Tuesday, April 30, 2019
I'll have more to say about these books later, but for now I'll just share a quick tip: I'm really enjoying the recently back in print (thanks to Brash Books) Hardman series by Ralph Dennis. Originally marketed in a cheap fashion to the men's adventure market in the 70's (via gaudy paperbacks for drugstore spinner racks, newsstands, and so forth), this series nevertheless eventually gained a reputation for quality storytelling and decent characters among genre devotees.
The main character is sort-of P.I. (and ex-cop) Jim Hardman and his co-lead (and extra muscle) is ex-NFL player Hump Evans. Hardman and Evans sort of remind me of Robert Parker's Spenser and Hawk, before Spenser and Hawk started to talk about art and literature a lot. But they only sort of remind me of those more famous characters; Hardman and Hump definitely cut their own swath in their own style through the Atlanta underworld.
I'm now on the fourth book in the newly re-issued (and with nicer covers) series, and still thoroughly enjoying the ride. While never straying far from the action/thriller/P.I. genre, we are nevertheless treated to sharp writing, sensitive and intelligent observations about the issues that cross Hardman's and Hump's paths, and plots that are more clever and imaginative than author Ralph Dennis probably needed to make them to collect his checks.
The series is about a dozen entries long and most of the tiles are currently available on Amazon, with the Kindle editions being a particular good deal. Check out the first book in the series, Atlanta Deathwatch, and see if you agree with me that this previously lost-for-decades series is a real discovery, and definite treat, for modern-day thriller fans.
Sunday, March 31, 2019
I've been reading and listening to a number of books lately (as usual) and most have been pretty entertaining. But before I get to them, I thought I'd quickly mention a pretty good movie that I saw today: Gloria Bell. Starring the always very good Julianne Moore, the film is basically a fun, interesting character study of a divorced late middle-aged woman making her way in the world.
The movie is actually an English-language remake of the 2013 Chilean film Gloria, with director Sebastian Lelio remaking his own film with American actors. In any event, what I liked about the movie is that it's an easygoing, breezy look at the life of a modern American woman, nothing more and nothing less. There is no big plot, no major challenges, no big tragedies, or anything like that, yet the movie is always engrossing and very entertaining. There is drama and some sadness, but also lightness and fun. Oh, there's also a funny cat, perhaps the movie's one concession to commercialism. But maybe not, as the cat's presence and circumstances seem to carry some thematic weight, even as he makes us chuckle (and Gloria roll her eyes).
Well, that's it. I just wanted to briefly mention the movie, in case such a gentle, understated film with many graceful flourishes might appeal to you, too. I had read enough about the movie beforehand that I had an idea that the movie would have those qualities, and I wasn't disappointed.
Gloria Bell is currently in theaters.
Thursday, February 28, 2019
I have a few reviews in progress that I look forward to posting shortly, but until then, please enjoy these little bits of book-themed silliness...
Why did the Romanian stop reading for the night?
To give his Bucharest.
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Never judge a book by its movie.
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Hear the one about the guy who was immersed in a book about anti-gravity? It was so good he couldn't put it down.
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Why don't they let accountants into the library?
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Why was the book so good at using Tinder?
It had a great opening line.
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Okay, I think we've reached our silliness limit. Check back in a little while for some actual meaty content.
Thursday, January 31, 2019
Streaming is the new thing. I mean, it's not even new anymore, right? But I don't think it's going anywhere soon. Blockbuster disappeared, DVDs are only kinda/sorta still around (though Blu-Ray DVDs still seem to have a stubborn foothold), but I think streaming isn't going anywhere for the next decade or so. What could possibly replace it anytime soon: TV shows and movies being directly wired into your brain?
Anyway, here are a few things I've enjoyed via streaming in recent weeks:
Ozark (Seasons one and two available on Netflix)
A pretty typical American family is forced to move to a lake resort in the Midwest and launder money for the (very violent in this case) mob. The show is sort of a metaphor for the American Dream, only here mom and dad have to do more than get that office promotion so the family can move ahead. You'll plow through the two current seasons and count the days to the third.
The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel (Seasons one and two available on Amazon Prime)
Informed by the trials and tribulations of female comedians trying to break into the business in the late 50's and early 60's, this cool, funny comedic drama (set in the early 60's) follows the smart and fetching Midge Maisel as she attempts to start a career in stand-up comedy. Of course, her good looks are an initial hindrance (the thinking being that you can be cute or funny but not both), as are her quirky, skeptical parents and husband. But she nevertheless starts moving ahead. Great period production values are an added plus.
The Punisher (Seasons one and two available on Netflix)
Frank Castle is ex-military, yet still finds himself caught up in capers and plots featuring the CIA and other shadowy government agencies on the fringes. The character premiered in the second season of Daredevil (also on Netflix) but very much has come into his own during the two current seasons of his own show. Think Jason Bourne only with a tougher, more violent feel.
More suggestions on what you might like watching coming shortly.
Monday, December 31, 2018
It's cold and rainy here in the northeast United States, but we're still going to try to go out a bit this evening to ring in the new year. But first I wanted to wish everyone who glances at this blog now and then a healthy and prosperous 2019.
And please continue to stop by. Despite the lack of reader comments this blog usually experiences, the "intelligence" provided to me by Google's Blogger program indicates that more than a small handful of people check out Kindle Taproom now and again. If you're one of them, thanks! This thing wouldn't be any fun without actual readers.
During January, I hope to step up the number of book, audiobook, and film opinions that I share with you, and maybe I'll do another post or two about wine, too. We'll see how that New Year's resolution works out, as a predisposition to procrastination is a hard thing to overcome.
But for now, Happy New Year, everyone!
Sunday, December 30, 2018
It's been a while since I've paid much attention to the Taproom part of Kindle Taproom, meaning it's been a while since I've written about beer, wine, and spirits. As we approach the end of another year, let me try to correct that oversight a bit.
Pictured are two terrific white wines I recently discovered. On the left is a bottle of Kepe Chardonnay, from Spain. Fruity, but with a definite tart and bite, this crisp Chard actually walks right up to doing a skilled impression of a decent Pinot Grigio, but after a few sips it's clear that this Spanish export is indeed a Chardonnay, and a good one. Not all good Chards need to be buttery or oaky.
On the right is Bertoli's broadly-labeled Bianco Italia, a white blend from, yes, Italy. I usually don't expect much from a wine with the general designation Bianco, certainly not much complexity. Just give me something clean and refreshing and I'm happy with these usually simple white table wines. But this particular Bianco had a little surprise: a nice smokiness that makes the mouth water in anticipation of each sip. Yet it's still clean and refreshing.
I discovered these wines upon purchasing a case of twelve random white wines from a bar acquaintance who recently bought more than he needed from an online wine site, and wanted to move along a case or two to others. I paid $90.00 for a case of twelve, which averages out to $7.50 a bottle. So I'm guessing it's safe to say that, even without a full-case discount, these two wines can be found individually for less than $10.00 per bottle. Both wines are definitely worth paying eight to ten bucks for, and even a little more.
Stay tuned. As I work my way through my case of wine, I'll try to report back on any other pleasant discoveries.
Friday, November 30, 2018
Creed II, currently in theaters, basically has the plot of Rocky III, while functioning as a sequel to Rocky IV, with it all being held together with the same quality acting and subtle, skillful direction that we saw in the initial film in this series, Creed.
It's a little longer than it needed to be, and a little more predictable and by-the-numbers, but if you enjoyed the first film, and more or less were into all the Rocky movies before that, there's no reason not to see this.
It was a little strange to see the Ivan Drago character, who was basically a cartoon villain in Rocky IV, return here as a character with newfound subtlety, nuance, and depth (Ivan's son is the one who fights Adonis Creed this time), but that's certainly not something to complain about.
So, all in all, this was a good time. Creed II has the big drama of a blockbuster film but with enough overall quality and grace notes to make it sometimes feel like one of those holiday season-prestige films that chase after Oscar gold.