Dull, dull, dull. I had high hopes for Gotham, the Batman prequel on FOX. But after four sluggish episodes I’m bailing out. Gotham is a corrupt city. James Gordon is the only honest cop on the Gotham police force. Bruce Wayne is a 12-year-old kid. Catwoman is a 13-year-old living on the streets. The Penguin is washing dishes in a gangster’s restaurant. This is not quite what I expected. Are you still watching Gotham? What programs from this new season have you given up on?


minnesota vikings vs. buffalo bills
After the 37-22 beat-down that the New England Patriots put on the Bills last Sunday, the Bills suddenly find themselves facing a team they might be able to defeat. The Minnesota Vikings don’t have suspended All-World running back, Adrian Peterson, and are playing a rookie quarterback, Teddy Bridgewater. The Bills need a win badly: they’re already two games behind the Patriots in the AFC East standings. How will your favorite NFL team do today?

HOW TO SPEAK MONEY By John Lanchester

how to speak money
Back in 1996, John Lanchester’s The Debt to Pleasure burst on the mystery scene. It’s a wicked novel. Lanchester went on to write three more novels and a handful of non-fiction books. John Lanchester’s latest non-fiction book, How to Speak Money: What the Money People Say–And What It Really Means explains complicated financial concepts like credit default swaps in clear, simple terms. I’m considering using How to Speak Money in my INVESTMENTS class next semester. We all need to know more about how money works. This book does a terrific job in making the complex understandable. GRADE: A


Heavy Planet includes Hal Clement’s famous science fiction novel, Mission of Gravity and its lesser known sequel, Star Light. The premise of Mission of Gravity is a mission to recover a scientific probe on the super-jovan planet of Mesklin where the surface gravity varies from 3 Earth gravities at the the equator to 700 Earth gravities at the poles. On this high-gravity planet, a “day” is 18 minutes! And yet, Mesklin has life in the form of intelligent, centipede-like creatures. Mission of Gravity was published in 1953 and Star Light was published in 1973. If you haven’t read these wonderful science fiction novels, you’re in for plenty of delight! Highly recommended!

ACCEPTANCE By Jeff Vandermeer

I reviewed the first two books of Jeff Vandermeer’s Southern Reach trilogy here. Basically, a region of the United States has an alien infestation. The military call it “Area X.” They maintain a blockade around the area. Teams of scientists are sent into Area X, but they either die, disappear, or return deranged. I liked the first book in the series, Annihilation, best. I think Jeff Vandermeer needed to read some J. G. Ballard who also wrote about alien infestion, but much more effectively. Vandermeer’s constant flashbacks and second-person narration annoyed me. I can’t really recommend this trilogy. GRADE: C-


hunted keven hearne
shattered kevin hearne

Book Six of the IRON DRUID series, Hunted (2013), features a flight across Europe with vampires and some new monsters in pursuit. The Druid’s activities in Asgard still haunt him as Diana and Artemis use their powers to track him across the continent. Loki, and his evil daughter Hel, join forces to bring Ragnarok (the Final Battle to end the Universe). Hunted also includes a bonus novelette, “Two Ravens and One Crow,” which tells the story of how the Druid returns Odin’s spear to the ruler of Asgard.

Book Seven, Shattered (2014), is the first hardcover in the IRON DRUID series. The Druid gets an unlikely ally and manages to forge an alliance with Odin which will come into effect when Ragnarok begins (and it seems like it’s going to happen in the next few books of this series). Kevin Hearne introduces us to the pantheons of gods in India and Japan. The story expands and the identity of the secret adversary of the Druid is revealed. I’m all caught up on this series now. But, when the next volume is published in 2015, I’ll read it. GRADE: B (for both)


When I was a kid, my favorite DC comic superhero was The Flash. The Flash was a chemist named Barry Allen who is given super-speed when a bolt of lightning hits the chemical shelf in his office and douses him with chemicals. The Flash comics were more cerebral than most of the DC comics. The storylines involved science and cleverness. Back in the early 1990s, there was TV series based on The Flash but it didn’t last long. Now, the CW network is trying to bring The Flash back because of the success of their other DC hit, Arrow. The Flash is the highest priced series on the CW network. Each episode costs $1.6 million. The special effects are good. I liked last week’s premiere episode so I’ll stay with The Flash for a few more weeks before I decide to continue or quit watching. Have you seen this new incarnation of The Flash? Were you a fan of the comic back in the 1960s?


After last week’s incredible win in Detroit, the Bills now face their AFC East Division nemesis: Tom Brady and the Patriots. The Patriots have owned the Bills over the past decade. But things might be changing. New owners of the Buffalo Bills, Terry and Kim Pegula, will be introduced before the game. The coaching staff knows they’re playing for their jobs. And the Patriots have had some weak outings this season. First place in the AFC East is up for grabs in this game. How will your favorite NFL team perform today?


In the past year, I’ve fallen asleep with no problem. But about four hours later, I’ll take a bathroom break and then the trouble starts. Even though I’m tired, it sometimes takes me an hour to fall back to sleep. Very annoying! So I decided to try taking a melatonin tablet to help me get back to sleep more quickly. Melatonin is a natural hormone that is part of the sleep process. I’ve been taking melatonin all summer long and I find I’m falling back to sleep more quickly. You mileage may differ. But if you’re experiencing this problem too, you might want to give melatonin a try. It’s inexpensive and I’ve experienced no side-effects.