Monthly Archive for April, 2008

The Mind-Body Diabetes Revolution: The Proven Way to Control Your Blood Sugar by Managing Stress, Depression, Anger and Other Emotions

The Mind-Body Diabetes Revolution: The Proven Way to Control Your Blood Sugar by Managing Stress, Depression, Anger and Other Emotions (4/29/08) Nonfiction (2005 ***1/4) Written by Richard S. Surwit. Man, what long titles some of these nonfiction books have! The primary message of Dr. Surwit’s book is that the big three behavioral stressors (stress, depression and hostility) have been shown to contribute to the development of diabetes and patients can make positive changes in their blood chemistry by learning how to address these problems head-on. The primary method recommended was visualization and relaxation, and this approach was covered in depth. However, other approaches (including pharmaceutical ones) were addressed as well. In all, it was an excellent book for anyone with diabetes (like me) who also has a history of one or more of these other stressors (like me). The next time I’m driving and get pissed off at all the morons on the road I have a nice, selfish reason for throttling back the ol’ hostility: My blood sugar and ultimately my life.

The Guns of Navarone

The Guns of Navarone (4/23/08) TV-HDMOV (1961 **) Directed by J. Lee Thompson, starring Gregory Peck, David Niven and Anthony Quinn. Often when I watch an older film I try to imagine how it might have been appreciated by the audience of the time. In the case of The Guns of Navarone, I imagine this big-screen, big-budget, star-studded action war thriller must have made quite an impression in 1961. Unfortunately, watching it in 2008 on my 32-inch LCD flatscreen I found it a little melodramatic and by the end I kept looking at my watch, waiting for it to end.

West Side Story

West Side Story (4/16/08) Netflix (1961 ****) Directed by Robert Wise and Jerome Robbins, starring Natalie Wood, Richard Beymer, Russ Tamblyn and Rita Moreno. Winner of 10 Academy Awards, including Best Picture. No two ways about it, this was a brilliant movie from start to finish. Its soundtrack was some of the best music ever written for the Broadway stage. I frequently marveled at how well directors Wise and Robbins worked together. The camera angles and movement and editing caressed the choreography, creating a drama and a sense of depth that is still as fresh today as it was in 1961. There is so damned much to learn about filmmaking from watching this film! Sadly, of the half-dozen times I’ve watched West Side Story in my life, it’s always been on video. It is absolutely one of those great films I hope to someday watch on the silver screen. (Favorite)

Superman for All Seasons

Superman for All Seasons (4/13/08) Graphic Novel (2002 **½) Written by Jeph Loeb, illustrated by Tim Sale. Several of the reviews of this book I read referred to Frank Capra and Norman Rockwell’s America. I sort of got that, though this version of Superman’s origin made less of an impression on me than it evidently has on some. Maybe it’s because the effect was too superficial, too much a modern pastiche of 1930’s life in the United States. It was pleasant enough, but lacked any true emotional depth, and I was unmoved from start to finish. That’s too bad. One day someone will write a story about the “Man of Steel” that will grab my heart and have me weeping inconsolably. Kurt Busiek came close in 2005’s Superman: Secret Identity. Unfortunately, Superman is easier to work with as an icon than he is as a character. Finding depth in Superman the man has always been problematic in that regard, but with the setup Joeb was working with in this book I think that might have been possible.

The Sons of Katie Elder

The Sons of Katie Elder (4/13/08) TV-HDMOV (1965 *½) Directed by Henry Hathaway. John Wayne and Dean Martin play two of the four sons of a beloved woman, now dead. When they return to town for her funeral, they get (as they say) “more than they bargained for.” At 122 minutes, this film dragged, and I was frankly relieved when it was done. The only bright light in the whole thing was seeing a young Dennis Hopper as the twitchy son of a land-grabbing jerk, played by infinitely recognizable James Gregory.

Blazing Saddles

Blazing Saddles (4/12/08) TV-HDMOV (1974 ***) Directed by Mel Brooks. I have probably seen this at some point in my life, but I’ll be damned if I can pinpoint exactly when. Probably I watched it sometime in the early eighties during the early days of R-rated cable TV. It was fun enough — some consider it a classic. Hell, it made #6 on AFI’s “100 Years… 100 Laughs” list. You know what? I didn’t find it all that funny, actually. Let me try to explain: Blazing Saddles, from start to finish, felt like really polished 1960’s-era sketch comedy that had been made more adult via adult language and sex, race and drug references. And that’s pretty much what it was. I wanted to like it more. I guess I’m just not a Mel Brooks kinda guy.

Who Lives?

Who Lives? (4/12/08) Play (2006 ***) Written by Christopher Meeks. Meeks is a writing teacher of mine who wrote this play a decade ago. Set in the early 1960’s, Who Lives? is nominally about a selection board who decides which select patients should be allowed to use a small number of experimental kidney dialysis machines. The play was about more than that of course, it was also about how one measures a life. As interesting as the premise was, I’m afraid that I wasn’t nearly as entertained by it than I have been by some of Meeks’ other writings. However, that may be a reflection of my inexperience reading plays.

Powers, Vol. 8: Legends

Powers, Vol. 8: Legends (4/12/08) Graphic Novel (2005 ***1/4) Written by Brian Michael Bendis, illustrated by Michael Avon Oeming. Awhile back I re-read my entire run of Powers and realized at that time that I’d never bought Volume 8. It’s interesting to note that my reviews of that series were a little lukewarm, so my expectation with this volume was low, which may have contributed to my enjoyment. In Legends, the city reacts to sightings of a new Retro Girl while Deena returns to the police force and gets herself into a pretty bad situation. This all added up to a more interesting story arc than many of the other volumes in the series.

A Star is Born

A Star is Born (4/3/08) Netflix (1976 ***) Directed by Frank Pierson, starring Barbra Streisand and Kris Kristofferson. When my wife was six, her mother took her to see this film and she loved it. I somehow managed to get to the ripe old age of 43 before seeing it for the first time, and I have mixed feelings. The music (much of it written or co-written by Paul Williams) was good. The whole film was really “of its time,” and served as a beautiful example of mid-seventies filmmaking technique. I tried to put myself in the shoes of the people living in 1976 when this remake was released. Having not seen the previous 1937 or 1954 versions I didn’t have them as frames of reference. Having Streisand star in a remake of a movie starring Judy Garland must have felt bold in 1976. Unfortunately, as modern as it was at the time, it still couldn’t escape the weight of a largely melodramatic story about a woman in love with a washed-up has-been drunk. My favorite dialogue exchange in the whole film, bar none, was the following: Her: “Are you an alcoholic?” Him: “Probably.”

Terran Boylan

Terran Boylan is an artist/writer/programmer living in Southern California.  By day he works for a well-known animation studio.