• These Are The Voyages Star Trek TOS Season Three by Marc Cushman. For hard core fans of original Trek this three volume series is a must read. Each volume covers a single season of the original series with a chapter per episode. Following an episode summmary each chapter is divided into sections  - "Sound Bites"- dialogue from the episode, "Assessment"- the authors review, "The Story Behind The Story"- conception of the story and the writing and re-writing of the script, "Pre-production"- the assignment of director and hiring of guest actors, "Production Diary"- the actual filming, "Post production"- special effects, soundtrack and editing, "Release/reaction" - reviews from various sources along with Nielson ratings for the episode and finally "Memories" - provided by the participants. 

    One point the author stresses throughout is that Star Trek was not the ratings bust we have been led to believe which is why he and his researchers went to the trouble of uncovering the ratings charts for every single episode. In a three way network race ST typically finished second against tough competion on CBS and ABC and the overall numbers would have kept most any other series alive. Unfortunately, Gene Roddenberry's attitude and behavior had been rubbing network executives the wrong way for some time and they were not motivated to support his projects.



  • The Death of the Hired Man by Robert Frost. As an English education major in college, I have read this poem before, more than once. But it means something more to me today than it did when I was twenty-something. 


    The Death of the Hired Man by Robert Frost | Poetry Foundation
    Mary sat musing on the lamp-flame at the table
  • Just Finished Democracy in America, by Alexis De Tocqueville.

    Now Reading The Pickwick Papers, by Charles Dickens.

  • A few months ago, I switched teams at work, and my new boss is a pretty interesting dude (21 years in the military split between the Army and Marines for one thing). One of the things he said he is passionate about is personal finance, and he does one-on-one classes. I agreed to try it, and the first part is reading a book The Wisdom of the Ages in Acquiring Wealth by Welles Wilder. Which is a really short book about acquiring wealth which I found pretty interesting. My boss has had his copy for nearly 30 years, so I thought that was pretty cool too.

    After I wrapped that up I just started Are Snakes Necessarry? by Brian De Palma and Susan Lehman (yes that Brian De Palma). Noy sure where this is going yet, but so far we have a very attrative woman who was used to blackmail a politician, who was then blackmailed herself. That same politician is running for re-election and has somehow hooked-up woth an exes' young daughter. The first woman has left her old life and is looking for something to do. I really can't wait to see where this all ends up. Part of the Hard Case Crime series of books, so you know it has a great cover.

    • I've recently read The Devil's Gap, an account of a bizarre crime that unfolded in the small town of Kenora, Ontario in 1973. The author was a teen at the time who witnessed the events and later became a reporter. The perpetrator exploded, literally, but his identity has never been discovered.

      I just started Telescope, a related collection of stories / novel by Allan Weiss. I know him from the SF conventions, though this book is of realistic fiction. He's a very good writer, underrated:

      12306527095?profile=RESIZE_710xAfter the launch of Fragrance of Orchids last summer (also recommended, a collection of Sally McBride's-- second from left-- SF/fantasy stories). Weiss is third from the left. My wife and I are on the right. Also in the picture: Derwin Mak (in the hat) and Catherine Fitzsimmons. Have I posted this before? Call it an assemblage of lesser-known Canadian SF writers and one soprano.


  • I am currently reading The New Mammoth Book of Pulp Fiction. This is 33 short stories from a lot of classic writers. I am really digging it, and who doesn't love a good similie? There was one recently that went something like this: I drove uphill on a set of curves like coils of a rope discarded by a careless giant. I mean...just beautiful.

    • That is a great line. Here's another: "Her eyes expressed the gratitude of a dog when its owner stops beating it."

    • I read Yellowface by R.F Kuang this weekend, taking a break from Ken Kesey's Sometimes a Great Notion, which I'm finding a bit of a slog.

      As a work of satire and suspense it's quite good. The ending felt uneven, and some of the criticisms of the degree to which Kuang appears to insert critcisms of her earlier work seem right, though, oddly, given my interest in SF/Fantasy, I haven't yet read any of her earlier work. That she has had multiple best-sellers before reaching thirty while continuing her academic studies at top universities impresses and beguiles me. But back to the book-- very good, IMO, with excellent if unlikeable characters, often dark satire (it's a bit obvious, but it's satire), and a page-turning style that's apparently less arty than her earlier works, but certainly suits this story.



  • MEDITATIONS by Marcus Aurelius: Inspired by the movie The Holdovers, I decided to read Meditations. Step one: Deciding which translation to read. There are four different versions available on Amazon, and I took advantage of the "read sample" version to compare all of them. The one I chose was the 2002 translation by Gregory Hays. It was 8 bucks in softcover and $12 in hardback, so I spring for the hardback. When it arrived, I was surprised to discover that the cover price was $24, so yay me! The thing about Meditations is that it was never intended for publication and Marcur Aurelius never intended anyone other than himself to ever read it. In that respect, it is a "self help" book in the most literal sense of the term. 

    Hays' translation reminds me very much of Richard Bach's writing style, particularly Illusions. Reminders for the Advanced Soul was Illusions' "book-within-a-book" and was later published in its own right. Hays' translation of Aurelius' "meditations" reads very much like Bach's own similar musings, except much lengthier. Aurelius was a Stoic, and what he called logos, Bach referred to as Is (and Jack Kirby called "The Source" and George Lucas called "The Force"). the tag-line for Illusions was, "More than a national bestseller, a great of of looking at life," and I would say the same sentiment applies to Meditiations. this time I read it strsaight through, but I can see myself, in the future, opening it to a random page and just reading.

  • HAROLD by Steven Wright: A week or so ago I was watching Steven Wright on television discussing his new novel, Harold, and all of a sudden I wanted nothing more than to read a novel about an imaginative third grader written by Steven Wright. A novel by Steven Wright is pretty much exactly what you think a novel by Steven Wright would be like. I was reading it as the same time I was reading Meditations by Marcus Aurelius, alternating back-and-forth between them. Sometimes I would forget which book I was reading. This happened to me more than once. There is an audio book available as well, read by the author. Although I have already read the book, I'm tempted to get the audio version anyway, just to hear him read it.


    Everyone who knows and likes Steven Wright probably has a favorite Steven Wright joke. This is mine:

    "I once put instant coffee in a microwave oven and almost went back in time."

    What's yours?

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