Monday, June 28, 2010

The Versatile Blogger Award

Last week, someone I always enjoy reading, the highly accomplished writer/blogger J.D. over at RADIATOR HEAVEN, received worthy acclaim when he was bestowed with The Versatile Blogger award. This is an ideal prize for someone so multi-talented like him. You can add the word generous, too, because he shared his award with moi. To say the least, I am very honored to be in the same company with J.D. and the others he shared this with. Thank you, my friend. Following his example, I'll try "passing on this award to other blogs that I enjoy reading and that inspire me."

The Rules for the Award:
  • Thank the person who gave you this award (see above)
  • Share 7 things about yourself (see below)
  • Pass the award along to 15 who you have recently discovered and who you think fantastic for whatever reason (in no particular order - see way below)
  • Contact the blogs you picked and let them know about the award.

So... here are those 7 things:
  1. I met my future wife at work by the copy machine (decades ago when the devices were large, rare, and expensive).
  2. I can't stand the taste of coconut. Never have... never will. It doesn't matter even if you try to hide it in a candy bar like Almond Joy or Mounds, it ain't going down.
  3. Through the years, I've tried to visit many of the location sites from my favorite L.A. Movies (you can ask my wife).
  4. I adore brunettes.
  5. Though I can't eat them like I once could, one of my favorite See's Candy is a Tipperary Bon Bon (I acquired a taste for them from my mother)
  6. I once was flexible enough I could place and hold my forehead onto my straighten legs (sadly, those days are long gone)
  7. I do not suffer from Triskaidekaphobia -- in fact, I'm the polar opposite of that ;-).

And... I like to share this award with:

Scientist Gone Wordy

Stuff Running 'Round My Head

Pop Culture Nerd

Edward Copeland on Film

Meanderings and Muses

Snooker in Berlin

From Cop to Mom and the Words in Between

Cinema Geek

Jen's Book Thoughts

The Drowning Machine


Musings of an All Purpose Monkey

Nobody Move!

Shell Sherree

You Would Say That, Wouldn't You?

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Thursday, June 24, 2010

Children of Men Film/Disc Review

In conjunction with the Scientist Gone Wordy (my good blogging friend Rachel), this is our second parallel posting where the pair of us review and discuss a particular and noteworthy film, and its source novel. In my case, I'll be taking a look at the 2006 dystopian science fiction film, Children of Men. I originally viewed this film in the Spring of 2007 on standard DVD as I did not catch it during its initial (and relatively short-lived) mainstream U.S. release the previous year. For this review, I re-watched the film, after obtaining, the Blu-ray Disc edition of Children of Men that came out in May 2009. SGW's keen eye will examine the 1993 book of the same name by British novelist, P.D. James. Rachel's appraisal of that novel, and her look at the differences between it and the film (one she has a special affinity for), can be found using the link below:

The Children of Men by P. D. James

A brief synopsis of the film: in the future time of 2027, the world of man has taken a decidedly bleak and chaotic turn for the worst. The world appears on the brink of a total societal breakdown. Terrorism and environmental damage are rampant, and the few places on the planet where things are seemingly under control (in the U.K. for this story) seem to have gone the fascist, military control route... big time. The reason for all of the despairing calamity comes down to one significant fact: the 18 years of human infertility. Theo Faron (marvelously played by Clive Owen) is one of the lucky ones -- as defined by the fact that he is a U.K. citizen with a job, and not one of the ill-fated refugees. You can tell the military and politicians consider them the barbarian horde by their less than humane treatment of the outsiders. The Britain that "soldiers on" has become the cold gray sanctuary (and a testament to how bad it is elsewhere). The former activist is content to live out the remaining years of shared melancholy in alcohol-induced drudgery with his handful of friends. At least, before they euthanize themselves. Just about everyone here is in a joyless state. That is, until his estranged wife (the wonderful Julianne Moore in the all-too-short role of Julian) re-enters his life with a proposition to find a way to illegally transport a fugitive ("a fugi") across the police state lines.

This review has been updated and moved to my current blog, which can be found here.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Diary of a Wimpy Kid: The Last Straw

To say the least, the physical and mental act of writing for my 10-year old daughter is not her favorite activity. However, to keep a promise and as an encouragement to my fierce one to keep up her writing, I am posting my female child's (now completed) 4th grade class book talk report.

Diary of a Wimpy Kid: The Last Straw
Author: Jeff Kinney

Book Talk

Greg is a lazy kid who likes it when his stuff is done for him. Rodrick is Greg's older brother who is mean to Greg and treats Greg like a rag doll. Manny is Greg's younger brother; he tries to act like Rodrick to be mean to Greg. But it just annoys him. Frank is Greg's father. He tries to be on a diet of no junk food whatsoever. Rowley is Greg's best friend. He tries to be like Greg, a macho kid.

In the beginning...

Greg starts the New Year like he's the boss of the house. He goes around their house helping (and ordering) his family with their resolutions, and to make them be better.

In the middle...

His dad forced Greg and Rodrick to sign up for Soccer for Greg and SAT class for Rodrick. When Greg's team comes up with the name "Red Socks" instead of "Twisted Wizard", Greg switches to back-up goalie so he didn't have to block free kicks.

His dad wants to ship Greg out to Military school like Lenwood Heath's parents did. Greg needs to change his dad's mind about Military school before he's gone. He signs up for Boy Scouts and gets Rowley to join too.

In The End...

Greg and his family went up to the Snellas' house for Seth Snellas' Half Birthday Party. Every year, the Snellas' try to have the little boy or girl laugh at grown-ups who line up. The Snellas' really want the grand prize of "AFF" (America's Funniest Family).

I recommend this book for people who like funny graphic novels.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

If There's One Movie for Father's Day...

... for me it is To Kill a Mockingbird. It debuted in 1962 and was adapted from Harper Lee's Pulitzer Prize winning 1960 novel of the same name. Horton Foote adapted the material for the screenplay and Robert Mulligan performed the direction.

I am far from the character, but if there is a man and father I'd ever want for, or as a child, or would ever want to be, it is that of Atticus Finch. Happy Father's Day.

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Friday, June 18, 2010

My Favorite Lines From Favorite Movies Part 5

Horse Soldiers 1959Image via Wikipedia
This is my continuation of an arc I started a while back, containing some of my all-time favorite lines from the movies I never tire of watching. However, you may have noticed I've sprinkled a few lines from some of my favorite oaters in the preceding posts. In this case, since a friend and fellow western admirer (blogger Livius of Ride the High Country) from across the pond, will be taking a break in between posts, I decided to dedicate one solely to that genre to see him off. So, for those times when you need something to say, pardner...
(I share credit with the first one with my movie blogging buddy, J.D.)

The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly
"When you have to shoot, shoot. Don't talk."
Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid
"Boy, I got vision and the rest of the world wears bifocals."
Once Upon a Time in the West
"How can you trust a man that wears both a belt and suspenders? Man can't even trust his own pants."
Rio Bravo
"When you come back, you holler 'fore you open that door. I'm libel to blast you just for the heck of it."
The Magnificent Seven
"They are all farmers. Farmers talk of nothing but fertilizer and women. I've never shared their enthusiasm for fertilizer. As for women, I became indifferent when I was 83."
The Wild Bunch
"What I like, and what I need, are two different things."
The Horse Soldiers
"As usual, I'm just presenting the grim facts. Colonel Secord doesn't seem to understand that the coffee tastes better when the latrines are dug downstream instead of upstream. How do you like *your* coffee, Colonel?"
Red River
"There's three times in a man's life when he has a right to yell at the moon: when he marries, when his children come, and... and when he finishes a job he had to be crazy to start."
The Life and Times of Judge Roy Bean
"The last time that bear ate a lawyer, he had the runs for thirty-three days."
The Schofield Kid: [after killing a man for the first time] "It don't seem real... how he ain't gonna never breathe again, ever... how he's dead. And the other one too. All on account of pulling a trigger."
William Munny: "It's a hell of a thing, killing a man. Take away all he's got and all he's ever gonna have."
The Schofield Kid: "Yeah, well, I guess they had it coming."
William Munny: "We all got it coming, kid."
(I share credit for that last one with a number of friends... including Herb)

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Saturday, June 12, 2010

Worth Reading June 2010

Some posts from those definitely worth reading (at least for me on this gloomy June day):
  • Jeff over at Stuff Running 'Round My Head has a wonderful take and look back at the criminally short-lived Firefly series by Josh Whedon - Space Cowboys
  • Author John Kenneth Muir has another of his fine Cult Movie Reviews, this time examining Martin Scorsese's adaptation of the Denis Lehane's mystery thriller novel, Shutter Island
  • Movie blogger J.D. at RADIATOR HEAVEN (love that title) flashes back to the 60's with his marvelous review of Oliver Stone's The Doors
  • I always appreciate blogger/reviewer Livius film examinations, especially when he turns his keen eye at a western. In this case, Howard Hawk's middle version of a story he told three times in his career, El Dorado
  • Rachel, the Scientist Gone Wordy, has a very interesting opinion in regard to books and genres in The Business of Genres, or Thoughts on Indicating OTHER
  • Expiration Date author, Duane Swierczynski, has news about his new writing gig (hint, she was played by Scarlett Johansson in Iron Man 2)
  • author Steven Hart highlighted a funny skit (if it just wasn't so accurately tragic, or tragically accurate) for us in Spill, Baby, Spill
Oh, well. I need to sign off now...

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Friday, June 4, 2010

Friday Forgotten Book/Film: FAIL-SAFE

I'm of a generation that grew up during the height of the Cold War, and thankfully weathered time to witness the ushering of that era's end. From that conflict, there has been a mountain of fictional material (books and films) produced from the period. Many, drawing upon the fear and dread from that confrontation. A generation's expectation that it could only end when each of the superpowers finally launched their nuclear payloads at one another is at its full bleak glory in many of those works -- and may seem bizarre (or perhaps, even quaint) to the younger age groups. I'll submit that Eugene Harvey and Burdick Wheeler's 1962 novel, FAIL-SAFE, epitomized a good portion of this anxiety, and did it well. The old bestseller should lay on top of that particular old-world-view book stack. The synopsis of the novel, that of the accidental triggering of a strategic bomber air-wing strike against the Soviet Union caused by computer glitch (and its horrifying and terrible solution in the tale), was close enough story-wise to a another book. Peter George's (aka Peter Bryant) earlier 1958 novel, Red Alert. So much so, that it caused its author to sue the tandem of Harvey and Burdick.
The rest of this post has been updated and moved over to my current blog, found here.Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Thomas Perry's STRIP

A week ago, if you had asked me if I'd heard of author Thomas Perry, I would have told you yes. If you had asked me if I'd read anything by the man, the answer would have been a no. And if you'd have asked (my... you can be a pester, at times) if I was going to read something by him anytime soon, I'd have exasperatedly said, "I don't know." The TBR pile is pretty high right now, and is only growing like my two kids (which in their case is good, but the opposite is true for that pile). I'm not getting any younger, you know. Plus, taking on something like Perry's Jane Whitefield series at this point seemed just this side of masochistic in my whittling down the pile endeavor I've given myself. I had the Jack Till standalone, Silence, on my Audible wish list, too. But, I confess that's been there for months now (and nothing seemed to be urging me on to download the work). I'd have said things were unlikely to change anytime soon. That is until I read this online:
"For a while “Strip” ambles along in this entertaining but recognizable vein. With its penny-ante schemes, crossed wires, mistaken identities and dim-witted ne’er-do-wells, it veers close to Elmore Leonard territory, always a good place to be."
This is from the N.Y. Times book review by Janet Maselin, Affable Thugs, Playful Crimes, Rough Justice, of Perry's new novel, Strip. And it's the "... veers close to Elmore Leonard territory" line that got my attention. I had to see for myself (by circumventing the pile) if dropping the [doffs his cap] Elmore Leonard name in the piece was just plain hyperbole by the reviewer. I'm happy to say, it wasn't. What a fun ride this was! Indeed, I could have just said that for the unexpected plotting in the novel, alone. However, what really made the work memorable for me were the characters the author sprinkled all over the place in the crime tale. Most of them, who come from the other side of the law, I couldn't get enough of. Hell, I found myself more than sympathetic toward someone I really hadn't expected. Surprisingly so.

As well, the novelist made effective use of the L.A. terrain (especially some of the San Fernando Valley locations) in the yarn while producing some sharp insights of SoCal (and some of those who live here). Like former out-of-towners (and now great, southland authors) Robert Crais, Don Winslow, and Charlie Huston, Thomas Perry brings a similar skill with his characters and wordsmithing. Add an intense and keen eye toward his adopted hometown, and I now have a quartet to follow (and this isn't going to help that pile of mine none, huh?).
"Perry is the master, and Strip is a slice of pure crime nirvana. You will not want to put it down. You will not want it to end. You will be very, very entertained."  ~ Josh Bazell, author of Beat the Reaper
That, "You will not want it to end", part is so true. Since I listening to the Tantor Media's unabridged audiobook, expertly narrated by Michael Kramer I must say, I was caught flatfooted by the novel's conclusion. Frustratingly so, too. That is until I figured this is what the pusher publisher probably wanted all along -- to get me hooked. I surmise Perry can easily continue this the story or the character arcs with what's left by the story's end. He must... he has to. I have to say, this situation where I'm left yearning for another fix of these characters so reminds me of that classic Bill Cosby routine, The Toothache. You know the one... where the tooth sufferer discovers the miracle that is Midol (only to learn another lesson):

I guess I'll have to make do by downloading that audiobook left in the Audible queue after all.

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