George V. Reilly

Review: Run Fatboy Run

Run Fatboy Run is a Simon Pegg comedy from 2007, which we just watched. I didn’t have high hopes for it and it was better than I expected. Dennis left a pregnant Libby (Thandie Newton) at the altar five years ago. Now he’s an overweight security guard in a London lingerie shop and she’s found a new boyfriend who’s everything that Dennis is not: Whit (Hank Azaria) is well off, handsome, and very fit. Somehow Dennis ends up promising to run in a marathon in three weeks’ time that Whit is also running in. Much of the story revolves around his training, his desperate attempts to win over Libby, and continue.

Review: Hail, Caesar!

The Coen Brothers’ latest movie, Hail, Caesar!, is a lot of fun. I’ve been looking forward to it since the trailers showed up a few months ago. It’s a homage to the Golden Age of Hollywood, an age where quirky talents like the Coens could not have made Coen Brothers’ movies. We see song and dance numbers, syn­chro­nized swimming, singing cowboys, and ballroom dramas. Most of all, we see a big-budget swords-and-sandals epic, whose star, Baird Whitlock, has been kidnapped by The Future, a group of Communist screen­writ­ers, and is being held for $100,000 ransom. Eddie Mannix is the studio fixer who has to wrangle the studio’s stars and keep them out continue.

Taibbi on Trump

In a new article for Rolling Stone, Matt Taibbi excoriates Trump:

It turns out we let our electoral process devolve into something so fake and dys­func­tion­al that any half-bright con man with the stones to try it could walk right through the front door and tear it to shreds on the first go.

And Trump is no half-bright con man, either. He’s way better than average.

Both Trump and Cruz scare me, for very different reasons. Trump is impulsive, all id, doesn’t give a fuck, riling up the worst impulses of the American electorate for short-term gain. Who knows what this loose cannon will do? Cruz is a nasty piece of work, cold and cal­cu­lat­ing, a hard-right continue.

Rome the Eternal City Video

I just watched an in­ter­est­ing video that recreates Rome as it probably was circa 320 AD. At that point, Rome’s population was somewhere between one and two million people, the largest city in Europe until 19th century London. Con­stan­tine was Emperor and a few years later, he would move his capital to Con­stan­tino­ple. A century and a half later, the final emperors would die.

I’ve only visited Rome once, when I was ten years old. I’m long overdue for another visit.

Review: Graveyard Dust

Title: Graveyard Dust
Author: Barbara Hambly
Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★
Publisher: Bantam
Copyright: 1999
Pages: 315
Keywords: historical mystery
Reading period: 21 February, 2016

New Orleans, 1834. Benjamin January is a free man of color and a Paris-trained surgeon who must support himself as a musician. His sister Olympe, a voodooi­enne, and another woman, Célie, are accused of murdering Célie’s husband, and Ben must save them from hanging. As a pro­fes­sion­al musician and a colored man, Ben moves between the high society of the old French in­hab­i­tants and the new American merchants, the poor white areas of town, the many slaves, and the small free black middle class. Hambly adeptly explores slavery, the uneasy crossover between French and American continue.

Review: Death In A Strange Country

Title: Death In A Strange Country
Author: Donna Leon
Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★
Publisher: Arrow Books
Copyright: 1993
Pages: 373
Keywords: mystery
Reading period: 19–21 February, 2016

A body has washed up in the canals of Venice, that of an American soldier from the nearby US base at Vicenza. Com­mis­sario Guido Brunetti doesn’t believe that it’s a mugging gone wrong, especially when he sees the fear in the eyes of the female army doctor who’s sent to identify the body. He digs and finds corruption among the rich and powerful, in a toxic coverup.

Brunetti is a decent and honorable family man, whose sense of justice is undi­min­ished by working for an in­com­pe­tent func­tionary in continue.

Review: The Belfast Connection

Title: The Belfast Connection
Author: Milton Bass
Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★
Publisher: New American Library
Copyright: 1988
Pages: 300
Keywords: thriller
Reading period: 14–17 February, 2016

San Diego cop Benny Freedman decides to meet his Belfast relatives for the first time. They disowned his Catholic mother decades ago when she married his Jewish father. It turns out that her siblings are still un­re­pen­tant bigots, but he finds himself drawn to two of his cousins, pretty young Catherine Callahan and Brendan O’Malley, a poet whose brother Sean has just been murdered. Cousin Benny finds himself drawn into in­ternecine feuding between the IRA and the INLA, as well as skirmishes against the British Army and continue.

Review: Mad Max: Fury Road

We saw Mad Max: Fury Road at the Cinerama tonight, as part of its Eight Days of OscarFury Road having being nominated for ten Oscars, including Best Picture and Best Director. I have no idea if it will win any awards from the Academy, but it’s no ordinary action movie.

Action there is aplenty, a kinetic feast of racing cars and roaring maniacs that rarely lets up. Imperator Furiosa and Max flee across the desert, taking Immortan Joe’s five nubile wives to a better place. They seek hope, Furiosa seeks redemption, and Max seeks mostly to survive. Furiosa sets the plot in motion; Max is a loner battered by fate, grudgingly coming to the continue.

Review: The Straw Men

Title: The Straw Men
Author: Paul Doherty
Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★
Publisher: Severn House Digital
Copyright: 2013
Pages: 224
Keywords: historical mystery
Reading period: January 29–Feb­ru­ary 16 2016

London, January 1381. John of Gaunt‘s regency is in trouble, unrest abounds throughout the land, and uprisings are being plotted. Brother Athelstan and his friend the Coroner are invited to a per­for­mance by Gaunt’s players, the Straw Men, at the Tower of London. When a murder occurs during the play, Athelstan is required to in­ves­ti­gate. Several more murders happen before he finds the culprit.

Doherty pulls off both an intricate plot and a satisfying historical novel.

Shamrocks Have Three Leaves, Not Four

I visited a faux-Irish bar this evening where both three-leaved and four-leaved shamrocks were found in abundance.

The reason why shamrocks are associated with Ireland is that our patron saint, St. Patrick, used the three-leaved plant as a metaphor for the Divine Trinity, the three gods in one, God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Ghost. (The Irish usually refer to the Holy Spirit as the Holy Ghost. I spent ages 7–18 at St. Mary’s College CSSp in Dublin, which is run by the Holy Ghost Fathers.)

A four-leaf clover is considered lucky because it is rare. It may be lucky but it is not a shamrock.

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