October 25, 2014

The Greatness of Jack Bruce

Jack Bruce

 Share on TumblrJack Bruce, best known as the bass guitarist, songwriter, and lead singer for the rock super-group Cream, has died of liver disease at the age of 71. Beginning in the mid-’60s, Cream was one of the greatest influences in rock history, making the “power trio” (guitar, bass, drums) a staple of the blues-rock and hard rock genres. Cream guitarist Eric Clapton and drummer Ginger Baker were widely acknowledged as among the very top of their profession, but Bruce didn’t initially receive quite the same level of approbation, even though his bass guitar playing and his dramatic, expressive, but tasteful vocals were certainly …continue reading

The Greatness of Jack Bruce

Jack Bruce

 Share on TumblrJack Bruce, best known as the bass guitarist, songwriter, and lead singer for the rock super-group Cream, has died of liver disease at the age of 71. Beginning in the mid-’60s, Cream was one of the greatest influences in rock history, making the “power trio” (guitar, bass, drums) a staple of the blues-rock and hard rock genres. Cream guitarist Eric Clapton and drummer Ginger Baker were widely acknowledged as among the very top of their profession, but Bruce didn’t initially receive quite the same level of approbation, even though his bass guitar playing and his dramatic, expressive, but tasteful vocals were certainly …continue reading

The World-Changing Possibilities of Apple Pay and Other Electronic Payment Options

money pipe

 Share on TumblrAdvances in information technology have not only transformed the media and the nation’s culture but also our commercial sector. And just as recent events indicate that even more change is on the way in media delivery, other recent events indicate that the financial transactions sector, including banking, is about to undergo similarly foundation-shaking changes. Writing at TechPolicyDaily, Bret Swanson argues that Apple Pay may prove to be “a much bigger phenomenon than mobile sandwich purchases.” The large user base for Apple devices means that Apple Pay can potentially be used for a much wider variety of transactions than just …continue reading

New Book Documents the Reality of Family Fragmentation: It is a Problem

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 Share on TumblrJonathan Last at The Weekly Standard has a review of a new book about the breakdown of the family.The first couple of paragraphs tell how skewed moral values have become in America: You can tell a lot about a society by its taboos. Several weeks ago, America reeled when Adrian Peterson—the great NFL running back of his generation—was indicted on charges of “reckless or negligent injury to a child.” Peterson is alleged to have disciplined his son by “whooping” him—these are Peterson’s words, not mine—with a “switch.” The child, a 4-year-old boy, suffered cuts on his backside and …continue reading

New CBS Streaming Service Reflects Rapidly Changing TV Market

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 Share on TumblrHot on the heels of the announcement of a new streaming service from cable channel HBO (reported here last week), broadcast TV giant CBS has begun a standalone streaming service to deliver CBS programming. The service does not distribute CBS’s broadcast feed through the service, instead offering shows from the network’s extensive programming library, including full seasons of current daytime and primetime programs. Current primetime shows will not be made available until the day after they air on the broadcast network. The network’s sports programming remains tied to broadcast and cable/satellite delivery as well. Those concessions will allow the network’s local broadcast affiliates and cable …continue reading

The Amazing Badness of ‘Scorpion’

These actors in episode 4 of 'Scorpion' seem as shocked as we are at its ridiculous story elements

 Share on TumblrThe new CBS-TV crime-drama series Scorpion is a clear attempt to refresh the cop show genre. Unfortunately, that laudable intention conflicts with the showmakers’ choice to play it safe by exaggerating aspects of the genre that conflict with the show’s premise. The premise is somewhat promising: a team of genius works for the U.S. Department of Homeland Security in solving complex problems involving high-tech threats. You may see a problem already: the “team of brilliant eccentrics fighting crime” is a staple of crime fiction since at least the inception of CSI: Crime Scene Investigation and can be seen in …continue reading

Review: Simenon Adaptation Sustains Mystery in ‘La chambre bleue’ (‘The Blue Room’)

amalric

 Share on TumblrThe new film The Blue Room is based on a Georges Simenon detective story (which I have not read), though his chief detective, Jules Maigret, makes no appearance. Julien Gahyde (Mathieu Amalric, who  is also director and co-scenarist), a married man with a young daughter, has an affair with Esther Despierre (Stephanie Cleau), the wife of a fairly well-to-do pharmacist.  Both their spouses wind up dead, Delphine Gahyde (Lea Drucker) was definitely poisoned, and the pharmacist (Olivier Mauvezin) possibly so. Hence there are two questions: whether the pharmacist was poisoned, and who was responsible for each poisoning, if there were …continue reading

‘Gracepoint’ a Worthy Remake of Ambitious British TV Crime Drama Series

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 Share on TumblrMy attitude toward genre fiction is that it’s best when the creator is satisfied to make genre fiction and doesn’t try to “transcend the genre.” In my experience, works that “transcend the genre” typically make a hash of the genre and substitute literary pretensions for authorial competence. The right approach, in my view, is for the author to respect the requirements of the genre while suffusing the narratives any wisdom, insight, and compassion he or she may possess. The latter, moreover, must be done naturally as the story requires, not by forcing one’s presumed brilliance upon the reader. Those …continue reading

A Book for October: Ellery Queen’s ‘The Egyptian Cross Mystery’

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 Share on TumblrOctober is, of course, a good month to read horror fiction, given the obvious connection to Halloween and all the obsession with death and violence associated with that holiday, which has become a season in our culture such that it rivals Christmas in its cultural impact. As I noted earlier this month, this month is a good time to familiarize or re-familiarize oneself with the superb, innovative gothic writings of Edgar Allan Poe, who truly can be said to have invented the modern gothic horror genre. Poe was also a master of, and really the inventor of, the …continue reading

City of Houston to Pastors: Your Views are No Longer Allowed

 Share on TumblrYesterday when I turned on my computer I saw this headline on Drudge:  “City subpoenas church pastors for sermons dealing with homosexuality…”  And much to my surprise this city is in the deep red state of Texas. Here is another piece I found on the situation. The city of Houston passed an equal rights ordinance, and local pastors opposed the law and conservative Christian activists sued the city.  In response: The city of Houston has issued subpoenas demanding a group of pastors turn over any sermons dealing with homosexuality, gender identity or Annise Parker, the city’s first openly …continue reading

HBO Streaming Announcement Is Good News for All Entertainment Consumers, Not Just HBO Watchers

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 Share on TumblrActing on plans reported here a month ago, entertainment channel HBO has decided to end its thirty-plus-year dependence on cable and satellite distributors, announcing it will offer an online streaming video service beginning next year. Following a trail blazed by Netflix, Amazon.com, Acorn Media, and others, HBO will offer the service without a cable subscription in an effort to reach the ten-million-plus broadband-only homes, a category that is increasing steadily. In his announcement, HBO chairman and CEO Richard Piepler said that the company had not yet decided what distribution method to use: partnering with a cable or Internet …continue reading

CW’s ‘The Flash’ Impresses with Unusual Avoidance of Gloom

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 Share on TumblrThe CW network has become something of a cottage industry for B-level (and C-level) superheroes, with shows such as Arrow, The 100, and The Originals. This fall they’ve added The Flash, based on the longtime DC comics series and presented as a spinoff from Arrow. Although The Flash doesn’t break any new ground in that regard, the show is watchable and is a bit unusual in avoiding the contemporary fashion of ostentatious gloominess. That little spark of idiosyncrasy may well have contributed to the ratings success of the premiere episode: it was the most-watched series premiere in CW Network history, racing …continue reading

Interview with (Fictional) Bestselling Mystery Writer Richard Castle

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 Share on TumblrThe ABC-TV series Castle (Mondays at 10 p.m. Eastern) features as co-protagonist a bestselling mystery novelist, Richard Castle, whose two mystery book series in the fictional world of Castle have the amusingly named protagonists Nikki Heat (an NYC cop) and Derrick Storm (a U.S. espionage agent). In an interesting act of promotion for the show and extension of the show’s marketing potential, several volumes in the two book series have been published under the byline of Richard Castle. I don’t know who writes the books, nor have I read any of them, but it’s an interesting cross-pollination effort. It was inevitable, then, …continue reading

The Twilight of the American Enlightenment: The 1950s and the Crisis of Liberal Belief by George M. Marsden

marsden

 Share on Tumblr This latest book by historian George M. Marsden is an insightful history and analysis of the discourse and concerns of U.S. public intellectuals during the 1950s.  In a certain sense, the1950s was a time of great national unity, because of the victory during the Second World War, the post-war prosperity, and the challenges of the cold war.  At  the same time,many of the “liberal” (i.e. center left) intellectuals were concerned about the health of the nation and the need for  national cohesion.  There was also great concern of a conformity that, it was thought, led to cultural inauthenticity, superficiality, …continue reading

‘Blue Bloods’ Jumps the Shark

Shark

 Share on TumblrI write this post with a heavy heart. Blue Bloods has been one of our family’s favorite shows for the past several years. It is a family police drama and one of the few shows on TV that takes religion, the “traditional” family, and law and order seriously and respectfully. For conservatives like us, the show was a weekly oasis in a cultural landscape that is increasingly hostile to our values. But I acknowledge that we are on the “wrong side of history.” I’m sure that Karl Marx and our current president would no doubt agree wholeheartedly with that description. It …continue reading

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