Reviews in Brief: Werewolves and Other Shapeshifters in Popular Culture, by Kimberley McMahon-Coleman and Roslyn Weaver

This book proves its usefulness in its good timing. Coleman and Weaver investigate the numerous pop cultural pieces here, analyzing how specific treatments reflect attitudes of society at large. Continue reading Reviews in Brief: Werewolves and Other Shapeshifters in Popular Culture, by Kimberley McMahon-Coleman and Roslyn Weaver

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What I’m Reading 2012 and Other Business

What I’m Reading 2012 Overview: I’m currently reading five books.  Each poses certain challenges (in some cases, self-imposed challenges) to me as a reader, reviewer, critic, historian, and aesthete.  While New Year’s Resolutions get broken seconds after they’re uttered, these challenges will form an informal backbone to my reading schedule.  As it stands, I want to increase the frequency of my blog posts from bimonthly to weekly.  (The same goes for my other blog, Coffee is for Closers.)  The positive responses from readers has really inspired me to do more. As you’ll see with these challenges, I want to “raise … Continue reading What I’m Reading 2012 and Other Business

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Forgotten Classics: The Dark Labyrinth (1947) by Lawrence Durrell

  An infrequent feature on classic books forgotten to the mists of time. The name Lawrence Durrell is not a name mentioned with any frequency these days, but his work deserves a revival.  The Dark Labyrinth, published in 1947, begins with a simple enough premise: a small group of tourists visits a Cretan labyrinth.  In the ensuing narrative, the group gets lost with certain members getting rescued while others never return.  With this basic plot, Durrell spins a tale chock full of philosophical rumination, surgical precision social satire, and capacious character development.  The foredoomed tour group includes a failed artist, … Continue reading Forgotten Classics: The Dark Labyrinth (1947) by Lawrence Durrell

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80sSFF: Apocalypse Now (1979) and Apocalypse Now Redux (2001)

The first part in a series dedicated to examining the science fiction and fantasy films from 1979 to 1989.  The series will investigate whether these films possess certain ineffable qualities missing from today’s films of the same genres. Kurtz: I expected someone like you. What did you expect? Are you an assassin? Willard: I’m a soldier. Kurtz: You’re neither. You’re an errand boy, sent by grocery clerks, to collect a bill. Why are we beginning a series devoted to the science fiction and fantasy films of the 1980s with Apocalypse Now?  Francis Ford Coppola’s epic Vietnam War film holds the … Continue reading 80sSFF: Apocalypse Now (1979) and Apocalypse Now Redux (2001)

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Critic’s Notebook: The Best Science Fiction and Fantasy Movies of the 1980s

Introduction “Interest in film, pop and television stars and science fiction peaks between the ages of 12 and 13.” Media Genres and Content Preferences by Carmelo Garitaon and Jose A. Oleaga, Patxi Juaristi (The London School of Economics and Political Science). One of the most challenging aspects of criticism is Taste.  How is it formed?  What differences are there between Good Taste and Bad Taste?  Can these differences be investigated with an objective concrete analysis, or is it a phenomenon based entirely on subjective experiences? The creation of Taste occurs when we grow up, sifting through the various cultural products … Continue reading Critic’s Notebook: The Best Science Fiction and Fantasy Movies of the 1980s

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Years of Upheaval (1981) by Henry Kissinger

A Second Term and a Third-rate Burglary Now Watergate does not bother me Does your conscience bother you? Tell the truth. “Sweet Home Alabama,” Lynyrd Skynyrd (1974)   Years of Upheaval, the second volume of memoirs by Henry Kissinger, continues his personal account of public service, spanning the time of Nixon’s re-election to Nixon’s resignation following the Watergate scandal.  The memoirs record a short span of time although it encompasses a plethora of geopolitical, domestic, and personal events.  In the words of Homer Simpson, this volume has it all, “the terrifying lows, the dizzying highs, the creamy middles.” Riding on … Continue reading Years of Upheaval (1981) by Henry Kissinger

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Critic’s Notebook: Unpopular Causes, Part V

Two Personal Favorites: Spook Country (2007) and Domino (2005) Spook Country The toughest challenge for any author is to follow up a big hit with an equally big hit.  Following the epic genius of Gravity’s Rainbow, Thomas Pynchon released the misunderstood novel Vineland.  In the case of William Gibson, he experienced career resurgence with the release of Pattern Recognition, an “empathetic thriller” about advertising, intelligence, and an elusive video.  Gibson set the novel in the present and it reads like a strange relic, an artifact set in a world after 9/11 but before YouTube. Spook Country follows the same general … Continue reading Critic’s Notebook: Unpopular Causes, Part V

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