Monday, March 31, 2014

Book Review: Hollywood Said No!

Hollywood Said No!: Orphaned Film Scripts, Bastard Scenes, and Abandoned Darlings from the Creators of Mr. Show by Bob Odenkirk and David Cross with Brian Posehn
Paperback: 288 pages
Publisher: Grand Central Publishing; 9.10.2013 edition (September 10, 2013)

This book, in essence, is a collection of never-before-seen scripts and ideas.  It contains the full-length scripts for both Bob and David Make a Movie and Hooray for America!

There's a section in the book that contains "constructive" notes written by a "studio executive."  Furthermore, we're treated to a bonus section of scripts from Mr. Show and beyond.  Bob and David also reminisce on what went right and wrong as they add on both context and back story to the scripts.

We can only imagine what these unproduced scripts would have looked like on the big screen.

Monday, March 24, 2014

Book Review: The Truth

The Truth by Michael Palin
Hardcover: 272 pages
Publisher: Thomas Dunne Books (August 13, 2013)

Michael Palin is one of the funniest people alive on this planet.  After all, he belongs to the sketch comedy troupe known to everyone as Monty Python.  He's not just a comic actor in the movies but also an accomplished author of both fiction and non-fiction alike.

With The Truth, Palin makes a return to fiction, writing a warm and witty story of an everyman, a tantalizing offer, a journey to India, and a search  for, what else, the truth.

The main character is Keith Mabbut, a writer whose life is at a crossroads.  His marriage is over and his ex-wife is already engaged.  His children are both on their own paths with a son involved in theater and a daughter in a relationship.

Trying to figure his life out, Mabbut is offered the opportunity to write the biography of the elusive Hamish Melville.  Melville is an influential activist and a humanitarian.  Mabbut's journey takes him to India, where he soon feels rejuvenated.  The more he learns about Melville, the more he grows to admire the figure.  Is Melville really who he claims to be?  The truth, as Mabbut discovers, is whatever we choose to make of it.

Wonderfully insightful and compelling, Palin uses his skills to tell the (fictional) story of a man on an extraordinary adventure.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Money is "Speech" yet Kentucky Senate Won't Let Kentuckians use their "Speech" on Expanded Gambling

You know how Mitch McConnell believes in the idea that money is free speech, right?  How come nobody has sued the Commonwealth of Kentucky for having no choice but to be forced to use their "free speech" in states like Missouri, Illinois, Indiana, and Ohio when they would rather be spending in on slots and the like in Kentucky.  It's not fair.  It's not right.  And the horse breeders will continue to send their horses to run races out of state as the industry dies a slow death each year.

And yet, every year that the issue comes up in the General Assembly, the Kentucky Senate has a slogan:
The Senate: Where Gambling Bills Go to Die.

It's so much that House Speaker Greg Stumbo won't even make an effort to pass a bill in the State House knowing full well that it will just die in the State Senate.  It's unfair to those of us who wish to use our HARD EARNED MONEY to help the KENTUCKY ECONOMY.

And yet religious conservatives and moralists like Martin Cothran and Focus on the Family don't want that to happen.  In doing so, they are hurting the Kentucky economy.  They are stopping progress from happening.

Don't want tolls on the new bridges in Kentucky?  The state could have had the money if it weren't for the lack of expanded gambling.

Money from gambling would go back into the state economy and the state budget.  It would help the horse industry and the educational system by having more money around in the state budget.

And yet, it is the religious conservatives who continue to use their beliefs to prevent it from happening.

I can't live in a state where my opinion doesn't matter.  I don't like people FORCING THEIR OWN OPINIONS on everybody else because they are morally opposed to it.

Where are the laws that ban shellfish and pork?  Those are foods that are not kosher and unclean but yet restaurants serve them and people eat them anyway.

But that's beside the point.  Religious conservatives are stopping progress in this state but as long as Mitch McConnell believes in the idea that money is speech, it seems like it's time to rise up and file a class-action lawsuit on the matter.

Monday, March 17, 2014

Book Review: Leading Man

Leading Man (Vintage Contemporaries Original) by Benjamin Svetkey
Paperback: 240 pages
Publisher: Vintage (September 3, 2013)

Svetkey, a writer for Entertainment Weekly, writes a novel in the tradition of David Nicholls and Nick Hornby.  His debut novel is hilarious, bittersweet, and heartwarming as he writes about that one thing everybody needs: love. Love of all kinds, really.  The type that lasts.

Maxwell Lerner is 26 years old and he thinks he has his entire life figured out.  He's dating his high school sweetheart, Samantha.  Max is a low-level reporter for a prestigious magazine (This is where Svetkey's experience comes in handy).  Both Max and Samantha live in a walk-up studio apartment together.  That is until she leaves him for his childhood hero, Johnny Mars.  Mars stars as Jack Montana in the action-adventure films.

Getting dumped by his girlfriend for his childhood hero sets Max up on a mission to get inside the glamorous Hollywood world and win her back.  He becomes an entertainment journalist so that he can go to press parties and red carpets, not to mention visiting those exotic locales.  He gets interview scores of celebrities.  Samantha's life takes an tragically unexpected turn and Max gets an education, in both life and love, that he never saw coming.

Friday, March 14, 2014

Recently Published Sports Books

What follows are a few recently published sports books that might be of interest.

The Divine Nature of Basketball: My Season Inside the Ivy League by Ed Breslin
During the 2011-12 college basketball season, Breslin spent the season assisting Yale head coach James Jones.

Wrigley Field Year by Year: A Century at the Friendly Confines by Sam Pathy
As Wrigley Field turns 100 years old, many books are being released to honor the Friendly Confines' centennial birthday.  What this coffee table book does is detail each year of existence.  This is the first such book that does just that.  It does more than cover just the Cubs about also the Federal League baseball team that first played at Wrigley as well as the Chicago Bears of the NFL.  In addition to the year by year approach, the book is divided into nine chapters.

Facing Mariano Rivera: Players Recall the Greatest Relief Pitcher Who Ever Lived by David Fischer
Fischer compiles 150 testimonials from opponents, teammates, scouts, managers, etc. to get an idea of what it was like to face Mariano Rivera.  It's written in the same way as that of Facing Ted Williams.  Some of the players include Hall of Fame inductees, future Hall of Famers and other notables like Roberto Alomar, Derek Jeter, Todd Helton, Chipper Jones, David Ortiz, Nomar Garciaparra, etc.

A Tribe Reborn: How the Cleveland Indians of the ’90s Went from Cellar Dwellers to Playoff Contenders by George Christian Pappas
What this book does is tell the story of how the Cleveland Indians became contenders in the 1990s.

A Game of Brawl: The Orioles, the Beaneaters, and the Battle for the 1897 Pennant by Bill Felber
The 1897 pennant race was the most cutthroat in baseball history.  It also was a struggle to define how the game of baseball would be played.

Monday, March 10, 2014

Book Review American Jewish Political Culture and the Liberal Persuasion

American Jewish Political Culture and the Liberal Persuasion by Henry L. Feingold
Hardcover: 384 pages
Publisher: Syracuse Univ Pr (Sd) (December 10, 2013)

Most Jews are aligned with the Democratic Party.  Historically speaking, this dates back to the days of Franklin Delano Roosevelt's presidency during the New Deal.  Since then, the Jewish vote has swayed toward the Democratic Party.

Jewish voters tend to be amongst the most politically active in the United States.

The last Republican president that won the Jewish vote was Theodore Roosevelt way back in 1904.  The Republican Party has tried, and for the most part, but failed to get the Jewish vote in large numbers.  Yes, they have made some in-roads with Jewish voters but mostly within Ultra-Orthodox circles.  Mostly, this has to do with the stance on Israel more than any other issue.

What Feingold does here is walk readers through a political landscape that is filled with internal debate and conflict.  He searches for the source of political encouragement and explores the adapting liberalism that is at the heart of American Jewish political behavior.  In doing so, he draws on sociology and philosophy to inform the historical synthesis of a transcontinental pattern.  Feingold looks at not only voting statistics but also political theory.

There are three overarching concerns when it comes to the contemporary Jewish community in America: the ever-changing definition of what it means to be liberal, the hope and turmoil in Israel, and an obsession with the Shoah.  Feingold finds that it comes down to a culture that is complex and a political voice that is lacking in coherency despite a show in consistency.

The book does have a nice flow to it.  It starts with the historical background of American Jewish politics before moving into old roots and then onto the thematic understanding of the political psyche.  Feingold answers where American Jewish liberalism came from and whether the communal motivations behind it will be strong enough to continue in the 21st century.

Wednesday, March 05, 2014

Book Review - If Kennedy Lived: The First and Second Terms of President John F. Kennedy: An Alternate History by Jeff Greenfield

If Kennedy Lived: The First and Second Terms of President John F. Kennedy: An Alternate History by Jeff Greenfield
Hardcover: 272 pages
Publisher: Putnam Adult (October 22, 2013)

This is the 2nd alternative history book written by Greenfield.  Greenfield's book can only be described as provocative, fascinating and highly plausible.  There's no way of knowing for sure whether any of it would have actually happened had Jack Kennedy not been shot down in Dallas.

If Kennedy Lived draws not only on Greenfield's extensive research and knowledge of American politics and history but also those of historians, biographers, journalists, and other JFK experts.  He reveals why the scenarios put forward are highly likely to have happened if Kennedy had been merely wounded or not shot at all.

There are a gazillion questions to be asked about what could have been.  Unfortunately, we will never quite know what REALLY could have been.  We can only speculate on what might have happened in a second term for JFK.

It's possible that JFK would have dropped LBJ as his running mate in 1964.  The threat from Barry Goldwater would have protected his re-election chances.

Kennedy might have made a visit to Russia and maybe even overtures to both Cuba and China, too.

The Vietnam War would have ended in his 2nd term, much sooner than it really did.

Kennedy would have signed the Voting Rights Act of 1965 but would have gone about it in a way that was much different than LBJ.

In all likelihood, Ronald Reagan would have been the Republican nominee in 1968 and he would have faced off against Hubert Humphrey.

Just to think what could have really been.