Friday, July 23, 2010

The Jester

I liked this book co-written by James Patterson and Andrew Gross. Hugh De Luc, a poor innkeeper, returns home from the First Crusade, at the end of the 11th century, weary from battle and disillusioned by carnage. After journeying from the Holy Land back to his own small village, he finds his nightmare is just beginning. Hugh learns that he had a son who was killed by a gang of thieves and his wife has been kidnapped by a ruthless duke in search of a priceless relic dating back to the Crucifixion. Taking on the role of a jester, Hugh infiltrates the court where he believes his precious wife Sophie is being held captive.


This is an okay book written by Angie Sage. Silas Heap finds an infant girl wrapped in a heavy woolen blanket and decides to raise her and name her Jenna. The same day he brings her home he finds out that his own infant son has died. Years later, it is revealed that Jenna is the daughter of the assassinated queen and she is taken away after being discovered by a spy. The family befriends a young boy nicknamed Boy 412 who was raised by the Army and is discovered to have magical abilities. This is the first book in the Septimus Heap series. A film adaptation is being planned.

Alt Ed

This is an okay book written by Catherine Atkins. Shy, overweight Susan Calloway knows she has nothing in common with the five other students in the after school group counseling sessions she’s forced to attend to avoid expulsion. In the company of a jock, a cheerleader, a sociopath, a tough girl, and a gay guy, she knows there’s no way she’s coming out of her protective shell during the group’s vicious discussions. But something starts to happen to the group members through the back and forth debates that causes them to realize that their lives aren’t as simple as they appear on the surface.

Traffic (2000)

This is a solid movie. The Mexican drug trade involves a variety of people on both sides of the border. A new drug czar (Michael Douglas) has vowed to fight harder against drug consumption using different techniques. At home he is confronted with his 16-year-old honor student daughter who is caught inhaling cocaine. A wealthy family man is arrested for trading drugs and his wife (Catherine Zeta-Jones) resorts to extreme measures to get the charges dropped. A poor but honest Mexican cop is challenged by the legal corruption in his own country.

The film is an adaptation of the 1989 British television series Traffik. The film won Academy Awards for: Best Director, Best Supporting Actor, Best Film Editing, and Best Adapted Screenplay. In 2004, USA Network ran a miniseries - also called Traffic - that was based on this film and the previous British series. The title of drug czar was created by a Senate vote in 1982. The character General Arturo Salazar is closely modeled after Mexican General Jesús Gutiérrez Rebollo. The Obregón brothers are modeled after the Arellano Félix brothers. Mexico created a drug czar equivalent in 1996 when their Attorney General chose a director for the National Institute to Combate Drugs.

First review of my book

Adjunct professor Wesley Britton wrote the first review of my book and he didn’t like it:
It’s difficult to pin down the intended audience for this collection of capsule movie reviews. It’s clearly not researchers. I’m not sure it’s film buffs either. In fact, author Cory Hamblin candidly admits he’s not a film expert, “just a guy from a small town who enjoys watching movies.” Admitting his major source is his aunt’s DVD collection, he adds that he’s not interested in films with political messages. “Most Americans from small towns . . . are just looking to have an enjoyable experience at the movies. What we would like to see are more movies with positive portrayals of America, our military, families, men, and God.” Illustrating the informal nature of his reviews, Hamblin states the title of the book draws from his “online moniker”: “Serket is the name of one of the earliest recorded Egyptian kings . . . it has no direct correlation to the contents of the book.”

Hamblin also stated his choice of movies had much to do with the amount of trivia he could find on them, and trivia is really what his book is all about. The “commentary” is about as long as your average Tweet.

This actually seems like a mild critique of my book, because he mainly just disagrees with the title and my background. My intended audience is anyone who loves watching movies and enjoys learning trivia. I hope some people will discover a movie that they weren’t aware of. I wanted my book to have a unique title and that is why I chose “Serket’s Movies.” I agree that I should have done more commentary, perhaps a better subtitle would have been “summaries and trivia.” I can’t help that I don’t have any previous experience in the film industry, but my intention was to provide a new approach to looking at movies.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Stranger in a Strange Land

This is an okay book written by Robert Heinlein. A human named Valentine Michael Smith was born and educated on Mars by the advanced aliens inhabiting that planet. He is sent as a visitor to Earth and has several psychic powers: telepathy, clairvoyance, precognition, telekinesis, teleportation, and pyrolysis, but is completely innocent regarding the mores of man. After his tutelage under a surrogate-father figure, Valentine begins his transformation into a prophet.

For the most part the story is interesting, but I didn’t like the pantheism and cannibalism, and I thought the words “grok” and “thou art God” were overused. I also didn’t like that the Martian creates a cult that is mainly intended to learn the bizarre language and have lots of sex. There were a few things at the beginning of the book that reminded me of Joseph Smith and the Mormons.

In Exodus 2:22 (KJV), Moses sees his firstborn son Gershom and says: "I have been a stranger in a strange land." The book was originally shortened by 60,000 words, but in 1991 the author's wife Virginia had the unedited version published. In 1968 Tim Zell started a neo-pagan religion called the Church of All Worlds that was based on the ideas in the novel.

7th Heaven

This is an okay book co-written by James Patterson and Maxine Paetro. Michael Campion, the teenage son of a recent governor, has disappeared under mysterious circumstances. He was born with an incurable heart defect and has grown up under the watchful eye of an adoring public. When detective Lindsay Boxer finally gets a lead, it is devastating. Now her partner in the Woman’s Murder Club, Assistant District Attorney Yuki Castellano must prosecute the case even though she only has circumstantial evidence to work with. Boxer is also trying to catch whoever is setting fire to some of the most beautiful homes in San Francisco, with their owners stuck inside to perish.