Saturday, November 28, 2015


For all that the original Rocky movie has become a frequent target of parodies, it's actually a pretty darn good film that made a lot of people root for its hero.  The many sequels must have made money, but they paled in comparison to the first, and they quickly became the province only of those seeking another action flick.  (I was one of those people, as you might expect.)

Creed, though a film in this series, is not another sequel.  If anything, it's a modern re-imagining of the original that also manages to build on the whole series.  Director and co-writer Ryan Coogler had to convince Sylvester Stallone to let him co-op Stallone's world, and I'm glad he did.  Creed tells a familiar story, but with a lot of heart and an interesting approach.

Lead actor Michael B. Jordan, who previously teamed with Coogler on Fruitvale Station, makes you forget his Fantastic Four role and see a very different and more interesting character.  Stallone plays an aging, solitary Rocky Balboa with more grace and dignity than I would have thought possible for him.  The supporting cast members generally turn in good performances, but Jordan and Stallone rightly dominate the story.

Speaking of which, I can't tell you to expect a lot of surprises from the plot, because this is a song you've heard before--but this particular version has its own heart and its own specificity.

If you enjoyed the original Rocky film--and I do mean that specific film, not the whole series--then you will enjoy Creed.  If you don't know Rocky or its sequels, as long as you can handle some boxing violence, you should check out Creed.  I definitely recommend it.

Friday, November 27, 2015

One of the most dangerous items to enter my house

in a very long time arrived in the mail, in a cardboard box, and was entirely free.

Click the image to see a larger version.

Oh, yes, this is trouble indeed.  A gorgeous book listing all the past Taschen collector's editions, some might see it as a study in excess, but I view it as a dreamy shopping list.

I must never let myself open this book after four in the morning, because that is when the shopping weirdness begins.

If you don't know Taschen and its wonderful books, head over to its site and begin browsing.  Few, if any, other publishers produce such consistently interesting and beautiful non-fiction volumes.

Thursday, November 26, 2015

Thank you

I try always to thank people for what they do for me, but I know I often fail.  On Thanksgiving, like many people I try to be even more thankful for what I have, for all that I have in every area.

Here in this blog, I particularly and publicly want to thank all of the people who have ever bought my books and thus let me have what writing career I have been fortunate enough to enjoy.  I am deeply grateful to you all.

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

'Twas the night before Thanksgiving

so of course our house needed an ice cream cookie tasting, because, well, it makes sense if you live here.  So we did.  I'd previously ordered all four of the ice cream cookies available online from the wonderful Jeni's Splendid Ice Creams.

Click the image to see a larger version.

We sampled little wedges of each of these four delicious creations.  We all liked all of them, but for sheer power alone, the chocolate hazelnut cookie won.  Rich and strong and a perfect blend with the nuts and the cookie, the dark chocolate ice cream in this one would not be denied its championship.

If you've never tried these cookies, though they are not by any means cheap, they are worth ordering.

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

A bit of wish-fulfillment fluff from my youth

I offer no defense for listening to this bit of pop fluff when I was young, nor for thinking of it for no good reason the other day.  I just did.

We all have to live with that.

Monday, November 23, 2015


After watching the credits roll on this film, I and several others in our group agreed to strongly disagree with the critics on it.  The Rottentomatoes critics' ranking for this movie is a dismal 27% as of this writing, and though 57% of the audience viewers did like it, overall these numbers suggest it's a loser.

As I said, several of us disagreed with these numbers.  We felt that this film was good, better than good.  I very much enjoyed watching it and was never bored.  I grant its critics that the plot is predictable, but sometimes, that just doesn't matter much.  The story of the brilliant and erratic loner burning out and then seeking redemption is a timeless one.

The leads turned in strong performances.  Bradley Cooper was both as likable and at times as distasteful as you'd expect from the trailer.  Daniel Bruhl portrayed his partner (and source of funding) beautifully and with an understated grace.  Sienna Miller turned a fairly standard character into an interesting person.  Matthew Rhys, who is very good on the TV show, The Americans, started out as a one-dimensional rival and became much more.

The food porn wasn't overwhelming, but enough was present for foodies to enjoy it.

Burnt won't be in theaters much longer.  Catch it while you can, or pick it up on DVD/Blu-Ray when it appears.

Sunday, November 22, 2015

I haven't bought advance-sale tickets to a movie

in more time than I can recall, but I'm considering doing it now.  The reason?  This trailer, which for me is just that good.

I was modestly interested in the new Star Wars movie before.  Now, I can't wait to see it!


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