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Showing posts from July, 2015

Concern, Bewilderment and Optimism

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The hardest thing about writing [reviews] is being smart about books. Neil Peart, creator ofBubba's Book Club, on CBC's The Next Chapter (5/1/15 Encore)
'Ain't it the truth? Ain't it the truth?' said Bert Lahr's Cowardly Lion. My first section involves concern, but only thematically:

Advance Reader Copy. Cover art by Sammy Yuen If this excellent book does not get adapted into a movie, I'll be very surprised.
I do tend to talk up great books, and perhaps avoid negative reviews, mostly because I feel it is important to boost our writers and other artists in a time of government undersupport and book publishing changes. I was eagerly anticipating reviewing Mark Alpert’s novel, The Six, and did it ever über-deliver!
There’re lots of YA fantasy novels being published these days, but this one stands out for several reasons.
First, while sci-fi in genre, it accomplishes something currently rare: it's believable. As Alpert says in his Note, the science is real, r…

3 Renegades

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Three disparate media about renegades: music, film and fiction. Picture two mountain ranges and a valley.
Cameron Carpenter is mountain range #1. I have been an organ geek (and opera for that matter) forever, so I don't know how I missed out on this guy. He's kind of like the Nigel Kennedy of the pipe organ: badass! He got some unflattering and inaccurate (and ironically pretentious) coverage on Tone Deaf, but if you ignore the ignorant copy and read the sensible comments (Yes! It's a Comments section that isn't poisonous!) and watch his Sony Electronic Press Kit, you may find yourself intrigued as much as I was. As someone said, Carpenter is dragging the organ into the 21st century. Just as I Furiosi have done for Baroque concerts. Check him out at his site and on Facebook. Cannot wait to see this guy live. 'Pretentious'? I think that's jealousy speaking...  http://www.impawards.com/intl/misc/2014/plemya_ver2.html Mountain range #2: The Tribe or Plemya (dir.M…

Miss, Miss, Hit, Hit

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A mixed bag of reviews this time.
I recently went to see Woman in Gold (dir. Simon Curtis, 2015), probably now at the end of its theatre run. Like so many artists and art forms these days, I used to like Gustav Klimt’s work, but he is now plastered (as is drily alluded to in the movie) on ubiquitous mugs and mousepads, and I’d lost interest in him. So I thought this film might reignite my appreciation for Mr. Gold Leaf himself: not so much. As my companion commented, you watch the whole film saying to yourself, “Oh, there’s Helen Mirren…there’s Ryan Reynolds.” You just can’t get swept away by the beauty of the art because (perhaps) the direction is so intentional that it seems to play the main role, like an obvious music score. My bad for assuming it was an art film. I want to escape at the movies, not have a heavy-handed history lesson. The one thing I was impressed with was the singing by Max Irons (yes, son of Jeremy)—and then I read that he had been dubbed. Canadian actress Tatian…

What I Didn't Like About "The Martian"

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Photo: http://codices.info/wp-content/uploads/2015/04/machr.jpg
I just finished ripping through the 369-page The Martian by debut novelist Andy Weir, self-confessed science nerd. This year, I have read more fantasy/sci-fi than ever, and several books have been about scientific disasters and/or space, but I tend to go for the more blockbuster and less techie stories, having practically failed science every year after intro biology. We won't even discuss maths. I'm a luddite, and I don't want to be scratching my head during my precious escapism hours. So books that go into thrust and scientific measurements and velocity and the nightmare-inducing periodic table of elements are a little intimidating for me. The story, if you haven't heard yet about the book or the upcoming Matt Damon movie, is about an astronaut named Mark Watney who gets stranded on Mars after a mission mishap. That's all I'll say in the interest of avoiding spoilers à la "Who Shot JR?". …