Shack Out on 101
I recently viewed the DVD remake of the Shack Out on 101, and was pleasantly surprised! The cast includes such famous actors as Frank Lovejoy, Lee Marvin and Keenan Wynne. It's a suspense thriller about spies trying to steal secrets from the Los Alamos atomic testing grounds. All the action takes place at a "greasy spoon" restaurant, owned by a man named George. A mysterious man named Professor Sam is dating the only female waitress, Dotty. George tries to protect her from the lecherous cook "Slob", who is making unwanted advances. Dotty is horrified to find out that her boyfriend may be working with "Slob" to steal government secrets and may be a traitor. There is an interesting twist at the end. If it wasn't for the superb acting, the storyline would be a little "shaky"; but the acting makes this a movie you would enjoy seeing. It's a great tribute to the action films of the forties and fifties.
Shack Out on 101
The Wrong Enemy, by Carlotta Gall
Suffice it to say, the United States is once again stuck in a quagmire that is the War on Terrorism. Author and New York Times reporter Carlotta Gall lays out the proof that we have been fighting The Wrong Enemy in attacking Afghanistan and Iraq. As evidenced by the location of Osama bin Laden in Pakistan just down the street from the Iraqi military academy, Pakistan has provided aid and comfort to the Taliban and Al Qaeda. Unlike other wars, there is no clear cut enemy. The coalition we are fighting is engaged in a "Jihad" of Islam, which embraces extreme religious zealots from many countries (Syria, Saudi Arabia, Pakistan). Gall has information about Pakistani ISI (intelligence operatives) attending high level briefings of Taliban and Al Qaeda leaders. Unfortunately, the collateral death of innocent civilians has turned some into mortal enemies. Furthermore, some have joined the Taliban for money to support families as their economies have been destroyed by war. This is indeed a story of shifting alliances. And she states we missed a golden opportunity to end the war when the Taliban was weakened by unrelenting American bombing. This book, which is available in print and electronically, will give the reader a new perspective on war in the Middle East.
Floors, by Patrick Carman
The Whippet Hotel is a strange place full of strange and mysterious people. Each floor has its own quirks and secrets. Leo should know most of them - he is the maintenance man's son, after all. But a whole lot more mystery gets thrown his way when a series of cryptic boxes are left for him . . . boxes that lead him to hidden floors, strange puzzles, and unexpected alliances. Leo had better be quick on his feet, because the fate of the building he loves is at stake . . . and so is Leo's own future!
The Show Must Go On, by Kate Klise
When Sir Sidney, a kindly old circus owner, becomes too tired to travel with his show, he places a Help Wanted ad in the newspaper. Enter Barnabas Brambles: "I have a degree in lion taming from the University of Piccadilly Circus." But does Leo the lion need taming? Will Elsa the elephant still get her gourmet peanuts? And what will Brambles say when he discovers Bert and Gert--two mice who travel with the circus on popcorn cleanup patrol? Brambles has big plans: More cities! More shows! No more free popcorn. Soon he's made a big mess of Sir Sidney's Circus, but Leo, Elsa, Bert, Gert, and the rest of the performers agree: The Show Must Go On! -
The New Yorkers, by Robert Herman
The New Yorkers is more than just a photo study of the people and places in the Big Apple. It's a tool that author Robert Herman used to help him cope with his years of mental illness. Initially, he studied at Boston University; but when his father suddenly died In 1975, he found himself in a deep depression and became withdrawn. Herman was given medication and electroconvulsive therapy. He decided to return to college and attended the NYU Film School. Although he thought he would become a filmmaker, he became interested in photography. After graduation, he became a serious street photographer. Between 1978 and 1984, he took the pictures that make up The New Yorkers.
There's a knack to taking photographs with meaning, and I think Herman has the skill. The photos capture not only the various neighborhoods and people of the city, but also serve as social commentary on humanity. Herman credits photography with helping him overcome his mental illness by making him focus on his art. Knowing this gives the reader a different perspective when reading his book. I'm anxiously awaiting the publication of his next book.
Cave of Forgotten Dreams
Cave of Forgotten Dreams is a documentary about the Chauvet Cave in France, which contain man-made art dating back 20, 000 years. The cave was sealed by a landslide thousands of years ago, until it was recently uncovered. This helped preserve the art drawn on the cave walls, which amazingly depicts the movement of ancient animals. Although many animal skulls and bones were found scattered throughout the cave, no human bones were found. This supports the idea that the cave may have been used for animal sacrifices in religious-type ceremonies. Man may not have wanted to be trapped inside such a cave, but preferred roaming in open land. The stalactites and stalagmites are particularly striking. The cave is only open for short periods of time, and a metal "sidewalk" has been constructed to preserve and protect the soil.
This is a very interesting documentary with amazing photography. Man's ability to produce such art may change our impressions of early humanoids. We may have to rethink how long man has existed on earth. This is well worth your time.
The Cross and the Towers
Although the events of September 11th will never be forgotten, I found a DVD that I feel has helped me in the healing process. It's titled The Cross and the Towers. It chronicles the experiences of the many volunteers (firemen, policeman, clergy, etc.), as well as family members who lost relatives in this horrific event. It's also the story of hope as the human spirit is uplifted by the unselfishness of strangers trying to rescue survivors. Anyone who was directly involved at ground zero was deeply touched by the tragedy. The dramatic discovery of steel cross beams in the shape of a cross became the symbol of hope, not only for Christians, but people of all faiths.
Eleven, by Patricia Reilly Giff
Sam explores the attic for hidden birthday presents, and finds a newspaper article with his picture and the word "missing". Sam begins to doubt what he knows about his grandfather and his family. As his old memories begin to resurface, Sam recruits new girl Caroline to help him solve this mystery.
The 100 Year-Old Secret (The Sherlock Files), by Tracy Barrett
Xena and Xander Holmes think living in rainy London will be boring until they are handed a note written in disappearing ink that leads them to a hidden room where they discover they are related to the great detective Sherlock Holmes.
The Burning Shore, by Ed Offly
I was shocked and a little disturbed by the e-Book The Burning Shore by Ed Offly. This book describes the "cat and mouse" game between United States Naval forces and the German U-boats, which lurked just off our eastern shores during World War II. The submarines were able to infiltrate our coastal waters, and sink many merchant marine and US Navy vessels carrying critical supplies to our forces in Europe. If this stream of supplies was shut off, we could have lost the war.
Our naval forces had been severely taxed by the loss of the Seventh Fleet at Pearl Harbor. There weren't enough boats to defend convoys in the European and Pacific theaters. Enter the infant US Army Air Corps. Despite a lack of aircraft and pilots, these brave aviators were able to fight back and reduce the loss of American vessels in the western Atlantic. This also gave the country time to increase its production of battleships, destroyers and aircraft carriers to fight the Germans.
This is a great book for anyone interested in military history. It provides firsthand accounts of officers involved in military engagements. It will certainly give you a different view of the war.
The Death of Santini : The Story of a Father and His Son, by Pat Conroy
Pat Conroy has attracted a huge legion of fans for his books over the years with The Great Santini being one of his more popular titles. The Death of Santini could be considered a sequel of sorts to The Great Santini as he writes, obviously from the title, about the death of his father, Donald Patrick Conroy. The majority of the book though is Conroy relating the story of his relationship with his father throughout his life. Donald Conroy was a troubled and difficult man beset by alcoholism, a tendency for outbursts of violent verbal and physical incidents towards his wife and children, and a rigid personality formed by his career as a Marine Corps fighter pilot. Pat Conroy somehow maintained a father/son rapport with this difficult man over the years and his story is at times sad, frustrating, humorous but very engaging. Conroy himself reads the introduction which is a hair-raising summary of life as a son with his father. Dick Hill reads the rest of the book and is terrific. While appealing particularly to Conroy fans, this book is also an absorbing account of a son dealing with a troublesome father as well as a writer detailing his emergence as a best-selling author.
My Beloved World, by Sonia Sotomayor
Sonia Sotomayor is not only the first Hispanic Supreme Court judge, the third woman appointed to the Supreme Court, but also the author of the totally engaging and charming autobiography My Beloved World. As she writes in the preface to her book, "some readers may find comfort, perhaps even inspiration, from a close examination of how an ordinary person, with strengths and weaknesses like anyone else, has managed an extraordinary journey." Her writing style is clear, lovingly descriptive and totally absorbing as she recounts her growing up in a Puerto Rican family in New York City and her rise to the Supreme Court. Diagnosed with diabetes at a very young age, Sotomayor details her troubles with accepting this condition throughout her life. Yet, she excelled in school and attended Princeton, Yale Law School and had a brilliant legal career. Her wonderfully supportive family life bolstered her determination to exceed in school and her legal profession. My Beloved World is indeed interesting and inspirational reading as Sotomayor has written about her life's journey to the Supreme Court with candor and in a terrific style of writing. It is highly recommended.