Book Excerpt Service: delanceyplace.com

I just discovered this service that sends a daily email with a portion of quote from non-fiction book, serving (loosely) like a Reader’s Digest for the digital age. If you’re as avid a reader and sponge for information as I am, I imagine you’ll love it as immediately and as much as I do. The excerpts are generally six to 10 paragraphs with an explanatory intro, and are exceptionally well culled from books of history, biographies and culture. Plus they have an online archive that’s tons of fun to explore. And if you buy a book from Amazon via a delanceyplace link the proceeds are donated to a children’s literacy program. Sign up at www.delanceyplace.com.

TV Movie: Red Tails

I made a gaffe in a recent column about war documentaries and said one about The Real Flying Tigers was about African-American fighter pilots when I meant to cite one on the History Channel about the Tuskegee Airmen. (If you write for publication you will err on occasion.) This George Lucas-produced film about them for HBO is a fictional portrayal that despite best intentions doesn’t quite fly. It’s a bit too soapy and unrealistic in plot, milieu and even its CGI flying and battle scenes. That said, it doesn’t really crash and burn either, and isn’t a total waste of time if you wish to become at least initially familiar with one of the most powerful factors that helped lead to racial equality in the US armed services and society and get a vague idea of what the existence, missions and accomplishments of that groundbreaking group of servicemen might have been like.

Documentary Film: Paul Williams Still Alive

The Grammy winning songwriter of' hits like “We’ve Only Just Begun” and “Rainy Days and Mondays” for The Carpenters, Helen Reddy’s “You and Me Against the World,” Three Dog Night’s “An Old Fashioned Love Song,” “Rainbow Connection” for “The Muppet Movie” and the Oscar winning theme song “Evergreen” for the 1976 remake of A Star Is Born seemed an ubiquitous celebrity in the 1970s. He was a frequent guest on The Tonight Show and did numerous TV series cameos and even played a role in Smokey and the Bandit. But then he virtually disappeared, leading the maker of this film, who was a Williams fan in his youth, to believe Williams was dead. On learning from Wikipedia that Williams was alive, the director embarked on this documentary that discovers how its subject is a very changed man from the one we last saw in public four decades ago (largely but not solely due to cleaning up from a major drug and alcohol problem), who now enjoys what is best called a “post-fame” career and life. The presence of its director/narrator can be cloying at times, which does illuminate the fan phenomenon, and the forbearance of his now as private and he once was public is also revealing. In the end this is a fascinating glimpse at celebrity and its effects and how one man survived it all.

From The Progressive Populist, February 15, 2013



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