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Nullified Barbarisms

Originally finished in 1992, but not published until 2012, The Head of Athena, the second Cyrus Skeen detective novel, addresses in this chapter the issue of freedom of speech, in which a notorious atheist, Enoch Paige, attempts to deliver an address in San Francisco in May 1929. The scores of people who attend the event […]

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Excerpt from Sleight of Hand

Foreword by the Author  It is October 1929. The Roaring Twenties will end near the end of the month with the stock market crash heard round the world. . The nation will absorb the consequences of the crash with great difficulty over the next decade, exacerbated by government fiscal policies. However, in the wake of […]

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Movie & Blu-Ray Review: The Sound of Music (1965)

Director Robert Wise’s The Sound of Music for 20th Century Fox is an opulent and lavish production. The 1965 movie musical, written by Ernest Lehman, is melodic and cinematic. At the start of its nearly three hours, with sweeping aerial photography in famous opening shots, it falls and centers upon a solitary figure in harmony with nature. The […]

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Music Review: The Sound of Music soundtrack

The 50th Anniversary edition movie soundtrack for Richard Rodgers’ and Oscar Hammerstein’s The Sound of Music (20th Century Fox’s 1965 winner for the Academy Award for Best Picture) is a rare, wonderful treat (click on the image to buy the CD or digital download). The songs, mostly European-driven waltzes, folk tunes and ballads, are memorable […]

Review: Goldeneye, Where Bond was Born

“Nothing propinks like propinquity.” So remarked Felix Leiter to James Bond in Ian Fleming’s fourth Bond novel, Diamonds are Forever. It was propinquitous that someone at Pegasus Books thought that I’d reviewed another of Fleming’s books, For Your Eyes Only, a collection of five of Fleming’s short stories featuring Bond, and queried me about reviewing […]

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Movie Review: So Dear to My Heart (1949)

Screened at the TCM Classic Film Festival 2015, one of Walt Disney’s most personal films, So Dear to My Heart, introduced by film and Disney historian Leonard Maltin, is utterly charming. The movie includes live action and a few brilliant scenes in poetically themed animation that align with and serve to enhance this wistful tale of a boy and his pet black […]

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Movie Review: Too Late for Tears

This film noir classic with a femme fatale played by Lizabeth Scott (who apparently hated the movie) is a shocking portrayal of a diabolical woman literally on the manhunt. The late Miss Scott, whom I recently discussed with Leonard Maltin and Robert Osborne, was an actress with range and talent, not just looks, and this is one of the roles for which […]

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Movie Review: Malcolm X

The words “…by any means necessary,” conclude Spike Lee’s racist propaganda piece, Malcolm X. This phrase asserting that the ends justify the means, a rationalization for tyranny throughout history, is the movie’s theme. Lee capably gives “by any means necessary”, which gained acceptance among black supremacists with the Black Panther movement during the rise of the New Left, and Black Panther founder Bobby […]

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Movie Review: Gunga Din

One of the greatest war movies and another reason besides Gone with the Wind and The Wizard of Oz why 1939 is a legendary year in motion pictures, Gunga Din, played at Sid Grauman’s Egyptian Theater for TCM’s Classic Film Festival. It was introduced by Oscar winners Ben Burtt (Lincoln, Star Trek, Super 8) and Craig Barron (Hugo, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, Captain America, Terminator: Salvation) […]

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Movie Review: Viva Zapata!

Elia Kazan’s Viva Zapata! (1952) starring Marlon Brando and Anthony Quinn, is another of his brilliantly conceived and executed character studies, a penetrating movie with an excellent script by John Steinbeck (The Grapes of Wrath). I had the pleasure of seeing it for the first time in the venue for which it was created—the movie theater—at the 2015 […]

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Movie Review: Selma

Selma is a lost opportunity. A great movie about achieving 20th century progress for blacks in America has yet to be made. Selma is an example of how not to do it.

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Movie Review: Cinderella

With a willingness to judge what is evil, marvel at what’s good and innocent, and indulge in great moviemaking, Cinderella powerfully depicts the classic tale as young lovers’ courtship which begins with taking stock of oneself.

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Silver Screens

A valued friend and crack newspaper reporter has been murdered at his desk. Skeen is investigating the crime with the police.

Victoria’s Aim

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…

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 […]