#Review AGENT 355 – Revolutionary spies and one remarkable woman

Agent 355 by Marie Benedict, cover illustration, book review, short storyAnother Audible Original short story!

I recently listened to “Agent 355” by Marie Benedict, the fictionalized story of a New York woman who became an integral part of General Washington’s famed spy ring in and around New York and Long Island. I liked it! Continue reading “#Review AGENT 355 – Revolutionary spies and one remarkable woman”

Book Review: “The Minuteman” versus Nazis in America

The Minuteman by Greg DoanhueThis will be a short review for a short book, but I just wanted to draw attention to another Audible Original: Greg Donahue’s “The Minuteman, The Forgotten Legacy of Nat Arno and the Fight against Newark’s Nazis”.

A brief overview of the life of professional boxer-turned mob enforcer Nat Arno, “The Minuteman” describes how a New Jersey street tough became one of the most outspoken resistor’s of the Nazi presence in the US before World War II. Continue reading “Book Review: “The Minuteman” versus Nazis in America”

Book Review: Diving into H.P. Lovecraft

Back in December I started a 23-hour collection of H.P. Lovecraft’s prose work on Audible. This seemed like a not-crazy idea at the time because I had a forty-minute commute home from work every day.

I’ve been working from home for over two months, which means far less designated audiobook listening time. Anyway, I finally finished this collection last week. This review is not about the work of Lovecraft himself, but more about how this collection was put together and narrated, and what I’ve taken from it as my first true introduction to Lovecraft’s work. Continue reading “Book Review: Diving into H.P. Lovecraft”

Mini Movie Reviews #2: Deceit, Discovery, and Disney

Another week in quarantine, another crop of movies to talk about. Like last week, none of these movies are particularly new, but they once again show a weird range of genres.

Vice, 2018, streamed on Hulu

Christian Bale in Vice (2018)This movie, featuring Christian Bale as Vice President Dick Cheney both before and during his time in the White House, had intrigued me when it first came out, so it didn’t take long for Hulu to convince me to watch it.

Spoiler-free review

This film was really well done. Bale and Steve Carell (as Donald Rumsfeld) were incredible. I also found it funny in an incredibly cynical, laugh-as-the-world-burns kinda way. I always had the feeling that Cheney was the NeoCon mastermind behind the W. Bush administration. If Vice is even partially true, he was more of a shadow-president than I realized.

The Planets, 2019, streamed on Amazon Prime

The Planets (2019)This was a documentary series we found originally produced by the BBC. The US version was narrated by Zachary Quinto, of Star Trek fame, who was fantastic. It took us less than one episode to get hooked.

Spoiler-free review…?

There’s nothing really to spoil here. If you have even a passing interest in science, the universe, or why Pluto is not technically a planet, go watch this series.

Through six episodes, it tells the story of how the worlds in our solar system were formed. Simultaneously, it tells the story of all of the probes and rovers we have used over the decades to get this information. Cassini, Galileo, Voyager; the engineers, scientists, and others who participated in these exploration projects are interviewed throughout the series to discuss what they learned about each planet their spacecraft explored, and what new questions it rose.

Not only do they provide visually stunning computer-generated renderings of what each planet looks like, but they also provide actual footage of each mission, where available. I really can’t rave about this series enough. I want to watch it again.

Frozen II, 2019, rented on Amazon Prime

Kristen Bell, Idina Menzel, Josh Gad, and Jonathan Groff in Frozen II (2019)We had my son at home for the last two weeks in self-isolation, since there was a chance we had been exposed to COVID-19. All is well, but after working from home with a toddler for two-plus weeks, I cannot count the number of times I have heard the soundtracks of FrozenMoana, and The Lion King, in their entirety over that span.

Don’t get me wrong, all of that music is great, but it was a lot.

We decided to rent both Frozen movies on Amazon Prime last weekend, because I hadn’t seen either, and I felt like I already knew the gist of the stories from the music anyway.

Spoiler-free review

I genuinely enjoy Disney movies, so it’s not hard to convince me to watch one. The first Frozen was good. I can see why it was so popular with kids, and it definitely has some great messages, but nothing about it really jumped out aside from Kristen Bell’s and Idina Menzel’s vocals.

But guys… Frozen II is a great film. The story of how Elsa got her powers and what it means for her and the kingdom of Arendelle is compelling, the story is not quite so predictable as its predecessor, and the artwork is unbelievable. Every scene with rushing water or waves in this film is gorgeous.

Anna still gets her heroic moments while Elsa gets to show off some of her powers, and the other characters are interesting without bogging the movie down. I really enjoyed this, and I wish I had watched it again before our rental expired.

More Recommendations!

I’m really enjoying how many movies and series I’ve had the chance to watch recently. It’s one of my favorite things to do and just haven’t had much chance to do it in recent months. I’m looking forward to a new batch of movies over the coming weeks.

What have you been watching?

Steve D

Mini Movie Reviews #1: Medieval Action and Modern Music Dramedy

I’ve managed to watch a number of movies/documentaries over the last few weeks that I hadn’t seen before. None of them blew me away, but I have some thoughts, so I thought I’d touch on each one.

None of these are particularly new, so many of you may have seen them already, but they were new to me. I’ll share two today and two in the near future. And maybe I’ll have watched even more movies by then, too. Continue reading “Mini Movie Reviews #1: Medieval Action and Modern Music Dramedy”

#Review: “The Price of Inequality” is Heavy on Rhetoric, Light on Much Else

The Price of Inequality: How Today’s Divided Society Endangers Our Future by economist Joseph E. Stiglitz is in many ways a reaction to the Great Recession of 2008 and the US’s response to it.

I listened to this book on Audible, which likely impacts the way I feel about it. In short, I probably could have used the footnotes available in the print version. Continue reading “#Review: “The Price of Inequality” is Heavy on Rhetoric, Light on Much Else”

Book Review: ‘The Hate U Give’ by Angie Thomas, Matters

I just finished listening to The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas on Audible, and I highly recommend it to anyone who cares about modern American society.

A ton of people have read it already, but this book provides a vital window into race relations and socioeconomic issues in the US — in how they impact one family. Continue reading “Book Review: ‘The Hate U Give’ by Angie Thomas, Matters”

#Review: Netflix’s ‘BODYGUARD’ a Suspenseful, Fast-Paced Ride

I unwittingly finished watching season one of Bodyguard today. The Netflix show starring Game of Thrones’s Richard Madden ran for only six episodes, when I really thought it could have carried eight or ten.

But, ultimately, I enjoyed its forward-moving and suspenseful brevity. Continue reading “#Review: Netflix’s ‘BODYGUARD’ a Suspenseful, Fast-Paced Ride”

Book Review: Caught by MLS Weech

I picked up Caught directly from MLS Weech at his book launch in Glen Burnie, MD. I think that was back in early 2017, so I’m sorry to say it took me a while to get to this one.

So, yeah, in case it’s not clear enough, here’s my disclosure: Weech is a friend. He’s also an imaginative and vivid writer. Spoiler-free review follows. Continue reading “Book Review: Caught by MLS Weech”

10 Thoughts from Star Wars: The Last Jedi

I thought about writing a full-fledged review of Star Wars: The Last Jedi after seeing it on Friday night, but I’ve had several days to mull it over and read some other articles about it.

Such as this one, explaining why, evidently, a lot of Star Wars fans hated the film: http://epicstream.com/features/Top-13-Reasons-Why-Some-Star-Wars-Fans-Hate-The-Last-Jedi

I think instead I’m just going to highlight what stuck out to me about the movie.

Sound good?

***Spoilers Abound***

Continue reading “10 Thoughts from Star Wars: The Last Jedi”