Thursday, April 30, 2009

Tribute to Andy Hallett

Last month, the wonderfully talented Andy Hallett died of congestive heart disease at the age of 34. Andy was best known for playing the singing host-with-the-most, Krevlornswath ("Lorne"), on Joss Whedon's sci-fi drama Angel for four seasons. Lorne is a green-skinned demon from the music-less dimension of Pylea. After he is sucked through a portal to Los Angeles, Lorne establishes Caritas, a demon-friendly karaoke bar where humans and demonic beings alike are encouraged to bare their souls through song. To the crew of Angel Investigations, Lorne is a mentor, a confidant, and a trust-worthy friend whose gentle nature is the yin to their yang.

After Andy passed away, a friend and I selected some of our favorite Lorne clips from his 76 episodes on Angel and pieced them together in a 7 minute farewell tribute in memory of the actor and the character he embodied on one of our favorite series.

We tried to post the tribute on Youtube but were blocked because of copyright infringement as the video "may have content that is owned or licensed by FOX". The heated debate over copyright on the web is one that I won't get into now, though it can be argued that fan-made video tributes do far more to attract new audiences to genre television than to harm corporate revenue streams. Ahm, Fox.

To keep our tribute and Andy Hallett's memory alive, I have instead embedded our video here in Quicktime format. Andy, you are missed!

Thursday, April 23, 2009

April's Literary Pursuits on the F Train

Here are another ten cliff-hangers being consumed this month by literary enthusiasts on the F train during the commute between Manhattan and Brooklyn. Enjoy the sneak peek!

The novel is divided into five parts and begins with the ad
ventures and love affairs of a small group of scholars dedicated to the work of Benno von Archimboldi, a reclusive German novelist. They trace the writer to the Mexican border town of Santa Teresa, but there the trail runs dry, and it isn't until the final section that readers actually learn about Benno. (Publishers Weekly)

American Buffalo
"The finest American playwright of his generation" (Sunday Times) A junk shop. Three small-time crooks plot to carry out the midnight robbery of a coin collection. In the hours leading up to the heist, friendship becomes the victim in a conflict between loyalty and business."This play is a parable about the US - not in the journalistic way but quietly, stealthily, with all the rich interior organisation of a true work of art" (Observer)

An Arsonist's Guide to Writers' Homes in New England
The delightfully dark story of Sam Pulsifer, the accidental arsonist and murderer narrator who leads readers through a multila
yered, flame-filled adventure about literature, lies, love and life. The blurred boundaries between fact and fiction, story and reality become the landscape for amusing and provocative adventures that begin when, at age 18, Sam accidentally torches the Emily Dickinson Homestead, killing two people. (Publishers Weekly)

The Book of Night Women
Powerful and eloquently narrated in a lilting J
amaican patois that at once underscores and eerily conflicts with the disturbing images of violence and degradation. Though the novel is filled with familiar figures -- dissolute masters, jealous mistresses, house and field slaves -- James never lets them devolve into cliches or ciphers. (Bookmarks Magazine)

The Color of Water
The need to clarify his racial identity prompted the author to penetrate his veiled and troubled family history. Ruth McBride Jorda
n's grim upbringing in an abusive environment is left behind when she moves to Harlem, marries a black man, converts to Christianity, and co-founds a Baptist congregation with her husband. The courage and tenacity shown by this twice-widowed mother who manages to raise 12 children are remarkable. (Library Journal)

Foreskin's Lament: A Memoir
Auslander, a magazine writer, describes his Orthodox Jewish upbringing as theological abuse in this sardonic, twitchy memoir that waits for the other shoe to drop from on high. Flitting haphaza
rdly between expectant-father neuroses and childhood neuroses Auslander labors mightily to channel Philip Roth with cutting, comically anxious spiels lamenting his off-kilter family and temptations of all things non-Kosher. (Publishers Weekly)

Hammer of God
As an asteroid named "Kali" hurtles toward earth on a collision course that spells the end to life on the planet. Meanwhile, a lone spaceship armed with a weapon to alter the asteroid's path attempts to carry out its perilous mission--unaware that others are simultaneously working for earth's destruction. (Library Journal)

This is one of the few books in western thought that cannot receive enough praise. It is all at the same time a compilation of classical and medieval thought, a biting commentary and critique of 17th century Europe (mostly England), an exploration of philosophy as science, and the first truly modern work of political philosophy. (C.N. Gallimore)

Mystery and Manners: Occasional Prose
"[Flannery O'Connor] was not just the best 'woman writer' of [her] time and place; she expressed something secret about America, called 'the South,' with that transcendent gift for expressing the real spirit of a culture that is conveyed by those writers . . . who become nothing but what they see. Completeness is one word for it: relentlessness [and] unsparingness would be others.
" (New York Times)

The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism
Naomi Klein advances a truly unnerving argument: historically, while people were reeling from natural disasters, wars and economic upheavals, savvy politicians and industry leaders nefariously implemented policies that would never have passed during less muddled times. This reprehensible game of bait-and-switch isn't just some relic from the bad old days. It's alive and well in contemporary society
. (Amazon)