The Secret Sharer

By Joseph Conrad
ISBN: 042528509X

Publication Year: 1909

Tags: Classic, Seafaring

Rating: ★★★☆☆

An unseasoned sea captain, feeling a virtual stranger to his command and his crew, generously offers his hard-working crew a chance catch up on their sleep, taking the anchor watch of his own ship until after midnight. During that watch, he rescues a naked man who says that he has fled from the hold of a ship anchored nearby, where he has been held for accidentally killing a crewmate. The captain helps the man hide in his stateroom, where the man’s whispered story helps the captain find himself and his destiny. Continue reading “The Secret Sharer”

Stupidity in Wiki Form

Let’s start by explaining that “wiki” (WEE-kee) is actually Hawaiian in origin — a word meaning “quick” and usually in the form of wiki-wiki, meaning to go or do something quickly (“He’s hurt; bring bandages, wiki-wiki!”). Coined by programmer Ward Cunningham to describe a collaborative website or compendium for “quick” or “quickly-obtained” information, we now refer to any such compendium as a “wiki” (WIH-kee), the most famous being Wikipedia. On the plus side, anyone with information about a topic may contribute to the knowledge base; on the minus side, anyone who thinks they have information about a topic may have a wee into the knowledge pool at will. While Wikipedia does what it can to verify sources and police its own compendium, other wikis are reduced to self-parodying stupidity. The best example of this is an online abomination known as the Urban Dictionary. Continue reading “Stupidity in Wiki Form”

Seven Dreams

Gordon Jenkins
featuring his orchestra, Bill Lee (Dreamer), The Ralph Brewster Singers

Tracks: 1 — The Professor; 2 — The Conductor; 3 — The Caretaker; 4 — The Cocktail Party; 5 — The Pink Houseboat; 6 — The Nightmare; 7 — The Girl on the Rock

Tags: Musical, Program Music, Concept Album

Release Date: 1953

Rating: ★★★★★

This “musical for record album” features the experiences of the Dreamer (sung by Bill Lee) as he experiences each environment. We follow him through each dream, and every morning, he wakes to the raucous, jangling alarm ringing and the spoken, sing-song litany of, “Wake up, brush your teeth, wash your face, comb your hair, eat your breakfast, go to work…” until, with the last dream, he lets himself stay in the last, best dream. Continue reading “Seven Dreams”

To Die, To Sleep

(1994, Rated PG-13) Noah Hathaway (Phil), Paul Coufos (Dumar), Larry Gatlin (himself), Ami Dolenz (Kathy), Charles Napier (Father), Trish Davis (Mother), Nicole Fellous (Jan), Suzanne Alter (Sue), Vali Ashton (Counselor), Tom Pieper (Drug Dealer), George Thompson (Bartender). Music: Ralph Geddes and Michael G. Smith. Screenplay: Rick Filon (story by Kenneth Dalton and Rick Filon). Director: Brianne Murphy. 86 minutes.

Tags: Teen, Angst, Suicide, Avoid-At-All-Cost

Notable: The characters are so two-dimensional, most don’t even have names (Father, Mother, etc.), and the script is the same.

Rating: ☆☆☆☆☆

A troubled teen — a rich kid who would rather have his parents than their money — begins to flirt with death as a way to ease his pain. He meets a roadie with a C&W band who offers his experience to help him choose a different course. Continue reading “To Die, To Sleep”

The Four Agreements

By Don Miguel Ruiz
ISBN: 0-965-046365

Publication Year: 1997

Tags: New Age, Philosophy

Rating: ★★☆☆☆

I’m willing to admit that I may not “get” this volume simply because I don’t agree with several of the ways in which these Four Agreements are described. The basis of the concept has been described in many similar volumes over the years: This consciousness is not All There Is, and what we call “reality” is, in fact, a sort of unconscious agreement as to what is “real”. Ruiz refers to all this as a form of “domestication”, being changed from a “truly free person” into a sort of societal “pet”. This occurs, he says, because we learn and “agree” with all the things we’re taught, regardless of whether or not such “agreements” actually help us. This, Ruiz, explains, is our prison in which we live our lives, all the while imagining that we are “free” when we are in fact devoutly unhappy. Continue reading “The Four Agreements”

Flame Wars

Linguists and language experts — including two of my more favorite foils, Dr. John McWhorter and Dr. Anne Curzan — tell us that a living language changes, evolves, and creates new words (or new meanings for old words) through usage. The idea is that some words, even though they are illegitimate corruptions that should never have been created (or were created through ignorance of proper usage), simply won’t go away. I doubt that this rant will change anything, but I wish at least to re-register my protest. Continue reading “Flame Wars”

Bobby McFerrin

Bobby McFerrin

Trachs: 1—Dance With Me; 2—Feline; 3—You’ve Really Got a Hold On Me (with Phoebe Snow); 4—All Feets Can Dance (anybody ‘thout feet can dance on their hands); 5—Sightless Bird; 6—Peace; 7—Jubilee; 8—Hallucinations; 9—Chicken

Release Date: 1982

Tags: Vocal, Debut Album

Rating: ★★☆☆☆

In novel-writing, there is a theory that one must prove one’s worth by writing a few formulaic novels (or, to use a more descriptive and technical term “crapola novels”) first; after having proven that one can produce mediocrity at its most pointless, there is some peculiar reasoning on the part of publishers that you will then be capable of producing a work of genius. I’ve never understood this idea, particularly when it could injure an artist to approach his art this way. By this same token, had this been the first work by Bobby McFerrin that I’d heard, I’d have dismissed him without a second thought and not gone on to enjoy his later works. Continue reading “Bobby McFerrin”

The Wicker Man (1973)

(1973, R) Edward Woodward (Sgt,. Howie), Christopher Lee (Lord Summerisle), Diane Cilento (Miss Rose), Britt Ekland (Willow), Ingrid Pitt (Librarian), Lindsay Kemp (Alder MacGreagor), Russell Waters (Harbour Master), Aubrey Morris (Old Caretaker/Gravedigger). Music: Paul Giovanni (performed by “Magnet”; “Corn Rigs” sung by Paul Giovanni). Screenplay: Anthony Shaffer. Director: Robin Hardy. 88 minutes.

Tags: Thriller, Suspense, Horror

Notable: Britt Ekland before she became a “Bond girl”; Edward Woodward’s first leading film role

Rating: ★★★★☆

A hard-nosed, devoutly Christian police officer from the mainland, Sgt. Howie (Woodward), is sent to the Island of Summerisle to search for a missing young girl. What he finds is a small, isolated population devoted to the faith and practices of the “Old Gods,” with all the accompanying pagan sensuality, nature worship, rites, and rituals, along with a firmly-established wall of secrecy and misdirection from every person on the island. Continue reading “The Wicker Man (1973)”