The Drop by Dennis Lehane

drop

Let’s call this what it is……    ***

 

First, this is not a novel, it is a novella.   Actually an expanded short story.  Okay, by word count maybe it is a novel, but for this reader it is an expanded short story.  Too short to justify the price, even discounted.

Having said that, the story is face-paced and a good read.  I wanted to read this before seeing the movie and although this may not be Lehane’s best work, I can see where it might make a good film.  It does read more like a screenplay with very little description.  The style of writing is simplistic yet it held my interest.

Lehane manages to surprise us in a couple of places and in the end, I did want to know more about what happens to Bob and Rocco.  So for holding my interest, even if it was short, I give this one three stars.  I will review the film after I see it.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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The Organized Mind by Daniel Levitin

orgmind

 

 

Everybody needs a junk drawer…    ****

 

This is one of those books that has a lot of information, some obvious, some informative.  Levitin gives practical advice on getting organized in this age of too much information.  The author spends time to explain, with examples, how to implement his ideas.

The discussion of how our brain works in dealing with information is easy to grasp and as my Calculus teacher used to say, “obvious to even the casual observer”.  While parts drag a little, overall the book reads quickly.

There were two points that I was glad to see aired.  First, there needs to be a change in how and what we teach children.  Levitin makes the point that we need to be teaching how to handle information as opposed to teaching information.  Second, he ends with everybody needs a junk drawer.  There are some things that just don’t fit into a category or are to few in number to separate, so just let them collect off to the side.  This has applications at least for me, you will have to read and decide for yourself.

The author gives a practical mathematical method for making decisions using a four square box.  There is even an appendix that helps the reader to grasp this concept. If one applies this along with the Ben Franklin method of a list with pluses and minuses, no decision should be too difficult.

The only flaw is, at times, the author injects more of his personal bias than one would expect in this type of book.  This shows mostly in the sections on medical issues.

Still. this is a good read and if it makes you think then Levitin has done his job.

Bill Cosby: His LIfe and Times by Mark Whitaker

Bill Cosby

 

 

Hey friend….  *****

 

Whenever I read a biography I hope to glean information that I did not know.  Having been a fan of Bill Cosby since his debut album was released in 1963 and an avid watcher of I Spy, I looked forward to reading this book.

I was not disappointed.  Whitaker does an excellent job of capturing Cosby’s background, thoughts, and accomplishments.  The behind the scenes stories of his life lend an even better understanding of the man’s humor.  The accounts of the people in his life that helped him become the famous comedian we all know, are told with a narrative that keeps you reading and surprises you.  An example is the recognition by Robert Culp as to just how talented Cosby was that led him to push for Cosby as his acting partner on I Spy.

One of the things I did not know is how much Cosby is responsible for the success of Ray Romano’s series Everybody Loves Raymond.  Whitaker gives us insight as to the influence Cosby has had on not only the entertainment industry but also how much he has contributed to black colleges and people not in the spotlight.

As with any human there are flaws and weaknesses, of which Bill Cosby has his share.  This biography does a good job of discussing these without getting into tabloid details.

Whether you are a fan or not, this book is well worth the read.

Dracula Untold

four cigars

Four cigars

 

 

Being a Dracula fan since age of eleven when I first saw “The Horror of Dracula” (1958), which scared me badly enough I put garlic on my windowsill for about a month after, I am always interested in a good vampire film.  “Dracula Untold” was not scary but it is a good film.

Having seen the trailer, my expectations were low.  I was pleasantly surprised by how well this movie was done.  The acting is good, the plot is good, the special effects were not overdone, and the dialogue was very good.  The ending does set us up for a sequel, which if made, I can only hope is as good as this one.

The only real flaw, without spoiling anything, is that if the sun can destroy one vampire, then it should be able to destroy all vampires. If you see the film you will see what I am talking about.  Although, one could argue the case for why this happens.

So this one gets four cigars and is on my list of the better vampire films, even though it didn’t make me put the garlic back out.

 

The One Hundred Foot Journey

three cigars

Three cigars

 

This was an interesting film.  Notice I said interesting, not good, bad, or great.  The story held my interest, the acting was good, the characters were almost believable, and the focus on cooking was superb.

Having said all of that, the only parts I really enjoyed were the cooking scenes.  The actors did an okay job, nothing outstanding, and the story was predictable. It is definitely a feel good movie, although there are some tragic events early on.  But it was the cooking that kept me involved and I came away with a renewed desire to spend more time preparing the dishes I do make and wanting to explore new, more complicated, recipes.

As entertainment, I can only give it three cigars, but as inspiration I will give it four.