Blog Posts by David

  • Lucy 101 & Cohen's Cocktails

    "Lucille Ball FAQ" by James Sheridan and Barry Monosh
    "Most Talkative" by Andy Cohen
    Reviewed by David Marshall James

    What, you may well be wondering, do Lucille Ball and Andy Cohen have in common?

    Aside from Andy's preference for ginger hair, that is.

    His memoir, "Most Talkative," will soon lead the reader to discover his early fascination with Miss Lucille Desiree Ball.

    Fine choice, AC. Back to you in a moment or two.

    "Lucille Ball FAQ" is a vast compendium of info pertaining to all of Lucy's TV, stage, radio, and film work.

    And we do mean ALL of it-- all four TV series (five, if you count the revamping of "The Lucy Show," sans Vivian Vance, during the mid 1960s).

    This indispensable tome also includes bios of the essential players in Lucy's life, professionally speaking and en famille.

    Also: Explanations of the pop-culture references from the TV programs, as well as Lucy's one-degree's of separation from scores of Hollywood luminaries.

    Tallulah Bankhead and Joan Crawford

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  • Sins of the Fathers, Way Down East

    "Bad Little Falls" by Paul Doiron
    Reviewed by David Marshall James

    It's the dead of February, Way Down East.

    Washington County, Maine, bears the distinction of being the Easternmost point in the Continental USA. Aside from that, there's little to recommend it at this iced-over, subzero time of year, unless you're into joyriding snowmobiles, stoned out of your mind, as more than a few local youths do.

    Maine game warden Mike Bowditch has been recently assigned to this less-than-hospitable area, as this third novel by Maine author Paul Doiron commences.

    To be sure, many of the locals prove scarcely more endearing than the frigid world in which they dwell.

    Warden Bowditch is having a time of it in seemingly every facet of his young life.

    His fiancee has parted ways, trading in the Down East for D.C.

    Actually, that's a blessing for those concerned, as that marriage wouldn't have lasted through two winters.

    Being the spouse of a game warden is an exceptionally stressful calling

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  • Marilyn Monroe: Gowns by William Travilla

    "Dressing Marilyn" by Andrew Hansford with Karen Homer
    Reviewed by David Marshall James

    This has become my insta-fave book about Marilyn Monroe, because it is so representative of the dream and the drive that propelled her into the stardom that she so fervently craved.

    As an up-and-comer at Twentieth Century Fox studio, on the edge of Beverly Hills, during the early 1950s, Monroe sought the guidance of resident (and Oscar-winning) designer William Travilla, and theirs became a friensdship fashioned in the cinematic heavens.

    Travilla dressed such stars as Ann Sheridan, Loretta Young, Judy Garland (the heavily embroidered pantsuit that she appropriated upon departing "Valley of the Dolls" was worn throughout her 1967 engagement at New York's Palace theater), and, later, Linda Gray (for "Dallas") and Donna Mills (for "Knots Landing").

    MM reached her sensational stardom in Travilla's designs for many of her most-famous films, including "Gentlemen Prefer Blondes" (1953), "How to Marry

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  • Virginia Town, County Flip the Bird

    "Some Like It Hawk" by Donna Andrews
    Reviewed by David Marshall James

    When in the course of human events ... a Jeffersonially bucolic Virginia county, complete with Colonial-era courthouse (updated and added on to through the years), must do battle with the Evil Lender that threatens to claim residents' prime properties and convert them into a golf-course resort.

    Let the Revolution begin! Again!

    Well, if the mayor of Caerphilly, Virginia, hadn't absconded with that borrowed money, the town and county probably wouldn't be up in arms.

    The gentlefolk are making the most of it, though, selling crafts and concessions in the town square, and supplying round-the-clock entertainment in the grandstand, the better to accommodate the influx of tourists who have come to gaze and gawk at the besieged town.

    However, the county clerk has been squatting on (well, amidst) all the records in the courthouse basement, able to hold out with provisions transported via a tunnel that opens in the

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  • P'town, P'town: Burning Bright

    "Fire Season" by Jon Loomis
    Reviewed by David Marshall James

    P'town is on fire, baby.

    That's Provincetown, Massachusetts, if you've never experienced a suspiciously husky-voiced chanteuse in electric-blue sequins, rasping Cole Porter standards in-between sips of Absolut Citron, at a harbor-side-bistro piano.

    P'town-- now even brighter, and gay, all down the main drag.

    In spite of it all, Frank Coffin-- acting chief of police-- and his live-in love, Jamie, are infanticipating.

    And Frank's wondering whether P'town is any place to raise a kid anymore. After all, it's not exactly a hotbed of procreation. Just hot-- thanks to a rampaging pyro.

    It's about as far from Ward and June Cleaver as you can get.

    Even though it's October and supposedly the off-season for the summer-rental crowd and the daytrippers, the pyromaniac and the participants in the latest dragfest are just jots on the Acting Chief's worry list.

    His Ma's in the Valley View nursing facility, cussing like a

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  • Hot Tip for U.S. Pubbers

    "The Roswell Conspiracy" by Boyd Morrison
    Reviewed by David Marshall James

    C'mon-- why is thriller writer (of the country-hopping, archaeological bent) Boyd Morrison such a hit in the U.K. and Down Under, but not here?

    To be sure, Morrison's previous novel, "The Vault" [reviewed this past summer], along with this latest, are on a par with the recent works of James Rollins.

    Nevertheless, "The Roswell Conspiracy" has been pubbed only in e-book format in the States: A great injustice to readers who prefer paper to pixils, or who simply eschew e-books altogether.

    Indeed, if Morrison's U.K. publisher, Sphere, had not supplied a copy of their (eyecatching) trade-size paperback, I would have missed out on this "Saturday Afternoon at The Bijou" funfest.

    The novel brings back scientist/adventurer Dr. Tyler Locke, along with one of his imposing coworkers, onetime pro-wrestling star Grant Westfield. On work assignment in New Zealand, Locke and Westfield have the opportunity to rendezvous

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  • Harvath's Back, in the Bullseye

    "Black LIst" by Brad Thor
    Reviewed by David Marshall James

    Navy SEAL turned Secret Service Agent turned Counterterrorism Special Operative Scot Harvath returns in his most personal mission yet-- to save his life and secure the survival of his employer, The Carlton Group.

    Thankfully, he has loads and loads of weaponry near hand. In several scenes he enters private arsenals that rival that of Reba McEntire and Michael Gross in the movie "Tremors."

    Moreover, Harvath can handle a blade when the occasion warrants, or use his hands as lethal instruments.

    He's battling an enemy from within, a corporation that serves as a U.S. defense and intelligence contractor that's planning a coup via an Internet takeover.

    The merde-storm erupts while Harvath's on assignment in Paris, and he must route himself back to the States while attempting to avoid being digitally monitored or captured on security cameras.

    Good luck with those tasks-- that's one of the messages here. For better or for worse,

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  • A Cookbook for All Seasons

    "Seasonal Recipes from the Garden" by P. Allen Smith
    Reviewed by David Marshall James

    With all the produce from summer gardens (as well as fields and orchards) coming in en masse (Southern translation: In big messes), this handsome cookbook-- the first by TV host and gardener/landscaper extraordinaire P. Allen Smith-- seems like a natural what-all and how-to guide.

    You'll even find multiple ideas for the dreaded zucchini-- that garden gift that keeps on giving-- that's probably spirited away in your fridge crisper. Smith's recipe for Zucchini Greek Pie looks truly mouth-watering.

    Indeed, the food photography for this volume earns a blue ribbon with gold braiding, in and of itself.

    And Smith includes much more than the tempting salad, soup, and side-dish recipes that you would expect, given the title.

    The author, being a Southerner, places a decided emphasis on family heritage, on heirloom recipes ranging from Cornbread Dressing to Sweet Potato Pie, from Blueberry Muffins to a

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  • On-the-Road Novel Features "Delta Pinks," Not Blues

    "Ranchero" by Rick Gavin
    Reviewed by David Marshall James

    A repo man, making a house call over a plasma TV, gets knocked upside the head with a fireplace shovel by a tag-team couple of Mississippi Delta crackers.

    Worse yet, Mr. and Mrs. Saltine make off with Nick Reid's bad ride, a 1969 Ford Ranchero, with a calypso-coral (read: tropical pink) paint job.

    Even further and worse yet, the slap-happy-mobile is a loner from Nick's landlady, Pearl, by way of her deceased husband, Gil. Not that Pearl sexes out on the flat Delta roads in the Ranchero; no, she prefers a very staid Buick.

    She's loaned the Ranchero to Nick on account of his aged Chevy Nova's having a bad day.

    Pearl is a real Zen kind of lady. She wouldn't care if she never saw her late husband's car again. After all, it's been sitting on blocks in the garage under Nick's apartment for so long that the tarp has rotted.

    However, Nick sees recovering the Ranchero as a point of honor-- and an escape from the monotony of the

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  • Torn Amidst Three Men in Vintage Romantic Thriller

    "Laura" by Vera Caspary
    Reviewed by David Marshall James

    A successful New York advertising copywriter, just on the upside of thirty, is betrothed to a model-handsome fellow worker whom she discovers has been dallying with an actual model employed by their agency.

    On the eve of her wedding, Laura Hunt quaffs a couple of dry martinis with her intended, Shelby Carpenter, then stands up her mentor-- syndicated columnist Waldo Lydecker-- for dinner, then hightails it to her Wilton, Connecticut, country retreat, this being August and Le Tout of NYC's haut monde have fled to cooler and/or beachier climes till the Fall Season commences.

    Sounds like an episode of "Mad Men." Well, keep turning the clock back, all the way to 1941, as this is the novel from which the 1944 film of the same title was adapted.

    Whether you've viewed that or not, the book offers so much more. And, a brief commentary on the casting: Gene Tierney was far too lovely for the role of Laura, as former ad copywriter

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