Saturday, May 29, 2010

Happy Birthday, Bob Hope

Today is the 107th anniversary of the birth of Bob Hope. One of the great comedy actors of 20th Century, Bob Hope was born on May 29, 1903 and died on July 27, 2003.

I love the old vaudeville guys. They could sing, dance, act, and boy, did they know how to tell a joke. Today, Hope is best known for the Road pictures he starred in with Bing Crosby and Dorothy Lamour. There are six "Road to.." films in total (ok....seven...but Lamour only had a cameo in the seventh) and I have them all on DVD.

The title song from The Road to Morocco:


Always one of my favorites, "Captain Custard" from the first Road movie, The Road to Singapore:


Happy birthday, Bob!

Friday, May 21, 2010

MST3K Friday: Devil Fish

"We are from Flor-ee-da."
"You know, after this beer, we should have a beer sometime."

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Ride-Along

Recently, it was announced that Shawn Ryan stepped down as showrunner for Fox's Lie to Me.  I really started to enjoy the show under his direction and hope they can continue the great quality drama he brought.  Why did he step down?  Maybe it has to do with Fox picking up his new Chicago-based series Ride-Along.  The trailer looks cool, but you all knew I was going to watch it anyway because Ryan's attached to it.

Check out the promo:

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Justified: The Hammer

Another really good episode last night.  More strong serialized elements with Raylan trying to get Boyd back behind bars.  A reappearance of Doug E. Doug as the preacher/pot dealer (and, this time, lawnscaper) Fandy/Otis whose church Boyd blew up in the pilot.

And a good standalone story.  I'm a huge fan of Stephen Root going back to his days as Jimmy James in Newsradio.  His performance here as a judge Mike “The Hammer” Reardon was outstanding.  He had fun with the goofy, overblown elements of the character, but also played the smaller moments well (like when he thanked Raylan for stopping him from killing his stalker/assailant).  Of course, I couldn't help but think of another hard-nosed Elmore Leonard judge:  Maximum Bob.

Lots of good lines in this one too.  One of my particular favorites is when Raylan is tracking down Otis and starts breaking stuff in the drug paraphernalia store.  "You can tell me where Fandy is, or I can continue to be hilariously clumsy in your store."

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

The Last Five Books I Bought

It's been a while since I posted one of these.  My TBR pile got pretty small, so I took a run to my local bookstore the other day.  I could probably add Expiration Date to the list, but since I already reviewed it, it will be excluded.  What did I buy?



A Drink Before the War by, Dennis Lehane.  I haven't read any of his books but I hear good things.  Also liked the movie Gone, Baby Gone.  I figured the first Kenzie/Gennaro book would be a good place to start.




Stalking the Angel, by Robert Crais.  I've read L.A. Requiem and The Monkey's Raincoat, so I figured I'd continue my crawl through Crais's back catalog.






The Dawn Patrol, by Don Winslow.  A lot of people, including Dave White, had nothing but praise for this book.  Figured since summer's around the corner, it would be a good time to pick it up.





The Cleaner, by Brett Battles.  I'd read a story by Battles in the Killer Year Anthology and put his debut on my list.  I'm surprised it took me this long to pick it up.




The Power and the Glory, by Graham Greene.  Going a little highbrow with this one.  Someone was talking about this on one of the group blogs I read.  It's supposed to be Greene's best work.  The Catholic Church has been outlawed in a Mexican state, all the priests are forced out of their vows and forced to take a wife.  It's a story of faith and persecution and follows an unnamed priest who refuses to give up his vows and the police lieutenant charged with tracking the priest down.

Friday, May 14, 2010

MST3K Friday: The Brute Man

They have some of the riffs from last week's "Chicken of Tomorrow", but here are some clips from "The Brute Man".

"He and his college buddies went bobbing for anvils."

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Expiration Date by, Duane Swierczynski

Mickey Wade, recently downsized newspaper reporter, is at the end of his rope.  He's given up his nice apartment and moved into his grandfather's one-room flop in a bad part of town.  He takes two Tylenol he finds in his grandfather's medicine cabinet and wakes up in 1972.

Duane Swierczynski is one of the most entertaining writers around.  His books are always fun, quick reads with interesting concepts, and this one is no different.  I'd read Swierczy's other works (The Blonde, The Wheelman, even his work on Cable) and was eagerly anticipating this one.

One of the complaints I've had about his other books is their abrupt endings.  The Wheelman especially, because The Blonde was improved with the novella The Redhead included in the paperback edition.  Not so with Expiration Date. The ending is near perfect.

It's hard to talk more about the book without giving the story away.  Through the course of his travels, Wade finds out more about his family and that's pretty much the whole point.  The one complaint I have is Wade worries more about if he can change the past, but never wonders about if he should change the past.

Like I said, it was a quick read.  I finished it in two days.  It gets my recommendation.

BONUS:  For eagle-eyed fans of Swierczynski, pay attention to the scenes with Mickey Wade in the sanitarium.  There are some allusions to Swierczynski's first book Secret Dead Men (which I read for the first time in January).  That certainly brought a smile to my face.

Friday, May 7, 2010

MST3K Friday: The Chicken of Tomorrow

This short originally appeared before the Season 7 episode "The Brute Man".

"But, wait a minute you may be saying...." "...why am I watching this?"

Part 1:


Part 2:

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Justified: Blowback

This was a great episode. The writers found a perfect balance between the serialized and standalone elements. We opened and closed with the ongoing Crowder/Ava/Raylan case and had appearances from ADA Vasquez sprinkled throughout.

Since Raylan took down the corrupt sheriff last week, all this cases have to be retried. A judge decided anyone with less than six months left on their sentence could be let free. This includes Bo Crowder, who shows up to have a delightfully creepy scene in a diner with Ava. At the Marshalls’ office, an inmate being transferred to a Super Max prison takes two guards hostage, which forces Raylan to act as a hostage negotiator. After the standoff is settled, Raylan has his interview with Vasquez. Said interview reveals how damaged the case against Boyd Crowder is by Raylan’s ongoing relationship with Ava and ends up in Boyd’s release.

The first few episodes of the season show Raylan as a man in control at all times. He’s a great Marshall and the best shot in the world. Even when it looks like a convict is going to get over on him, Raylan pulls out the charm and wins in the end. The last two weeks (we can probably include the episode that introduced his father, too) show Raylan out of his element. He’s never negotiated a hostage situation before, so he does the best he can. We’ve seen hundreds of hostage situations in TV and movies and recently more of the “we know the hostage situation playbook” hostage situations, but this is a new twist on the “we know the playbook” situation. And it worked well.

Since the writers had a fair number of episodes setting up the character of Raylan Givens, we now know what his comfort zone is. And it’s very entertaining to see him put in situations where he’s out of his zone.

The other serialized element of Raylan’s ex-wife and her (probably) shady new husband got some traction this week too. Looks like next week’s episode will focus more on that. Can’t wait.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

The Friends of Eddie Coyle by, George V. Higgins


Eddie Coyle is a gunrunner facing prison time for a job that went wrong in New Hampshire. Jackie Brown is a younger gunrunner who can get you anything you need, including machine guns. And somebody out there has put together a highly skilled crew that’s knocking off banks.

If the plot description sounds light and a little loose, that’s probably because the plot of the book is. But, you don’t read “Friends of Eddie Coyle” for the plot. You read it for the pitch-perfect characters and dialogue that crackles like logs on a fire. Touted by critics and authors (such as Elmore Leonard) alike as the best crime book ever written, “Colye” offers some of the most realistic dialogue ever committed to paper.

A quick and satisfying read, author George V. Higgins drops the reader in the middle of a scene and makes him figure things out for himself. As with many crime books, there are twists along the way, but these twists arrive organically. Instead of double crosses for profit or revenge, the majority of the double crosses are perpetrated by a character wanting to save his/her own skin.

Don’t go into the book expecting lots of flowery, descriptive language. Higgins let his characters tell the story, and they tell it through their dialogue.

Recommended.