Sunday, September 21, 2014

Book Recommendations - September 2014

Here some books in the science fiction and fantasy genres that you might be interested in reading this month.

A Dangerous Witch by Debora Geary
Book three of the "Witch Central" series that began with A Modern Witch.

The Dark Between the Stars by Kevin J. Anderson
Anderson continues his space epic with this sequel to The Saga of the Seven Suns.

Girl on a Wire by Gwenda Bond
The story of a sixteen-year-old who doesn't believe in magic.

Hellhole: Inferno by Brian Herbert and Kevin J. Anderson
The second part of a trilogy about a planet devastated by an ancient asteroid collision.

Hieroglyph edited by Ed Finn and Kathryn Cramer
Stories and visions for a better future

Lock In by John Scalzi
The author of Redshirts tells a tale of a future virus.

Marvel Comics: 75 Years of Cover Art, forward by Adi Granov
Some of the best comic book cover art compiled in one volume.

The Paper Magician by Charlie N. Holmberg
Spells are enacted by the folding of paper.

Sleeping Late on Judgement Day by Tad Williams
The story continues that began with The Dirty Streets of Heaven and Happy Hour in Hell.

Star Wars: A New Dawn by John Jackson Mill
Now that Disney owns Star Wars, it's restarting its book series.

Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel
Readers follow a Hollywood actor in the days of civilization's collapse.

Transhuman by Ben Bova
An old cellular biologist kidnaps his dying granddaughter's life in order to save her with an experimental procedure, and he gives himself an injection of an age-reversing serum to give himself more time to do so.

Vampires of Manhattan by Melissa de la Cruz
The title says it all.

What If? by Randall Munroe
From the maker of the excellent xkcd web comic, this book reveals serious scientific answers to absurd hypothetical questions.

The Witch with No Name by Kim Harrison
The final book of the bestselling Hollows series,

Let me me know of any other I should check out.

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Will DC Comics Dominate Television?

Although Marvel has been earning most of the cinematic glory the last few years, DC Entertainment is ruling the television roost.  Smallville, the Superman prequel, was a decade-long hit.  Arrow has been going strong for a few years now.  The new season will bring us The Flash, Constantine, and the eagerly anticipated Batman prequel Gotham. Marvel has Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. and, coming up, Agent Carter (not to mention The Defenders on Netflix: Daredevil, Jessica Jones, Iron Fist, and Luke Cage.) Prepare yourselves for more: CBS has announced that it will air a Supergirl series.

Will it be like the Supergirl movie flop starring Helen Slater, will it be similar to the portrayal by Laura Vandervoort on Smallville, or will it follow some of the convoluted plot points the character has gone through in the comics, such as sacrificing her life in "Crisis on Infinite Earths," being a synthetic lifeform created by Lex Luthor, etc. Hopefully, they'll stick to the traditional backstory of Supergirl being Kara Zor-El, Superman's cousin, another survivor of the doomed planet Krypton.

Will DC continue to strike gold with its TV properties?

Thursday, September 18, 2014

New SNL Announcer Announced

Don Pardo was such a distinctive voice, it's hard to imagine someone replacing him as the announcer of Saturday Night Live now that he's passed away. The replacement was announced today and Darrell Hammond has won the honor.

The history of broadcasting is loaded with many legendary announcers.  In baseball we have Vin Scully, Mel Allen, Tim McCarver, and Phil Rizzuto; in football we have Howard Cosell; in boxing we have ring announcers Michael Buffer and Jimmy Lennon, Jr.

Game shows and talk shows have had some top announcers. Famous ones who come to mind include Ed McMahon and Johnny Olson.

Let's see how Darrell Hammond will rank.  He's a great comedian and performer, so hopefully he will be allowed to be in some skits instead of just doing announcing chores. We shall see.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Boxing Can Be Funny

My friends and I watched the Floyd Mayweather fight on Saturday night, and he has his supporters as well as his detractors. The haters can't deny that he's undefeated and a smart defensive boxer, and his biggest fans can't deny that his style of fighting is ripe for ridicule.  A Facebook discussion brought out some laughs.

The best were the hilarious clips from movies of yore with vintage boxing comedy.

Take for example Charlie Chaplin in City Lights.  It's as if he were doing a Mayweather parody (or the caricature of Mayweather that his critics want people to believe exists).

Other funny bits include Buster Keaton from Battling Butler. Remember, boxing was one of the most popular sports in America during the silent film era.

And Jerry Lewis from Sailor Beware. I often forget how funny he truly was.

No disrespect meant, "Money," it's all in fun.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Magazine Roundup: September 2014

A look at this month's print magazines shows what earned the buzz in the world of entertainment: the Simpsons and Family Guy crossover, the new Doctor Who, the new season of The Walking Dead, Star Wars: Rebels, the passing of Joan Rivers, the new iPhone and Apple Watch, and the new fall television season.

Here are this month's select cover stories:

Comic Heroes
September -- Guardians of the Galaxy

September -- The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies

Entertainment Weekly
September 5 -- The Walking Dead, Season 5
September 12 -- The Simpsons and Family Guy
September 19-26 -- Fall TV Preview

September -- Adam Driver, Girls and Star Wars

Hollywood Reporter
August 29 -- Bill Cosby, the Emmy Issue
September 5-12 -- Jon Stewart, the Toronto Issue
September 19 -- Joan Rivers

Men's Fitness
September -- Andrew Lincoln, The Walking Dead

National Geographic
September -- Rome's Bad Boy Nero

Popular Science
September -- Bill Nye the Science Guy

Sci-Fi Now
September -- Doctor Who

September -- Peter Capaldi, Doctor Who

Star Wars Insider
September -- Star Wars: Rebels

September 1 -- The Tragedy of Ferguson
September 8-15 -- The Answers Issue
September 22 -- Wearable Tech

Total Film
September -- Dracula Untold

August 19 -- FOX Studio Chief Jim Gianopulos
August 28 -- Two-Time Emmy Winner Allison Janney
September 2 -- Jake Gyllenhaal, Nightcrawler

September -- Edward Snowden

What's on your magazine rack?

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Albanian Film Festival in New York

To all you cinema fanatics out there, especially all my Albanian family and friends, get your tickets now for the Albanian Film Fest taking place on October 2-9, 2014, at SVA Theater, 333 West 23rd Street in Manhattan. (If you can't attend the one in New York, the festival continues in Boston on October 11 and 12.)

The festivities begin with an Opening Night Gala that includes an invitation-only red carpet reception and a screening of The Hero, followed by a question-and-answer session with the cast and crew.

The festival lineup includes documentaries, feature-length films, short movies, panel discussions, and more.

The mission of the festival, in its third year, is to help artists tell the stories of Albanian struggles and accomplishments.

For more information, visit

Friday, September 12, 2014

Original Content on Streaming Services

If you're tired of the same old programming on traditional broadcast television and if you think cable television is a rip-off, you might want to try some streaming TV services.  Not only are they providing classic movies and recent blockbusters, as well as a long lineup of popular television series on which to binge (not to mention shows you might never have heard about, but are still pretty entertaining to watch once you've discovered them), now they're leaping into producing and delivering original content.  Here's some of what's out there, available for a fraction of the cost of pay TV.

Netflix is the current leader, and has even received Emmy nominations for its efforts. It started continuing programs that aired on traditional TV, bringing new episodes to audiences: Arrested Development, The Killing, The Problem Solverz, Star Wars: The Clone Wars, and Trailer Park Boys.  It brought original comedy specials and documentaries to its content offerings and now has a string of completely original programming available.

Bad Samaritans
BoJack Horseman
Hemlock Grove
House of Cards
Orange Is the New Black
Turbo FAST

More are on the way: Chef's Table, The Crown, the new Chelsea Handler talk show, Dinotrux, DreamWorks Dragons, Ever After High, Grace and Frankie, King Julien, The Magic School Bus 360, Marco Polo, Narcos, Puss in Boots, Sense8, Veggie Tales in the House, Wet Hot American Summer: The Series, and of course the eagerly awaited Marvel's Daredevil, Iron Fist, Jessica Jones, Luke Cage, and The Defenders.

Hulu is not to far behind with its own original entertainment:

The Awesomes
Day in the Life
Don't Quit Your Daydream
The Fashion Fund
The Morning After
Up to Speed
We Got Next

Additional content on the horizon includes: Behind the Mask, The Bridge, Deadbeat, Doozers, East Los High, Fugget About It, The Hotwives of Orlando, Misfits, Moone Boy, Mother Up!, The Next Step, The Only Way Is Essex, Quick Draw, Rev., and Spy.

Amazon Prime is also trying to compete, and allowing users like you and me to submit pilots for considerations. Here's what they have:

Alpha House
Creative Galaxy

Others include: The After, Bosch, The Cosmopolitans, Gortimer Gibbon's Life on Normal Street, Hand of God, Hysteria, Mozart in the Jungle, Really, Red Oaks, Ripper Street, Transparent, and Wishenpoof!

We also have Crackle, which gives us:

Bannen Way
Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee
Why It Crackles

There are plenty of others out there, the best known being Funny or Die, with shows like Between Two Ferns with Zach Galifianakis, and YouTube's plethora of Web series and short-lived Original Channel Initiative funded by Google (which owns YouTube), meant to kickstart GoogleTV.

So sit back and start streaming!