The Shadow

(1994, rated PG-13) Alec Baldwin (Lamont Cranston), John Lone (Shiwan Khan), Penelope Ann Miller (Margo Lane), Peter Boyle (Moses “Mo” Shrevniz), Ian McKellen (Dr. Reinhardt Lane), Tim Curry (Farley Claymore), Johnathan Winters (Wainright Barth), Sab Shimono (Dr. Roy Tam), James Hong (Li Peng), Ethan Phillips (Nelson). Music: Jerry Goldsmith. Screenplay: David Koepp. Director: Russell Mulcahy. 107 minutes.

Tags: Mystery, Golden Age Hero, Campy, Comic Book Character

Notable: Ethan Phillips, before he was Neelix on Star Trek: Voyager; Johnathan Winters in a non-comedic role (at least, not intentionally comedic).

Rating: ★★★★☆

From the old radio dramas of Orson Wells and the pulp fiction and comics of the Golden Age comes this popcorn treat of a guilty pleasure. Lamont Cranston, wealthy playboy-about-town, returns after a seven-year disappearance, now possessing the power to cloud men’s minds so that they cannot see anything but that which he cannot conceal: His shadow. Unknown to most, he was a ruthless ruler of an Eastern drug cartel, until he was called to redeem himself by learning to train his mind and use his knowledge of man’s darkness to capture and turn those who are yet redeemable. Continue reading “The Shadow”

50 American Revolutions You’re Not Supposed to Know

By Mickey Z
ISBN 1-932857-18-4

Publication Year: 2005

Tags: Political, History

Rating: ★★★☆☆

In this small volume, “professional iconoclast” (Newsweek) Mickey Z presents fifty of what he considers to be American revolutions — actions and events that were considered to be dangerous precedents of social protest and rebellions against the status quo. Among these is Thomas Paine’s creation of Common Sense; Eugene Debs campaigning for President from his prison cell; Muhammad Ali refusing to be drafted into the military; and American Indians occupying Alcatraz Island. Presented in brief articles of perhaps a thousand words each, the information here is often glossed over or even go unmentioned in modern history texts. Continue reading “50 American Revolutions You’re Not Supposed to Know”

Flexing Your Writing Muscles

“Start writing, no matter what. The water does not flow until the faucet is turned on.” — Louis L’Amour

Few things in the world get me more angry than someone saying, “You mean you just write? What kind of job is that?” In one sense, they are correct. As Robert Wilensky observed, “We’ve all heard that a million monkeys banging on a million typewriters will eventually reproduce the entire works of Shakespeare. Now, thanks to the Internet, we know this is not true.” If all it took to be a writer is to throw words together, any idiot could do it, and as you can tell from various comments on various sites, an extraordinary number of idiots have done just that. Let’s talk a bit about how we, as writers, can do better than that. Continue reading “Flexing Your Writing Muscles”

From Heart to Crown

Rob Whitesides-Woo

Tracks: 1—Aurora; 2—Devic Dances; 3—Coeur de Lion; 4—Heartland; 5—The River Why; 6—From Heart to Crown.

Tags: Instrumental, New Age, Meditative

Release Date: August 30, 1994

Rating: ★★★★★

A meditative, multi-instrumental presentation from a (regretfully) lesser-known master of the genre, this album is excellent for background, for a thoughtful mood, and for soothing frayed nerves after a long and tiresome day. Woo performs with harp, strings, and winds to create an aural soundscape that deserves a lot more praise and discussion, so keep reading. Continue reading “From Heart to Crown”


(2002, rated PG-13) Mel Gibson (Graham Hess), Joaquin Phoenix (Merrill Hess), Rory Culkin (Morgan Hess), Abigail Breslin (Bo Hess), Cherry Jones (Officer Paski), Ray Reddy (M. Night Shyamalan), Patricia Kalember (Colleen Hess). Music: James Newton Howard. Screenplay: M. Night Shyamalan. Director: M. Night Shyamalan. 106 minutes.

Tags: Horror, Suspense, Kitsch, Stupid

Notable: Apart from indicating just how bad Shyamalan can be, not a helluva lot.

Rating: ★☆☆☆☆

Well, there’s two hours of my life that I won’t get back.

Former minister Graham Hess (Gibson) wakes to find a 500-foot crop circle in his cornfield. As worldwide reports show similar, nearly identical crop circles all over the globe, people begin to fear that this is not a hoax, like the ones in the early 1980s; aliens really are here, and no one knows if they’re friendly or not. After sightings of ships and actual aliens, the world throws itself into panic, and they fear that the human race may be run. Hunkering down in his farm home with his brother Merrill (Phoenix) and two children (Culkin and Breslin), Hess must find a way to survive the possible “end times” without the power of his faith. Continue reading “Signs”

If God Wanted Us To Travel…

By David Brenner
ISBN 0-671-70113-4

Publication Year: 1990

Tags: Comedy

Rating: ★★★★☆

David Brenner (1936-2014) was one of America’s best-known and best-loved comedians in the 1970s-1990s. Considered a master of observational comedy, he was the forerunner of and influence upon Richard Lewis, Paul Reiser, Jay Leno, David Letterman, and many others. This book is a collection of “outlandish tips and hilarious anecdotes” collected over decades of crisscrossing the U.S. on his many tours of his stand-up comedy. This is a book written by a guy who always remembered to “bring the funny”. Continue reading “If God Wanted Us To Travel…”

“Quid Quo Pro, Clarice…”

Even as the redoubtable Sir Anthony Hopkins oozed forth those lines as Hannibal Lecter in Silence of the Lambs (which was released in 1991… on Valentine’s Day, no less), I was surprised by how many people didn’t know quite what that bit of Latin meant. Although primarily used in legal circles these days (mostly for the purpose of confusing the layman), Latin pops up in everyday speech from time to time. When it doesn’t, I do my best to make it pop, mostly so that I can watch other people’s brains pop as well. Yes, I can be wicked. Allow me to introduce you to some of my favorite bits of Latin lingo, for your own edification and the astonishment of those around you. Continue reading ““Quid Quo Pro, Clarice…””

Dali: The Endless Enigma

Various Artists

Tracks: 1 — Tuna Fishing (Michael Stearns); 2 — The Great Masturbator (Michel Huygen); 3 — Shades of Night Descending (Walter Holland); 4 — Inventions of the Monsters (Djam Karet); 5 — Impressions of Africa (Loren Nerell); 6 — Face of Mae West (Klaus Schulze); 7 — Assumpta Corpuscularia Lapislazulina (Bo Tomlyn); 8 — Birth of Liquid Desires (Steve Roach and Robert Rich); 9 — The Disintegration of the Persistence of Memory (Steve Roach); 10 — Rhinocerotic Figure of Phidas’ “Illisos” (Steve Roach and Robert Rich)

Tags: Electronica, New Age, Meditative

Release Date: 1990

Rating: ★★★★☆

I found this recording a few years after its 1990 release. It’s a tribute to the life and works of surrealist artist Salvador Dali; the composers turned to Dali’s paintings for their inspiration, and these tracks are the result of that labor of love. Like Dali’s own work, this album is not for everyone. There will be times when you will have to suspend your prejudices about music in order to hear what the composer was working to achieve  —  and that goes for everyone from lovers of classical music to aficionados of grunge metal. There are sounds and musical experiences in the collection to challenge anyone of any taste, and if you’re lucky, you’ll come away with appreciation if not pleasure in the experience. (Happily, none of it is as grotesque and inaccessible as Arnold Schoenberg’s Pierrot Lunaire, which I’m loathe to inflict upon anyone.) Continue reading “Dali: The Endless Enigma”

Death Among Friends

(1975, not rated) Kate Reid (Det. Shirley Ridgeway), John Anderson (Capt. Lewis), A Martinez (Manny Reyes), Martin Balsam (Ham Russell Buckner), Jack Cassidy (Chico Donovan), Paul Henreid (Otto Schiller), Pamela Hensley (Connie Benson), William Smith (Sheldon Casey), Linda Day George (Dr. Lisa Manning), Denver Pyle (Morgan). Music: Jim Helms. Screenplay: Stanley Ralph Ross. Director: Paul Wendkos. 72 minutes.

Tags: Mystery, Detective, Television Pilot

Notable: Starring role for Reid, in a television pilot, before her appearances in Dallas

Rating: ★★★★☆

Three men bilked millions from small investors; one had died in Paris, and now one is murdered on the estate of the third. How can a man be strangled, apparently in the middle of a tennis court, when the only set of footprints to be found anywhere are those of the victim? It’s up to Det. Shirley Ridgeway — “Mrs. R” — to interview a household full of suspects and sift the clues to catch a killer. Continue reading “Death Among Friends”