Friday, December 07, 2007

Broadcast of Poetry Reading

I read at a poetry reading last night which got broadcast on the internet. Starting this morning the video is available for viewing at this link: Columus Urban Connection Click "Live Broadcasting/ Recorded Shows" and then use the "Next >" button under "Past Shows" to find "Open Mic Night at the Columbus Public Library!".

I read two poems near the beginning of the event. Actually I'm the third reader.

The featured poet, Doraine Bennett, was wonderful. I do recommend that you listen to her read. After her, there is a bit of comic relief. One person sang a very nice song a cappella too.

Thought you might be interested in viewing it.

Warning: Turn down your volume a bit when I'm reading--I like to project.

Sunday, December 02, 2007

Now & Then by Robert B. Parker

The 35th Spenser novel, Now & Then, includes all the usual banter. Spenser irritates strangers by cracking wise, while at the same time entertaining this long time reader. I’ll admit it; I am still amused by Spenser’s sarcastic wit, even though the jokes have been the same ones for decades. However, this time round, the plot was about the thinnest it’s ever been. So was Spenser’s motive for working another no-pay case.

Over and over Susan and Hawk theorize that Spenser is still working through the trauma of Susan leaving him back in A Catskill Eagle in 1985. 1985!!! They seem to think that Spenser identifies with the client/victim whose wife was cheating on him. Oddly, no one ever mentions Spenser’s affair with Candy Sloan in A Savage Place, 1981. Somehow Spenser’s one night stand didn’t count! My biggest beef though is that the motive for solving the case is hardly that important in Spenser anymore. He solves things! It’s his nature. That’s it. Why did Parker see the need to dredge up Spenser and Susan’s past over and over again? It wasn’t believable after all this time, and the repeated mention of it seemed so forced.

But what do you expect from Robert B. Parker these days? It has been literarily decades since Spenser novels were written at near literary level. To be an ongoing Spenser fan, one must accept Spenser as a cartoon or caricature of his earlier self. To my mind, A Catskill Eagle was the cut-off point for the real, authentic Spenser. Since then Parker has been writing light-weight novels that are heavy on wit, with rare, extremely rare moments of depth.

Having recently re-read Walking Shadow, I can tell you that Now & Then is even fluffier than that one. Walking Shadow included one passage that I thought was so eloquent I got chills reading it aloud. There’s nothing that good here.

Yet, I can honestly say I enjoyed Now & Then. Spenser’s dialogue still makes me laugh. I enjoyed the heck out of reading this one aloud to Christi, doing the deep bass voice for Hawk, the Speedy Gonzales voice of Chollo, and my best Joe Pesci for Vinnie. Yes, Spenser yet again has surrounded himself with the "Thug Brigade".

That relates to the one last thing I want to mention. The moral complexity of the early Spenser novels is long, long gone. Spenser has become so accustomed to using Hawk and the other thugs for muscle that the dividing line between criminal violence and heroism barely exists anymore. Sure the overall quantity of violence has dropped as the series has gone on, but there are six killings under Spenser’s watch in this one. Four of the killings occur during a set-up that Spenser has orchestrated. Long gone are the days of remorse over the taking of life, even the life of a criminal or a killer. Spenser has developed a thick skin about such killing. I’m sad to see his remorse go.

Saturday, December 01, 2007

The Viking Funeral by Stephen J. Cannell

I don’t wish to spill much ink on this novel, The Viking Funeral by Stephen J. Cannell. Suffice it to say, my comment to Christi, as I finished reading this one aloud to her, was, “Thank God that trudge through Hell is over!”

It’s not a badly written book. The problem is the agonizing situation of the main character, Shane Scully of the LAPD. He gets himself entrenched with a band of cops turned criminals. One of the bad cops is Shane’s friend since childhood, Jody. And, Jody, well, he is by no means faking his bad-ass demeanor. Whew, I’ll spare you the details of the slaughter in the final 50 pages of the book.

Not to mention the excessive use of obscenities.

Not to mention how Shane scrapes through with only a few minor injuries after about 100 attempts on his life. (Gosh, do I hate convenient near misses! What is this? An episode of the A-Team?!)

For much of the novel, Shane is depressed. He believes that he has killed the love of his life. He is witnessing first hand the depths of corruption of his former best friend. He must act the part of a criminal to maintain his cover. The whole crew is wasted on drugs, and most of them would sooner kill Shane then let him in on their deal, as Jody has agreed. Three-quarters of the way through the novel, Shane decides to commit suicide. I could sympathize. Reading about his plight was getting me very depressed as well.

You might ask why we persisted in reading something so dark and depressing. Well, my take was that the first book in the Scully series, The Tin Collectors, was nearly as good as any Michael Connelly novel. I kept hoping that this second in the series would make a turn and start to charm me again as did the earlier one. It did not happen.

Really I can only recommend this book to someone who felt that She’s Come Undone was the feel-good novel of the 1990s. (For me, personally, that was the bleakest novel ever written.) You have to be a glutton for punishment to enjoy The Viking Funeral.

Friday, November 30, 2007

Spock Must Die! by James Blish

Modifications to the transporter using tachyons, the creation of a mirror-image replicate of Spock, a mysterious screen surrounding the planet Organia, a Klingon invasion force, and confusing instances of perception distortion and manipulation—these are some of the ingredients in James Blish’s 1970 Star Trek novel, Spock Must Die! (Another Star Trek novel title with an exclamation point at the end of it! And probably one of the worst titles on any Star Trek novel, too.)

This is in fact the first ever original Star Trek novel written for adults. As such, it’s quite remarkable for its high quality level and for it’s accuracy in portraying the main Trek players: Kirk, Spock, and McCoy. Much of the action in the storyline is initially generated by McCoy’s philosophical musings on the Transporter system. The good doctor, famous for his agitation at having his atoms scattered, wonders aloud whether he still has a soul after the Transporter process is through with him. Scotty is inspired by McCoy’s question to experiment with tachyons, proposing to create a tachyon based replication of a human being that can be transported much greater distances than normal Transporter function. When Klingon attack-posturing and loss of contact with the Organia peace-keepers calls for the need of a spy, Spock volunteers to be the guinea pig for Scotty’s tachyon-replication process. A temporary Spock duplicate will be transported to Organia to view circumstances there and report back. However, instead a mirror reflection replicate of Spock instantaneously appears, leaving the Enterprise crew with the mystery of trying to figure out which one is the original Mr. Spock.

Yes, there sure are similarities between this story and the Start Trek episode “The Enemy Within” where two versions of Kirk are created, one good and one evil. Oddly, Blish never makes reference to this earlier situation. And the Spock duplication is different in that one Spock is entirely the real, original Spock. The replicate is his mirror image, including the area of personality. There is no goal of merging the two back together, as was the case with Kirk—only determination of who is the replicate so he may be destroyed. As it turns out the replicate is treacherous and a real threat, as he has allied with the Klingons.

Before the difference between the two Spocks is uncovered, there are brief hints at the philosophical problem of what to do with two beings who are exactly the same. If a difference were not uncovered, who would get to remain serving as Science Officer aboard the Enterprise? What would happen to the other equally qualified Spock? What course of action could possibly be fair? Would Spock suffer from psychiatric trauma from instantaneously being a twin? These are all great questions, but they are never dealt with because the duplicate is not an exact copy after all. The ideas introduced here are expanded upon and explored more fully in the Phoenix Trek novels by Sondra Marshak and Myrna Culbreath. Similairly, as in the later Marshak and Culbreath novels, there is a psychic link of sorts between original and duplicate.

I loved most of this novel, especially all the interactions between Kirk, Spock One, and Spock Two. It was fascinating to observe the process of trying to determine who was the real Spock.. Which behaviors are un-Spock-like?

Blish provides excellent scientific rationales and explanations—much better than most television inspired sci fi. Ultimately it is McCoy who figures out the litmus test for authenticity. The replicate is unable to eat normal food. Even on the molecular level, he is the reverse image of Spock.. In addition even his thought waves are reversed, as observed by the Organians and Mr. Spock.

I found Blish’s dialogue for Scotty to be a fairly elaborate depiction of a Scottish brogue. Apparently Blish took greater pains to be accurate with brogue than even James Doohan. Thankfully though, most Trek novelists emulate Doohan and keep it simple.

The climax and conclusion of the novel seemed slightly rushed, but perhaps that is unavoidable since there is not much left to do once the Organians are let loose from under the imprisoning screen. The final result is that the Klingons are grounded for 1000 years, which, of course, is not accepted continuity by any means.

All in all this is an ingenious concept which is told with loving care and authenticity. James Blish knows the Trek characters extremely well and it shows. I highly recommend this sweet, swift read to any fan of original Trek.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Agape for the Camera

This picture was taken on Wednesday, November 14th, 2007 (I think!)
Notice how Christi does such a good job of ignoring my antics! Me-thinks she has had practice!

Monday, November 26, 2007

Enterprise Marathon and Vulcan! by Kathleen Sky

In the continuing saga of my Star Trek kick . . . I spent “Black Friday” planted in front of the television, watching the Enterprise marathon on Sci Fi. Having never watched Enterprise before, I was intrigued enough to watch about 7 or 8 episodes that day. (Christi could hardly stand the boredom of such a day--and in retrospect, I understand.) However, I came away with no need or desire to watch more. The bottom line is that the characters never appealed me to such a degree that I wanted to follow them longer. In other words, all the characters, even Captain Archer, seemed flat and cardboard-esque. Except for rare instances, the show also seemed devoid of a character-driven sense of humor—which has always been fundamental to Star Trek, as far as I’m concerned. Really the only thing that held me in place for those hours on Friday was the delight of seeing Original Series aliens, such as Andorians and Orions, given contemporary make-overs and more fleshed out storylines. But it’s not enough pleasure, in my opinion, to invest any more time in. I now understand why Enterprise never caught on with most Star Trek fans.

Along similar lines, I have just finished reading Vulcan! by Kathleen Sky. Originally published in 1978, this was one of the earliest Trek novels. Sky did a great job portraying the characters of McCoy and Spock in this novel. However, Captain Kirk does not come across as accurate to his character. Most of the novel, Kirk is grouchy and irritated, and due to Star Fleet instructions and the threat of a Romulan ship, his hands are tied from any action. Perhaps one could argue that the circumstances are what causes Kirk’s unfamiliar demeanor, but I just felt as though Sky missed the fullness of his character. At one point, Kirk is portrayed as wishing that an antagonistic character, Katalya Tremain, a scientist who hates Vulcans, would be killed on the away team. That is certainly not the Kirk we all know. It’s important to note that Kirk is really a background character in this novel anyway, so the inaccuracies of his portrayal are not make or break for this novel.

By the way, the Romulan commander is portrayed as a bit of a coward—at least when it comes to Kirk. Apparently, Captain Kirk has a huge reputation at this point among Romulans as a trickster and dishonorable opponent. Even so, I was surprised to see the Romulan commander to be characterized as so weak and unsure of himself. It did not seem to fit with previous glimpses into Romulan command.

The central figure in the novel Vulcan! really is Katalya Tremain. McCoy spends the first half of the novel attempting to uncover why she hates Vulcans and goes into hysterics at the sight of Spock. (Trust me, Sky gives sufficient reasons for Tremain’s assignment to the Enterprise for this particular mission, despite her apparent bigotry.) The investigation into her psyche is interesting, but not worthy of the 70 pages or so devoted to it. I suspect this short novel (only 175 pages in total) needed some padding to be completed, and it was the front end that got the padding treatment.

The second half of the novel is much more exciting as Spock and Katalya are trapped on the surface of the planet Arachne—alone and surrounded by threatening creatures . . . sort of a cross between giant ants and tarantulas. McCoy’s earlier work with Katalya makes it possible for her to work with Spock, but she still isn’t happy about it. As they struggle to survive on Arachne, there is an opportunity for Spock to uncover what is really behind her displays of hatred toward Vulcans.

Overall, the novel Vulcan! is a swift, pleasure read. The tone and pacing is closely derived from the original Star Trek television series--so I’d recommend this one to anyone looking for a bit of Star Trek nostalgia.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Rowan Atkinson Doctor Who Comic Relief Sketch Part 1

If you are a fan of Doctor Who and/or Rowan Atkinson, ie "Mr. Bean", you ought to check this out. Quite an elaborate spoof!

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Tim Kring Admits Mistakes Were Made

Christi and I are still watching Heroes, despite our complaints and disappointments. Yet I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve said to her, “Didn’t we see this same build-up last season?” or “Why do we have to watch Peter discover his powers all over again?” or “When is Hiro ever going to leave Japan’s feudal past?” It has been painful at times. But obviously I’m an optimist and keep hoping it will get better. A recent article appeared on the net that gives me tons and tons of hope. Tim Kring, creator of Heroes, has publicly apologized for the show’s missteps thus far this season. He promises to turn it around beginning right now. I just hope it’s not too late, given that Heroes ratings have dramatically dropped off this season. And with the writer’s strike there is no telling what might happen. Here’s the link for the Tim Kring article on Entertainment Weekly,,20158840,00.html I can admire anyone who is willing to admit error and make the necessary corrections!

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

New Radiohead Album!

In Rainbows, the latest Radiohead album, caught me unawares. I'd been checking the website every month or so recently, looking for news of a release date. But now it seems I'm a month or so behind the curve. It was release on Oct. 10th when I wasn't looking. And shockingly, the Radiohead band has decided to sell it as a download where you name your own price. You can even download it for Free, if you don't think it worth paying for. I agreed to pay $10.50 for the album with no regrets. I'm on the third listen through and I'm pleased with it. Talk about instant gratification! It only took about 10 minutes to download as opposed to waiting days for shipping. I expect as with their other releases it will grow on me over time.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

"Leah" by Ehud Havazelet, A Series of Disappointments

Like Never Before (1998) is Ehud Havazelet's collection of related stories. However, since it’s been a few years since I’ve read the first few stories in the collection, I couldn’t possibly tell you how they are related, except that the main characters are all part of the same extended family.

This morning I just finished reading “Leah”, a fifty page short (?) story in the middle of the book. Sadly, I can’t recommend it. Neither the narrator nor her cousin, Leah, ever endeared themselves to me. Sure, the story does have vivid details as it chronicles the cousin’s childhood, adolescence, and young adulthood.

The main stand-out scene is that of the narrator’s loss of her virginity on the removed front seat of a derelict Buick. It’s not so much the telling of the sex as it is the sense of place, the conversation between the teens, and the chaotic arrival of the entourage immediately following the act. David, the narrator’s dangerous brother, Leah, her religiously devout cousin, and a friend of David’s, Barry, show up with a supply of joints. By the end of this section, it’s clear that the narrator has a tendency to throw all caution to the wind. Her bother’s recklessness and cruelty also come across. And Leah is shown to be restrained to the point of absurdity, even though she clearly is fascinated by the aggressiveness of her cousin David.

The tale disappointed me from that point on. Even though the narrative of Leah’s multiple marriages was supposed to be ironic, given the childhood portrait of Leah praying repeatedly for her future husband, I found no surprise or charm in it. Was I supposed to laugh at the wedding scene where the groom abandons Leah at the altar because he has discovered she lied (or allowed her mother to lie on her behalf) about being a virgin, after two previous marriages?

The narrator’s own series of botched relationships wasn’t amusing either. In none of the relationships depicted is there any believable warmth, even though the narrator claims to love her Rumanian drug-dealer of a boyfriend. I felt nothing at the narrative of his assault and robbery. I couldn’t care less that he had to flee the country.

Lastly there is no sense of epiphany at the end of the tale. Leah pronounces to the narrator, “I’ve watched you your whole life and you’ve never known what would be enough for you.” I wanted to shout aloud, “I noticed that 25 pages ago!”

Leah’s seemingly happy marriage at the end didn’t ring emotionally true either. Her bearded husband and bear-toting child seemed like card-board cutouts.

I only finished reading the story out of stubbornness.

Friday, October 19, 2007

Marillion : Faith (Live)

Beautiful! If you haven't ever listened to Marillion, please start right now. You owe it to yourself! And if you haven't listened to Marillion in a long time . . . well, there must be something wrong with you! ;-) They TRUELY are a global treasure.

Friday, October 12, 2007

BORN Magazine: Art and Literature Together

This morning I happened upon this webzine, BORN, and I can’t recommend it enough. These folks are using computer based multimedia (particularly animation), traditional art, sound effects, and stunning poetic text to provide an intense experience for the audience. Not only did I thrill at the content on the site itself, but also I found myself clicking through a number of the links to learn more about the artists and designers. Think of it as an art gallery where all the artists merge their morphing images with stunning literature and a soundtrack. You’ll be enthralled and amazed! A great place to explore.

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Heroes Rant!!!

Ok, this is not so much a review as a RANT! I am so annoyed with Heroes this season. Episode 2 of Season 2 was so awful, I don’t know that I can push through and watch anymore. GRRR!

I’m sorry but it’s not plausible that the Bennet family have relocated with such lavish life-style. Even managers at Kinkos don’t initially make enough for new vehicles and plush accommodations for a family of four—not on a single income! And, PA-LEESSE, you do not keep your job after breaking the fingers of your boss, no matter how annoying he is.

Niki and Micah? Who cares??? Niki is such a whiner. Ditto Micah!

Hiro’s trip to Japan’s past? It’s so silly. He writes notes to Ando and sticks them in the sword handle. What are we back in grade-school here? The notes add nothing to the narrative movement forward. Hiro and Ando were the best thing about Season One, and now they are played strictly for comic relief. What a waste. And I wish that annoying Kensei could kill himself by falling on his own sword. I just can’t stand that selfish SOB.

Maya and Alejandro. They would not be having nearly as many problems if Maya wasn’t so panicky and dependent. So far I have not seen anything redeeming or admirable about them as characters. They’re just helpless children lost in the woods, even though they are clearly full-grown.

Suresh is such a dope. You just know that he’s got to be dead-meat within just a few more episodes. There’s not even any suspense about his fate. He’s so easily fooled.

Peter and his identity in the box. First, the box idea is a stupid gimmick. There is no suspense for the audience since we already know who he is. Who really cares what’s in the box anyway? Even Peter doesn’t care what’s in it. Talk about a pointless story. Second, why should we be interested in Peter having to figure out his powers all over again? Didn’t we already do that last year?

West and Claire flying. Uh, didn’t I see that in Superman: The Movie (1978)???

Isaac’s paintings. Enough already!!!! Isaac is dead. Will we still be interpreting his premonition paintings ten years from now??? I’m sorry but to attempt to build suspense around a brutal death depicted in a painting can’t work forever, folks. See how the death of the cheerleader painting worked out? I’ve had enough. This is a cheesy gimmick if I ever saw one.

All we need now is another cheesy slogan like: “Save the man in the horn-rimmed glasses—Save the world!!”

Sunday, October 07, 2007

Short Story Kick: J.D. Chapman’s The Museum of Wooden Architecture

I’ve been on a kick of reading short stories. Partially because I have discovered I can read them while exercising on a treadmill or elliptical machine, usually finishing an entire story in about 30 minutes. It certainly beats the heck out of watching a.m. television! Over the next few days, perhaps weeks, I hope to offer a few notes on some of the most exciting stories I’ve read recently:

The Museum of Wooden Architecture by J.D. Chapman, Southern Humanities Review Winter 2007

This is the story of Travis Gruoch who wants to grow up to be astronaut, until the Challenger explosion. As an alternate focus for his Cold War fascination, Travis signs up to study Russian in high school and eventually follows his passion to participate in a Russian-American exchange program. The bulk of the story covers Travis’ outrageously funny stay in Russia.

J.D. Chapman offers up some wonderful character descriptions and details throughout this joyride of a story:

Mr. Metz [the Earth Science teacher] had learned to play the bagpipes in the Air Force, and was good at that; during assemblies and pep rallies he put on his blue kilt, his legs naked and incongruous beneath, like an Airedale’s, and he paraded around the basketball court with the thing under his arm like a speared goose.

[Ms. Kromer, U.S. History teacher] had long legs and hair the color of V-8 . . .

No one encouraged Travis to take Russian, or even pointed out that it was available; it sat there on the mock schedule after French and before Spanish like an auk among pigeons.

The dialogue as Travis interacts with his Russian host family is particularly funny as well:

He [Travis] remembered the word for tasty, and he said it many times though he didn’t find it so. “Big thanks,” he said. “Very, very tasty. Very good.”

After dinner, Vladim put on a bluegrass record. He asked Travis, “Do you know it?” in Russian, and then pronounced, “Bloo-Grras!” in English. He snapped his fingers.

Travis said, “Of course. Yes. Music of Virginia, of my homeland,” and he snapped along with it though it was some kind of phony studio crossover shit with an electric bass and drums, and harmonies all wrong, not high lonesome at all but corny and sweet as a Disney kids’ record, and anyway Travis like John Cougar Mellencamp. He said, “My favorite!”

Vladim opened up a cabinet and took out a bottle of vodka. Tanya said, “No!” and looked embarrassed, but Vladim waved her off and said, “My son! My big, American son!” He poured the vodka into tall glasses, then spooned in sugar and bilberries. It burned, but it was very good. Travis had never been drunk before. His face was warm, and he said, “I love y’all,” and he tried to teach Tanya the buck-and wing.

As with all the best short story humorists (Twain, Tobias Wolff, Bobbie Ann Mason, to name a few), J.D. Chapman artfully shifts tone by the end of the story to make you feel deeply with the main character. The final paragraphs of the story hearken back to the opening images, but whereas the opening was light-hearted, the last scene is melancholy. There is the shock of mature insight. Through Travis’ eyes we get a strong sense of the impact of Cold War repression and the ongoing poverty of the Russian culture. This is absolutely one of the best short stories I’ve ever read.

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Reviews of "Phoenix" Star Trek novels

The Price of the Phoenix (1977)
Sondra Marshak & Myrna Culbreath
Read July 30, 2007 – August 8, 2007

The Fate of the Phoenix (1979)
Sondra Marshak & Myrna Culbreath
Read September 12, 2007 – October 2, 2007

With the upcoming theatrical reboot of Star Trek featuring the original series characters, I’ve been feel nostalgic for the long past days when in Middle School and High School I could while away hours and even days reading Star Trek paperbacks. Yes, once-upon-a-time I would have claimed the label of Trekkie with pride. I guess old Trekkies die hard, since I’ve just finished reading three Trek novels in a row. I’d like to offer some notes on two of those which are among the earliest Trek novels.

The Price of the Phoenix lived up to my memory of it from those long past days of leisure. I had remembered that the novel featured a super-villain who utilized both psychological and physical torture in his attacks against Kirk, Spock, and the rest of the Enterprise crew. I had remember that this villain Omne had duplicated Kirk as part of his master plan to remake the universe in his image. Most importantly, I had remembered this as one of the most exciting and tension filled Trek novels ever. All these memories were verified in re-reading The Price of the Phoenix. Throughout this 182 page novel, my attention was riveted to this intense battle of wills.

What I had forgotten was the philosophical debates that run throughout the novel, revolving mostly around the value and place of exact duplicates. For example, what do you do with a man who is an exact copy of Captain Kirk? Obviously you can’t have two Kirks on the bridge of the Enterprise. If only one can command, is it irrefutably obvious that the original must have preference? When both are exactly the same down to the memories, how can you say the replica has less of a right?

There were moments in reading this novel that my head hurt from the shifts from extreme physical peril to mind games to moral debates. If it had been any greater in length, I might have despaired. However, as it was, I was quite pleased for the most part to lose myself in the trials Omne imposed on our beloved crew. If there ever was a villain who embodied the sensation of “menace” it is Omne; and as such, his threat gave me a thrill.

Lastly, I also enjoyed the development of the Romulan Commander and the Kirk duplicate who came to embrace the name James. It seems to me that these two were used to great effect as a foil to Kirk and Spock. James slowly starts to find an alternate life in the budding relationship with the Romulan Commander, and James comes to accept that he must relinquish Spock, McCoy, and his ship the Enterprise.

As for Fate of the Phoenix, the sequel, I can’t say nearly as much, at least not favorable comments. Where Price of the Phoenix was tight, intense, and claustrophobic even, The Fate of the Phoenix is a flawed attempt at epic. My biggest disappointment in The Fate of the Phoenix was how Omne turns ally. Why would anyone think it’s a good idea to take a great villain of true menace and turn him into a cuddly friend?

The reason for the alliance is moderately interesting as an idea. Omne needs Kirk, Spock, the Commander, and James to help in a war against himself. Omne has made a duplicate of himself and cloaked this copy in a replica of Spock’s body. Thus Omne has a disguise for infiltrating the Enterprise. However, Omne’s other goes awol, seeking dominance over his maker and cure for a built in death-date. Again sounds okay for a concept but in execution it comes off as contrived and flimsy.

There are so many reversals of fortune as the upper hand shifts back and forth between Omne and his Other, as the Commander fights for her James, as Kirk volleys from the realization that at one time or another his Spock had been replaced, and as Kirk and Spock weigh the morality of keeping one’s word to Omne.

At about the halfway point, I was desperate to be done with the book. I nearly skipped the final chapter a few times, but instead simply read only a few pages each night before bed—like a gulp of bad tasting medicine.

Overall I suspect that Marshak & Culbreath were attempting to create a very different book from Price of the Phoenix, perhaps a space epic. However, their ambition exceeded their gifts. Scene to scene this book feels fraught with contrived and melodramatic events. Also the whole family feel of Star Trek doesn’t quite make it into this book, because everyone had doubts about everyone. I hope I remember to never re-read this one again.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Video: BATMAN OPERA Theme Song Music Parody

Depending on your current frame of mind, this video will either tickle you or push you over the edge. I did not have anything to do with the making of this video--I just found it on a Batman fan site--least you worry too much about my own frame of mind!

Short Story "Names" by Nancy Scott Hanway

I just finished reading Nancy Scott Hanway's short story "Names" which appeared in SHR (Southern Humanities Review) Winter 2007.

I just wanted to mention that I loved it! The journey of the main character Sid through this narrative was so recognizable and emotionally riveting. I could relate to the kooky relatives, the pressures of writing and marriage (the guilt, oh, the guilt), and the outrage at "authority"'s foot soldiers. The observations about the significance of names also rings true.

Someone ought put together of a collection of fiction set in either Disney World and/or Disney Land. I've seen that setting used before, and as Hanway has done in "Names", it takes on symbolic meanings Disney never intended.

You should check out this story!