery with the other famous A. Conan Doyle character, Professor Challenger. Together, Holmes and Challenger determine that the Earth is about to be invaded. And, sure enough, they’re right!
For part of the Invasion, Holmes goes his way and Challenger goes his way. But, eventually, Holmes and Challenger get back together to deal with the devastation and horror of death-rays, poison gas, and giant menacing robots.
Eric Brown’s The Further Adventures of Sherlock Holmes – The Martian Menace (2020) opens with Holmes asked to investigate the death of the Martian Ambassador. The successful resolution of that case leads the Martians to approach Holmes once again when one of their famous philosophers is murdered. Holmes and Watson agree to investigate the case…on Mars! During their departure to Mars, Holmes and Watson discover they share their spaceship with another passenger: Professor Challenger!
I enjoyed Eric Brown’s clever plot and the mysteries about the Martians that Holmes and Challenger manage to penetrate. If you’re in the mood for a couple wonderful Sherlock Holmes pastiches with a Science Fiction flavor, I recommend Sherlock Holmes and War of the Worlds and The Further Adventures of Sherlock Holmes. GRADE: B+ (for both)
It’s hard to believe I’ve posted a 100 FORGOTTEN MUSIC reviews. I thought for this centennial posting, I’d feature a triple CD set of music from the 1970s. This set is unique because “name” groups like The Rolling Stones, Queen, and Fleetwood Mac are represented. And singers like Bob Dylan, John Lennon, and Donna Summer are included, too.
Of course, there are some head-scratchers here like The Undertones’s “Teenage Kicks” and the Buzzcocks’s “Ever Fallen in Love (With Someone You Shouldn’t’ve).” And the odd inclusion of Country songs. But, all in all, I think this set presents the 1970s fairly accurately. Do you remember these songs? Are any of your favorites here? GRADE: A-
1. Queen – Don’t Stop Me Now 2. Electric Light Orchestra – Mr. Blue Sky 3. Elton John – Tiny Dancer 4. Bill Withers – Lovely Day 5. Earth, Wind & Fire – September 6. Frankie Valli & the Four Seasons – December, 1963 (Oh What a Night!) 7. ABBA – Dancing Queen 8. The Jackson 5 – I Want You Back 9. Marvin Gaye – Let’s Get It on 10. Commodores – Easy 11. Billy Ocean – Love Really Hurts Without You 12. Hot Chocolate – You Sexy Thing 13. The O’Jays – Love Train 14. Barry White – You’re the First, the Last, My Everything 15. The Temptations – Papa Was a Rollin’ Stone 16. Wild Cherry – Play That Funky Music 17. Chic – Le Freak 18. Gloria Gaynor – I Will Survive
1. John Lennon – Imagine 2. Don McLean – American Pie 3. The Rolling Stones – It’s Only Rock ‘N’ Roll (But I Like It) 4. Fleetwood Mac – Go Your Own Way 5. Simon & Garfunkel – Bridge Over Troubled Water 6. Bob Dylan – Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door 7. Billy Joel – Piano Man 8. The Who – Baba O’Riley 9. Free – All Right Now 10. Boston – More Than a Feeling 11. Mott the Hoople & David Bowie – All the Young Dudes 12. Rod Stewart – Maggie May 13. Blue Oyster Cult – (Don’t Fear) the Reaper 14. Lynyrd Skynyrd – Free Bird 15. Meat Loaf – Bat Out of Hell 16. Thin Lizzy – the Boys Are Back in Town 17. Status Quo – Rockin’ All Over the World 18. Ram Jam – Black Betty 19. The Knack – My Sharona
1. John Travolta & Olivia Newton – John – The Grease Mega-Mix 2. Jackson 5 – ABC 3. Elton John & Kiki Dee – Don’t Go Breaking My Heart 4. Blondie – Heart of Glass 5. Donna Summer – I Feel Love 6. Santana – Oye Como Va 7. Stealers Wheel – Stuck in the Middle with You 8. Lou Reed – Walk on the Wild Side 9. Harry Nilsson – Everybody’s Talkin’ 10. Johnny Nash – I Can See Clearly Now 11. 10CC – I’m Not in Love 12. Carole King – It’s Too Late 13. Kenny Rogers – the Gambler 14. Dolly Parton – Jolene 15. John Denver – Take Me Home, Country Roads 16. Gerry Rafferty – Baker Street 17. Paul McCartney & Wings – Live and Let Die 18. Roxy Music – Love Is the Drug 19. The Undertones – Teenage Kicks 20. Buzzcocks – Ever Fallen in Love (With Someone You Shouldn’t’ve) 21. Buggles – Video Killed the Radio Star
Terry Teachout, the theater reviewer of the WALL STREET JOURAL, wrote a rave review of ActOne (you can read his review here) and mentioned that the Lincoln Center Theater was offering the play online for FREE until July 3. So, of course, I dropped everything and watched it.
Back in 2016, I read Moss Hart’s classic Act One (you can read my review here) and loved it. Act One is the most informative and entertaining memoir of a life of writing plays for Broadway that I’ve ever read. Moss Hart, an uneducated yet passionate lover of Broadway plays, stumbles into the play-writing business. His big break-through is when legendary George S. Kaufman becomes interested in Hart’s play, Once in a Lifetime.
This play version of Act One, written brilliantly by James Lapine, shows the grinding poverty that Moss Hart grew up in. Hart’s aunt takes the young Moss Hart to Broadway shows and ignites his passion for theater. As a young man (played by Santino Fontana), Hart finds a clerical job at a theatrical promoter’s office. Hart writes a play that flops in Rochester, New York. But, he keeps writing and produces a rough draft of Once in a Lifetime that spurs the interest of veteran Broadway director and writer, George S. Kaufman (played by Tony Shalhoub). The interaction in the rewriting of Once in a Lifetime–with the quirky Kaufman and the novice Hart–power the key action of the reminder of the play.
If you’re in the mood for a funny, touching, and insightful play–and its FREE!–just click on the YOUTUBE.COM link above, or if you have a smart TV, you can access it there. Highly recommended! GRADE: A
My daughter Katie suggested that we watch a movie each week so we could talk about it when we Facebook PORTAL each Sunday. Since Katie came up with the idea, we decided she should make the first choice. Katie selected a Netflix documentary, 13TH (2016).
Director Ava Duvernay’s documentary explores the affects of the 13th Amendment to the Constitution on American society. Diane and I were shocked by the political strategy that used the 13th Amendment to cause mass incarceration of African-Americans to produce, in effect, slave labor.
Duvernay tells this story through a mixture of video news footage and commentary. Here’s the list of participants:
I’ve read several of Gerard de Villiers’ spy novels featuring Malko Linge, an Austrian spy. In Revenge of the Kremlin, Vladimir Putin orders the assassination of one of his former oligarchs, Boris Berezovsky. But, the assassination needs to look like an “accident” so that British and Russian relations don’t get disturbed.
Soon afterward, Berezovsky is found dead in the bathroom of his London home, an apparent suicide. MI5 opens an investigation, but Prime Minister David Cameron orders the case closed. The CIA, suspicious of Russian operations in the UK, sends Malko to investigate Berezovsky’s death and the British cover-up.
Malko uncovers leads to the Russian plot, but almost dies of a deadly poison attack. After he recovers, Malko vows to get to the bottom of the Berezovsky case. Trips to Israel and Moscow uncover links in Russian involvement to several deaths.
If you’re a fan of spy novels, you’ll find Revenge of the Kremlin compelling and involving. De Villiers has sources that supply him with accurate information about Russian methods of poisoning which gives the whole Russian operation credibility and realism. Do you like spy novels? GRADE: B+
Wonderful Beth Fedyn sent me this DVD set of a Matchbox 20 concert in Georgia in 2004. In the late 1990s and early 2000s, Matchbox 20 was a popular group whose songs frequently hit the Top 10.
As you might expect, Matchbox 20 plays their most popular songs. I’m fond of “Real World” which includes the line we can all relate to right now: “I wish the Real World would just stop hassling me!”
Rob Thomas, the lead singer of Matchbox 20, does a fine job on “If You’re Gone” and “3 AM.” The enthusiastic crowd roared their approval. However, I wonder when a scene like this–a crowded arena with no social distancing or masks–will become Normal again.
Beth, thanks again for this wonderful gift! I really enjoyed it!!! GRADE: A
Stark House, one of my favorite Small Presses, has been reprinting some of Barry N. Malzberg’s huge output. Malzberg is probably best known for his quirky Science Fiction, but he wrote fiction in several genres.
Screen was published in 1968 by Olympia Press. Malzberg’s afterward essay, “The Jewel and the Madonnas,” tells how he sold Screen to publisher Maurice Girodias who considered it a masterpiece. Malzberg’s troubled protagonist, Martin Miller, works for the Welfare Department, but is threatened with firing. Miller is not concerned because his passion is watching movies. He goes to theaters and while the movie is playing, fantasizes about the actresses on the screen: Sophia Loren, Brigitte Bardot, and Elizabeth Taylor.
Cinema (aka, The Masochist and Everything Happened to Susan) features a young woman with Candy characteristics who attempts to become an actress by working in porno films. Malzberg skewers the film making industry with savage portraits of an “artistic” director and a controlling agent for the film’s producers. In the afterward essay, “The Commercial Culture,” Malzberg writes about the absurdity of the film industry then and now.
Both Screen and Cinema have been out-of-print for many years. Stark House restores them and Barry N. Malzberg provides the context and the history behind these novels. If you’re a Barry N. Malzberg fan, this is a must-buy! GRADE: B+ (for both)
Joni Mitchell was another marvelous singer that I had a crush on in the 1960s. I loved her voice and the evocative lyrics of her songs. My favorite Joni Mitchell albums are Blue and Court and Spark. Blue is a sad, sad album with many great songs. On Hits, “California” and “River” display the quality of Mitchell’s music from Blue.
I play Court and Spark the most of all the Joni Mitchell albums I own. I love the sound, the orchestral arrangements, and–for Mitchell–a lightness of her music.
Are you a Joni Mitchell fan? Do you have a favorite Joni Mitchell song? GRADE: A
All songs were written by Joni Mitchell, except “Unchained Melody” by Alex North and Hy Zaret.
“Urge for Going” – 5:05
Originally recorded by Tom Rush in 1967, Mitchell’s own version (recorded for Blue but left off the album at the last minute in favor of newer songs) was not released until 1972, as the B-side of the “You Turn Me On, I’m a Radio” single. First time available on a Joni Mitchell album.
I’m a fan of Carrie Vaughn’s work and I grew up watching Robin Hood on TV as a kid. So that combination led me to Vaughn’s new book, The Ghosts of Sherwood. Robin of Locksley and his wonderful wife, Marian, are married with three kids–Mary, John, and Eleanor. The events in The Ghosts of Sherwood take place 20 years after Robin and his band of Merry Men defeated the Sheriff of Nottingham.
Robin has plenty of enemies and one of them sends a group of thugs to kidnap Robin’s children. But, the thugs find out Robin’s children have the bravery and cleverness of their father and mother.
The Ghosts of Sherwood is another of TOR’s slim books: a mere 103 pages. The audience seems to be Young Adults. Next month, a “sequel”–The Heirs of Locksley–is scheduled for release.
My review of the 2010 movie version of Robin Hood can be found here. Are you a fan of Robin Hood? GRADE: B