A penny saved is ridiculous.

A penny saved is ridiculous.

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Brief Asides #6

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!  Here are some tips, opinions, observations, and bits of news that might be good conversation starters around your Turkey Day dinner table...

Steven Spielberg's Bridge of Spies is an engrossing, beautifully shot and acted film about an intriguing period of American history.  The emphasis is mostly on people trying to act decently in tense situations, which doesn't negate the suspense one iota. Tom Hanks is great as, yes, a decent "every man" character.

Sue Grafton's X, which I recently enjoyed on audio, is another pleasing adventure about P.I. Kinsey Millhone. A main plot about a troubled killer and a couple of subplots (including a mostly funny one about Kinsey's terrible new neighbors) elegantly work together to provide a burnished, nuanced book that will pleasantly immerse you.

I enjoyed the film SPECTRE quite a bit, but the producers need to lighten up on the What makes Bond tick? and This time it's personal angles and just tell a compelling story about Bond trying to prevent an evil genius' big, clever caper.  They've started to do that here, and one hopes they will continue in that direction.

Finders Keepers is a very good Stephen King novel, the second in his proposed detective trilogy featuring retired cop Bill Hodges.  This time the ball gets rolling when a kid discovers valuable unpublished manuscripts by a J.D. Salinger-type writer, long since dead in an old shooting.  But now everyone wants those manuscripts.

I'll have more to say about the new James Bond novel Trigger Mortis by Anthony Horowitz, but for now I'll just say that I liked it a lot.  Set in the 1950's immediately following the book Goldfinger, Bond takes on the Russians and a sadistic villain from Korea.  The villain's caper to thwart the U.S. space program was quite clever (Bond films, please take note).

The Martian was another movie I enjoyed a lot. It's basically a movie that celebrates individual ingenuity and the ability to work together to achieve a goal.  The movie demonstrates that a science-fiction movie doesn't need to be non-stop action and fireworks to be completely engrossing.  Worth seeing in 3D for all the Martian vistas.

I've since finished the seven books in Isaac Asimov's Foundation series (comprised of the classic trilogy and some later prequels and sequels) and am really glad I gave myself the project of reading them all in 2015. Stay tuned for a few more posts on what was an overall terrific and thoughtful reading experience. I'm looking forward to the upcoming TV adaptation more than ever.

The Peanuts Movie was cute and fun, a nice time for kids and adults alike.  It basically runs through all the vignettes and situations we love to see in a Peanuts story, but with a little more visual artistry and production value than we saw in the older cartoons.  It's never gets pretentious or too much, though.  Just lots of fun stuff involving Charlie Brown, Snoopy, and the gang.

The detective characters created by the late Robert B. Parker are in good hands these days.  Both the new Spenser adventure by Ace Atkins, Robert B. Parker's Kickback, and especially the new Jesse Stone book, Robert B. Parker's The Devil Wins, are solid crime thrillers that honor Dr. Parker's creations and tell stories worthy of the beloved series he nurtured.  I'll have more to say on both of these soon.

Once again, have a wonderful Thanksgiving and thanks for visiting "Kindle Taproom".  There wouldn't be much of a point in keeping this blog going if you guys didn't stop in every now and then to check things out.

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