So You Think You Can Be President? by Iris Burnett and Clay Greager

Somewhere Will Rogers must be rolling on the floor laughing. Somehow I think the authors must have tapped into his spirit because this is without a doubt the funniest political satire in recent years.

What you get here, in the guise of a test to see if you have the makings of a politician, is some of the funniest jabs at both sides of the political aisle, that are not only dead-on, but sometimes even insighful. Especially to a person who refuses to be coerced into joining the throng on either side.

Give this one 7 stars.


Armageddon in Retrospect by Kurt Vonnegut

The sage of many years for the post-WWII era, Vonnegut, who passed away last year was in his writings very anti-war, and in this group of stories it is very evident where he stands. The first piece, a letter presumably written by him shortly after his release from a German POW camp in Dresden is one of the most powerful pieces. To hear him describe the savagery of his own country's troops is jarring to say the least.

One of my favorite pieces is a story about the coming of Americans to a European city after years of that city's occupation by the Nazis and the Russians. Told from the point of view of one of the residents, a furniture maker, the commanding officer appears not much different than any of the previous occupiers to the narrator.

In all of these stories, there is a seething sense of hatred towards the military. His socialist tendencies come out well in these stories, and right-wingers in the political spectrum will probably hate the book. Tough ****. I think its a wonderful posthumous book.

Rate this one 8 stars.


No-Man's Land by Scott Huler

I have never read Homer's Odyssey, although I know most of the story by way of either movies, or in discussions in grade school/high school, or vicariously through other writings in which author's have referred to it. Some of the story, thus, is news to me because I don't know the whole story.

Huler seems to have had the same story that I have, although, as he states early on, he always thought it was true when he claimed he had read the story. The initiation of the tale here is that, after finding out that he had indeed never read it, upon reading the story, he got the wild hair to actually try to retrace the journey that Ulysses did in The Odyssey.

At the outset he is hampered by the fact that he wants to spend time planning it out, but recieves word from his wife that she is pregnant. Of couse, if he scrapped plans entirely, we wouldn't have a book. Instead, he decides to try the epic journey on the fly. Using a variety of resources, and sometimes just sheer intuition, Huler makes the journey to the Mediterranean, and tries retracing the trip.

Notwithstanding that approxiamately ¾ of the book takes place in obviously mythological places, Huler nonetheless tries to approxiamate the places with real places. He often does this on the fly, and succeeds for the most part. You get a sense of the frustration that he has in trying to complete the journey, though, and it parralels quite well with how one might imagine Odysseus' frustration with trying to get home to Ithaca.

Overall, this journey/travelogue reads quite well. I rate it 7½ stars. Perhaps I ought to make reading The Odyssey a future project now.


Two For the Price of One: The Official Razzie Movie Guide by John Wilson and Bad Movies We Love by Edward Marguiles et. al.

There's just something fun about watching a bad movie, especially if you make fun of it. Witness the popularity (at least for the period it was on TV) of Mystery Science Theater 300o, also known as MST3K. I know this from a personal P.O.V., because I've seen many of the movies in these two books on a first run basis.

John Wilson, the founder of the now famous Razzie Awards is well suited to the task as bad movie maven. And he does a very excellent job in telling us about 100 or so movies here in The Official Razzie Movie Guide. Although his coverage is only about half of what the authors of Bad Movies We Love. Not to worry though, because that gives him plenty of space to delve deep into his selections.

Given that, of course, you have to have a higher standard of the level of bad if you are going to fine tune it like that. I don't agree with a couple of the selections, and due to the fact that the Razzies have only been around since 1980, and some of these selections are pre-1980, therefore not officially Razzies. But I found Wilson's book the better of the two.

Not that Bad Movies we Love was a sub-par effort. But the wit that kept me turning the pages in The Official Razzie Movie Guide was not in evidence in the second selection. Still, if you are looking for suggestions for the next movie to get for movie night at the Comedy Cafe, you can't go wrong here.

Give The Official...Guide 8 stars.
Give Bad Movies 6½ stars.