The Andromeda Strain (1971)

(1971, rated G “but may be too intense for younger children”) Arthur Hill (Jeremy Stone), James Olson (Mark Hall), Kate Reid (Ruth Leavitt), David Wayne (Charles Dutton), Paula Kelly (Karen Anson), Ramon Bieri (Maj. Manchek), Kermit Merdock (Dr. Robertson), Eric Christmas (Sen. Phillips), Ken Swofford (Toby). Music: Gil Mellé. Screenplay: Nelson Gidding (based on the novel by Michael Crichton). Director: Robert Wise. 130 minutes.

Tags: Sci-Fi, Suspense, Alien Contact

Notable: All of the tech that you see was directly from then-current-day laboratories, showing we’re further ahead than we all thought before; actor Arthur Hill really used the mechanical hands himself; James Olson, usually cast as a “bad guy,” gets to be the hero for a change.

Rating: ★★★★★

A NASA probe, Scoop VII, has crash-landed near the tiny town of Piedmont, New Mexico (Population: 68). An Army team of two sent in to find and retrieve the satellite finds a town full of dead bodies, and they too are swiftly killed through no identifiable means from a distance. A biological agent is suspected, creating a “Wildfire Alert” – an immediate priority to scramble a specific team of scientists to gather at a huge underground facility specifically created to combat a biological emergency of this type. Jeremy Stone (Hill) petitioned the government to create it a few years earlier, citing a failure to avoid contamination at the NASA lunar lab; now, the facility, and the scientists who have been called, are about to be put to the test. Continue reading “The Andromeda Strain (1971)”

Nerve Net

Brian Eno (Guest artists include Robert Fripp and Roger Eno)

TRACKS: 1—Fractal Zoom; 2—Wire Shock; 3—What Actually Happened?; 4—Pierre in Mist; 5—My Squelchy Life; 6—Juju Space Jazz; 7—The Roil, The Choke; 8—Ali Click; 9—Web; 10—Web (Lascaux Mix); 11—Decentre

RELEASE DATE: September 1, 1992

TAGS: Electronica, Horrible, Painful, Fuggeddabowdit

RATING: ☆☆☆☆☆

In the liner notes, Eno says, “This record is: like Paella, a self-contradictory mess, off balance, unlocked, dissonant, frenetic, evanescent, overheated, godless, clockless, reckless, squelchy, un-American, technically naïve, far too vague, derivative of everything, post cool, post root, crunchy, bluff, post world, post man, too much, not enough, revisionist, shamelessly exhibitionist, untailored, uncentered, clearly the work of a mind in distress, where-am-I music.” He is wrong on two counts: He left out “appalling,” and it certainly isn’t “music.” Continue reading “Nerve Net”

The Boy on the Bus

BoyOnTheBusCoverBy Deborah Schupack
ISBN 0-743-24221-1

Publication Year: 2003

Tags: Pretentious, Avoid-At-All-Cost, Pointless

Rating: ★☆☆☆☆

A Vermont housewife finds that the last boy on the bus, the boy who hasn’t left the bus because he doesn’t seem to know that he’s arrived at his home, both is and somehow is not her son Charlie. He looks mostly right, sounds mostly right, but he is different; rather than being a severely asthmatic weakling, this boy seems more robust, even more mature. No one — not the bus driver, the sheriff, the neighbors, the husband, the older daughter — can tell if this is really Charlie. Each falls back upon the strange, perhaps inexplicable observation, “You’re his mother; you should know.” Continue reading “The Boy on the Bus”

Writing — The Ten-Minute Warm-Up

For all you writers out there who are toiling under the misdirection of the so-called experts, I’ll let you in on a little secret: There’s no such thing as the “correct” way to write a story. In some instances, you don’t even need sensible grammar and punctuation (witness the “Benjy” section of Faulkner’s Sound and the Fury, or any reasonably long segment of James Joyce). As a rule, unless you intend for the narrator or the book to be taken as being written by someone for whom the English language is a bit of a mystery, you should observe proper grammar, punctuation, and spelling (or GPS, as I frequently refer to it). Other than that, you’re free to do just about anything you want when telling a story. Continue reading “Writing — The Ten-Minute Warm-Up”

Oh, it’s SO on…

logamachy (low-GAH-mah-key) n. — a dispute over or about words

I hereby declare myself a Knight Errant and Defender of Logos in the ongoing war over words, neologisms, the purpose and flexibility of language, and the Usage Panel of The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language. Let the controversy begin. Continue reading “Oh, it’s SO on…”

Death is a Lonely Business

By Ray Bradbury
ISBN 0-395-54702-0

Publication Year: 1985

Tags: Detective, Writer, Golden Gumshoes

Rating: ★★★★★

The year is 1949. A young writer of pulp fiction struggles with the feeling of death that surrounds him as the city tears down the great amusement pier in Venice, California. There will be no more rides, no more side shows, no more games of chance, no more fortune tellers and snake-oil salesmen. The huge movie marquee, where great names like Fairbanks, Chaney, Garbo, and Hepburn once lent their grace, reads only GOODBYE.

Death hits closer to home as well. Four bodies turn up – one trapped in a lion cage that lies submerged in the Venice canal, one in a cheerful flophouse, and two others in houses across town. The deaths could be natural, or they could be accidents, but our unnamed writer (Bradbury himself, at age 29, as he would have been in that year?) doesn’t think so. It just feels wrong. And although he claims to believe only in facts, Detective Elmo Crumley has to admit that he, too, doesn’t trust the appearances of innocence that surround the deaths. Unfortunately, it will take clues and facts to solve the crime – if there is one – and no one seems to have a motive of any kind. Continue reading “Death is a Lonely Business”

FA:7 Collection

Fox Amoore (Iain Armour)

TRACKS: 1—Game of Lightning; 2—Dream Rider; 3—Stay As You Are; 4—Our Place of Being; 5—Winds of Change; 6—Hold Me Tight; 7—Edge of Valhalla; 8—Never Far Away (vocal); 9—The Triad; 10—Play for Your Heart; 11—Soothe the Beast; 12—Seasons of Kusac; 13—The Ninth Tale; 14—End Game

TAGS: Instrumental, Furry Artist

RELEASE DATE: November 6, 2015

RATING: ★★☆☆☆

I’ve not heard a great deal of Fox Amoore’s music, although all that I’ve heard seems well-represented by the works on this album. He’s a good craftsman, carefully composing solid work that, for the most part, sounds like something to back a video game or a movie that’s based on one. In itself, this is not a bad thing, but the range and effectiveness of the music is sometimes limited by this evident preference. Largely predictable in his musical construction, he can be counted upon to crash in with an overdose of electric guitar or percussion when he runs out of good ideas for taking the piece in a new and interesting direction. Continue reading “FA:7 Collection”

Good Night, and Good Luck (2005)

(PG) David Stratharin (Edward R. Murrow), Patricia Clarkson (Shirley Wershba), George Clooney (Fred Friendly), Jeff Daniels (Sig Mickelson), Robert Downey Jr. (Joe Wershba), Frank Langella (William Paley), Ray Wise (Don Hollenbeck). Music: No general soundtrack (songs performed by Dianne Reeves). Screenplay: George Clooney and Grant Heslov. Director: George Clooney. 93 minutes (black and white).

Tags: Docu-Drama, Government Terrorism, Censorship, History, News

Notable: Shirley and Joe Wershba, who were actually part of Morrow’s news team, were directly consulted at every stage of production, making the story as historically accurate as possible.

Rating: ★★★★★

The year is 1953. Television is brand new, the world is rebuilding from World War II, and the junior senator from Wisconsin, Joseph McCarthy (a.k.a. “Tailgunner Joe”) was convinced that America had been infiltrated by “card-carrying communists” whose mere existence would destroy the country. CBS journalist Edward R. Murrow began his reporting of McCarthy by finding one incident – a young man thrown out of the Air Force because his father may have had some sort of contact with “communists” – and exposing McCarthy’s extremism, building the story piece by piece until McCarthy himself became the subject of a Senate investigation. Continue reading “Good Night, and Good Luck (2005)”

Welcome to Wordsmything

My Handsome Wolf Self
Let’s Talk Words…

These segments in the blogsite are about words. The use of words. The origins of words. The changing nature of words. The outrageous character of words. The raw beauty of the perfectly chosen word. The outright hilarity of the ill-chosen word. The power of words to invoke the worst and the best in each of us. My goal here is to inform, amuse, educate, incite curiosity, provoke response, and – to the very best of my ability – to entertain. Continue reading “Welcome to Wordsmything”

Pornografitti

Extreme (Pat Badger, Nuno Bettencourt, Gary Cherone, Paul Geary)

TRACKS: 1—Decadence Dance; 2—Li’l Jack Horny; 3—When I’m President; 4—Get the Funk Out; 5—More Than Words; 6—Money (In God We Trust); 7—It(‘s a Monster); 8—Pornografitti; 9—When I first Kissed You; 10—Suzi (Wants Her All-Day What?); 11—He-Man Woman Hater; 12—Song For Love; 13—Hole Hearted.

RELEASE DATE: August 7, 1990

TAGS: Rock, Horrible, Indecisive, Fuggeddabowdit

RATING: ★☆☆☆☆

Although this is the second album by this band, it’s the first I’ve heard of them. I was suckered into buying the whole album, back in the day before you could buy one song out of the bunch. (To really date myself, I happened to be channel-surfing, in those ancient days when VH-1 actually played — GASP! — music videos, and I heard “Hole Hearted,” which is apparently the band’s only hit.) The balance of this album is so radically different from that one cut (read: “Hole Hearted” is the only song worth anything), and it’s definitely not a keeper; meanwhile, I thought I’d take a long look at who and what these guys are, or at least what they tried to be. Continue reading “Pornografitti”