skinny pop
Sam’s Club had this box of Skinny Pop marked down to practically nothing so we decided to try it. You get 20 Individual Snack Packs, 100 Calories Per Pack, 0g Trans Fat, Cholesterol Free, Non GMO, Gluten Free, Dairy Free, Nut Free popcorn. Here’s the nutrition information:
Serving Size 1 package (3 g)
Per Serving % Daily Value*
Calories 100
Calories from Fat 54
Total Fat 6g 9%
Saturated Fat 0.5g 3%
Cholesterol 0mg 0%
Sodium 60mg 3%
Potassium 7.33mg 0%
Carbohydrates 10g 3%
Dietary Fiber 2g 8%
Sugars 0g
Protein 2g
Vitamin A 0% · Vitamin C 0%
Calcium 0% · Iron 11%

We liked the taste of Skinny Pop popcorn. We tried the White Cheddar variety, but didn’t like that much. If you’re looking for a quick, low-carb snack you might want to give Skinny Pop a try.


If you’re looking to watch something very different, I’d recommend this new release: Justice League: Gods and Monsters. The movie is set in an alternate universe where the Justice League is a brutal force that maintains order on Earth. This universe has its own versions of Superman, Batman, and Wonder Woman completely different from the standard “good” versions of these super-heroes that we’re used to. In addition to this compelling animated movie, the Special Features include a sneak peek at the next DC Universe animated movie, Calculated Risks: The Making of Gods and Monsters, and from the DC Comics Vault–two bonus cartoons. If you’re a fan of the DC Universe, you’ll find a lot here to enjoy. If you’re curious about the DC Universe, Justice League: Gods and Monsters would be a good place to start your investigation.


the end of all things
John Scalzi reminds me of Robert Heinlein. His stories have a beginning, a middle, and an exciting end. Scalzi’s characters are believable and interesting. And, the future Scalzi invents is full of that sense of wonder that Heinlein’s best stories have. The End of All Things features a neat John Harris cover. It’s the sixth book in the Old Man’s War series. Earth and the Colonial Union are feuding. The End of All Things explores the reason for the bad relations and the efforts to repair them. I’ve read the previous five books in this series–The Old Man’s War, The Ghost Brigades, The Lost Colony, Zoe’s Tale, and The Human Division–and enjoyed them all. You don’t have to read the previous books to enjoy The End of All Things, but it would help understand the story arc. GRADE: B+
The Life of the Mind 9
This Hollow Union 117
Can Long Endure 205
To Stand Or Fall 269
An Alternate “The Life of the Mind” 351
Acknowledgements 379


I can only assume Ricki and The Flash was a vanity project for Meryl Streep. This story of an aging and unsuccessful singer in a West Coast bar band dealing with her dysfunctional family relies on a surprisingly weak script by Diablo Cody. Ricki abandons her husband (Kevin Kline) and three children to purse her “dream” of becoming a rock star. Ricki’s dream never comes true and she’s reduced to working at Total Foods (a dig at Whole Foods) as cashier during the day and playing in a bar band at night. Several times in the movie, Ricki announces, “I have no money.” Kevin Kline’s character has plenty of money and lives in a mansion in Indianapolis. He calls Ricki when their daughter, played by Streep’s real daughter Mamie Gummer, has a meltdown when her husband divorces her. Predictable family problems occur. Audra McDonald, as Kevin Kline’s new wife, is completely wasted in her role. All in all, this movie resorts to a predicable plot with no surprises. The best part of this movie is Rick Springfield as Ricki’s boyfriend and lead guitarist in The Flash. GRADE: C
1. “American Girl” – Ricki and the Flash
2. “Keep Playing That Rock & Roll” – Ricki and the Flash
3. “Wooly Bully” – Ricki and the Flash
4. “Drift Away” – Ricki and the Flash
5. “My Love Will Not Let You Down” – Ricki and the Flash
6. “Cold One” – Ricki and the Flash
7. “Let’s Work Together” – Ricki and the Flash
8. “I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For” – Ricki and the Flash
9. “Bad Romance” – Ricki and the Flash
10. “Get The Party Started” – Ricki and the Flash
11. “Walk On” – Lucinda Williams
12. “Here I Am” – Emmylou Harris
13. “For The Turnstiles” – Henry Wolfe
14. “Paint It Black” – The Feelies

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emissary to the stars
BAEN Books should be applauded for keeping Keith Lawmer’s works in print over the years. Laumer suffered a stroke in the 1971 and was unable to write for a few years. When Laumer did write novels in the late 1970s, the quality was sub-par. Of all Keith Laumer’s works, the Retief stories are my favorites. Retief: Emissary to the Stars contains seven hilarious diplomatic stories where Retief, a Terran diplomat, outwits the bureaucracy and the alien Groaci. “The Hoob Melon Crisis,” “The Garbage Invasion,” “The Troubleshooter,” “The Negotiators,” “Giant Killer,” “The Forest in the Sky,” and “Trick or Treaty” display all the statecraft you would ever want to enjoy. The stories are clever and witty. If you’re looking for something different, Laumer’s Retief stories (the ones published before 1971) are first-rate.
Retief of the CDT
The Return of Retief
Retief: Emissary to the Stars
Retief and the Pangalactic Pageant of Pulchritude
Retief in the Ruins
Retief and the Warlords
Retief’s War


collected essays
After reading Saul Bellow’s collected essays, I decided to turn to a better writer of essays: Graham Greene. Where I got the sense that Bellow really didn’t enjoy the essays he was writing, Graham Greene’s essays exude joy and energy. His essays on Henry James are enthusiastic and insightful. I really enjoyed “The Lost Childhood” where Greene writes about the books he loved in his youth. The range of Greene’s essays display his interests. When Greene writes about a book or a writer, there’s a sense that Greene has read deeply and understands his subject. If you’re looking for a volume of well-crafted essays, this is it. GRADE: A
Table of Contents
Author’s Note
Part 1 Personal Prologue:
The lost childhood.
Part 2 Novels and Novelists:
Henry James – the private universe
Henry James – the religious aspect
The portrait of a lady
The plays of Henry James
The dark backward – a footnote
Two friends
From feathers to iron
Fielding and Sterne
Servants of the novel
Romance in Pimlico
The young Dickens
Hans Anderson
Francois Mauriac
Bernanos, the beginner
The burden of childhood
Man made anrgy
G.K. Chesterton
Walter de la Mare’s short stories
The Saratoga trunk
Arabia Deserta
The poker-face
Ford Madox Ford
Frederick Rolfe – Edwardian inferno
Frederick Rolfe – from the devil’s side
Frederick Rolfe – a spoiled priest
Remembering Mr. Jones
The domestic background
The public life
Goats and incense
Some notes on Somerset Maughan
The town of Malgudi
Rider Haggard’s secret
Journey into success
Isis idol
The last Buchan
Edgar Wallace
Beatrix Potter
Harkaway’s Oxford
Part 3 Some characters
Poetry from limbo
An unheroic dramatist
Doctor Oates of Salamanca
Anthony a Wood
John Evelyn
Background for heroes
A hoax for Mr. Hulton
A Jacobite poet
Charles Churchill
The lover of Leeds
inside Oxford
George Darley
The Apostles intervene
Mr. Cook’s century
The explorers
“Sore bones – much headache”
Francis Parkman
Don in Mexico
Samuel Butler
The ugly act
Eric Gill
Herbert Read
The conservative
Norman Douglas
Invincible ignorance
The victor and the victim,
Simone Weil
Three priests
1 – the Oxford chaplain
2 – the paradox of a Pope
3 – eighty years on the barrack square
Three revolutionaries -
1 – the man as pure as Lucifer
2 – the Marxist heretic
3 – the spy
Portrait of a maiden lady
Film lunch
The unknown war
Great dog of Weimar
The British pig
George Moore and others
At home
Part 4 Personal postscript:
The Soupsweet Land.

There Is Simply Too Much to Think About : Collected Non-Fiction By Saul Bellow

there is simply too much to think about
After reading all the articles, book reviews, movie reviews, and essays in There Is Simply Too Much to Think About: Collected Non-Fiction I never got the sense that Bellow was enjoying himself writing this stuff. Even the Nobel Prize lecture is dull. There’s just too much “going through the motions” in much of this work. I found out that Bellow’s favorite American writer is Theodore Dreiser. And Bellow once roomed with Ralph Ellison.

Arranged chronologically, the pieces in this collection show the range of interests Bellow is willing to write about. He has mixed feelings about Philip Roth but doesn’t have much to say about other contemporary writers. The only time Bellow shows some emotion is when Gunter Grass attacks him for not being more political. GRADE: B
Spanish Letter
Illinois Journey
The University as Villian
The Sharp Edge of Life
Laughter in the Ghetto:On Sholom Aleichem
Dreiser and the Triumph of Art
Hemingway and the Image of Man
Man Underground: On Ralph Ellison
The 1,001 Afternoons of Ben Hecht
The Swamp of Prosperity: On Philip Roth
The Writer and the Audience
Distractions of a Fiction Writer
Deep Readers of the World, Beware!
A Talk with the Yellow Kid
The Sealed Treasure
On Jewish Storytelling
Up From the Pushcart: On Abraham Cahan
Where Do We Go From Here? The Future of Fiction
At the Movies
On Shakespeare’s Sonnets
The Writer As a Moralist
Beatrice Webb’s America
Recent Fiction: A Tour of Inspection
Barefoot Boy: On Yevgeny Yevtushenko
My Man Bummidge
The Thinking Man’s Waste Land
Cloister Culture
Israel: The Six-Day War
Skepticism and the Depth of Life
On America: Remarks at the U.S. Cultural Center in Tel Aviv
New York: World-Famous Impossibility
Machines and Storybooks: Literature in the Age of Technology
A World Too Much With Us
An Interview with Myself
The Nobel Lecture
Americans Who Are Also Jews: Upon Receiving the Democratic Legacy Award of the Anti-Defamation League
The Day They Signed the Treaty
In the Days of Mr Roosevelt
Reflections on Alexis de Tocqueville: A Seminar at the University of Chicago
My Paris
Foreword to The Revolt of the Masses by José Ortega y Gasset
The Civilized Barbarian Reader
A Jewish Writer in America: A Lecture
Chicago: The City That Was, the City That Is
There Is Simply Too Much to Think About
Writers, Intellectual, Politics: Mainly Reminiscence
Papuans and Zulus
Alone in Mixed Company
Ralph Ellison in Tivoli
Literature: The Next Chapter
Wit Irony Fun Games
Vermont: The Good Place
Winter in Tuscany
Before I Go Away: A Words and Images Interview with Norman Manea
“I Got a Scheme!”: With Philip Roth

Coda: Why Not?

Acknowledgments and Editors Note


SNATCH [Blu-ray]

I missed this Guy Ritchie movie back in 2000 but now it’s on Blu-ray and well worth a look. Brad Pitt plays a gypsy boxer. He leads boxing promoter Jason Statham into trouble with a gangster played by Alan Ford. In addition to the boxing plot, Benicio del Toro pulls off a jewel heist and has an 84-carat diamond with him. And, of course, everyone wants the diamond: ex-KGB Boris (Rade Šerbedžija), American gangster “Avi” (Dennis Farina), bounty hunter Bullet-Tooth Tony (Vinnie Jones), and a trio of black toughs. If you’re a fan of Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels you’ll enjoy this equally wacky crime film. GRADE: B+


It’s funny how quickly five years can go by. Five years ago, I had a colonoscopy but it seems just like yesterday. By the time you read these words, I’ll be under Happy Drugs. Diane will drive me home and I’ll be sleeping off the Versed. If you haven’t read Dave Barry hilarious story of his colonoscopy, you can enjoy it here. Is it time for your colonoscopy?