I finally saw Creed which is basically a retelling of the Rocky story. Michael B. Jordan plays a young boxer from Los Angeles who travels to Philly to ask Rocky Balboa (Sylvester Stallone) to train him. Rocky recognizes that this kid is really the son of his opponent Apollo Creed. Initially, Rocky resists but then gives in through guilt and starts training the young fighter. You know how the story goes. The kid trains hard ends up getting an offer to fight the World Champion in Liverpool, England. The Heavy-weight Champion, Pretty Rick Conlan, is bigger, faster, meaner. The fight scenes are intense and gripping. I’m not a boxing fan, but this film really moved me. GRADE: B+
Back in the Sixties, I read Sax Rohmer novels as fast as Pyramid Books would publish them. I was fascinated by the Fu Manchu series, but I also enjoyed Rohmer’s Gaston Max mysteries, The Yellow Claw and The Golden Scorpion. Plenty of action and suspense power these adventures. William Patrick Maynard’s informative Introduction puts Rohmer and these two novels in perspective. Stark House should be applauded for bringing these two spooky novels back into print in such a nice package!
With the death of Glenn Frey last week, I dug out this 2-CD set of the Eagles greatest hits that came out in 2003. The Eagles dominated the 1970s. They started as Linda Ronstadt’s back-up band. But, they graduated to Greater Things. The Eagles broke up in 1980 but reunited for the profitable Hell Freezes Over album and tour. Glenn Frey had a solo career but his best work was with the Eagles. What’s your favorite song of the Eagles?
Take It Easy
Peaceful Easy Feeling
The Best of My Love
On the Border
One of These Nights
Take It to the Limit
After the Thrill Is Gone
Life in the Fast Lane
Victim of Love
The Last Resort
New Kid in Town
Please Come Home for Christmas
The Sad Café
I Can’t Tell You Why
The Long Run
In the City
Seven Bridges Road
Love Will Keep Us Alive
Get Over It
Hole in the World
The murky cover on The Mulberry Bush mirrors the murky plot of this spy novel. The narrator is a spy for an American intelligence agency. He is bitter because his father, a famous spy, was kicked out and ruined. The story is complicated. Of course, everyone lies. All the characters have secret agendas. If you’re in the mood for a dark spy novel, The Mulberry Bush is like a shadow at midnight. GRADE: B
TARGET sells Ferris Bueller’s Day Off for a mere $5 for the Blu-ray version. That’s a bargain in my book! Back in 1986, this John Hughes movie had a tremendous impact on a whole generation. Matthew Broderick found stardom in this film. Special features include: Getting the Class Together, The Cast of Ferris Bueller’s Day Off; The Making of Ferris Bueller’s Day Off; Who Is Ferris Bueller?; The World According to Ben Stein; Vintage Ferris Bueller; The Lost Tapes; and Class Album. If you haven’t seen Ferris Bueller’s Day Off you’re in for a treat when you do. GRADE: A
Cal Newport makes the case that productivity is suffering from too much distraction: cell phones, email, Twitter, Facebook, selfies, video games, etc. Newport also points out the new “open” workplace where people don’t have offices anymore just creates a noisy, distracting environment where it’s hard to concentrate on the work at hand. Conversations spill over all those cubical walls. Studies have shown that a person with a smart phone will check it 700 times a day on average. I see my students constantly fiddling with their phones. I liked Newport’s example of writer Neal Stephenson who limits his time online in order to focus on producing novels. His workflow could be an inspiration to us all. If you want a guide to being productive in our digital age, I recommend Deep Work. GRADE: B+
TABLE OF CONTENTS:
PART ONE: THE IDEA
Chapter 1: Deep Work is Valuable
Chapter 2: Deep Work is Rare
Chapter 3: Deep Work is Meaningful
PART TWO: THE RULES
Rule #1: Work Deeply
Rule #2: Embrace Boredom
Rule #3: Quit Social Media
Rule #4: Drain the Shallows
Here we are just a couple games from the Super Bowl. The Patriots are 3 1/2 point favorites over the Broncos. Although this is the 17th meeting of Brady and Manning, this game lacks drama. The Arizona Cardinals may be the best team in this bunch of four. Carolina is favored by 3 points but Cam Newton will have to have an exceptional game to beat the Cardinals. Who do you think will playing in the Super Bowl two weeks from now?
I resisted reading Room since it was published in 2010. Diane, Katie, and Patrick all read it and encouraged me to read Room so it could be a “Family Book” (a book all of us have read). But, I held out. The story of a woman kept as a sex slave and her 5-year-old son didn’t appeal to me. Then the movie version of Room showed up and garnered rave reviews. Then Patti Abbott put Room at the top of her Best Movies of 2015. And Patti encouraged me to read the book.
I’ve read Emma Donoghue’s Slammerkin so I had some idea of what Room would be like. The story is narrated by a small boy who only knows the world from the inside of a shed. His mother allows a bit of TV but that further complicates the boy’s version of the world. Donoghue creates a unique world inside the shed that is the woman and boy’s prison. Other complications make both the book and the movie challenging. I admire both works, but be prepared to cry. I sure did. GRADE: B+ (for both the book and movie)
Back in 1959, Broadway veteran Moss Hart published Act One his story of how he got started in show business. Moss Hart’s family was dysfunctional and poor. His chances of making it to Broadway and having any impact on the 70 plays that were being performed at that time was slight. But Moss Hart’s story of his drive and passion to make it to Broadway is inspiring and funny. Hart’s strategy of spending summers conducting theater camps leads to mind-boggling complications. The story of how Moss Hart’s first play, Once in a Lifetime, goes through the creative process with George S. Kaufmann directing makes fascinating reading. Hart shows how scripts are written and revised. If you have any interest in Broadway productions and how a play is developed, Act One reveals all the nitty-gritty details. I found Act One to be a marvelous book!
I’ve been a big fan of Jane Bryant Quinn’s books on consumer finance for decades. Quinn writes clearly and accurately about financial matters. In her latest book, How To Make Your Money Last, Quinn focuses on people close to retirement and those who have already retired. As Quinn points out, a common fear is that we might “outlive” our money. This book shows several strategies to take to make sure that doesn’t happen to you. Quinn’s chapter on Social Security will enlighten you. There are hundreds of ways to collect your Social Security benefits. Make sure you pick the right option. Smart money management, estate planning, and wills/trusts are just some of the topics covered. I learned a lot and you will too if you read How to Make Your Money Last. GRADE: A
TABLE OF CONTENTS:
1. The Joy and Challenge of Life After Work
Now that you can do whatever you want, what do you want to do?
2. Rightsize your Life
You’re never afraid to open your bank statement when you’re living within your means
3. How to Double Your Social Security Income (Well, Almost)
Your payout could be worth as much as $1 million over your lifetime. Are you leaving some of that money on the table?
4. Getting the Most from Your Health Insurance–Before and After
Peace of mind is knowing that you can see a doctor when you’re sick
5. Pensions Are for Stre-e-e-etching
A new look at the comfort of a guaranteed income for life
6. Should You Buy Yourself a Pension?
Lifetime annuties, the Rodney Dangerfield of investmetns, don’t get no respect–except from me
7. Powering Your Retirement Savings Plans
If you haven’t saved pots of money, don’t waste time kicking yourself. It’s never too late to give your future a boost
8. The Speed Limits on Retirement Spending: Still 4 Percent?
When to step on the gas, when to tap the brakes
9. Investing for Income: Not What You Think
Nothing endangers your lifestyle more than to pile into “income investments”
10. Home Sweet Income: Producing Home
Your house is a piggy bank. this might be the moment to break it open
11. Living on Your Life Insurance
There’s money in a life insurance policy and you don’t have to die to get it
12. Just Tell Me What to Do
Whew! At last
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