By Jen Sincero
Publication Year: 2013
Tags: Self-Help, Unoriginal, Potentially Dangerous
I had this book recommended to me by someone who said that it changed her life. (She’s still working at a discount book store, so maybe other areas of her life were changed.) Short Form: Another self-styled Life Coach hypes herself as having THE ANSWER, using all of the worst self-help suggestions in the world, barely repackaged into modern, poorly-written tripe. To quote a favorite short review, “This is not a book to be tossed aside lightly; it should be throw with great force.” (Attributed, without confirmation, to Dorothy Parker) Continue reading “You Are A Badass”
As but a pup, I remember using words like gross or even “groady” (which isn’t a word) to describe something disgusting, foul, probably even slimy. These would seem to be the modern American abbreviated forms of something being grotesque which, in this sub-dialect of the English language, has come to mean not merely unnatural, bizarre, or freakish, but more often malformed, ugly, or just plain puke-worthy. Considering the origins of the word, and its use early in the last century in the sense of fantastic (something out of fantasy) or outrageous (something so unusual as to cause wondrous disbelief), it would seem to be a word worth revisiting. Continue reading “The Parade of the Grotesques”
(1989, rated R) James Woods (Eddie Dodd), Robert Downey, Jr. (Roger Barron), Margaret Colin (Kitty Greer), Yuji Okumoto (Shiu Kai Kim), Kurtwood Smith (Robert Reynard), Tom Bower (Cecil Skell), Miguel Fernandez (Art Esparza), Charles Hallahan (Vincent Dennehy), Luis Guzman (Ortega). Music: Brad Fidel (“Busload of Faith” written/sung by Lou Reed). Screenplay: Wesley Strick. Director: Joseph Ruben. 108 minutes.
Tags: Mystery, Courtroom Drama, “Criminal Justice YRW”
Notable: Downey as a baby-faced 24 year old; spun-off short-lived TV series Eddie Dodd, starring Treat Williams.
Eddie Dodd was a crusading lawyer in his day; now, he’s a burn-out, defending drug dealers that he knows are guilty in order to make points about the unfairness of governmental and police procedural flaws… so he says. Roger Barron, fresh out of law school, was impressed with Eddie’s early cases, comes to San Francisco to work with him, not sure that he’s even meeting the firebrand of years past. The knifing of a prison inmate by another inmate calls into question whether or not young Shiu Kai Kim (the alleged killer) should have been in prison in the first place. After all these years of having lost his own belief in The System, Eddie now has a chance to defend an innocent man. The question becomes… can he? Continue reading “True Believer”
By Isaac Asimov
Tags: Science Fiction, What-If, Cautionary Tale
Through an accident of science, Earth now has a seemingly unlimited supply of energy, enough to last a trillion years. Three people — an outcast scientist, a rebellious alien in a parallel world, and a lunar-born human Intuitionist — are aware that this boon to humankind could cause an imbalance in the nature of nuclear attraction that will cause the sun to explode with enough force to destroy the entire solar system and beyond, in perhaps as little as a few years. Continue reading “The Gods Themselves”
(1977, rated R) Chris Serandon (Michael Lerner), Christina Raines (Alison Parker), Martin Balsam (Professor Ruzinsky), John Carridine (Father Halloran), José Ferrer (Robed Figure), Ava Gardner (Miss Logan), Arthur Kennedy (Monsignor Franchino), Burgess Meredith (Charles Chasen), Sylvia Miles (Gerda), Deborah Raffin (Jennifer), Eli Wallach (Detective Gatz), Christopher Walken (Rizzo), Jerry Orbach (Film Director), Jeff Goldblum (Jack). Music: Gil Mellé. Screenplay: Michael Winner (based on the book by Jeffrey Konvtiz). Director: Michael Winner. 92 minutes.
Tags: Horror, Suspense, Kitsch
Notable: Jeff Goldblum almost invisible; Christopher Walken with about three lines; presentation of a lesbian couple (who are, of course, evil).
Model Alison Parker catches a great deal on a Brooklyn apartment, with her few neighbors being a bit eccentric, particularly the old, blind priest, Father Halloran in the upper floor apartment who sits in the window, staring at nothing, and never moves. It takes some time for her and her lawyer lover, Michael Lerner, to discover that the building is actually the gateway to Hell… and Alison has been invited to join the occupants of the building permanently. Continue reading “The Sentinel”
By John Varley
ISBN-13 — 978-0441006779
Publication Year: 1983
Tags: Science Fiction, Time Travel
Far over Oakland, California, a DC-10 commercial aircraft strikes a 747 in mid-air, bringing down both planes in an area covering several miles. No survivors. Air disaster investigator Bill Smith is searching for the reason for the crash, as a woman calling herself Louise Baltimore prepares, 50,000 years in the future, to stop him from finding out too much. The crash had to happen. It wasn’t that Louise caused it, but she left something behind on that plane, and Bill Smith can’t discover it before her, or the entirety of human history could be wiped out at a speed of hundreds of years per hour. Continue reading “Millennium”
(2012, PG-13) Anthony Hopkins (Alfred Hitchcock), Helen Mirren (Alma Reville), Scarlett Johansson (Janet Leigh), Toni Collette (Peggy), Danny Huston (Whitfield Cook), Jessica Biel (Vera Miles), Michael Stuhlbarg (Lew Wasserman), James D’Arcy (Anthony Perkins), Michael Wincott (Ed Grein), Kurtwood Smith (Geoffrey Shurlock), Richard Portnow (Barney Balaban). Music: Danny Elfman. Screenplay: John J. McLaughlin. (based on “Alfred Hitchcock and the Making of Psycho” by Stephen Rebello). Director: Sacha Gervasi. 98 minutes.
Tags: Behind-the-Scenes, Bio-Pic
Notable: Good story about the making of Psycho, but the personal aspects ain’t actual history.
By all accounts, Alfred Hitchcock was a difficult man, as a person, as a director, and as a husband. The great gamble of his life was to make the film Psycho. The studio hated it, wanting him to fall back on thrillers like The Man Who Knew Too Much (1934, his first big success in the genre) and several dozen others. Hitch was becoming somewhat bored with the formula, even with brilliant films like Rope (1948), Strangers on a Train (1951), and Rear Window (1954) in his repertoire. The truth was that Vertigo (1958), which has long since been vindicated as brilliant, was a box office flop as far as the studio was concerned; North By Northwest (1959) did well enough, and Paramount wanted “another one like that.” They wanted to make money, and at that point, the team of Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis was making a ton of cash for the producers. Studio executive Lew Wasserman was so sure that Psycho was going to bomb that he banked on the rather “craptastic” Martin-Lewis debacle called Cinderfella, which came out that Christmas. Talk about flops… Continue reading “Hitchcock”
By Graham Masterton
Publication Year: 1975
Tags: Horror, Native American
Harry Erskine is a phony clairvoyant who reads Tarot cards for a living. One of his “wealthy old ladies” has a niece, Karen Tandy, who has been having disturbing dreams and, perhaps coincidentally, has developed a strange lump on the back of her neck. Growing at an astonishing rate — measurable in centimeters per hour — the lump has some of the characteristics of a developing fetus. Piecing together clues both material and psychic, Harry believes this to be the impending reincarnation of a Native American Medicine Man from 300 years in the past, returning to reclaim the land from the White Man. If he grows to maturity, if he escapes Karen Tandy’s body, the girl will be the first to die… and the body count will only grow larger… Continue reading “The Manitou”
(2010, R) Val Kilmer (Mr. Nobody), Dylan Neal (Det. Alexander Black), Paul McGillium (Dep. Pine), Camille Sullivan (Dep. Hollows), Nels Lennarson (Dep. Sherwood), Christopher Gauthier (Desk Sgt. Gulloy), John Cassini (Dept. Hawkins). Music: Ross Vanelli. Screenplay: Joseph C. Huscat. Director: Michael Oblowitz. 91 minutes.
Tags: Thriller, Horror, Revenge
Notable: A few good twists on an old trope, with a deus ex puellita ending.
A drifter walks into a police station on a rainy Christmas Eve to confess to a series of murders, none of which has happened… yet. A terrible thing happened in this police station a year ago, and those involved are about to discover that karma is, indeed, a bitch. Continue reading “The Traveler”
By Deepak Malhotra
ISBN-13 — 978-1-60671-399-0
Publication Year: 2013
Tags: Social Commentary, Business, Self-Determination
Mice who live in the maze are taught that, if someone moves your cheese, you go out into the maze to find more cheese. From an early age, Max asked questions: Who moved the cheese, and why, and what is the maze anyway, and why do we stay in it? Most of the other mice simply laughed and ignored him, until one day Max comes to find Zed, to tell him that he has found the answers. With the help of Big (himself thought strange because he only seeks cheese when it suits him and does without it when it doesn’t suit him to go looking), Max has discovered what the maze is, and who moved the cheese, and he has sought out Zed because it is said that Zed questions the mere existence of the maze itself, not to mention its value.
This book was written in answer to Spencer Johnson’s Who Moved My Cheese, providing an answer “for those who refuse to live as mice in someone else’s maze.” Continue reading “I Moved Your Cheese”