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Silver Screens

Here is an excerpt from the eighth Cyrus Skeen detective novel, Silver Screens, set in San Francisco in the Hollywood milieu in April 1930. A valued friend and crack newspaper reporter has been murdered at his desk. Skeen is investigating the crime with the police. In Chapter 12, “A Femme Fatale,” he meets Davelin Marchant, […]

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Melissa Manchester at the Grammy Museum

In her premiere appearance at the Grammy Museum for its program “The Drop”, which highlights newly recorded releases on the distribution date, Melissa Manchester talked about her campaign to make an independent record, over 40 years in music and her artistic philosophy. Then, she took the stage and performed several songs. This was an intense, insightful interview (read […]

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Interview: Melissa Manchester

Melissa Manchester’s 20th album, You Gotta Love the Life, cashes in on 40 years in popular music (click here to pre-order or buy as CD or download). The San Fernando Valley resident, mother and singer/songwriter has produced her first new album in 10 years with a top-caliber team of producers, writers and musicians, including Dionne Warwick, Dave Koz, […]

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Music Review: Melissa Manchester, You Gotta Love the Life

Melissa Manchester’s self-made You Gotta Love the Life, set for release on February 10 (click here to pre-order as CD or download), combines a sense of triumph with grit. The recording artist’s first independent album, which, for purposes of full disclosure, I experienced during recording sessions and in post-production while storytelling for the artist’s social media, revels in that which […]

Snowshoes vs. Hockey Sticks

My last few columns about Hollywood, such as, “The Death of Adult Movies” and “Hollywood: Sharia-Compliant,” tackled the politically correct mindset that has produced movies not targeted to adults but to undeveloped and/or brainwashed minds (many of them adult), or are bloviating leftist propaganda vehicles in the “entertainment” media. This is particularly true when it […]

Victoria’s Aim

The clock ticked. A tree branch tapped on the windowpane. Sunk deep into the cushions of the chair, the woman listened as the ticking and the tapping composed a certain staccato rhythm, like the sound of several hammers driving nails into wood. She looked out at an ashen sky above a pale city of marble […]

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Majesty vs. Myopia

I begin this column by offering a measure of what I choose to uphold what ought to be a standard of esthetics, at least in portraiture. It is by no means my only measure, but it does reflect a person I once knew, and who is still close to my conception of a romantic ideal. […]

Abelard and the Gate of Apollo

My name is Abelard. I was born—a birth some later called miraculous—of a dead mother. She was one of several who had died the day before, trying to flee over the Wall. I was left to die in my dead mother’s stomach; on the wet pavement; beneath coiled wire; paces from polished boots marching by. […]

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The PIckwick Affair: Chapter Two

Chapter 2: Nightmare on the “Morpheus”  As Cody Hosk warmed up the bus’s engine and let it run for a few minutes, Rufus Lister welcomed the passengers and introduced himself and his partner, Harry Williams. Canty Lanier, the cook, also took a bow. Lister added, “We’ll be makin’ only one more stop on the way […]

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The Pickwick Affair: Chapter One

Chapter 1: Stopover in Medford  “Good mornin’, folks! We’ll be arriving on time in Medford in about fifteen minutes, where you can stretch your legs and refresh yourselves. We’ll pull into the Pickwick terminal where you can buy newspapers and snacks. There are telephones inside the terminal. And next door is the Grog and Grub […]

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RIP, James Garner

James Garner, who died on July 19 at the age of 86, was quintessentially modern (in the best sense of the term), masculine and American.

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Movie Review: Dawn of the Planet of the Apes

Like its rebooted predecessor, Rise of the Planet of the Apes, Dawn of the Planet of the Apes offers more of the same exciting, escapist fare. These pictures are, like the original 1968-1975 films for 20th Century Fox, designed for mass entertainment. At their best, they provoke thought with thrills. Dawn of the Planet of the […]

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Movie Review: America

Emphasizing emotions over facts, the propellant and powerful America: Imagine the World Without Her, co-written and co-directed by conservative author Dinesh D’Souza, teems with a proper American sense of life. It is limited in its power, which strongly builds yet quickly dissipates, by what amounts to a faith in individualism. Evoking Ronald Reagan, D’Souza understands […]

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Movie Review: Atlas Shrugged Part 3

As I previewed last month, the new and final part of libertarian businessman John Aglialoro’s independent movie trilogy adaptation of Ayn Rand’s novel, Atlas Shrugged, features Christian libertarian ex-congressman Ron Paul of Texas. It’s a plot point that, however small, makes no dramatic sense. Like much of this movie, easily the worst of the three […]

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Interview: Brett Goldsmith on ‘Hotel Sessions’ by Olivia Newton-John

Musician, producer and photographer Brett Goldsmith recently talked with me from Melbourne, Australia, about his new work with Olivia Newton-John, Hotel Sessions. The record is an extended play (EP) collection of previously unreleased demo tracks that he made with his famous aunt between 2002 and 2011 at various Melbourne hotels (read my review here.) Goldsmith, […]

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Music Review: Hotel Sessions by Olivia Newton-John

An extended play recording of seven unreleased demo tracks by legendary artist Olivia Newton-John is on sale (for a steep price, too, at $20) exclusively at Olivia’s new residency venue in Las Vegas, The Flamingo. The set goes on sale soon on her Web site and iTunes. The new songs – titled Hotel Sessions because […]

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Summer Nights by Olivia Newton-John at The Flamingo Las Vegas

Olivia Newton-John’s first Las Vegas residency, inside the Donny & Marie Showroom at Caesar Entertainment’s Flamingo Hotel and Casino, is an intimate, poignant show she calls “Summer Nights”. The 20-plus song production premiered this week. I’ve met and written about Olivia over the years at various stages of her extraordinary career and, in Vegas for […]

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Captain America: The Winter Soldier

Chris Evans makes the new Marvel Studios picture, Captain America: The Winter Soldier, a strong, exciting and powerful sequel to 2011’s Captain America: The First Avenger. Its theme of bonding with shared Americanism – rightly depicted here as the essence of individualism – echoes throughout the film. There are a few problems, but mostly this […]

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Interview: Henry Jackman on Scoring ‘Captain America: The Winter Soldier’

Composer Henry Jackman (X-Men: First Class, Captain Phillips) recently talked with me about music, movies and his new score for Marvel’s Captain America: The Winter Soldier. This is an edited transcript. Scott Holleran: In your score for Captain Phillips, you’ve said that you strived for moral ambiguity. Do you strive for moral absolutism in Captain […]

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House of Cards: No Heroes, Only Various Shades of Villany and Corruption

In “House of Cards,” there are no heroes. Only villains of various shades of villainy, from gray to the blackest of blacks, fulfilling politically correct requisites on diversity, covering all the affirmative action mandates in gender, race, ethnic origin, and religion. “House of Cards” is an equal opportunity employer in its portrayal of corruption. In […]