White House Years (1979) by Henry Kissinger

Tears of a Courtier Political memoirs are works of self-justification.  In the case of Henry Kissinger, he packages these self-justifications in the first volume of his memoirs, White House Years (1979).  As a major partner with President Richard Nixon, Kissinger, working as the Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs (more commonly referred to as the National Security Advisor), he followed Nixon’s wishes to direct the nation’s foreign policy from the White House.  Kissinger transformed himself from a Harvard academic to a diplomat engineering international relationships (political and military) of world-historical importance. During this period, Nixon and Kissinger could … Continue reading White House Years (1979) by Henry Kissinger

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The Art of Reviewing Special Edition(TM): The 20 Minute “Avatar” Review

Every blog needs a large-scale project. The Art of Reviewing will explore reviewing as an art form and as a valuable element to understanding society.  During this project, I will profile specific reviewers of merit.  Several specific cases also explore other facets of reviewing. If you haven’t seen it already, it’s making the rounds on Ye Olde Nettertubes.  It’s a twenty-minute review of James Cameron’s blockbuster Avatar. Here’s the review, in two parts: *** COMMENTARY This review is a bit long and a bit cynical, but it makes a number of valid points.  It is an artful combination of pop … Continue reading The Art of Reviewing Special Edition(TM): The 20 Minute “Avatar” Review

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The Temptation of St. Anthony by Gustave Flaubert

A work of singular genius.  The plot is simple: Anthony, a monk, goes out to the desert to meditate, gets tempted.  But what temptations!  Flaubert pulls out all the stops in a decadent, phantasmagorical, hallucinatory, excessively brilliant novel.  While the book is written like a play, it is clearly a novel, since staging this would be impossible. (Maybe Terry Gilliam or Michel Gondry could film it?) Our benighted monk gets tempted by all manner of beasts, demons, and sexy ladies, while the reader is treated to a panoply of cults, heresies, and sects, fighting for his attention. While a literary … Continue reading The Temptation of St. Anthony by Gustave Flaubert

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Dollhouse Riffs: Riff #3: “Epitaph One” and the mutability of the Dollhouse Canon

Los Angeles, 2019: Another ‘Verse.  Another Vision.  More Human Than Human. L to R: Scut Farkas, Little Miss Sunshine, Codex. Apocalypse Now That’s What I Call Entertainment The TV series Dollhouse faces a unique canonical situation with “Epitaph One.”  The episode was produced but unaired, while the series was renewed for another season.  With Season 2 unseen and speculation rife, with a series finale full of cliffhangers and unanswered, where does one place “Epitaph One”? The title name winks at the possibility of the series ending.  The episode’s narrative and setting allude to finality.  Set in the year 2019 in … Continue reading Dollhouse Riffs: Riff #3: “Epitaph One” and the mutability of the Dollhouse Canon

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Neuromancer by William Gibson

This novel made me fall back in love with science fiction.  Gritty future noir set amidst AI, evil multinationals, and organized crime.  The novel glitters with beautifully written passages, amalgamating techspeak with Japanese, Haitian creole, and back-alley slang.  Sure, it’s been criticized as “surface and gloss,” but what surface, what gloss!  When most speculative fiction writers — including some Grandmasters who will go unnamed — became prolific typists with good ideas, Gibson took a well-worn idea (hard-boiled crime fiction), gave it a spin, and produced a spectacular gem. To top it off, Gibson wrote it on a typewriter — how … Continue reading Neuromancer by William Gibson

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Book Review: Devil Take the Hindmost: a History of Financial Speculation by John Chancellor

In the re-imagining of Battlestar Galactica, the first Cylon Hybrid utters these chilling words: “All this has happened before, and it will happen again.” It may seem odd to quote a science fiction series in review of a book about the stock market, but it’s disturbingly apropos of the subject matter. John Chancellor’s magisterial book, Devil Take the Hindmost: A History of Financial Speculation, charts the course of human folly in high finance from tulipomania to kamikaze capitalism. Trade and exchange are as old as time, while the need for money and the desire for wealth are not necessarily bad. … Continue reading Book Review: Devil Take the Hindmost: a History of Financial Speculation by John Chancellor

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