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Showing posts from 2016

From my Examiner files: MASH - The Movie

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The Movie
Originally released on January 25, 1970, director Robert Altman’s “MASH” is an antiwar black comedy set in the 4077th Mobile Army Surgical Hospital during the Korean War. It was adapted from Richard Hooker’s “MASH: A Novel About Three Army Doctors” by Ring Lardner, Jr. and though it was set in South Korea, the film’s sardonic and irreverent tone was really a commentary about the then-ongoing Vietnam War. “MASH” was both a commercial and critical success; it earned five Academy Award nominations (including Best Picture, Best Director, Best Supporting Actress, Best Film Editing) and won one (Best Adapted Screenplay). It also spun off three television situation comedies – “M*A*S*H,” “Trapper John, MD,” and “AfterMASH.”
Starring Donald Southerland as Capt. Benjamin Franklin “Hawkeye” Pierce, Elliott Gould as Capt. “Trapper John” McIntyre, Tom Skerritt as Capt. Duke Forrest, Sally Kellerman as Maj. Margaret “Hot Lips” Houlihan, and Robert Duvall as Maj. Frank Burns, “MASH” is an ep…

Unhappy family

“All happy families are alike; each unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.”― Leo Tolstoy, Anna Karenina

As 2016 – a year that most of us would like to forget – ends and a New Year waits in the wings, memories of the not-so-distant past continue to haunt me.
Some of them, naturally, are about my mom’s long illness, mental decline and eventual passing. It’s been less than a year and a half since she died, so the emotional wounds haven’t quite begun to turn into scar tissue. The pain, which was intense in the beginning, has dulled a bit over time, yes, but it’s never truly gone.
I suppose that I feel this way in part because I miss my mom. After all, we lived together for more than 50 years, and we had a great parent-child relationship right up to the end of her life. For some reason, she never encouraged me to move out – I have cerebral palsy, and even though I am capable of living semi-independently, Mom felt that it was more mutually beneficial if I stayed at home. She once told…

Shadows of the past....

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Well, two days have passed since Christmas Day 2016, and even though there is still some partying to be done to ring in the New Year, it’s back to the old writing desk for this garbanzo. I have several projects to work on – a novel, a bunch of new book and movie reviews, and a short story set during World War II that I’m trying to develop. In addition, I need to think of topics for the Cerebral Palsy Guidance blog, for which I get paid to write as a contributor. So…yes, there’s a bunch of things on my writer’s to-do list.
Today, however, I want to talk about more personal issues that weigh heavily on my mind and heart.

You see, even though this Christmas season has been the happiest I’ve experienced in over 20 years, I have been haunted by thoughts about my late mother, Beatriz.
To be honest, I consciously try not to think about Mom too much. It hurts me a great deal when I do. I don’t like dwelling on the circumstances of her death, for one thing. The last five years of her life w…

From the Examiner files: 2015 review of Marvel Comics' remastered adaptation of 'The Empire Strikes Back'

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Star Wars – Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back (2015 Remastered Edition)
Based on a screenplay by Leigh Brackett and Lawrence Kasdan, and on the story by George Lucas Writer/Editor: Archie Goodwin Artists: Al Williamson and Carlos Garzon Colorist: SotoColor Editor-in-Chief: James Shooter Cover Artist (2015): Adi Granov
As the countdown to the release of Disney/Lucasfilm’s Star Wars: The Force Awakens nears the four-month mark, Marvel Worldwide (which is also owned by the Walt Disney Company) continues the “remastering” of its Classic Trilogy comic book adaptations with Star Wars – Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back. Published in hardcover on August 11, this oversized graphic novel (OGN) follows the publication of Star Wars – Episode IV: A New Hope by three months. In November, Marvel will complete its remastering of the saga when it publishes Star Wars – Episode VI: Return of the Jedi.
As the Imperial forces regroup from the Death Star’s destruction, they target the new Rebel base on the ice …

Marvel Comics' remastered 'Star Wars - Episode IV: A New Hope' comic adaptation released

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On April 12, 1977, a then-struggling Marvel Comics published Star Wars 1, the first issue of a six-part adaptation of George Lucas's Star Wars (aka Star Wars - Episode IV: A New Hope). Released more than a month before the movie was in theaters, Star Wars 1 gave many sci-fi and comics fans their first glimpse at Lucas's space fantasy set "a long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away." Adapted by Roy Thomas, who was Marvel's editor-in-chief at the time, and with art by Howard Chaykin, Marvel's Star Wars comic series closely follows the basic plot of Lucas's 1977 blockbuster. However, since Thomas used Lucas's fourth revised draft of the screenplay and had access to a handful of publicity photos provided by Lucasfilm, his version includes several scenes that were deleted from the film before its May 25, 1977 release. Star Wars' comic book adaptation was a major success. It saved Marvel Comics from bankruptcy and helped establish the "Star Wars"…

Movie Review: '633 Squadron'

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Pros: Nice aerial photography, some exciting action scenes Cons: Predictable, full of war movie cliches It is spring, 1944.

World War II is entering its fifth year. Although the Allies have driven Hitler’s armies from North Africa, Sicily, and parts of Italy, most of Europe is still under German control. In the Eastern Front, the Red Army is massing for a summer offensive that will follow the long-promised cross-Channel invasion of France, which is scheduled for late spring.

Meanwhile, Allied intelligence has discovered the nature of mysterious concrete-and-metal installations being built by the Germans in northern France, Belgium, and Holland: they are launch pads for Hitler’s V-2 rockets, the “wonder weapons” that, if deployed in time, could wreak destruction on England and jeopardize the D-Day landings.

The Allies’ only hope is to destroy the Germans’ rocket-fuel plants in occupied Norway, and for this mission the Royal Air Force’s high command requires the services of 633 Squadron,…

Book review: Star Wars: Survivor's Quest, by Timothy Zahn

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Pros: Interesting Luke-and-Mara capstone to Timothy Zahn's novels set in the Star Wars universe Cons:  Might confuse readers who haven't read previous Timothy Zahn novels; too ship-bound If you are a more-or-less regular reader of the Bantam Spectra/Del Rey Star Wars Expanded Universe novels, you're doubtlessly aware that though each novel or series of novels is pretty much a stand-alone work, it's also part of a larger mosaic. There are many instances in which a minor character, planet, or even old pre-Empire projects mentioned in one book will later play a larger role in the continuing Star Wars narrative.

This technique isn't exclusive to the Lucasfilm-licensed Star Wars projects; Paramount's Star Trek franchise has published hundreds of paperback and hardcover novels which not only tell "untold tales" of the famous starships Enterprise and their legendary crews, but also have their own internal - if somewhat looser - sense of continuity by the use …

'The Civil War: A Film by Ken Burns' DVD review

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Pros: Fine (if sometimes inaccurate) script, great narrator, and always-interesting presentation
"We have felt the incommunicable experience of war. We felt - we still feel - the passion of life to its top. In our youths our hearts were touched with fire."- Oliver Wendell Holmes.

On September 23, 1990, just as units of the XVIII Airborne Corps were taking up defensive positions in the desert kingdom of Saudi Arabia as part of Operation Desert Shield in the wake of Iraq's invasion of Kuwait, the Public Broadcasting Service aired "The Cause," the first of nine episodes of director Ken Burns’ The Civil War.

It was an odd juxtaposition - as an almost unbelieving nation was sending the vanguard of what eventually became a 350,000-troop force to war against Saddam Hussein, millions of television viewers were watching what was to become the defining documentary about America’s bloodiest conflict.

Although Burns wasn’t an unknown filmmaker to many PBS viewers thanks to sev…