Twenty Books of Summer Challenge 2015

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So, I stumbled across this challenge a week or so ago and thought — I’d really like to participate.  I then promptly forgot to sign up for it.

But better late than never, right!  (And you can join too because the challenge runs until September 14!)

The Twenty Books of Summer Challenge is hosted by Cathy at 746 Books.   In previous summers, I’ve come up with a list of books I wanted to read that summer, which by mid-July I’ve read about half of and then picked up a few others.  This summer, I’m going to try and follow my list, but I make no promises.  I say this because I can be easily distracted by new shiny books either on the library or store shelf or arriving on my e-reader.   Continue reading

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Re-Opening The X-Files: The List, 2Shy

2shy

Mulder: The man was obsessed with reincarnation.
Scully: Being obsessed with it doesn’t mean you can do it.
Mulder: No. Unless he knew something we don’t.
Scully: Like what? The secret password?

The List

“The List” isn’t a terrible episode of The X-Files, but it’s not a good one either.  It’s one of those episodes that’s just sort of there.

Chris Carter returns to the directing chair trying to follow-up on the success of “Duane Barry.”  And while this episode is a visual treat, there isn’t much depth to the overall story.    In many ways, it feels like Carter is throwing together a greatest hits of several earlier episodes and offering it up here.

A man named Neech is put to death in the electric chair, but before his execution he swears out revenge on a list of five people.  As people on the list begin to get killed, Mulder and Scully come in to look into whether Neech has discovered the secret to reincarnation or whether he’s got someone helping him carry out his revenge.

The script spends a lot of time taking us down blind alleys and giving us red herrings and sideplots.  It’s a shame that none of these ever quite add up to anything.  Carter’s script attempts to infuse some creepiness into things by having maggots appear on Neech’s victims.  But if you’re waiting for some connection between the maggots and what’s happening here, you’re going to be disappointed. Continue reading

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Musing Mondays: Favorite Book

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It’s been a few weeks since I participated in Musing Mondays (hosted by A Daily Rhythm).  As we close out the month of August, this week’s random question asks:

What is your favorite book? (or, one of your favorites!)

If you were to force me to choose, I’d say my favorite book is To Kill A Mockingbird.

But that would mean leaving out another favorite, Lake Wobegon Days by Garrison Keillor.

So, I guess those are my two  choices.

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Re-Opening The X-Files: Clyde Bruckman’s Final Repose

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Clyde Bruckman: You know there are worse ways to go, but I can’t think of a more undignified way than autoerotic asphyxiation.
Mulder: Why are you telling me that?
Bruckman: Look, forget I mentioned it. It’s none of my business.

Clyde Bruckman’s Final Repose

To paraphrase a quote from Scully in this episode, “There are episodes and then there are episodes.”

“Clyde Bruckman’s Final Repose” isn’t just one of my favorite episodes of The X-Files.  It’s one of my favorite episodes of television.  It ranks right up there with Quantum Leap‘s “The Leap Home,” Doctor Who‘s “The Curse of Fenric” and Seinfeld‘s “The Boyfriend” as one of those episodes that transcends the series or genre.  Like some of my favorite movies, if I surf past these episodes, I will stop and watch them from the point I drop in until the end.

The episode won Emmys for writing and guest acting for Peter Boyle.  And it should have helped the series win Best Drama the year it aired.   I feel fairly certain that Picket Fences won that year, but I honestly can’t think of an episode from that season that was quite as transcendent and memorable as this one.

Needless to say, it’s kind of hard to write a review of the episode without it being a complete “golly, I sure love this one” for page upon page upon page.  So, if I get a  bit to gushy on this one, I beg your indulgence and forgiveness. Continue reading

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Comic Book Friday: Batman ’66, Volume 3

Batman '66, Vol. 3

In an odd bit of timing, I started reading this latest collection of the Batman ’66 comics on the same day that the news broke of Yvonne DeCarlo’s passing. This turned out to be bittersweet because the first story features Batgirl and the Dynamic Duo battling the forces of evil around Gotham City.

As I said for the first two installments, this comic book series is intended as pure, unmitigated fun and a great homage to the classic TV series. The comics can do things that the TV show budget didn’t or couldn’t but it never forgets what made the TV series work so well. One story that’s especially fun finds Wayne Manor robbed and the Shakespeare bust removed, effectively cutting off our heroes from the Batcave. Forced to resort to older versions of the costumes, we get to see Batman and Robin in the costumes from the movie serials that preceded this one. The story is a lot of fun and stays just long enough so that it doesn’t wear out its welcome.

Also included is a story that finds Batman invented a robot that will be on duty 24-hours a day and fight crime. The scenes of Bruce and Dick actually getting to fishing are nicely done as is the reasoning for why the Bat-bot can’t stay on duty all the time.

This collection continues the fun of the series and was just delightful. It’s not heavy Batman stories — but they don’t need to be. If you want something fun and entertaining, give this series a try.

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Review: Star Trek: New Frontier: The Returned by Peter David

Note: Peter David’s latest New Frontier entry was published as three e-book novellas.

Part One

The Returned, Part I (Star Trek: New Frontier)

There were several books I was anticipating reading this summer. But I’ll have to admit that few of them packed quite the same level of “can’t wait to read it” -itis that Peter David’s return to the final frontier did.

It’s been four years since our last visit to the universe of New Frontier and the crew of the starship Excalibur. And in my mind, that’s about three years too long a wait — especially given that David left us on a pretty interesting cliffhanger.

Luckily David’s return to the series proves as much a triumph as I was hoping it would be. The first installment picks up three months after the last one ended and finds Calhoun living a hermit’s existence on his destroyed homeworld and plotting his next move. David catches the reader up quickly on what’s happening — not only with Calhoun but everyone else in the New Frontier universe before setting various new plot threads into motion.

As always with David’s Trek entries, the strengths are solid characters and a sense of humor. David takes his stories seriously but he takes the time to find the humor in the characters, universe and situations. The game of who’s fooling who into “tricking” Calhoun to take on a dangerous mission to the pocket universe is superbly done and feels absolutely like pure David.

As I sat down to start reading part one, I told myself I should take my time, savor it and relish every last second of the book. And then I found myself on the final page with David leaving us hanging for the next part and thankful it was only going to be a month’s wait for the next installment. Continue reading

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Re-Opening The X-Files: DPO

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Darren: Why do you watch that stuff, anyway? They’re a bunch of losers.
Mrs. Oswald: At least they’re on TV. I don’t see you on TV.

DPO

Nestled in between the monumental events of the season premiere and the instant classic “Clyde Bruckman’s Final Repose” is Howard Gordon’s intriguing monster of the week episode “DPO.”   These days, the episode is probably best remembered as the one that guest stars Giovanni Ribisi and Jack Black.

When it first aired, I wasn’t overly impressed with “DPO.”  It felt like a bit of step back from what we’d seen the previous two weeks and it certainly isn’t in the same realm as what’s to come next.  But over the years, it’s grown on me a bit.  It’s not a classic episode, but it’s a solid monster of the week storyline.

Darren Peter Oswald was struck by lightning and now has the ability to generate electricity.  In effect, he’s a human lighting rod who can channel up current at will — anything from enough to char Mulder’s cell phone to enough power to kill someone and torment a few cows.   Darren is a bit of slacker who failed his English class in high school.  It was here he met the woman of his dreams — his teacher Mrs. Kiveat*.   Now he works as a mechanic in her husband’s garage, not so secretly pining for her and ready to step up his stalker like behavior. Continue reading

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Review: The Truth About Alice by Jennifer Mathieu

The Truth About Alice

Alice Franklin has a bad reputation.

What has she done, you ask.

Well, she slept with two boys at the school year kick-off party. She’s promiscuous — so much so that she’s had an abortion. And she got the star quarterback killed because she was obsessed with him and kept texting him, causing him to become distracted while driving.

But are any of these things The Truth About Alice?

Told from a rotating first-person point of view from four people who interact with Alice, Jennifer Mathieu’s debut novel seeks to fill in some of the details, looking at what is true and what’s been greatly exaggerated. It’s fairly clear from the early moments of the novel that no one could be nearly as awful as everyone says Alice is, but there are some grains of truth in the rumors. But those grains may not always have been planted exactly where you think they were.

I’ll admit some of the revelations seem a bit obvious — but that’s with the benefit of spending a few chapters with each character and finding out that he or she knows more than he or she is telling. The novel doesn’t shy away from the devastation Alice feels or the shame she endures. It also serves as an interesting warning about the power of words and how sometimes people may be protesting too much.

Alice isn’t a saint. But then again, neither is anyone else. And this novel is an interesting way to look at not only how the various characters view Alice but also themselves.

It’s a fascinating read and one that may linger with you a bit after the final page is turned.

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