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.

 MOVIES:

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.

 TV:

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.

BONUS!

 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

Xiphos

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About Xiphos0311

Sporadic genius but mostly IDGAF.

62 responses to “XIPHOS AND THE MOST VAUNTED OF ALL MINI REVIEWS”

  1. Just Pillow Talk says :

    The Coming of the Horseclans sounds pretty damn interesting, something right up my alley. I’ve never heard of it.

    I’ve never seen Benny and Joon either, so maybe I’ll have to check that out at some point.

    And I have to say that I now understand everyone who has read Robert E. Howard, that Arnie’s Conan couldn’t be more opposite from the Conan stories if it tried. Clearly the new Conan dude is more in line with how the character should be.

    • Xiphos0311 says :

      Horse Clans are pretty damn good books Pillow, at least eh early ones. Later on it became apparent that Adams was slipping medically but the early books are really good. Adams has another series called Castaways in Time which is good but only the first two books. Book number one of that series is just as good as Coming of the Horse clans.

      So now you get it about Conan, welcome aboard. Arnie’s film is a good barbarian flick but it it isn’t a good Conan the barbarian movie.

      • Just Pillow Talk says :

        I’ll have to keep them in mind then, though, how long is the series? It’ll kind of suck if only the early ones are good and then the rest are meh. Does that sort of leave stories in a bad spot or are they sort of stand-alone type books, just in the same universe?

      • Xiphos0311 says :

        I think there is 17 books in the Horse clans. the first 10 are the best with 1 and 3 being the best in my opinion.

        There is an overall theme but the books are mostly stand alone and as far as resolving it isn’t really an issue.

  2. Just Pillow Talk says :

    Oh, and I tried to watch the American version of Being Human, and I just couldn’t get into it.

    • Xiphos0311 says :

      Not that enthralled but I think they are maybe building to something but what that is i don’t know. I’ll finish the series cause I have closure issues so I will have to watch them all.

    • koutchboom says :

      I really dug it, but I’ve never seen the non American version. Was it a beat for beat remake like Shamless?

  3. MORBIUS says :

    Not much to say, that hasn’t already been said about DUNE.
    Should be on everyones Sci-Fi MUST read books.
    Horseclans, will see if my local Library has it.

    Not seen Outsourced, but noticed there is a TV series of the
    same name on HULU. Have you seen it? Comparisons?

    Added Benny & Joon to the ‘need to check out’ list.

    • Xiphos0311 says :

      Morbi the TV show is loosely based on the movies concept but the movie ends in such way that doesn’t really lend itself to a story continuation via TV. I will leave that spoiler on the shelf because its important, funny and quit a twist. If i gave it here would lessen the movie.

      now with that being said I kind of liked the TV show. the early eps were kind of rugged but it found its way and ended fairly strong.

      Horse clans is good fun and as the author states in the acknowledgments in the beginning that there is no political axe to grind. its just a book for people that like to imagine they are astride a war horse with a yard of razor sharp steel in their hands riding hell bent for leather in a wild life and death charge. In other words its all for fun.

      • MORBIUS says :

        Xi

        Thanks for being spoiler free on the ending of Outsourced,
        Will endeavour to find it, Benny & Joon, and the Horseclans.

      • Xiphos0311 says :

        You’re welcome Morbi the twist isn’t like a shamalan type of thing. It probably isn’t even really a twist so much as inevitable but its interesting and if I revealed it it would be a dickish move.

  4. koutchboom says :

    I’ve been meaning to watch Outsourced, I saw the worthless show, Starz has been showing it I should catch it. I really liked Boss, it was all Kelsey. I really liked Being Human not as good as Alphas but fun.

  5. Continentalop says :

    Xi, you ever read REH’s El Borak stories? Pretty good if not quite Conan level IMO, although one story, the Flame Knives, was adapted into a Conan story.

    • Xiphos0311 says :

      yep I’ve read the five published while Howard was alive and the three bladed doom. Years ago during my first tour here I use to jokingly refer to myself as El Borak almost nobody got it and the Spanish speakers always looked confused.

  6. Continentalop says :

    I’m definitely going to check out the zombie podcast thing. Lately I’ve been addicted to old radio shows, especially detective ones, so a zombie one would be good.

    Too bad Edmund O’Brien never did Yours Truly, Johnny Zombie.

  7. tombando says :

    Benny and Joon has that 500 miles tune in it. I remember the doon satire novel too when the Sting movie came out.

  8. Spud McSpud says :

    Ah Xi, I do love me some DUNE. I first read it age 13 at school, and devoured the Frank Herbert sequels as soon as I could. It does feel more like reading a history book than fiction – like the world was already there, and Frank just decided to chronicle it. Easily one of my favourite SF/fantasy sagas, and it’s beautifully written – the way he weaves all the narrative strands together, the way it all coalesces at the end. Truly classic stuff.

    The Horse Clans series sounds like fun – I’ll keep an eye out for that.

    And this is for JPT – I saw the new CONAN on New Year’s Eve, and I have to say, Momoa’s CONAN is the nearest to REH’s character than anybodys got. His fight scenes usually ended up with him getting into some Frazetta style poses (no matter how implausible) and he does have that lust for life that REH’s character had. I loved Arnie’s movie, but for me, take Momoa’s CONAN and place him in the world that Milius wrote – you’d have the perfect CONAN movie. All that said, I think SOLOMON KANE got closer to anything REH wrote than any of the Conan movies did.

    I’m liking these mini reviews, Xi. Keep ’em coming 🙂

  9. tombando says :

    The horse raiders book looks pretty dated, had instant flashbacks to my Carter era middle school years when I saw that cover, but you make it sound fun and involving. If they get that forrmula right, then its a fun romp.

  10. Kloipy says :

    Dune is an amazing book. One of my favorite sci-fi series. I still want to see Alejadro Jordorowski’s 17 hour version of it though

    • Xiphos0311 says :

      somebody made a 17 hour version of Dune?

      • Kloipy says :

        Before Lynch got ahold of it, it was planned on being made by the guy who did El Topo and he was planning a 17 hour version of it

      • Jarv says :

        Christ. I quite like Lynch’s though.

        Oh, and I tried to watch the miniseries. It was shit.

      • Xiphos0311 says :

        visually Lynch was dead on unfortunately he fucked up the Fremen so bad that I find it hard to like the movie.

      • Echo the Bunnyman says :

        yea, Lynch’s movie is a real mixed bag. I watched it recently, and it’s got scope and ambition, but like Xi said, it sort of ruptures in the depiction of the fremen, which is arguably the heart of the original novel.

      • Jarv says :

        Talking about book series, sort of, Part 3 of Abarat has finally been released.

      • Echo the Bunnyman says :

        did it just come out? awesome.

      • Kloipy says :

        I like Lynch’s version as well. But I think Dune is really tough material to do well and being constrained by a few hours really doesn’t do it justice.

      • Jarv says :

        The miniseries I watched came in at 6 hours and was utter crap. It’s not a size issue, it’s the denseness of the material and how complicated it is.

      • Xiphos0311 says :

        Kloipy now you have me wanting to see this 17 hour movie happen.

        Lynch’s Dune had the proper scope and the ambition and a few perfect pieces of casting but man did he miss wildly on the small but import part so the story. He also whiffed massively on the Fremen. The still suits were awful, no head gear, taking VOICE and the weirding way mixing them together and turning them into a sonic weapon was awful. I applaud Lynch’s ambition but weep over the execution. Still if you’re going to fail, fail big which Lynch did.

        Both of those SyFy mini series were just awful. The biggest problem besides everything was that they were boring and there was no need for that. There are enough cool visuals and action sequences to make it at least minimally entertaining. The idea they could shoot the both mini series entirely on a sound stage was dumb. Pay the money to do it right or GTFOH

  11. Col. Tigh-Fighter says :

    Thanks for the zombie podcast tip. I’m downloading them all now. Sounds like my sort of thing.

    I agree with you about Boss. Kelsey is brilliant in it. but they are a very unlikeable bunch of people. His blonde aide is very slutty though, and does a good sex scene. So pro’s and cons 🙂

    Not sure if I can be arsed finishing it. I just watched season 1 of American Horror Story, which was excellent.

    • koutchboom says :

      Finish Boss, the pay off is worth if. Then watch Hells On Wheels, awesome show, just the first episode blows, after that its awesome.

    • Xiphos0311 says :

      depending on how far you’re in it might be worth your while to finish Boss. The last two episodes are by far the best of the season. The second to last one is is the best and the choices Kane makes and the revenge he takes are fun to watch and Grammer was superb even beyond what he was like all season. The final scene was real interesting.

      If they could get the rest of the characters up to snuff then they will have something special.

    • Xiphos0311 says :

      Kitty does like to be bent over A LOT by that OC guy.

  12. Kloipy says :

    We’re Alive is really good. I’ve listened to the pretty much all of it. It has great production and it is a really good time. It’s definitely worth a listen.

    • Xiphos0311 says :

      Yes I would agree with that Kloipy. I don’t even listen to the podcast just the links n the website which they say is lower quality and it sounds good to me.

  13. ThereWolf says :

    Yeh, I love the ‘Dune’ novel. Lynch gave it a pretty decent stab but there’s too much information and too many characters to cram into, what… 140 mins?

    Haven’t seen the series but I’m still hoping to see another feature film, a trilogy, possibly incorporating ‘Children’. The only thing I recall of ‘Children Of Dune’ is it being short, not bad as such.

    Hey, Xi, I’ve watched the first 4 episodes of ‘Supernatural’ S2… still not feeling it.

    Also watched the pilot & first ep of ‘Fringe’… not feeling that either.

    • Kloipy says :

      Hey Wolf, miss ya brother. Been awhile.
      I like Lynch’s Dune too, which is so grand in scope in comparison with his other films. But it’s still just got an overall weird vibe. I remember Duke Leto scaring the shit out of me as a kid.
      Also- Heretics has the best cover of all the books

      • ThereWolf says :

        I can’t remember how far I got with the ‘Dune’ books… may have made it to the fifth one, not sure. And I couldn’t get anything out of it by that point, it was a slog.

        I was always fascinated by the character name ‘Duncan Idaho’ – thought that was a groovy name!

    • Xiphos0311 says :

      Fringe is fucking awful Wolfe do yourself a favor and bail now. I wasted 6 hours on that POS.

      You’ve been more then fair with SN if its not for you its not for you. Thanks for trying it out.

      • ThereWolf says :

        Well, I can’t say I hated ‘Fringe’ – just uninterested. I’ll stick out the first series, see what happens.

        Lovefilm have just sent the next 4 eps of ‘SN’ S2. Also, 3 eps of ‘Kingdom Hospital’ which I’ve just watched. That’s off on a mad ‘un, that is! Quite enjoyed it so far, though…

  14. tombando says :

    Always good to see Both Noted Sages Kloipy and Da Wolfe.

  15. The Thorn says :

    I’m with you about Depp’s performance in ‘Benny and Joon’. He was already on my radar after ‘Edward Scissorhands’, but his Buster Keaton schtick proved to me that he had talent – that he wasn’t just a pretty boy.

    • Xiphos0311 says :

      yeah I’m in the same boat with Depp. I liked him in Scissorhands(but wasn’t all that enthralled with the movie) but he was truly outstanding in Benny & Joon. As great as his big Keaton bits were though his small moments with Joon & Benny I thought were his best. The scene on the bus was particularly poignant.

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