Friday, July 22, 2011

John Sayles' A Moment in the Sun - Book Review

A Moment in the SunA Moment in the Sun by John Sayles
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This is an unforgettable book about America at the turn of the last century. Skillfully told and breathtaking in its scope.

I must say that the first half was totally engrossing, but it got a little tougher in the second half. I think whole chapters could have been left out. And yet the breadth of it is amazing, it's like you are soaking in the era. Gold rush, Spanish American War, yellow journalism, Cuba, the philippines, African American culture post Reconstruction, the white overthrow of the elected government of Wilmington, NC,  the early days of movie making, Mark Twain, the assassination of McKinley, on and on, yet woven into a compelling narrative. I learned some history for sure.

This book is getting rave reviews (the one in the NYTimes caused me to buy it) but I don't hear much about it otherwise. It is a rough read, and you have to wrestle with it in more ways than one, but well worth the effort. Like reading a cinder block, it's so fat.

It takes dedication to read this, and it's not for everyone, but I admire it greatly.

View all my reviews

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Two Men in a Bar: A True-Life Poem

I'm in a Minneapolis hotel bar
Slick, dark and red lit
Sipping a husky tempranillo
Mindlessly checking email on my phone
Reading the latest headlines.
I'm aware of three men at the other end of the bar
Engrossed in an NBA playoff game
Because they are making noise.
It's Chicago and some other team.
The man at the end of the bar, young,
With dark frame glasses and short slick black hair,
Is especially loud.
He is a Chicago Bulls fanatic.
He offers a running commentary
In a clear voice that sounds as though
He's a color commentator on a sports station.
Two other men watch with him
And comment in softer tones
But the young man with glasses
Repeatedly proclaims his allegiance to the Bulls
Exulting with each goal,
And one especially dramatic dunk elicits a whoop
For which he apologizes
To the rest of us at the bar.
Murmured conversation among the three men
Continues during commercials.
And then the other two men settle up their tab
And leave.
The young man at the end of the bar
Must now watch the game in silence.
But only for a few minutes.

There is another young man at the bar
Seated midway between me
And that Bulls fan.
This young man has been chatting with the bartender
And they must be old friends
Perhaps in high school years before.
Just enough of a conversation to make it sound so.

The game continues.
The man at the end of the bar
says something about Chicago
To the man in at the middle.
They realize they are both from Chicago.
The man at the end of the bar says something
About Rahm Emmanuel.
The man in the middle disapproves.
Sporadic friendly conversation continues.
The big Bulls fan at the end of the bar asks the man in the middle
What do you do in Chicago?
I don't catch his answer,
But he says that his husband teaches at the university.
His husband.
The Bulls fan doesn't blink.
He asks the middle man more
About his husband.
And they keep talking.
It is as natural a conversation
Between two strangers
As you could ever overhear
In a bar in Minnesota
With a basketball game on the big flat screen.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Harper Lee -- who turns 85 today -- denies cooperating with upcoming book | Jacket Copy | Los Angeles Times

Harper Lee -- who turns 85 today -- denies cooperating with upcoming book | Jacket Copy | Los Angeles Times: "On Tuesday, Penguin announced that it would publish a memoir of lives intertwined with the reclusive writer, 'The Mockingbird Next Door: Life With Harper Lee,' by Marja Mills, a former Chicago Tribune reporter, written 'with direct access to Harper and Alice Lee [her sister] and their friends and family.'

On Wednesday, the N.Y. Times reports, Harper Lee issued a statement saying that she had not cooperated with the book."

Al Gore's 'Our Choice' App Reinvents Books, Reading

Al Gore's 'Our Choice' App Reinvents Books, Reading: "For Al Gore's book Our Choice, the startup has created an ebook that talks, spins, moves, and folds, featuring video, interactive infographics, maps, and more, all seamlessly interwoven with the text in a way that helps bring the concepts to life."

Monday, April 11, 2011

Real Business - How I got a blank book to the top of the Amazon charts

Real Business - How I got a blank book to the top of the Amazon charts: "Here's how I published a bestseller in just nine days (and made a million authors instantly hate me)."


Thursday, April 07, 2011

2011 Science Fiction Hall of Fame Inductees - Genreville

2011 Science Fiction Hall of Fame Inductees - Genreville: "The 2011 inductees to the Science Fiction Hall of Fame are Harlan Ellison, Vincent Di Fate, Moebius, and Gardner Dozois."

Google to Revamp YouTube With 'Channels' -

Google to Revamp YouTube With 'Channels' - "Google Inc. is working on a major overhaul of YouTubeas it tries to position itself for the rise of televisions that let people watch online video in their living rooms, according to people familiar with the matter.

YouTube is looking to compete with broadcast and cable television, some of these people said, a goal that requires it to entice users to stay on the website longer, and to convince advertisers that it will reach desirable consumers."

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

'The King's Speech' gets 12 Oscar nominations - Yahoo! News

'The King's Speech' gets 12 Oscar nominations - Yahoo! News: "The British monarchy saga 'The King's Speech' leads the Academy Awards with 12 nominations, including best picture and acting honors for Colin Firth, Helena Bonham Carter and Geoffrey Rush.
Also nominated for best picture Tuesday were the psychosexual thriller 'Black Swan'; the boxing drama 'The Fighter'; the sci-fi blockbuster 'Inception'; the lesbian-family tale 'The Kids Are All Right'; the survival story '127 Hours'; the Facebook chronicle 'The Social Network'; the animated smash 'Toy Story 3'; the Western 'True Grit'; and the Ozarks crime thriller 'Winter's Bone.'"

The Same River Twice by Ted Mooney - Review

The Same River TwiceThe Same River Twice by Ted Mooney
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Having read a glowing review in the NYT Book Review, and having just been to Paris for the first time last fall, I was excited about getting Ted Mooney's new novel "The Same River Twice" from the library. It is extolled as a "literary thriller," and Mooney is a master wordsmith. Some of his descriptions are breathtaking.

I jumped into this book and found myself thoroughly immersed in the multifaceted plot and characters. A French woman, a dress designer, is paid as a courier to bring some historic and artistic banners out of Russia to a Paris art dealer, and ends up in a sticky situation in more ways than one. Her American filmmaker husband, meanwhile, while trying to work on his latest art film, discovers that some DVDs of one of his earlier now classic films include an ending very different from his own--yet nicely produced. Why?

There are other layers going on and you find yourself struggling to keep all the loose ends together. But about halfway through the book, the characters start doing surprising and unsympathetic things, and it only gets worse. Ultimately I found it disturbing, or at least unsatisfying. I wondered if I was the only one who felt this way, given the rather positive review I'd read, and checking a bunch of Amazon reviews confirmed my own disappointment in the book. It's not bad as thrillers go, but ultimately it's difficult to believe the characters or what happens with them. And the motif set up by the title (and several deja vu experiences throughout the book) never quite hits home. But it was nice to experience Paris again.

View all my reviews

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Real world to collide with heroes & villains | accessAtlanta

Real world to collide with heroes & villains | accessAtlanta: "Marvel — whose characters range from the wall-crawler Spider-Man to mutant outcasts X-Men — said Tuesday that the fear, uncertainty and overarching anxiety that has gripped today's world will play havoc with its fictional heroes next spring as it embarks on 'Fear Itself,' a seven-issue limited series that will reach across numerous titles and leave its characters scarred but smarter."

Saturday, December 18, 2010

MLK: A Christmas Sermon On Peace

portland imc - 2003.12.12 - MLK: A Christmas Sermon On Peace: "Peace on Earth...

This Christmas season finds us a rather bewildered human race. We have neither peace within nor peace without. Everywhere paralyzing fears harrow people by day and haunt them by night. Our world is sick with war; everywhere we turn we see its ominous possibilities. And yet, my friends, the Christmas hope for peace and good will toward all men can no longer be dismissed as a kind of pious dream of some utopian. If we don't have good will toward men in this world, we will destroy ourselves by the misuse of our own instruments and our own power."

Monday, December 13, 2010

Meet John R. Gunn - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

John R. Gunn - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia: "The Reverend John R. Gunn (August 17, 1877 - November 15, 1956) was first a minister, and then at about age 43 became a columnist whose daily messages inspired readers for over 36 years. After his death, letters to the editor requested that the columns continue, and so they were reprinted daily for 15 more years. A short time later his messages became radio scripts for the Presbyterian Church in the United States. This award-winning program was produced by the Protestant Radio and Television Center of Atlanta for 10 years. And now Rev. Gunn’s work, written and audio, is available at Day1 [1], a ministry of The Alliance for Christian Media transitioning from Facing Life [2]"

Monday, December 06, 2010

Google Launches Google eBooks, Formerly Google Editions

Google Launches Google eBooks, Formerly Google Editions: "After months of anticipation, Google today launched its long-awaited cloud-based e-book program, Google eBooks. Rebranded from its original moniker, Google Editions, Google eBooks overnight becomes the largest e-book provider in the world, at least in terms of its offerings, launching with nearly three million books available for purchase or download, including “hundreds of thousands of e-books” available for purchase and over two million public domain titles available for free."

Thursday, December 02, 2010

God, best-selling author and creator of the Universe, to tell all in new memoir | Shelf Life |

God, best-selling author and creator of the Universe, to tell all in new memoir | Shelf Life | "Prepare ye for the words of God. Simon & Schuster announced today that they have secured the rights to a new tell-all memoir by the Almighty Creator, who has also previously written under the noms de plume “Allah,” “Yahweh,” and, until a recent legal tangle with fellow author Stephen King, “King of Kings.” According to a surprisingly funny press release, “God is represented by a burning bush, the Greek letters a and ‡, and, in this case, the Levine Greenberg Literary Agency, the same agency that represents David Javerbaum.” Presumably this Javerbaum fellow, who is the head writer and executive producer of The Daily Show, will be serving in some function as the prime mover’s amanuensis."

BBC goes global with iPlayer subs, launching on iPad first

BBC goes global with iPlayer subs, launching on iPad first: "The BBC's online, on-demand video streaming service iPlayer will launch worldwide sometime early next year. Much to the dismay of expats around the world, iPlayer has been limited to UK residents, who pay a yearly license to watch BBC content. Now, the Beeb plans to launch a subscription-based service available to anyone, anywhere—with an Apple iPad."

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Results of '30 Media Heroes' Voting Announced: Maddow Takes Top Spot! | The Nation

Results of '30 Media Heroes' Voting Announced: Maddow Takes Top Spot! | The Nation: "I've been having fun since Wednesday with a response to Salon's popular '30 Biggest Media Hacks' list, sponsoring a readers' ballot to pick '30 Media Heroes.' The response was overwhelming, with over 1,200 votes pouring in via Comments at the end of the original story, via e-mail to me directly and at Twitter (via @GregMitch). Votes obviously came from regular Nation readers, but also from many others, and in any case this is not an official Nation survey.�"

Fox News Joke on ‘The Simpsons’ Pulled from Web Replays On Hulu, - WebNewser

Fox News Joke on ‘The Simpsons’ Pulled from Web Replays On Hulu, - WebNewser: "For the second week in a row, “The Simpsons” mocked its corporate cousins at Fox News Channel. This time there is an added wrinkle, however, as the joke in question was apparently cut from the online version of the show on Hulu and"

Richard Branson unveils Jeff Bridges, cars, and fiddly things for Ipad | Capital New York

Richard Branson unveils Jeff Bridges, cars, and fiddly things for Ipad | Capital New York: "Virgin Group emperor Sir Richard Branson debuts his Ipad-exclusive magazine tomorrow. What will it look like?

Well for starters, the 'cover' (or is this called a homepage? or homescreen?) is about Jeff Bridges' coming Tron. ('BACK IN THE GAME: JEFF BRIDGES REBOOTS TRON' is the main coverline; Bridges faces forward in black tie on a black background.) It's … a video!"

Friday, November 19, 2010

George Clooney Eyeing Lead In Steven Soderbergh’s ‘The Man From U.N.C.L.E.’ > The Playlist

Exclusive: George Clooney Eyeing Lead In Steven Soderbergh’s ‘The Man From U.N.C.L.E.’ > The Playlist: "Sources very close to the director tell us an A-lister is already in talks with Soderbergh to star in the picture and that star would be none other than “Ocean’s 11-13” actor, George Clooney."

That was one of my favorite programs as a kid. Would love to see this happen!

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

McSweeney's Issue 36 Coming--With Lost Chabon!

The McSweeney's Store: "THE AMAZING ISSUE 36 (coming very, very soon!):

Inside this 275-cubic-inch full-color head-crate, there are all the things you'd hope for: a 100-page annotated fragment of Michael Chabon's lost novel, incredible new stories from John Brandon and Colm Toibin, Jack Pendarvis's 'Jungle Geronimo in Gay Paree,' a play by Wajahat Ali—eight astounding booklets in all, along with some other things on top, enough for hundreds and hundreds of pages of perusal, every bit of it, like we said, contained in a more-or-less-life-size friendly-looking head. It will fit on your shelf, it is compatible with most hats, and the stuff inside is wonderful—order yours today!"

Can't wait to get this one!

LOA Publishes Lynd Ward's Wordless Graphic Novels

LOA Publishes Lynd Ward's Wordless Graphic Novels: "The term 'graphic novel' didn't exist when Lynd Ward started telling stories in pictures, back in the late 1920s, but to modern eyes, that's exactly what Ward's novels are. Now the Library of America has collected all six of Ward's wordless graphic novels in a two-volume boxed set, Lynd Ward: Six Novels in Woodcuts, with an introduction by Art Spiegelman.

Ward, who was born in 1905, was the first American creator of wordless graphic novels. He worked in that medium for about ten years, producing six full-length works, before changing his focus to children's books and illustrations of other works; he was a prolific illustrator with over 300 works to his credit by the time he died in 1985."

Paul Levitz Puts 75 Years of DC Comics In One Huge Book

Paul Levitz Puts 75 Years of DC Comics In One Huge Book: "Former President and Publisher of DC Comics, Paul Levitz has lived and breathed comics his entire adult life. A comics fan magazine that he co-wrote and published in high school, The Comic Reader, led to his first job with the mega-publisher that is DC. With DC celebrating its 75th anniversary this year, Levitz took on the incredible task of writing about its numerous characters, authors and artists and their impact on the world. From Taschen Books, 75 Years of DC Comics: The Art of Modern Mythmaking is a mammoth tome you won’t be able to miss on the shelves of your local store. In fact, it will probably need it’s own table."