Book Review: The Book of the Dead

The Book of the Dead
Jared Shurin, editor
Jurassic London, 2013

Vampires and werewolves have never really left our collective social and cultural consciousness. Neither has Frankenstein’s Monster, once it was created. Of the classic “Universal monsters”, the Mummy has been the one left by the wayside. Partly because it’s so culturally specific; and partly because (perhaps) it’s pretty lame when you come to think of it. They have no special powers, and a well-thrown torch will have them go up in flames. They are just dessicated corpses, whose spirit for some reason has yet to complete the passage to the afterlife.

Does that mean there are no stories left to tell? Is the idea of a mummy as a monster one that has run out of scares? This collection of original stories says emphatically NO.
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Movie Review: Requiem for a Heavyweight (TV, 1956)

Nostalgia is a tricky thing. When reminiscing about the past, we automatically filter out all the crap and spend time thinking only about the good things. When we recall the first decade or so of television, we think of it as a “golden age” as we recall shows like “The Honeymooners” and “Dragnet”. We conveniently forget all the mid-level stuff like “Drama at Eight” or “Richard Diamond, Private Detective”. But the really good stuff, just as in any art form, lasts and lasts because each era can find something new or something relevant to its own time.

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On Donald Trump

Back in the late 1840s, a growing nativist movement coalesced into a political faction. Calling themselves the “Native American” Party, they were vehemently anti-immigrant and anti-Catholic – which were at the time pretty much the same thing, given that the largest influx of immigrants were Catholics from Ireland. The party almost always met in secret, and when asked about their activities usually responded with “I know nothing.”

Naturally, they became known as the Know-Nothing Party.

This can be applied to Trump and his followers, in more ways than one. Not only are they staunchly nativist and anti-immigrant, but Trump himself seems unashamed of his ignorance.
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On Bernie Sanders

Senator Sanders seems like a decent enough guy. His long Senate career, while not really distinguished, is still honorable and trouble-free. There’s very little that you can say about him that’s to his discredit. This makes him different from the other major candidates. He describes himself as a “Democratic Socialist”, which sounds like a European political party. No one can really explain what that means. So if we’re going to criticize him, we’ll have to focus on his proposals.

His main platform, as I’ve seen in his recent TV spots, is to punish the Big Banks, increase taxes on the major corporations, and use the additional revenue gained thereby to provide universal health care and free college tuition to everyone. That’s a decidedly European socialist economic plan.

Would it work here?
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On Ted Cruz


It’s a German word that roughly translates as “a face in need of a fist”, or “a face that needs to be punched”. It’s come up quite often in discussing Ted Cruz, to the point where a neurologist has discussed Cruz in an article on how people react to facial expressions.

Unusual facial expressions put us off. Cruz’ odd face only partly explains why no one likes him. From his college roommate to his Senate colleagues, people hate him with a passion.

And that’s even before considering his politics.
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On Hillary Clinton

Now that we’re in the heart of primary season, and everyone is gathering in my home state for primaries next week, it’s a good time to take a bit of a closer look at the four main candidates.

I’ll do them in alphabetical order, just because I want to.

I was thinking about being fair and even-handed here, but then I realized that this is my personal, private space, and I don’t need to. So let me come right out and state that I consider myself a pragmatic left-of-center Democrat, so I favor Clinton, with Sanders as a close second.
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Eurovision 2016

It’s probably expected that anyone writing for a mostly American audience explain what the world’s largest song competition is about when discussing Eurovision.


Think of “March Madness”, the national college basketball championship tournament. Picture the fan following, the media coverage, the statistical analyses, and even the betting. Now imagine that instead of basketball, it’s all about a “Battle of the Bands”.

That’s what Eurovision is like in Europe.
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