XIPHOS AND THE MOST VAUNTED OF ALL MINI REVIEWS
Here are some books I’ve read and TV and movies I’ve seen lately. I decided to wrap them up into a quick reviews format this time out. Due to Barfy being very busy at the moment this is all me she didn’t edit it so that’s why it reads like it was written by a slow five year old.
BOOKS: These are some quick reviews of some things I’ve read over the last few months. most are books I have read before and didn’t think anybody would be interested in a long review. I have a few long reviews of books in the pipe line.
The Coming of the the Horse clans(Robert Adams 1978) One of my favorite sub genres in Sci fi is post apocalyptic stories and if you add in telepathic horse nomads, saber tooth cats and archery I damn near soil my underoos and that is what you get with Robert Adams excellent book The Coming of the Horse Clans.
Here is the basics. The book takes place 600 years after a nuclear war decimated the worlds some time in early 90’s. Plagues and starvation killed even more. The land was changed due to earth quakes and floods. Humanity was reduced in size and returned to a level of technology about that of the late dark ages. The Horse clans of the title are nomadic decedents of Americans and they roam a range that is roughly from Mexico in the south into Canada in the north and from about Missouri to what’s left of the western states. Most of the west coast was destroyed by nukes and natural disasters.
The horse clans are hard fighting horse archers nomads that can telepathically talk to each other, their horses and to “prairie cats” which are saber tooth tigers that were brought back by cloning just before the world imploded. Returning to the Clans is their undying chief Milo Moray a mutant who is at least 800 years old. He came to rally the Clans to fulfill their destiny, after he spent 200 roaming the world looking for others of his kind. The Horse clans destiny is to return to their mystical shining city of Ehlai by the sea(LA California Adams plays with language a lot in these books and figuring the references is some of the fun) There is one major problem with that idea and Moray knows it. LA is gone and California doesn’t exist much anymore and what’s left is a nuclear waste land. So what he does is convince the 40 odd clans, that decided to trek with him, that the song of Prophesy made a key mistake and Ehlai is in the east not west. So off go the clans to fight their way back to their mythical home.
This trek puts the clans into conflict with the much more settled lands east of the Mississippi river, principally the Ehleene(a corruption of the word Hellene meaning Greek). The Ehleens were a warrior race made up of Greeks, Italians, Spaniards, Portuguese that had three invasions of the East coast pushing the natives out and creating a coastal empire that stretched from whats left of New England down to the Carolinas.
These books are fun action packed reads. The cool thing about them is that Adams was a three war veteran US Army NCO so his fights scenes have a feeling of authenticity to them. The other thing that is interesting is that Adams was a guy that made swords and armor so that was accurate and I like that sort of info in books. Someday I am going to build a forge and teach myself how to make swords and armor.
Dune(Frank Herbert 1965) I don’t think I need to go into the story right? But man do I love this book it, like the Horse clans book, springs fourth as a fully realized world and felt authentic and lived in. The Emperium, The Bene Gesserit, The Spacing Guild, The Landraad, CHOAM, the Great House, The Sardaukar and most especially The Fremen(By Shai Hulud I do love the Fremen) all jump off the page fully formed and ready to go. If you’ve never read Dune please do yourself a favor and go out right now and get a copy Your life isn’t fully realized as of yet if you have denied yourself The Fremen. “I am Fremen I walk where I will” words to live by friends.
The Affair(Lee Child 2011) This is the latest Jack Reacher book of the month and compared to the dog shit that was the previous two books this one is pretty OK actually. The story goes back in time to 1997 and takes places a few weeks before the events in the Killing Floor and explains why Reacher lives the way he lives. Like a typical Reacher book there is a hot broad he nails, a mystery to figure out and wrongs to right. Unlike most other Reacher books The Affair is decent and written somewhat OK and makes some sense, which is a BIG victory.
The story is basic Reacher is sent by the Army to a small town outside an Army post that is the home of two companies of Rangers(complete and utter BS, Ranger Battalions are only in 3 places when not deployed or training there are 2 in Georgia and 1 in Washington state they don’t farm out companies unless its training or deployment.). One of the Rangers might or might not be a serial killer of beautiful local women. The big kink in this is that there are several competing political agendenas happening and Reacher is in the cross hairs of all of them. For a typical Reacher book the political machinations and the fights are actually good for once. Congrats Child’s you now have 3 decent books out of 16.
Outsourced(2007) This is a really nice little slice of life movie I enjoyed a lot. Its a fish out water story that follows Todd Anderson(Josh Hamilton) a manager at a Seattle Washington based novelty company that finds his department and job outsourced to India, To add further insult to injury he girlfriend dumps him and he is being sent to India to train his replacement. So once he gets to India we, of course, are treated to the whole “this isn’t the west” type of situations. The crowds, the trains, food the society etc are covered. What sets this movie apart from others like this is that Outsourced doesn’t try to do the normal for these type of movies and be condescending to both eastern and western cultures. It explores the strengths and weakness of both but never trys to show one is inherently better then other. Also the low key low speed love affair between Todd and Aisha, a worker at the call center, was well handled and believable. Also the interactions between Todd his replacement trainee manager and the worker bees was nice to watch. I recommend this movie its solid low key entertainment. For you married dudes throw this in it will cover you on the romantic movie front but it doesn’t suck and it’s watchable, you’re welcome.
Benny & Joon(1993): Pound for pound probably Johnny Depp’s finest performance. When he did his Buster Keaton schtick it was amazing to see. Benny & Joon is in my top 10 favorites for a variety of reasons. I like both love stories. The acting and writing was fantastic. The story is engaging sweet and gentle.
Benny & Joon is a well made little story about the lives of some regular folks that live Spokane Washington. Benny(Aidan Quinn) is the primary guardian for his mentally ill sister Joon, short for Juniper. Benny is a great guy he loves and cares for Joon as best he can and its pretty damn good,but it takes a toll. All he does is work at the garage he owns and watchs out for Joon which has been getting harder to do. Because of that Benny decided to put Joon in a care facility and it is eating him up. See he’s a decent guy.
Benny’s only social outlet is a weekly poker game where he and his friends get together and use coupons or items from home as stakes. Benny is forced to take Joon with him since she had driven off the most recent care giver Benny hired. When Benny steps out for a moment Joon joins the game and ends up “winning” Sam(Johnny Depp) A strange, odd movie and Buster Keaton obsessed illiterate, but good man.
The rest of the movie is about integrating Sam and waitress Ruthie(Juliane Moore) into Benny & Joons lives and its a pleasure to watch it all unfold. This movie is, in my opinion, just about a perfect movie for a many reason but there are two that stand out for me.
The first is Aidan Quinn. He was great as Benny the caring compassionate good man with his own issues. Benny put’s his life on hold in his compulsion to take care of Joon. Quinn, as Benny, knocked it out of the park. As laudatory as Depp’s performance was, and it was top notch, I think Quinn turned in an equally great performance in a very non-showy role. Truly outstanding work by Mr. Quinn.
The other thing that elevated this movie was its portrayal of mental illness. In Hollywood there seems to be only one kind of mental illness that is a psychotic divorced from reality, you know the jabbering schizophrenic type. Here though they managed to show the real face of mental illness the near functional mentally ill. The writers and Mary Steward Masterson showed what the bulk of the mentally ill are like mostly able but different. They really got it right since the character in some moments reminded me of what my mother was like, yes my Mom was mentally ill. They got so much of it right what its like living with the mentally and I would would like to thank the writers, director and actors for their fine work portraying mental illness on this movie.
The Syfy channel version of Being Human which is an adaptation of an English show about a vampire, werewolf and Ghost that share a house. Being Human its a sort of alright I guess. The two male leads are good but the girl is all sorts of whiny and kind of useless. I’m only about half way through the first season and the story overall is just OK. The main problem I have is that its full up with all kinds of 20 something navel gazing whinny BS. If they could just slow down on that sort of douchebaggery and maybe focus more on the awesome Mark Pelligrino, continuing his streak of playing bad ass supernatural characters, as the vampire boss then the show will really kick ass.
The other issue I have with being Human is it being shot in Montreal as a stand in for Boston. That part doesn’t bother me what bothers me is that shows filmed in Canada tend to take on bland homogenous look to them that’s vaguely annoying.
Boss: this show was hugely embraced by the nerds but I don’t see it past the great acting of Kelsey Grammer as Chicago Mayor Tom Kane. Grammer is in full tour de force mode here as Kane and he is excellent. There isn’t a trace of Frasier anywhere to be found. Kane is tough, ruthless, decisive, dangerous, vengeful and dying from a degenerative neurological disorder. As fantastic as Grammer is the show is let down by almost everybody else but the guy who plays Kane’s consigiliere. All the other characters hover somewhere between paper thin and over the top characterization and the actors don’t do much to elevate what they are given. Those lame charters really hurt the show. On the plus side there is considerable nudity in this so thanks for that.
I have been listing to this Zombie show over the internet called We’re Alive. Its like an old time radio play done on the internet and its pretty good. I’m about half way through season one. If anybody is interested here is a link to the home page http://www.zombiepodcast.com/The_Zombie_Podcast/WereAliveMain.html