OSCARS 2017 fashion favorites

I love women’s fashions, hate sick-looking scarecrow models. Happily, slender rather than emaciated was in evidence at the 2017 Oscars, as you can see from the Hollywood Reporter’s red-carpet slide show.

I had two favorites (as opposed to last year when I had 5). Hailee Steinfield’s dress was perfect – though its subtle rose under-lights are lovelier when seen close up. (Click the images to see them enlarged.)

Miranda July’s gave an exciting near-nude appearance but with proper modesty, and with small red accents and a blue ribbon to alleviate the nighttime hue. Each of the women’s dresses flattered the woman, rather than being blatantly about itself.

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Cate Blanchett was sadly absent, so here she is from last year. Absolutely rocking it – though I suspect the dress looks terrific because of her, rather than the other way around.

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APB: HIGH-TECH CRIME SERIES

I just finished watching the third episode of a new police crime show: APB. In it a billionaire inventor gets himself deputized and takes over a Chicago precinct, spending millions of dollars to upgrade everything: patrol cars, weapons, communications, and more.

It’s an interesting premise and the first three episodes, available for download via Amazon, show promise. The main character first comes off as an arrogant blowhard, but the writers begin to show him as complex and vulnerable. The cops also begin to show depth, and the main character begins to learn that the cops’ experience, dedication, and intuition can contribute as much to the job as all the technology.

It’s worth giving a chance. I have, by buying the whole season from Amazon after only these three episodes. (If you do the same, Amazon gives credits for the episodes already bought.)

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ELL DONSAII stories, a fun series by Laurance Dahner

I just finished reading a delightful series by Laurance Dahners. Thirteen books in all (so far) it tells of the adventure of Ell Donsaii, a scientist and athlete of near-superhuman abilities. Unlike much of SF, integral to it is the science and the detective work involved in science.

It’s available in hardback, but I read it by downloading the ebooks. One great feature of Kindle editions is that you can go back and forth (as I did) between my mini iPad and my smartphone. Books stay synchronized in the Kindle apps on all devices.

Incidentally, I chose a Samsung Galaxy Note 4 over later versions because you can replace the battery and upgrade the memory, features not in the so-called “latest and greatest” Note smartphones.

Preview Amz

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W. E. B. GRIFFIN – great author of military fiction

I took off a few weeks post-holidays to deal with some personal issues. Took advantage of that time to re-acquaint myself with my favorite writer of military fiction: W. E. B. Griffin.

I highly recommend him. I suggest you start with the first book in his The Brotherhood of War series. It shows the evolution of the U. S. Army from the Second World War through the Vietnam War, as viewed through the experiences of four soldiers, beginning with them as lieutenants in the last years of WWII.

He also wrote the highly acclaimed Badge of Honor series, about the Philadelphia Police Department. As with all his books, he also tells of the interdepartmental conflicts in military and police organizations which are as dangerous in their own way as the physical action and perils his characters endure.

Preview Amz B&N

Preview Amz B&N

 

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Great TV miniseries STRANGER THINGS

I much enjoyed Netflix’s miniseries “Stranger Things.” The 8 episodes are the length of three or four feature films so buying a month of Netflix for $ 8/10 was well worth it.

The series has been described as Spielbergian. I agree: it reminds me most of ET, with its not-quite-teen main characters of four boys and a girl who is something of a fledgling superhero. Adults and teens do have important roles.

The characters seem real and fully realized, especially the sub-teens, and the 80s era is unostentatiously done well. I suggest you save the last two episodes to watch at once. They make up a very enjoyable finale, rounding off the story arc in a satisfying way but leaving two or three hints that a sequel was planned. The nine-episode season 2 is shooting now for release later this year.

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THEY GIRL THEY COULDN’T SEE fun urban fantasy

Just read a fun book by Laurence E Dahners: The Girl They Couldn’t See. A young woman learns that she can cause others not to see her, rather like The Shadow of pulp fiction days. At first just using the talent to avoid people she doesn’t like, she eventually realizes that she can use it to defend her family from mobsters. Discovering the threat is from a crime gang, she decides to take the whole gang down.

But first she must learn the limits of her talent, an activity which has problems of its own.

Preview Amz B&N

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GHOST IN THE SHELL Tokyo trailer & event

I just watched with great pleasure two YouTube videos for a movie I’ve long awaited, one a trailer and the other an event with the director, star, and an important supporting actor answering questions. The movie is GHOST IN THE SHELL, scheduled for release on March 31st of next year.

GITS is a sort of Japanese ROBOCOP, both featuring ideas long common in near-future and cyberpunk sci-fi. In their case their story revolves around a main character whose brain is put into a robotic body after most of their body has suffered catastrophe. As they plunge into an action-adventure story they also slowly build a new sense of who they are, rebel against those who would pigeon-hole and control them, and create a new sense of their place in the world.

GITS first appeared as a Japanese comic, then as a work of Japanese animation. It eventually inspired other books and animations in the series, and comics and animations based on similar stories. In 2008 Dreamworks bought the rights to the series and began the long process which ended in the final creation this year of the movie, starring Scarlett Johansson.

Her casting spawned critics who claimed it was “whitewashing.” Most of them seem to be Westerners. Japanese fans and the GITS creators widely approve of the choice of Johansson, already very popular as an action movie star in the East as well as the West from her roles in the Avengers movies and Luc Besson’s Lucy. Many hope the series becomes a big world-wide success rather than merely a locally Japanese one. Which may lead to a world-wide GITS franchise and business success for similar comics, animes, and movies.

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Latest & greatest WONDER WOMAN preview

The latest Wonder Woman trailer is out & it’s a doozy. I definitely will be in the theater the first hour of the first day when it comes out in June 2017.

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KANTOVAN VAULT now available (Spiral Wars Book 3)

One of the best space-war writers is Aussie Joel Shepherd. He gets everything right: the human side of war, military tactics, hard science, and alien biology and psychology – all in stories which move briskly along.

Now he’s released the third book in his Spiral Wars series: Kantovan Vault. It’s available as an Amazon ebook for $3.99. I believe a printed book will also soon be available.

Click on the image for a preview and to buy the book.

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Great new CASTAWAYS IN TIME book

Just finished a terrific addition to the old “castaways in time” books which started with Twain’s A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court. The book by Michael Z. Williamson is a bit long on the details of how the main characters adapted. This might bother a few but I enjoyed them. You can always skim if a book seems slow to you, but I might have felt cheated if the author had left them out.

From the book’s blurb:

“Ten soldiers on convoy in Afghanistan suddenly find themselves lost in time. Somehow, they arrived in Earth’s Paleolithic Asia. With no idea how they arrived or how to get back, the shock of the event is severe. They discover groups of the similarly displaced: Imperial Romans, Neolithic Europeans, and a small cadre of East Indian peasants. Despite their technological advantage, the soldiers only have ten people, and know no way home.”

Preview Amz B&N

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