Friday, March 30, 2007

100 People Who Are Screwing Up America (And Al Franken Is #37) by Bernard Goldberg

Some of you may be wondering why did I pick up this book and read it. Well honestly, I at first thought it would be a great "get-to-know-the-enemy" book. But after reading some choice sections I found myself agreeing with many statements from Mr. Goldberg. He does preface the book with the idea that not everyone will agree with everyone listed. I guess I'm one of those everyones.

Most of the book is just a big list of anyone that has ever bad mouthed George W. Bush. So according to Mr. Goldberg if you bad mouth the president, you are screwing up America. It may sound as if I'm oversimplifying the book, but that is pretty much most of the people listed. However, there are some of the people listed that I found myself agreeing with.

So let's put the Bush Basher's aside, and focus on the parts of the book that actually took some thinking and some genuine bravado to bring out in the open. Oh, wait first, to give away the ending the #1 person is Michael Moore. On most of the people listed in the book Mr. Goldberg writes up a page or two about how/why they are screwing up America. A few of the folks listed are an exception. Michael Moore is one of the exceptions. All Mr. Goldberg does is print Mr. Moore's picture and puts stars around the number one. I guess he's got a personal vendetta against Michael Moore.

There are a couple of others that don't warrant a full write up they are: #95 Courney Love & #90 Michael Jackson. Courtney's write up is simply one word, "Ho." And as for Michael Jackson....I think we can all agree he didn't even deserve a write up.

It is weird that the worst write up in the whole book is one who registered enough to have his name to be on the cover of the book, Al Franken. The write up on Al Franken is really nothing more than childish banter. Mr. Goldberg fakes an interview with Al Franken and the only words out of Al Franken's side of the interview are basically "Liar" or "You are Lying." It wasn't even entertaining.

Now for the ones I really agree with. All the people in the news media and entertainment field, (especially gangasta rap). Mr. Goldberg comes from the news media and even won Emmys for the news program "48 Hours." I think that makes him qualified to speak enough on this topic. His complaint and mine, is that the news media has shifted to infotainment and news no longer matters. The media thinks the public is dumb and thinks that 2 straight weeks of talking about Anna Nicole Smith is news and no other news needs to be aired. Okay this book was published before Anna died and, in fact, Anna is #53 in his book, but that is a recent example of what has gone wrong with the news and many of the ideas presented when discussing the people in the news industry. Yes, he names names.

For the entertainment field, let's focus on gangsta rap. While I am one of the first to champion freedom of expression in the arts, and that music should reflect a culture, I'm not one to say that the negatives of that culture are the reflections needed. In gangsta rap it is great to sing/rap about how many Ho's, bitches or skanks you can slap and make do anything you wish. They love to push that women are worthless except for one thing, and that the almighty bling is where it's at. All I can say is C'MON!!!!

Okay, there's my rant. Back to the book.

So as you can see this book can rile you up no matter which side of the fence you are on. Left or Right, you will cheer and jeer at Mr. Goldberg.

Bookmark and Share
posted by Gil T. @ 9:43 PM Comments: 0

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

(Prelude to Dune Book 2) House Harkonnen by Brian Herbert & Kevin Anderson

Once again a Dune prelude book chock full of information leading up to the novel originally written by Frank Herbert. This book takes place approximately 20 years after the Book "House Atreides" and about 30 years prior to the original. I will attempt to summarize the many plotlines with out giving away too much but I do warn you that some spoilers will exist.

Shaddam Corrino IV is the emperor and his Bene Gesserit wife, Anirul produces only daughters, leaving him without an heir to the throne. The emperor is aware of the Bene Gesserit ability to determine the sex of their children and grows annoyed at Anirul for not giving him a son. Along with this stress factor for the Emperor the Tleilaxu have yet to produce a synthetic equal to the Spice Melange. This was the reason the planet of Ix was taken over and House Vernius went renegade.

Dominic Vernius is still in hiding as a renegade but his children, Kailea and Rhombur, are living with Duke Leto Atreides on Caladan. Leto arranges fro Rhombur to take in a concubine from the Bene Gesserit, and Kailea becomes Leto's concubine. Kailea gives birth to Victor the son of Leto and heir to House Atreides, but due to politics and the fact that Kailea is considered renegade Leto cannot marry her. Besides, the Bene Gesserit have other plans with Jessica, the daughter of Vladimer Harkonnen and a Bene Gesserit witch. Leto does arrange to have a lady-in-waiting to help Kailea. Kailea's lady-in-waiting, Chiara, is actually a Harkonnen agent sent to poison Kailea's mind against Leto. Kailea and Chiara scheme to assassinate Leto thus making Victor the Duke and Kailea a Regent. But the plan backfires and the planned explosion kills young Victor and mutilates Rhombur. Kailea then kills Chiara and commits suicide unable to face what she has done.

The Tleilaxu offer to make a ghola,a clone, of Victor in exchange for the barely alive body of Rhombur Vernius. Leto ultimately refuses, after much soul-searching, knowing that the Tleilaxu intend only harm towards House Vernius. Instead, Leto hires Dr. Wellington Yueh, an expert in the field of cybernetics, to fashion a cybernetic replacement body for Rhombur. Leto and Jessica fall deeply in love, leading Jessica to decide to conceive a son for Leto's sake, directly disobeying the Bene Gesserit's order that she have a daughter.

Baron Harkonnen grows weaker due to his disease, but he becomes more vicious, destroying his half-brothers life (figuratively first then literally). A Suk doctor determines the cause of the illness is from the Bene Gesserit he raped. Harkonnen seeks reveng on the witches but through mind tricks they show him who is really in charge. Meanwhile, the Baron's brother, Abulurd, uncovers an illegal stockpile of spice on Lankiveil. Rather than turn his brother in to the Emperor, Abulurd, a benevolent ruler and the polar opposite of his brother Vladimir, uses the stockpile to benefit his people. Upon discovery of this, Glossu Rabban, Abulurd's firstborn son, strangles his father to death, an act which earns him the nickname of "Beast." Baron Harkonnen also kidnaps Abulurd's other son, Feyd-Rautha, and tries to raise him as his own.

We are also introduced to Gurney Halleck. Gurney's village is raided and his sister is taken away. He later finds she is forced to work in a "pleasure house" for the Harkonnen military. He tries to rescue her but is capture and made a slave. He then tries to attack Rabban, but is outnumbered and Rabban punishes him by killing his entire family. Gurney escapes to Salusa Secundus to help Dominic Vernius with his attacks against the empire.

Dominic learns of the atrocities going on on Ix and gathers all his stockpiles of atomics to the south polar region of Arrakis in order to deliver them to the homeworld of the Emperor and destroy the House Corrino. But his plan is discovered and the Sardukar guards are sent to stop him. Instead he detonates the atomics destroying most of the south pole area of Arrakis.

Gurney Halleck learns of this and goes to Caladan to pledge himself to Duke Leto Atreides.

On Arrakis it is learned that the Bene Gesserit have been mixing with the Fremen in order to blend prophecies of the Qwissatz Hadderach and the myths of the Missionaria Protectiva.

And this is only scratching the surface of this wonderful adventure into the Duniverse. Now for House Corrino, the final book of the prelude to Dune series, and one book closer to Dune.

Bookmark and Share
posted by Gil T. @ 9:12 PM Comments: 0

Sunday, March 25, 2007

Battlestar Galactica Season Finale

First a brief synopsis of the final episode, then some random thoughts.

WARNING!! spoilers exist, do not continue if you don't want to know.

President Roslyn, continues to have Kamallah induced hallucinations, this time she shares the hallucination with the ships 2 "known" cylons. The hallucinations reveal nothing except to protect the half human/half cylon baby Hera.

The trial of Gaius Baltar continues, the attorneys, Lee Adama and Romo Lampkin discuss the possibilities of motioning for a mistrial. Baltar wants the trial not a mistrial. During the proceedings Lampkin motions for a mistrial and calls Lee Adama to the stand. Adama gives a great speech as to how everyone has committed crimes and have been forgiven. That the trial is basically just a farce searching for a scapegoat to send out the guilt. Gaius is found not guilty.

Commander Tigh, Chief Tyrol, The president's assistant, and Starbuck's husband Sam Anders are all hearing the mysterious music. Then when the fleet makes the final jump to the nebula, all ships in the fleet lose power at the same time these four are drawn to the music...which turns out to be a modern version of the Bob Dylan Tune "All Along the Watchtower." They each are quoting the opening lyrics from the song as they are drawn to a central point. All four enter a room and realize they are cylons.

The cylons make an appearance just as the fleet regains all power and the vipers are scrambled. Preparing for battle Lee Adama puts on his flight suit and takes a viper. He then sees an unknown bogey and persues only to find.....Starbuck!!!!

Starbuck says it's really her and that she's been to Earth and will lead them there.

So now we have to wait an entire year. Talk about frustrating. Holy cow what a cliffhanger.

SCI FI has renewed Battlestar Galactica for a full fourth
season, commissioning 22 hour-long episodes of "the best show on
television." This will include a special two-hour extended event that
will air during fourth quarter 2007 and be released on DVD by Universal
Studios Home Entertainment. Production will resume in May with an eye
toward a early 2008 season premiere.

Now for the random thoughts. I don't think the 4 that gathered are cylons. I believe it may be more "spiritual." I believe also that there may have been more happend to those 4 on New Caprica than they remember.

As for Starbuck....oooh...she may be a cylon...what do you think?

If you would like to join the conversation...since we have a year to discuss this..join our group

Bookmark and Share
posted by Gil T. @ 10:40 PM Comments: 0

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Prelude to Dune book 1: House Atreides by Brian Herbert and Kevin J. Anderson

I'm getting closer to the original "Dune" novel written by Frank Herbert in both books and in timeline. "House Atreides" is one of the first sets of Dune novels written by Herbert (Brian) and Anderson and takes place 35 years. The three prelude novels, House Atreides, House Harkonnen, and House Corrino cover the rise of the houses to the powers the held in "Dune."

An aging tyrant emperor rules the known universe, Emperor Elrood Corrino IX, and his son Shaddam IV, cannot wait for him to die, so that Shaddam may become emperor. He and his minion, Hasimir Fenrig devise a slow poison to kill off the old man so Shaddam may sit in the "Golden Lion Throne."

While this is going on Elrood has some schemes going that could change the universe. Spice Melange, only found on Arrakis (Dune), is needed for the Space Guild to fold space, it prolongs life, and is highly addictive. "He who controls the spice, controls the Universe." So Elrood has set out to devise an alternative to spice. Teaming up with the genetic scientist race of the Tleilaxu, Elrood has commissioned them to develop the newly engineered spice. As payment to the Tleilaxu, Elrood plans a takeover of the machine planet IX, where in place are the facilities to for such a genetic engineering feat. To do this the House Vernius must be defeated. Instead of being defeated the house goes renegade, meaning they are no longer supported or recognized by the league and are criminals. The children are sent to Calidan to live with Duke Paulus Atreides. They are raised along with the Duke's son, Leto Atreides.

The Bene Gesserit discover they are only 2 or 3 generations from the Kwisatz Haderach a prophesied messiah figure. But first they must get Baron Vladimir Harkonnen to "donate the genetic material." The first union of a Bene Gesserit sorceress and Harkonnen is deformed and must be repeated. This time Harkonnen violently rapes the sorceress and in the process she curses him with an incurable disease.

Paulus Atreides dies during a bullfight with a drugged Salusan Bull, and Leto becomes Duke. Harkonnen has developed a ship that renders itself invisible, and frames Atreides for an attack on the Tleilaxu.

In the meantime on Arrakis, Dune, Pardot Kynes a planetologist sent by Emperor Elrood, arrives on Arrakis and begins his duties there. He starts to dislike the Harkonnen rule there, and is getting more and more interested in the native Fremen of the desert and the possibility of terraforming the planet. Pardot is discovering more and more proof that some time, long ago, Arrakis was covered with giant oceans, and gets curious about what changed the climate to what it is today.

Once again another book filled with lots of material lots of action and great political interaction. This Dune series just keeps getting better and better.

Bookmark and Share
posted by Gil T. @ 8:32 PM Comments: 0

Monday, March 19, 2007

Legends of Dune book 3: The Battle of Corrin by Brian Herbert & Kevin Anderson

This third and final book of the "Legends of Dune" series wraps up all three "Legends" books with a bang and a preparedness for the Dune Universe. I will warn you fellow reader that this review will contain some spoilers but trust me the reading of the book will still keep you going even if you have a hint as to what may take place.

In their mission to explain some of the mythos created by Frank Herbert, Brian Herbert and Kevin Anderson have created a great set of prequals to the Dune Universe in the 3 "Legends of Dune" books. There is some great science-fiction writing in these books. Some "Dune"/Frank Herbert fans have been upset by the addition of robots into the Dune Universe by Brian Herbert and Kevin Anderson, but if you really read into the books the hints have been there that there is something more to the thinking machines and I think with the "Legends of Dune" Series they have explained enough to still fit in with Frank Herbert's philosophy.

This book takes place 100 years after the beginning of the Butlerian Jihad and about 100 years before the forming of the Guilds, and is separated into 2 parts. Basically the Jihad is still going on but this time the thinking machines with some help from some human traitors, develop a biological weapon to destroy humanity. This scourge is a virus that can wipe out at least 50% of a planets population within a couple of weeks. Once the humans find out that the source of the virus is the evermind Omnious and the thinking machines, it is too late. However a miracle prevention and almost cure exists within the Spice Melange. Now with humanity spending all it's efforts on healing, Omnious gathers all his warships to the planet Corrin for one final attack to destroy all humans. This plan is found out just in time and while all the ships are gathering on Corrin preparing for launch. Jumping to action, Vorian Atraides uses what few (still unreliable) space-folding ships are available and begins nuking all the unprotected synchronized worlds, destroying all but Corrin. At Corrin rather, than destroying the planet the Jihadi warships put a scrambler field around the planet which destroys all gel circuitry machines entering or leaving the planet. Thinking this puts an end to the thinking machines reign of terror, the Jihad is considered over and won by the humans.

However, this still leaves 2 enemies of humanity the thinking machines on the planet and the Cimeks. Although the cimeks numbers are dwindling and are only down to 3 of the original Titans, they are finding new recruits for the new-cimeks.

The Army of the Jihad is renamed the Army of Humanity and once again the League of nobles become complacent. Vorian Atreides is constantly warning the league of problems that could come but he is ignored. Also the Xavier Harkkonen is still viewed as cowardice and as a traitor, for his assassination of the Patriarch of the Jihad, Iblis Ginjo. Vorian is the only one that knows the truth and tells Xavier's grandson, Abulurd Butler the true story. Abulurd takes on the name Harkkonen and starts a committe to reinstate the name.

With 2 enemies and the humans once again becoming lazy, you know the battles aren't over. Instead of giving away too much by only talking about fighting, let's talk about some of the many sub-plots throughout this book. In the Dune Universe, pretty much all the books there are lots of things going on that in order to catch them all sometimes it takes re-reading the book, and, trust me, that's where the fun lies in these books.

The space-folding is still dangerous and not fully acceptable to all as a legitimate means of space travel. Many ships have folded into stars, asteroids or other celestial bodies or have just plainly disappeared. Norma Cenva soon discovers that the Spice Melange holds the key to navigating the space-folders, by opening the human brain potential...but in the process the human doing the guiding loses their humanity...especially with their physical bodies.

The Sorceresses of Rossak are cateloging the bloodlines of humanity in order to keep the human genes "clean." But a mutated form of the virus has hit Rossak, threatening to destroy all they have worked for. Vorian Atreides' grand-daughter, Raquella Berto-Anirul, becomes miraculously healed of the scourge and during the process has visions and her mind alters to that of a sorceress, and she forms what will become the Bene-Gesserit in which the human bloodlines will be kept going.

We can't leave out the Fremen on the planet Arrakis (Dune). They become split and some want to start selling all the spice to offworlders while some still hold to the visions of Salim Wormrider, that the spice is the life of Arrakis. So the actual Fremen become more militant while some Zensunnis set up commerce with offworlders.

The robot Erasmus has trained Gilbertus Albans to use his brain as a machine would. In the process Erasmus has discovered what the love of a parent must feel. In the training of Gilbertus, Erasmus has created the first Mentat. What will later become the human computers.

Yes, all this in this final book in the series, but, it is such a great read that to become immersed in this universe it creates the urge for more. So, after reading the 3 Legends of Dune books, you have 3 Prequals to Dune, 6 Frank Herbert novels, then one more book, "Hunters of Dune," written by Brian Herbert and Kevin Anderson, that takes place after the 6th Frank Herbert Novel, "Chapterhouse: Dune." Then if you get around to it, August 2007 will see the release of the final book in the Dune Universe by Herbert & Anderson, "Sandworms of Dune."

So the fun has just begun.

Bookmark and Share
posted by Gil T. @ 9:36 PM Comments: 0

Saturday, March 10, 2007

Goodbye Lemon by Adam Davies

Goodbye Lemon by Adam Davies, is a great book. Okay, I wish I could just stop there, but I should justify why I say this.

Adam Davies, author of "The Frog King," has a great mastery for the English Language. He can describe thoughts, scenes and actions with such vividry that places you not only in the scene but in the body of the person doing the action. In fact if the character wants to fight, as the reader you may feel your fists tightening up. In another sense, this wordsmith, uses the language to create a Prose/Poetry reading in this novel about getting a grip on your emotions and reality. The words just flow from the page. And to top it all off, he even teaches you a few new words in the process.

In "Goodbye Lemon," Jack Tennant is returning home after 15 years. But not really by choice. Jack has avoided home and family due to a long life of dysfunction, lack of family emotion, and a secret no one wants to talk about; his dead brother, Dexter or better known as Lemon. Jack is returning home only because of the urging of his girlfriend/fiance to be after learning his father has suffered a stroke and now is trapped inside with what is called "locked-in syndrome," a condition that leaves him fully intact mentally but unable to speak or move except by blinking one eye. The only way his father, Guilford Tennant, is to recover is to fully develop new neural pathways in the brain. This developing new pathways and new ways of thinking is a great undertone in the reshaping of reality in Jack's life.

Jack's mother is an obsessive compulsive clean freak, his father an alcoholic along with his living brother Pressman. His father, an ex-marine, in a fit of anger, during Jack's past, broke Jack's finger making it impossible to pass the audition for acceptance into Juilliard. Pressman has lived in the parent's basement just squeaking by in life by drinking away his reality.

Jack's memories of his father are only of his father drinking and neglecting the 2 surviving sons. Jack's memory also recalls that his father is responsible for his brother's death. Dexter was only 6 years old when he drowned in a lake at the family's vacation home. I don't want to give too much away but keep in mind that memories, especially bad ones, have a way of changing to fit with the reality you can face. Just as Jack's father needs to rebuild neural pathways, Jack has some rebuilding to do as well, or he could lose his girlfriend, his family and himself.

Keep the tissues handy for this book. Some great emotionals peaks and valleys are involved with the reading of this book. Also if you read for the sheer enjoyment of reading, this is one of the most enjoyable books I've read in years for all the reasons I've listed.

Bookmark and Share
posted by Gil T. @ 2:54 PM Comments: 0

Friday, March 09, 2007

LEGENDS OF DUNE Book 2 THE MACHINE CRUSADE by Brian Herbert and Kevin J. Anderson

Frank Herbert wrote the original 6 books about the Dune Universe. Many science fiction fans treated this series as the Sci-Fi world's answer to the Tolkien "Lord of the Rings Trilogy." In Dune and the 5 books he would follow up with, Frank Herbert created a Universe not unlike our own, with its political, religious and business sectors always clashing. He even threw in some ecology lessons for the readers of these books. After Frank Herbert's death, his son, Brian Herbert carried on the tradition in writing more for the Dune Universe. Another book in the series will be published August, 2007, rumor has it that this may be the last of the Dune Universe.

Some die-hard Frank Herbert fans don't like what the son has done to the Dune Universe. His biggest contribution to the series is to write 2 sets of prequals "The Legends of Dune" and the "Prelude to Dune" series. What Brian Herbert and Kevin Anderson have done is establish an evolution of life on earth to what life is like at the time of "Dune." My guess is the die-hard fans liked the mystery created by the father.

This book is in the "The Legends of Dune" series and takes part 10,000 years before the original book. It is also book two in the series and takes place 20 years after the first in the series "The Butlerian Jihad." The Jihad against the thinking machines is 20 years in force and neither side can claim any victory. The rise of power of former slave to the machines, Iblis Ginjo, has created a monster. After discovering human spies for the machines Ginjo, the Grand Patriarch of the Jihad, has created the JiPol, Jihad Police. The JiPol are used to round up spies, but they are also used to do Ginjo's bidding, when a noble crosses paths with Ginjo and goes against his plans they are soon "discovered" to be spies for the thinking machines. Very similar to jack-booted thugs during world war II or even closer to home much like the McCarthyism of discovering Communists.

Serena Butler the Priestess of the Jihad spends most of her time in mourning for the loss of her son Manion, the start of the whole Jihad. This seclusion is after an attempted assassination on her. Which was planned and put into motion by Ginjo, so that he may hold more power.

Many battles over planets are waged against the thinking machines meaning the loss of millions of lives of humans. This creates the need for more recruits in the war and for body parts for the injured soldiers. Tluaxan slavers are known to sweep through un-allied planets and take slaves for the planets that do support slavery. They are also known for their ability to clone body parts for the soldiers of the Jihad. But, they are also harboring a secret that could destroy Iblis Ginjo. To recruit more soldiers a planet of mercenaries, Ginaz, led by Jool Noret, become the warrior fighting class.

In the meantime the Cimeks, human brains in robot forms, led by General Agamemnon, grow weary of being under the Omnius and the thinking machines rule and plan a revolt by recruiting many humans that were slaves on synchronized worlds the cimeks have invaded.

Another Cimek, Hecate, makes an appearance after going into hiding for hundreds of years. She claims to be fighting the other Cimeks and Thinking machines to help the Jihad. Ginjo does not pass on this opportunity for more help in winning this what seems to be an un-winnable war.

Meanwhile on planet Arrakis, Salim Wormrider is making a name for himself and his group of bandits raiding all people involved in the mining of Spice Melange and selling to offworlders.

Norma Cenva has created the technology to fold space. Creating a means to travel to any point in the universe in the blink of an eye. But just as she is getting this started a human slave revolt destroys the planet Poritrin and soem Zensunni slaves escape in a space-folding ship to Arrakis. On Arrakis Salim Wormrider has died a Martyr, leaving the "bandits" with no leader. The leader of the Zensunnis, Ishmail, becomes leader of what will be forever known as the Fremen.

With these first 2 books of the "Legends of Dune" a lot has been explained, maybe or maybe not in the way Frank Herbert would have, but definitely these Legends become more understandable and actually more realistic. Brian Herbert and Kevin Anderson have kept to the Middle eastern religious symbology, and even building on that.

I would like to make a remark here, I may explore this further in another post, but for now I would like to point out the remarkable similarities to the Dune Universe Frank Herbert created in 1965 to what is happening in the world today. In Frank's Universe the Emperor Shaddam (Saddam?) runs the universe and controls the flow of Spice (oil?). Arrakis (Iraq?) is the only source of the spice. HMMMMM....

Now you could read the books in any order you would like, but for fun, and since I've already read a couple of the Frank Herbert Books, I'm going in the order of timeline not in order of publication date. It seems more fun this way. So the next book will be the "Battle for Corrin," I can't wait.

While this may seem like a lot to read, the authors keep it interesting with battles, loves, and conspiracies. Great formula for sci-fi.

Bookmark and Share
posted by Gil T. @ 10:09 PM Comments: 0

Sunday, March 04, 2007

Unwound by Jonathan Baine

Jonathan Baine is the Pseudonym for independent filmmaker Gorman Bechard, who has written and directed such films as: You Are Alone (2005), Objects in the Mirror Are Further Than They Appear (2003), The Kiss (2003), The Pretty Girl (2002), In Her Eyes (2002), Cemetery High (1989). Most of the subject matter in these films deals with young girls as prostitutes (except for Cemetery High which is a slasher b-movie). He carries the prostitute theme into this book. However this book has more twists and turns in the story that it shows he is not a one-trick pony.

Unwound is about author, Peter Robertson, whose first book "Angel" has made him rich. "Angel" is about a teenage prostitute and her struggles. The book became a bestseller and gave Peter a very comfortable living for him and his family, but at what cost? In writing the book Peter did some in depth research, as the cover says, "You couldn't make up a girl like Angel..." He based the book on a girl named Lucinda, after paying for her time to talk and find his story. The problem is, her pimp Raoul, didn't want his girls to just talk.

Now that the original book has been released, Peter sets out to write the sequal. Finally putting "Angel" to rest, so he can move on in life, but "Angel" has a cult following. Especially in the guise of one girl, named Dina. Dina seeks out the author to "touch" the man that wrote the book about her life. So, at first this seems like another one of those "I'm your greatest fan/stalker" books.

As Peter writes the sequel the people he used to research the original book are being murdered, and Dina is threatening Peter's happy life with his wife and daughter. It seems Dina is seeking revenge for Angel, but whose revenge is she really seeking. I was tempted to put this down after the first couple of chapters because I felt that Stephen King had written the Ultimate greatest fan book in "Misery," and anything else would pale in comparison. I kept reading though, mainly because the action/suspense in the writing kept me going. Let me tell you I'm glad I kept reading. The book is full of unexpected twists. In fact I was surprised at the ending of the book. I was guessing how it was going to end but never would have guessed the actual ending.

The back cover of the book reads as follows:

Peter Robertson's novel Angel made him the most famous author in the world. Chronicling the sordid world of a teenage prostitute, it was the biggest bestseller of the year. It broke conventions. And it inspired a fanatical cult following. Angel has made Peter Robertson rich, admired...and scared. There on the edge of the crowd he always sees her. She not only looks like Angel - she embodies the desperate creature he created. Everywhere Peter goes, she goes, obsessed with everything about him: his fame, his marriage, his life. What could she possibly want? Soon, curiousity will get the better of him. So will the girl with the haunted eyes..because what she's really after is something that will explode Peter's world.

This was enough to pique my curiosity. But this only describes the first 10% of the book. The unexpected twists will keep you reeling and on the edge of your seat for the rest of the book. Trust me, you won't expect the end.

Bookmark and Share
posted by Gil T. @ 11:57 AM Comments: 0

Friday, March 02, 2007

Movie Review - The Children of Men

The year is 2027, and mankind is facing extinction. People are no longer able to procreate and the biggest celebrity in the world, the world's youngest human, an 18 year old is murdered. But that is just one of the many sides to this complicated film. The film is loosely based on the book by P.D. James, in fact, so loosely that only a few things even remain the same...including the plot. The one thing I found most interesting was that the reason for the sterility in mankind is in no way explained. There are several hints to pollution being a possible cause...but nothing outright.

Theo Faron (Clive Owen) is at the center of a maelstrom that is about to erupt between government forces and a loosely organized group of rebels. He is recruited by an ex-lover, Julian (Julianne Moore), with whom he split 20 years ago after the death of their child. Theo is a broken-down, chain smoking, heavy drinking out of luck ex government agent, but his perspective on life changes when he meets Kee (Claire-Hope Ashitey), a miraculously pregnant young refugee/illegal immigrant. Julian's goal is to hide Kee until she can be spirited out of England to a place of safety run by a mysterious group called "The Human Project." Others have different ideas, viewing Kee's baby as a crucial tool for establishing power for the rebels or maintaining the government. Julian's idealism has no place in their worldview. Ultimately, the responsibility to protect Kee falls to Theo, and he has a dangerous adversary in Luke (Chiwetel Ejiofore), the rebel leader, that can not really be trusted. His lone allies are a midwife, Miriam (Pam Ferris), and an aging hippie (Michael Caine). Michael Caine, by the way, has the most fun of the movie, providing some much needed comic relief in parts, and some poignancy in showing his love for his brain-dead wife.

Children of Men is a cautionary tale with many cautions. Points are made about assisted suicide and the dangers of immigration control, but these are just side notes to the main story. In this film it is well depicted that it is hard to decide who is in the right, the rebels or the government . They may be fighting a totalitarian regime, but they are in no way depicted as being "the good guys." Their goal seems to be less freedom for the masses than power for themselves.

Labels: ,

Bookmark and Share
posted by Gil T. @ 8:33 PM Comments: 0

Thursday, March 01, 2007

Movie Review: Ghost Rider

Marvel Comics just seems to be a huge wealth of movie material. The latest release "Ghost Rider" explores the darker side of the comics company. There have been "dark" comics made into film in the past (Spawn, V for Vendetta) but none by Marvel. Now they have broken that mold.

Ghost Rider, does not have the huge fanbase like Spider-Man and X-men but the cult following was enough to make a movie. The nice thing is that with all the comics out there Hollywood can try any of them out and see what hits or misses regardless of the success of the comic. The movies have a different following.

Ghost Rider is one of the few comics from Marvel that make it hard to tell if he is a hero or not. Most comic book heroes don't kill their enemies but allow for the authorities to lock them up. This was all from a time when the Comic Book Authority had to place their stamp of approval before comics could be printed. Marvel comics was one of the first to break out of the stamp of approval and start publishing comics "their way."

Leaving behind the characters of the Ghost Rider created in comics (there was more than one incarnation of the Ghost Rider), This movie takes the best known Ghost Rider, Johnny Blaze and builds a movie based on the Johnny Blaze version. Johnny Blaze, played by Nicolas Cage, is a motorcycle stuntman in a carnival doing shows with his father. Johnny is also in love with a local girl, named Roxanne, whose parents don't like her to be with the motorcyclist. So the parents decide to move and take the girl with her. Roxanne tells Johnny this and they plan on running off together. After all, Johnny's dad constantly disapproves of Johnny's actions. The night before they are to run off Johnny finds out his dad is dying of cancer. That night while working on the bikes Johnny is visited by a stranger that promises to heal his dad if he signs a contract. Well, that stranger is Mephistopholes (Peter Fonda) and we all know where those contracts lead. Mephistopholes needs Johnny to be the Ghost Rider, the spirit of vengeance that collects the souls from those who have signed contracts before. Out of love for his father Johnny looks over the contract, and in a round about way signs in blood.

The next day after a scheduled visit with his doctor Johnny's father is miraculously healed of all cancer. But as with all dealings with the dark one, he dies in a motorcycle stunt that afternoon. Johnny then runs off to avoid life, including Roxanne.

Many years later we find Johnny Blaze a world renowned stunt cyclist doing motorcycle jumps Evel Knievel could only dream of. After jumping an entire Football field filled with helicopters with rotating blades. Mephistopholes comes to Johnny to put him to work, hunting down Blackheart (Wes Bentley), his son. Blackheart has decided to make hell on Earth by retrieving a contract in which a Ghost Rider from the 1800's has hidden because all the souls would make Mephistopholes too powerful.

Johnny is befriended by an intriguing cemetery caretaker (Sam Elliott), who seems to know a lot about the Ghost Rider, and helps Johnny defeat both Mephistopholes and Blackheart.

If you're looking for supernatural motorcycle chase scenes this movie is for you. Nicolas Cage as the Ghost Rider is playing the part he was meant to play. His acting brings the life of the Ghost Rider and Johnny Blaze to be believable characters in a setting that should not be believeable. Although this movie is best seen on the big screen I am definitely adding this my DVD collection when it comes out.

A couple of extra notes to notice and keep in the back of your mind are:
1. Nicolas Cage had to have his Ghost Rider tattoo covered by make up for the film (he was a fan before he was cast).
2. The chopper Johnny blaze rides is a copy of the Captain America chopper Peter Fonda rode in the movie Easy Rider.
3. The images of the Ghost Rider skull are actually formed from x-rays of Nicolas Cage's Skull.

I will warn you the little kids may be afraid of some of the scenes in this one.

Bookmark and Share
posted by Gil T. @ 8:55 PM Comments: 0