You Must Remember This: The Warner Brothers Story by Richard Schichel and George Perry

I never really knew so many classic movies were from Warner Brothers. This coffee table book takes you down through the years from the early beginnings of Jack Warner and siblings right up to modern day. Filled with movie stills from such classics as the Al Jolson first "talkie" The Jazz Singer, Casablanca, Rebel Without A Cause, and Batman, among numerous others, it also has plenty of behind-the scenes shots of stars on the sets of those movies, and many classic movie posters.

The writing is OK, although I did notice a few errors that should have been caught before the book went to press. Notably, one of the sections claims that Bette Davis won the Oscar for her performance when actually the winner was Judy Holliday for a different movie. But like I always say, I don't actually read coffee table books for the witty and inspired writing. I get them for the pictures. And this one is well worth the look for that part.

6 stars for the writing; 8 stars for the photography. Enjoy!


The Stand by Stephen King

In 1978, Stephen King first published The Stand, clocking in at some 800 pages. Some 13 years later, he re-released the book, "complete and uncut", with what was said to be material left on the editing room floor to comply with his editor's suggestion that a novelist who only had a couple of novels under his belt (at that time) would be ill-advised to have an 1100 page novel released.

I read the original published version of The Stand in 1984, while working as a security guard, with a lot of time on my hands between my rounds. I was impressed with it then, but not being the big Stephen King fan that make up the majority of his following, I saw no need to rehash the story again when the unabridged version came out in 1991.

However, while discussing the filmed version one day last week, I was informed of several things that intrigued me by a friend who was working from a reminiscence of the longer version. So I set out to re-read the book, something I usually never do. I have to say, I was impressed by it. As the author states in the introduction, if you read it before, you won't find the characters behaving differently, but you will find them doing a lot more things.

I found that I really liked the expansion of some of the sub-characters, going into a little more detail with how some of them arrived to their final destinations, be it Boulder, Colorado or Las Vegas, Nevada.

For those of you who have never heard of the book or seen the TV movie, here is the briefest of synopses. The government is working on a super-virus in a restricted area of the U.S. The virus gets leaked into a controlled area, but the base is immediately shut down as to prevent it from speading. Unfortunately one security guard does manage to get out.

This one security guard manages to spread this extremely communicable disease to others and like that commercial from days gone by, they spread it to friends and those freinds spread it to more friends until there is aultimately about a 99% death rate among the population. For some reason, the remaining 1% are immune, and begin having strange dreams about a dark man and an old black woman. These are the two marshalling forces that bring about a good vs. evil battle to which the finale is ultimately drawn.

I think I would have rated the original a 10 if I had been doing this blog back then. As it is I am giving this expanded version 8½ stars.


Invasion of the Body Snatchers by Jack Finney

This is the classic story on which, so far, three theatrical movie versions have been based. It is more closely aligned with the 1956 version which stayed true to the novel and based it in the small town of Mill Valley. (Ed. note: There actually is a town in southern California called Mill Valley, although the descriptions of the town cannot be verified by me, since I live some 2000 miles away.)

The hero of the story is Dr. Miles Bunnel, a small town doctor who knows most of his patients rather well, as is typical of Hollywood 50's portrayals. Several of his patients have started to believe that some of their family members are not the people they seem to be, s if imposters have taken over. But ne by one, they gradually come back and say they were wrong, they had experienced a brief delusion, but now are certain that the people are who they are supposed to be.

The novel was pretty much paralleled by the 1956 screenplay, at least by my vague memory of the last time I watched it. Nevertheless, it does catch your attention rather marvelously, as is to be expected. I found Finney, long before I knew of his connection to the movie, with an old novel I pulled out of a library book sale called Time and Again, and it was reading that that lead me to other books.

The version that I got here was another audiobook, since the local library didn't have a print version. The reader was one George Wilson, who did an above par job of reading it, although I generally prefer to read them for myself. However, beggars can't be choosers.

I rate the story iotself 8 stars and Wilson's reading is great too.


A Slobbering Love Affair: The True (and Pathetic) Story of the Torrid Romance Between Barack Obama and the Mainstream Media by Bernard Goldberg

The self-proclaimed champion againt the left-wing bias in the media has come out with a new book, detailing the overt way the media seemed to be in the Obama camp the entire time of the Presidential race. Earth-shattering news, if you have been in a cloistered commune for the past 2 years, but hardly unknown otherwise. The point is, Goldberg, like his compatriots in the right-wing camp, have always been bemoaning the left-wing bias of the media. Will it do any good? I sincerely doubt it.

The usual cast of aspersions here is typical; Jeremiah Wright, bad American and even worse preacher, how could Obama sit in his church and NOT hear his views. (I interject here that I have sat through entire sermons and not heard a word that was said, but I have ADHD.) William Ayers, bad American and how could Obama even touch the same doorknob that Ayers touched 30 years ago. And then of course, the outright ridicule of Sarah Palin, while nothing was said about the incompetence of Joe Biden, who let's face it, makes Dan Quayle look a little less scatter-brained.

While he does make some good points, if you have read any other conservative authors or heard any commentary from Limbaugh and Hannity, nothing is new here. Except for the revealing fact that Goldberg is an elitist, since he thinks "guys working the overnight shift at 7-11...are more introspective" than a lot of journalists, and that "[t]here's a better chance they will understand the dire implications, for journalism and the American people, than these clueless wonders".
Which not only reveals his low opinion of journalists, but by comparing them to that other group, reveals his low opinion of the 7-11 employees, too.

5½ stars.


Odd Jobs by Nancy Rica Schiff

You think your job is hard? How would you like to be a semen collector? Or a hairdresser for corpses? Or an underarm niffer, as the front cover depicts? These are just some of the jobs described herein.

Once again, the writing in these coffee table books are only secondary to the photography, and this one is no exception. You don't read coffee table books, you look at the pictures, and then if interested, scan the descriptions.

I'm willing to bet that you did't know half these jobs existed, and even more, I imagine you are probably going to be glad it is somebody else doing it for quite a few of them. Still, all in all, it is neat to look at and discover these jobs.

rating it 6 stars

The Pessimist's Handbook: A Guide to Despair and The Optimist's Handbook: A Guide to Hope by Niall Edworthy and Petra Cramsie

I originally picked this book up because it was displayed at the library with the back cover up. The Pessimist's Handbook is printed upside down at the back of the book. You get both in one volume. I thought, how neat, a book designed for someone like me. (I am the pessimist's pessimist. Pessimism means never having to say you're disappointed.)

Essentially, what I found, is an entertaining collection of quotes on a variety of subjects. And on the opposite side is a collection of optistically flavored quotes on the same subjects. The subjects range over the spectrum, from Advice to Boredom to Smoking (you can be optimistic about smoking?) and about 2 dozen others.

It's not high class literature, just a quick breezy jaunt into some of the best quotes out there from people dating back to ancient Rome up to the near present. Only good as a reference book, but still not entirely bad.

I give it 6 stars.


The Timekeeper Conspiracy by Simon Hawke

Most of the details involving how this series started were covered in the review of the first book, The Ivanhoe Gambit. Since I don't want to rehash the setup every time, I have reclassified a special listing for these books. If you click on "Time Wars series" on the right side of this web page, you will see the entire list of books I have reviwed to date.

The second book in the "Time Wars" series, The Timekeeper Conspiracy involves a renegade terrorist group out to destroy the war machine. The Timekeepers have a goal to create disturbances that will force the entity governing time stasis to exert a lot of manpower to prevent time splits, thus forcing them to eventually quit using time travel altogether.

The second book takes place in 17th Paris, and as with the previous book, many of the characters are "real" historical figures whom we readers always thought were just fictional. To wit. the time Commandos interact with the characters from The Three Musketeers here. i.e. Athos, Porthos, Aramis, D'Artagnan. And a new, yet familiar ally, comes into the fight. Andre de la Croix, the French woman posing as a male knight, has come to 17th century Paris with a deserter from the Time army.

The renegade Timekeepers are led by a maniacal Adrian Taylor, whom at the start of this novel, has just had himself transgendered to look like Milady de Winter, another important character from the Dumas novel. More and more however, the man Taylor becomes overtaken by the pesonality of the character he has taken and becomes more demented.

The Time Commandos, as they are called from this novel on, have their hands full, not only dealing with the terrorist group, but also with a CIA-like group (conveniently called the TIA here) who seems determined not to let them have all the information they need to complete their mission.

I rate this one 7 stars.