June 29, 2020 · 8:29 pm
Time-travel isn’t a new trope in fiction, but Oona Out of Order‘s take on how time travel could work is one of the more interesting storytelling devices I’ve come across in time.
Each year on her birthday (which happens to be January 1), Oona Lockhart leaps forward or backward in time. Externally, she’s whatever age she would be in the year she’s arrived, but internally, she’s only aged one year. Each time she leaps (I couldn’t help but have visions of Quantum Leap while reading this novel), Oona equips herself with knowledge for the year, a secret binder containing information on investments that can be made to support her independently wealthy lifestyle, and a letter from her previous self to help get her up to speed on where she is in time and her various relationships.
Like Quantum Leap, Oona has her own version of Al — in this case, it’s her mother and her mysterious assistant Kenzi, both of whom are there to try and help her transition from one year to the next. Continue reading →
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June 25, 2020 · 2:39 pm
I’ve never been a big fan of the ending of Grease.
It’s not that the songs aren’t catchy to close the show. It’s just the message that the musical sends to teenage girls is one I can’t quite behind. Basically, it’s do whatever it takes, even if that means changing your entire personality to get the boy.
Watching Gidget, I couldn’t help but wonder if Grease’s borrowing Sandra Dee’s name for its title character wasn’t some kind of homage or shout-out to the actress and her role as Gidget. Certainly, the way Gidget is portrayed here makes the Rizzo’s “Look at Me, I’m Sandra Dee” take on a different level of meaning.
Made in 1959, Gidget kicked off the beach movie era and may have also ushered in the era of teenage sex comedies. While Gidget isn’t quite as ribald as Porkies or the American Pie series, the film isn’t exactly “pure as the driven snow” either. Continue reading →
June 24, 2020 · 1:49 pm
Eighteen-year-old Natalie’s life is in a bit of turmoil. Waiting on her final exam scores that will determine her future collegiate and possibly professional choices, her parents pick Christmas Day to inform her they’re divorcing. Meanwhile, her best friends Zach and Lucy are dating and Natalie finds herself suddenly attracted to Zach’s “bad boy” older brother, Alex.
Natalie suffers from self-esteem issues from severe acne that has left scars — both physical and emotional.
But as she continues to be drawn to Alex, could it be that he’s drawn to her as well?
Nina Kenwood’s It Sounded Better in My Head is a refreshing entry in the young adult genre. As Natalie tries to come to terms with the vast changes taking place in her life, the first-person narration is always authentic. Natatlie’s confusion and concerns at this crossroads in her life ring true on each page (or in my case, in each minute of the audiobook). As Natalie struggles with her feelings about Alex and her changing world, I found myself rooting for her. And not necessarily for a perfect ending to everything, but one that rings true and works for Natalie.
It Sounded Better in My Head doesn’t find an insta-fix for all of Natalie’s concerns by the final pages. But it find a nice conclusion to the journey she takes over the course of this book. And while I was completely satisfied with where Natalie’s story ends in this novel, I wouldn’t be opposed to future books checking in on her and giving us a bit more of her journey.
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Tagged as audiobook, audiobook review, book review, review, Summer Reading 2020, young adult
June 17, 2020 · 4:00 pm
I’m not sure how Tank got on my radar years ago — was it the preview on the front of multiple VHS tapes our family rented, the box at the video store, or someone else? All I know is the selling point of a guy who owns his own Sherman tank busting his kid our jail sounded like a can’t miss prospect.
My parents eventually allowed me to see the movie — or at least some of it. I’m fairly certain, though I can’t be sure, that family viewing night probably ended the one time James Garner’s Zach Carey dropped an f-bomb about the apple cobbler served in the base mess hall.
Let’s get one thing out of the way first — the level of swearing in this movie is pretty high. In addition to the f-bomb detailed above, the movie also has both Garner and co-star Shirley Jones using the word “a*****e” (I can only imagine how their use of colorful metaphors clashed with the persona each actor had crafted during their tenures on television shows).
Tank is also advertised as a comedy, even though it’s not necessarily as hilarious as the trailer or the soundtrack would want you to believe.
Garner stars as Army Sargeant Major Zach Carey, a soldier who does things by the book and is looking forward to retiring in two years and setting sail on a boat he wants to purchase. He owns a restored Sherman tank that he moves from assignment to assignment with the family. Continue reading →
June 16, 2020 · 3:27 pm
The unwritten code of Westerns is that you don’t ever, under any circumstances, harm a man’s dog.
This code also applies to the retired hitmen. At least, that’s what John Wick tells us.
An elaborate revenge story is kicked off when a trio of guys break into John Wick’s home to steal his car and end up killing his dog as well. Little did these guys know that Wick is a retired hitman who recently lost his wife to cancer and that the dog was a gift from her so he would have something to care about besides his grief and pain.
What follows is an hour plus of John pursuing the ringleader of this gang of idiots through multiple layers of organized crime and the use of a large amount of ammo. One area I’ll give John Wick credit for is that the movie occasionally sees our hero running out of ammo and having to reload.
The film gives us a good backstory for John, detailing how he was one of the most feared hitman out there and the circumstances that led to his retirement. An early, memorable scene finds John digging up his basement to unearth a suitcase full of gold coins that he will use to finance and pay-off various figures during his long vendetta. The coins are even used to pay a cleaning service to remove the bodies of half-a-dozen or so men who come to John’s home after the mafia puts out a bounty on his head.
John Wick is a clever, entertaining revenge flick that has superbly choreographed action sequences and just enough character insight to make us root for its central anti-hero. I’m not sure why I hadn’t seen it before watching a few weeks ago. But after watching it, I can see why the movie has garnered a following and prompted two sequels and an upcoming fourth entry.
June 10, 2020 · 4:01 pm
Back before the Internet was for porn, cat memes, and social media, it was for trading bootleg copies of out of circulation pop culture items. In my case, this consisted of trying to track down a watchable copy of the orphaned Doctor Who episodes or other little goodies related to Who fandom.
One item that was fairly easy to trade was a bootleg copy of the 1993’s radio play, “The Paradise of Death.” Since audio didn’t require any conversion process to be useful on both sides of the pond, all you had to do was track down someone who had the time and inclination to dub the episodes off onto cassette and send them to you.
With Doctor Who being pulled off the air, any bit of new Doctor Who was like an oasis in the desert that was the “wilderness years.” Continue reading →