Monthly Archives: July 2023

by Merryn Allingham


The Bookshop Murder finds amateur sleuth Flora Steele investigating a mysterious death in 1950s Sussex. She also finds romance with a reclusive, handsome writer in their picturesque small town.

This is the kind of book that doesn’t just employ cliches — thematically and literally — but seems to embrace them. The best word to describe the tone is mild. It is mildly intriguing, mildly dramatic. It’s basically Nancy Drew for adults who never outgrew Nancy Drew.

When I was a kid, I was a big fan of the Hardy Boys. But as an adult, I prefer a bit less innocence (or “coziness”) — and heaps more spice.


© 2010-2024 (text only)



Whatever happened to the term “androgynous”? I don’t hear it anymore. I guess it’s not a part of LGBT-blah-blah-blah, which is much too difficult to remember:



That’s ridiculous. It’s surpassed only by “undocumented worker” (illegal alien) and “they” used as a singular pronoun on my Annoying Scale.


I’m going to shorten the term to BLT, which includes a few of the groups and is much easier to remember. Especially if I’m hungry.




There’s nothing funnier than a misunderstanding. The funniest misunderstandings occur when two sharp cookies get together for a YouTube video, and something happens which reveals that they are not always such sharp cookies.

Such was the case when Bill Maher had Jordan Peterson on his podcast:






Power must be one hell of an aphrodisiac. How else to explain why so many of these half-human, half-corpse politicians cling so tenaciously to it?

McConnell, Feinstein, Pelosi, Biden, Fauci, Schumer — all of them are too damned old and need to go.

Except for Trump, who is an ageless wonder.




Letter From the Social Security Administration to Yours Truly:


“We need updated information about your work to make sure that we pay you the right amount of Social Security benefits.

“For the following months in 2022, you previously told us you would not earn over (number here) and would not work over 45 hours in self-employment.”

They then asked me to report my earnings for each month in 2022. Don’t they already have this information?

This is the second such letter I’ve received from the kids at Social Security in the past, oh, nine months or so.


It boggles the mind that our government devotes so much time and effort to little old me, while on a daily basis we read about hotshots and bigshots ripping off the system for millions or billions of dollars and, when caught, skating by with a wrist slap.





I am so over these “bombshell” UFO stories.

Unless you have something tangible to offer — and not just what someone says he witnessed, or grainy, tiny images from radar or security cameras — then please just go away.


© 2010-2024 (text only)



The Coffee Table



I was trying to recall which movie Spain’s The Coffee Table reminded me of, and then it came to me: Alfred Hitchcock’s Rope. That’s a compliment. A big compliment.

Both films revolve around an unexpected death and, since we learn early on who is responsible, you wouldn’t call their plots “whodunits.” They are suspense dramas. The audience is kept on edge wondering if, when, and how the culprit might be caught.

Estefania de los Santos and David Pareja play first-time parents (both well into middle-age) who argue about, and then purchase, an unusual coffee table. Problem is: the table might be cursed. Shortly after they install the piece of furniture into their living room, bad things happen.

The Coffee Table is all about dramatic tension, and that’s where it almost, but not quite, reaches Hitchcockian levels.

If I must quibble — and I must because that’s what I do — I’d say the only part of the movie that falters is the final plot revelation, which doesn’t quite ring true. Release: 2022  Grade: B+


Note:  A number of reviews describe The Coffee Table as a “black comedy.” Uh, no. With subject matter about as dark and disturbing as it comes, there is precious little humor in the film.









I can’t fault the director of Divertimento for lack of ambition. His 30-minute short film is well-produced and feels like James Bond in an episode of The Twilight Zone. But ambition can only take you so far.

The Plot:  A handsome, tuxedoed man and a pretty lady return to the scene of a prank which went horribly wrong. This location is a gorgeous chateau in France where other handsome men and pretty ladies engage in high-stakes chess games … and a much deadlier game.

The Problems:  Everyone in the cast is oh-so-earnest, which is unfortunate when they are subjected to cringeworthy dialogue, sloppy edits, and flashbacks that confuse more than they illuminate. The plot is clearly going for an everything-is-not-as-it-seems vibe, a la The Sixth Sense. Alas, the result is a pretty but incomprehensible mess. Release: 2020  Grade: D


© 2010-2024 (text only)







I’ve never been a soccer fan.

So why am I enthusiastically cheering for any country that plays the U.S. women’s team?





I haven’t been a churchgoer in nearly 50 years.

So why am I suddenly so supportive of this movie?





I’ve never been a fan of country music.

So why am I now a booster of Jason Aldean and his latest hit song?





I’ve been calling Oprah Winfrey a smarmy fake for years. Could I have been right about her?




Meanwhile, as the country burns, Sleepy Joe does his thing:



© 2010-2024 (text only)


Seven … dwarfs?



From the Department of “Walt Disney

Rolling Over in His Grave” 



Peter Dinklage complains about using real dwarfs, and so we get this:




From the Department of “Time to

Fucking Move On” 




Eric Shawn continues to provide updates about Jimmy Hoffa on Fox News.



Greta Van Susteren continues to provide updates on Joran van der Sloot on Newsmax.


Didn’t the public lose interest in van der Sloot, oh, about 10 years ago, and Hoffa about, oh, 40 years ago?

Is there something in Greta’s and Eric’s contracts — or do they have dirt on network executives — that permits them to keep boring audiences with these stories?




Hollywood Strike



This reminds me of when professional athletes go on strike. It’s basically asshole players vs. asshole owners.

Sorry, Hollywood, but I’m more concerned about the financial struggles of regular folks.





All we had to do was say a few kind words about Kennedy in last week’s Review, and then shit hits the fan.





The hullaballoo over Sound of Freedom, which reportedly has harrowing scenes of child sex trafficking, reminds me of the premiere episode of the second season of the late, great FX series The Shield.

Anyone who watched that episode, titled “The Quick Fix,” and who saw the scene involving a little girl with a dove tattoo (above), will know exactly what I’m talking about. That scene was so powerful that it still haunts me, 20 years later.





Just when I begin to think that perhaps there are a few institutions that haven’t been corrupted by the progressive left, this happens.




Sometimes serial killers don’t look a bit like serial killers:



Sometimes they look every bit like a serial killer:



By the way, the seven dwarfs pictured at top all look like serial killers.


© 2010-2024 (text only)





Willem Dafoe plays an art thief who, when things go wrong, becomes trapped in a high-tech, high-rise apartment in Manhattan.

Dafoe is always an interesting actor, with an interesting face and an interesting voice. But spending two hours watching his character struggle to survive entrapment in a fancy penthouse isn’t the same as, say, two hours spent watching Tom Hanks marooned on an island in the Pacific. The former simply isn’t sustainable. Release: 2023 Grade: B-






If you read the reviews of 65 on Rotten Tomatoes, you’ll notice that critics who give “thumbs up” to this science-fiction thriller feel the need to apologize for doing so. They imply: It’s not enough for a movie to simply set out to entertain its audience. Where is the Important Message?

65, in which space travelers Adam Driver and a tween girl get stranded on Earth — 65 million years ago — starts out silly and gets sillier as it progresses. But it has two likeable leads and never fails to entertain — more so than many overhyped, budget-bloated, three-hour blockbusters. Release: 2023 Grade: B


© 2010-2024 (text only)



There’s only one presidential candidate on the left who interests me, and that’s Robert F. Kennedy, Jr.

I like him. He seems like a decent guy. I need to read more about his positions.

Also, at the fresh, bloom-of-life age of 69, Kennedy is just a babe compared to four-score seniors like Biden and Trump.




I was surfing YouTube and got sucked into a rabbit hole of dating-advice videos. Because that’s what YouTube is good at: sucking you into rabbit holes of trivial timewasters.

Anyway, I stumbled across a dating-site video of a middle-aged male critiquing a Gen Z girl’s post and … it was the funniest thing I’ve seen in ages.

And so, I want to share this three-minute clip:





Dark Winds season two is coming to AMC in a few weeks. It’s a so-so cop show with a more-than-so-so hottie named Jessica Matten (above) in the cast. She plays a Native American cop. This is Matten in a scene from the first season:


(Click photos for larger views)


That’s our sexist post of the week.

You’re welcome.






What the hell is wrong with Lindsey Graham? First, he did everything in his power to sabotage the Republican “red wave” in last year’s midterms by terrifying voters with his extreme anti-abortion stance. Now, he’s doing what he can to promote war with Russia.

South Carolina, why in hell do you keep sending this guy to D.C.?




I don’t know what more to say about Joe Biden and his criminal clan. He is easily the worst thing to happen to this country … and yet he is still in the White House?







I’ve been reading about this movement/ideology/whatever for years, and yet I still don’t understand it.

Here’s what I do understand: When the mainstream media, increasingly in the business of lying to the public, decries QAnon as a nest of liars, and when far-fetched “conspiracy theories” of the past continually turn out to be true, well … I’m not so quick to judge.


Which brings me to this week’s cultural battleground, the movie Sound of Freedom:



Great point, Charles from Brooklyn. Why should I bother to exercise my own critical thinking and judgment about anything when I can just rely on you?






Damned if you do …



Damned if you don’t 



© 2010-2024 (text only)



The Revenge of Donald Trump 





Settle down, liberals. To quote your beloved Barack Obama, “elections have consequences.”





Democrats keep voting for these people. Is it any wonder we call you “libtards”?




TV Tidbits



Based on a True Story

Cons: It’s a comic mystery set in Southern California. Must every show be set in Southern California?

The characters are universally stupid and/or spoiled liberals. Everyone is doing illegal drugs and/or involved in adulterous affairs. And yet, we are asked to relate to them.

Pros: It looks very nice, and Kaley Cuoco is a fine comic actress.




Co-written by Kevin Williamson (Scream), the first half of the movie has the makings of a modern horror classic. Unfortunately, the same cannot be said of the second half, in which the good guys and the bad guys suddenly assume superhero-like physical powers. In other words, a smart thriller goes stupid.



I thought I’d give it a shot, but then I noticed that Chris Cuomo hosts a primetime show. Nah … you can’t do that.



The hosts remind me of Republican politicians. They say all the (angry) right things, but they don’t seem to have any actual clout.




I don’t have a bucket list, but if I did, it would include a trip to Mont-Saint-Michel in France:



It reminds me of the abbey in The Name of the Rose — on steroids.


© 2010-2024 (text only)