Category Archives: history

I Don’t Care What You Say, I’m Excited

I really liked The Da Vinci Code.  I also liked Angels & Demons.  (Actually, I think Angels & Demons is the better of the two.)  So, I was pretty excited when I heard that Dan Brown’s third Robert Langdon book, The Lost Symbol, is going to be published in September.

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I’ll be the first to admit that neither of these books are well-written.  But, they’re fun and sometimes that’s all I want.  Brown’s two Langdon books are also way better than his other novels, which read like they were pulled, half-finished, out of Michael Crichton’s garbage.

It should be noted that within moments of reading about this yesterday, I received emails from both Amazon and Barnes and Noble asking me if I would like to pre-order Brown’s forthcoming novel.  Oh Internet, you know me so well.

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It’s Funny What Stays With You

I’ve always had a good memory for useless information (sometimes some useful stuff will find its way in there, too), but there are times when even I am amazed at what’s rattling around in there.

Case in point: about 16 years ago, I saw a little movie called Rock-a-Doodle (shut up!). I won’t bore you with the details, but it was an animated affair about a rooster who became this music superstar. The villains in the movie were a group of owls (makes sense, if you think about it, a rooster crows at dawn and ushers in the day; owls are nocturnal. See, perfect sense). Well, there was this one stupid little owl (voiced by, believe it or not, Charles Nelson Reilly) who was tasked with dispatching our heroes. He decides to drown them, forcing their little boat down what he proudly called an “adequate pipe.” It was, of course, an “aqueduct pipe”, meaning he didn’t so much dispatch them as aid in their escape.

Okay, you ask, what’s the point? Well, the point is, you’ve got a lot of nerve, mister. But, another point is this: this was not a movie that I watched more than once or twice. This was a movie that, before I looked it up on wikipedia today, I couldn’t tell you much about, except that the main character was a cock (literally and figuratively). But, the whole adequate/aqueduct thing stuck with me. In fact, it apparently made such an impression that whenever I’m watching a show about the Roman Empire–which, lets be honest, for me could be any day of the week–and the Roman aqueducts are mentioned, I immediately think (and yes, sadly, sometimes say out loud) “adequate pipe.”

Today’s lesson, kids: I’m a huge dork.

Funny to see where the real power lies

In its continuing coverage of the WGA strike, The New York Times has printed a list of past strikes in the entertainment industry, including how long they lasted. It’s funny that most of the strikes went on for weeks or months…except one:

1988: Writers strike, five months.
1987: Directors strike, three hours and five minutes.
1985: Writers strike, two weeks.
1981: Writers strike, three months.
1980: Actors strike, three months.
1960: Actors strike, six weeks.
1952: Actors strike, two and a half months.

What gives with The Alienist?

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I’ve been seeing copies of Caleb Carr’s The Alienist everywhere lately.  It’s on display at Barnes & Noble.  People are reading it on the subway.  Hell, when I was at jury duty yesterday, there was a fellow juror-to-be reading it.  And, for the most part, these copies aren’t the old mass market paperbacks, like the one I have…these are brand-spanking-new, big damn trade paperbacks.  What’s up, guys?

I loved The Alienist.  It was the first modern historical novel I ever read (one could argue that something like The Three Musketeers is also an historical novel), and it formed my opinions and expectations of that particular genre.  It was set in an interesting period–NYC in the 1890s, when old and new were still struggling for dominance.  It included actual historical figures, like Teddy Roosevelt, J. P. Morgan, and William Randolph Hearst.  It gave you a good idea of the way things were without trying to teach you any important lessons (I can not stress enough how important it is for a book to NOT try and teach me something…if I wanted to learn, I’d go to school.  Okay, book?  Okay.)  On top of all of this, it was about a serial killer.  But, for a post-Silence of the Lambs world, there was a twist.  Like the real-life case of Jack the Ripper, Carr’s serial killer was operating at a time when there was no such thing as “serial killers.”  Most of the conflict in the novel comes from not only the killer, but also from the clash between the police–who are using tried and true 19th century investigative procedures–and a doctor who specializes in the new science of psychology (at the time, crazy people were said to be alienated from the rest of society…and those who studied them, therefore, were called “alienists”).

Anyways…The Alienist is a pretty kick-ass book.  But, it’s a book that came out almost 15 years ago.  Sure, it spent two years on the bestseller list, but why is it suddenly all over the place again?  Did Oprah mention it?  Is there a movie coming out?  Are one of the Survivors reading it?

Bruce Campbell and crazy costumes…

Jack of all Trades

Remember when TV shows had theme songs?

Sure…the shows might suck, but an entertaining theme song can cover a multitude of sins.

Come back Bruce…we need you!