David Bowie: Baby Universal ’97

We’re up to week four of the song a week release for the upcoming David Bowie EP Is It Any Wonder?

I mistakenly thought originally that the EP would feature rehearsals from David Bowie’s 50th Birthday party -understandable to some extent as the first song released, The Man Who Sold The World, was from that rehearsal- but have since realized that the songs being released were mostly songs made during the Earthling album sessions but never formally released until now.

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Originally released in 1997, Earthling is a damn good David Bowie album, one I feel is up there with the best he released in his later years though I still feel the one that came right before it, 1. Outside, is the best of the lot.

Thing about Earthling is that it is a heavy electronica/dance album and, I suspect, some David Bowie fans might have been turned off by him once again making a sudden shift to a different style of music. I think the album is energetic and mostly works but, I have to admit, the electronica does feel, to me anyway, somewhat repetitious after a while.

Still, I stand by what I say: Earthling is one of Bowie’s best later day albums.

So along with The Man Who Sold The World, the other two songs released to date from the upcoming Is It Any Wonder? are I Can’t Read ’97 (you can read my review of it along with listen to the song here) and Stay ’97 (you can read my review of it along with listen to the song here).

The reason both I Can’t Read and Stay are identified with the ’97 year is because they are both studio/session remakes of previous Bowie songs. I Can’t Read was originally presented on the first Tin Machine Album while Stay was originally released on the Station To Station album. The Man Who Sold The World, because it is part of the rehearsal is instead listed as the ChangesNowBowie version, which is the album that will feature a plethora of Bowie rehearsals for his 50th Birthday Party.

Anyway, the fourth song of this upcoming EP has been released and it is Baby Universal ’97. This song is another cover/interpretation of a Tin Machine song, this one from Tin Machine 2.

Instead of presenting that song right away, let me first present to you the original version of the song as it was originally released on Tin Machine 2:

While I very much enjoyed the first Tin Machine album, the second album feels like a hit and miss affair. David Bowie wasn’t one to linger long in any style or song type pattern, very much earning his chameleon nickname, and if something was very popular and worked or didn’t at all, his instincts always seemed to be to move ahead and do something new.

Tin Machine 2, thus, to my ears sounded like half a good album. There were songs on it, like the above, which I thought were freaking fantastic, while there were others that felt like they were thrown in because… why not. Tin Machine was never a popular musical experiment for David Bowie and it wasn’t surprising that after the release of the second album the band was done and Bowie returned to making “David Bowie” albums.

But, as I said, there were some damn good songs on the album and I very much liked Baby Universal. It is energetic, it moves, and it rocks.

When the Earthling sessions came about, clearly Mr. Bowie was looking back at Tin Machine and perhaps thinking about what went wrong (if indeed he felt that way) and that might be why he did such a different version of I Can’t Read from the first Tin Machine album. I didn’t like the new take all that much but, as I said in the review of the new version of the song, I didn’t like the original all that much either.

Having said all that, here’s the next release from Is It Any Wonder?, Baby Universal ’97:

I like this new version of the song well enough but, just as with I Can’t Read ’97, I feel the original version is the better of the two.

The original simply has more energy to it and I love the “Baby” chorus Bowie provides in the background.

I suppose what this shows is that even when making works which were panned by critics and many fans, David Bowie was still creating some good stuff. Yeah, Tin Machine 2 may be a lesser album overall, but I’ll be damned if Baby Universal isn’t one hell of a rocking song.

If the remake release gets people to look back at Tin Machine 2 and, perhaps, finally release a digital copy of it (believe it or not, the only way to buy the album now is by the CD or old tapes/vinyl), then perhaps this exercise will have been worth it.

A True Random Thought…

The other day I was driving and, out of nowhere, a Police Officer walked into the street and put up his hand and motioned for the car coming up behind mine and to my right to pull over.

A speed trap had caught another!

The car behind me wasn’t going all that much faster than me, but obviously fast enough to get the Police Officer’s attention, but for a couple of seconds I thought I was the one that was in trouble. It was a bewildering thing because I looked down to see I was going something like 31 or so MPH in a 30 MPH zone.

I knew I wasn’t going fast but when you see an Officer suddenly jump out of their hiding place (and they were hiding) and start waving down a car, you instantly think you’re the one being “caught”.

I hope what follows is new and I haven’t written about it before, but in case I haven’t…

I’ve been driving since I was in High School. The first car I drove, a 1981 Mustang, was a (I thought at the time) great car to drive. It was relatively small and the 4 cylinder motor ensured I didn’t do anything too crazy while driving. I first started driving that car in either very late 1981 or 1982 and since that time I’ve driven a myriad of cars.

What I didn’t get, until at least the late 1990’s, was a ticket. For anything.

In fact, the very first ticket I got was for traveling 35 MPH in a 30 MPH zone.

Don’t take my word for it, that’s what the ticket said!

I was driving my father’s Stealth and I strongly suspect I got stopped not so much because I was going fast but rather because I was driving a car that “looked” fast. I say this because after I was stopped and while waiting to get the ticket, the other lovely Police Officers who stopped me kept trying to snag other drivers and their speed gun clocked many other people going through the area I was snagged in at 40 MPH plus… and they didn’t bother stopping them.

Anyway, after getting the ticket I went to Traffic School, a four hour or so lecture on all things traffic to get the “points” off my ticket.

It was a bore.

But one thing that really got my blood boiling, apart from the fact that my ticket was complete (pardon my French) bullshit, was when the Police Officer giving us that interminable lecture asked the people in the very full conference room we were in “For how many of you is this your first ticket?”

Some lady (if memory serves) in the audience not only raised her hand but said with considerable venom something to the effect of “I’ve been driving for twenty years and this is the first ticket I’ve gotten!”

The Police Officer, it was obvious, had gone down this road before and he shot back something to the effect of “This is your first ticket? Then you’re extremely lucky you haven’t gotten a ticket until now because each day drivers on average commit at least a dozen traffic infractions each day.”

He went on to describe such infractions: Not coming to a “full” stop before a Stop sign. Going a few miles over the speed limit (as I was). Switching lanes where you shouldn’t. Etc. etc.

He was trying to show us idiots that we were indeed law breaking idiots and deserved to be here.


To me the answer showed, rather than Police Officers are so smart and we are all such idiots for questioning rules, that if the rules are broken so consistently and so often, then the rules are bad.

Rules should, IMHO, have a logic to them. If we are breaking them on average some dozen times or so each day, then perhaps, maybe, could be… the laws are stupid.

Perhaps with traffic there shouldn’t be an absolute unit of measurement. Perhaps when the speed limit is given, it should be a range rather than an absolute.

For me, getting a ticket for going 35 MPH in a 30 MPH speed limit is indeed ticketable. However, let’s face facts: Going a whopping 5 MPH over the speed limit in this instance (no School Zone, by the way) is silly at best.

Yet I did break the law. I should get a ticket for going 31 MPH in a 30 MPH zone, much less going 35 MPH.

But let’s face facts: If I were going 40 MPH or 50 MPH in a 30 MPH zone it would make more “sense” that I deserve that ticket, no? Not only more sense, instead of eliciting sympathy, my complaining about the ticket would instead elicit scoffing from others.

But is a range of speeds a solution?

I mean, I don’t want people flying through my neighborhood (30 MPH speed limit) at 70 MPH. Yet if an officer stopped someone going at 35 or so MPH I’d feel they were wasting that person’s time and castigating them for something incredibly minor.

If speed ranges aren’t the solution, what is?

Its a question that certainly deserves thought.


2020 has certainly started off with a fury.

Yesterday, the very shocking news that basketball superstar Kobe Bryant died, along with his young daughter and seven other people, in a helicopter crash.

You can read the full story here in an article by Christina Maxouris and Artemis Moshtaghian and presented on CNN.com:

Young athletes, a baseball coach and mothers. What we know about the others on board the helicopter crash that killed Kobe Bryant

For a while several years ago I became something of a HUGE sports fan. It built up slowly, first being mesmerized by the quarterback talents of Dan Marino, then moving into hockey, basketball, and baseball.

During those years, I had the extreme luck of seeing the Dolphins threaten to get to the SuperBowl year after year after year. I saw the Panthers reach the finals but ultimately get defeated by the Avalanche. I watched the Heat play with LeBron James and win quite a big. I had the extreme luck of seeing almost every game in the season the Marlins won their second World Series.

As can be seen from the above, all these teams are South Florida locals.

Yeah, I tend to be a “homer” when it comes to watching sports. Local teams are what engage me, not so much others.

Having said that, I lost interest in watching even those teams.

Nowadays, I watch Football -the Dolphins- but not religiously.

I didn’t see many of Kobe Bryant’s games, not all the way through, but did catch highlights and… he was pretty spectacular.

What is shocking more than anything else is the fact that he was so young, 41 years old, and it wasn’t so very long ago he retired. It is also shocking to see images/video of his daughter, who also perished in the crash, laughing and talking with him.

As a parent, that tears my heart out.

Thus, I never was a huge fan of Kobe Bryant, basketball player, but I knew who he was and knew about his incredible skills.

And now, he’s passed in a most shocking way.

So many things have happened so far in January, and we’re still a few days away from the end of January.

I hope the rest of the year calms down… if only a little.

Rest in Peace.

David Bowie: Stay ’97

As I’ve pointed out before (here and here) the estate of the late David Bowie is releasing two “new” albums this year. The first is a six track EP called Is It Any Wonder? and I mistakenly thought it would feature “new” versions of older songs made in rehearsal for David Bowie’s 50 Birthday Party Concert.

The first song on the EP is indeed from that rehearsal and is The Man Who Sold The World (check the links above in the first paragraph). The intention by Mr. Bowie’s estate is to release one new song from that EP every week until all six are released, then release the EP itself. Later in the year we’ll also see the release of ChangesNowBowie which, if I understand correctly (now anyway) will actually feature a bunch of rehearsal songs including The Man Who Sold The World.

The second song in the weekly releases is a reworking of Tin Machine’s I Can’t Read. Tin Machine, for those who aren’t aware, was a David Bowie side project that featured two full albums and at least one official live album release before Mr. Bowie returned to being a “solo” act.

Now, a third song from the EP has been released, a very ’90’s version of the song Stay, originally featured on David Bowie’s fabulous Station To Station album. Here’s the new, 1997 version of that song:


I have to say, and it pains me to do so because I’m such a big David Bowie fan, but so far these new releases aren’t doing all that much for me.

The Man Who Sold The World was a solid version of the song but, frankly, a decently done version but nothing all that much more. I Can’t Read, on the other hand was a much more reworked version of that song, but as I said in my original post (again, the links are in the first paragraph), I preferred the original Tin Machine version. Having said that, while there are several Tin Machine songs I love, this wasn’t one of them. It’s OK, mind you, but I don’t believe it was ever one of Mr. Bowie’s strongest compositions.

This version of Stay is… jeeze. I dunno. I mean, they took the skeleton of the original song, presented below…

…and added a whole bunch of other (for lack of a better term) stuff to it to, I suppose, fit in more with the then in vogue more grunge sound that was popular.

They didn’t kill the song, but I feel like a lot, perhaps even most of the flourishes, are unnecessary and detract rather than enhance the song.

In this case, unlike I Can’t Read, I’m a HUGE fan of the original song and album. I feel Station to Station is one of David Bowie’s absolute masterpieces and, sometimes, its hard to listen to a “new” version which tries to add more bells and whistles -so to speak- to something that one views as already damn near perfect.

So far, with three songs -half the EP- released, I sadly have to say I’m not loving these new/unreleased songs but, being a big David Bowie fan, will nonetheless check out the other three songs to come.

Maybe they’ll be better but at least so far this EP is sounding like a curiosity but nothing that’s blowing my socks off.

Too bad.

Tag (2018) a (moderately) belated review

What a strange, strange movie this is.

Released in 2018, Tag is a generally (I’ll explain in a moment) lighthearted comedy involving a group of grown up childhood friends who engage in a silly game of tag each year. The last one that’s “it” when the game officially ends is, not the loser (as one character notes), but not the winner either. Here’s the trailer:

The movie’s very large, intriguing cast includes Ed Helms as Hogan Malloy, the man who instigates this year’s game. Jon Hamm is Bob Callahan, a successful businessman who is the first to get “tagged” while in a meeting with Rebecca Crosby (Annabelle Wallis) who works for the Wall Street Journal and takes an interest in this yearly event.

In quick succession we meet Malloy’s wacky wife Anna (Isla Fisher, a hilarious standout in this crowded field), his stoner friend Randy (Jake Johnson), and their African American friend Reggie (Lil Rel Howery).

Unlike other years, this year’s game of tag is focused on finally tagging Jerry (Jeremy Renner) the final member of their gang and the most elusive of the friends. He has not been tagged in some 30 years (if I remember correctly) and is a virtual escape artist when it comes to the game.

Despite years of futility, Hogan is convinced this year they can finally tag Jerry because this year, their prey is locked down: He is about to be married and his location is restricted due to this.

After a first futile attempt to tag their friend, ground rules are laid out: The friends can tag Jerry but not during the wedding or formal rehearsal.

Let the games begin!

As I said, Tag is, for the most part, a goofy and at times very funny comedy. However, there is a darker edge to it and I can’t help but wonder if maybe the script was originally much, much darker than what we see on screen.

Based on some of the happenings which occur later in the film, I can’t help but wonder if the original script started very light-hearted and then gradually took a deeper, darker turn until reaching its finale, which was heart-felt and nice, given some of the revelations.

I’ll spoil no more!

In the end, Tag was a pleasant, if not terribly memorable, film. There wasn’t anything to totally turn me off about the film or anything so stupid that it made me want to get up and leave. Having said that, neither was there anything that screamed “classic” to me. Tag is a good, if not “great” comedy and I suspect anyone who takes the time to watch it won’t feel they have wasted their time, if not much more than that.

I know, I know, a very mild recommendation coming from me but there you have it.

Tag is what it is and you could do much worse than check it out on a rainy day.

David Bowie: I Can’t Read ’97

Starting with David Bowie’s birthday on January 8th and continuing each week will be the release of one new song from an upcoming David Bowie album entitled Is It Any Wonder?

The song recordings were made in rehearsal for David Bowie’s 50th Birthday party, which was a star studded event and last week the first song from that rehearsal, The Man Who Sold The World, was released (if you’re curious to hear it, here you go!).

Three days ago (yeah, I’m running late here!) the second song was released, a stripped down version of I Can’t Read, a song that originally appeared on the first Tin Machine album, David Bowie’s band side project that lasted two original albums and at least one live album before folding.

Here’s the new, 1997 recorded stripped down version of the song:

I have to say… I’m not all that into it.

Then again, I didn’t think the original version was all that great either. Having said that, I prefer the original to this version. Here is the original version:

I suppose David Bowie thought he might eventually release that new version of the song and video but subsequently decided not to. It is pretty elaborate for something that was locked away in the vaults until now!

Having said that, there’s something incredibly sad about watching this video.

I know David Bowie eventually passed away because of liver cancer, but seeing him sucking on the cigarette in that video… ugh.

My understanding is that David Bowie was a pretty heavy smoker and based on videos like this one he clearly felt it looked cool to smoke in front of the cameras. He wasn’t alone: You can’t find many films from the 1930’s through the 1970’s (and some past that point) which don’t feature the leads smoking. It was a glamorous thing to do on screen but now we know better, right?

Sorry if I’m sounding all high and mighty/moralistic, but I have a very strong allergy to cigarette smoke. There’s something in the chemicals in cigarettes -as opposed to cigars or tobacco used in pipes- that sets my sinus off and can often result in me having such bad headaches I wind up needing to lie down and/or throw up.

It’s that bad and can happen if I so much as sniff one second of cigarette smoke!

But getting back to Mr. Bowie, while liver cancer eventually took him away, he also had a heart attack and, based on some things I’ve read about his last days, also suffered from considerable shortness of breath. Did the cigarettes play a role in these problems?

I don’t know.

Given how much I love his work, though, it makes me so sad to read about what must have been very painful days leading to his eventual passing.

Don’t smoke, kids.

It may look cool, but all you’re doing is roasting your throat and lungs.

In the long run, there’s a damn good chance you’ll pay.

John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum (2019) a (Mildly) belated review

When I was flying back home a few weeks ago there were two films that I wanted to see in flight. One of them was Ad Astra, which in the end I managed to see (you can read the review here) and the other was John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum (let’s refer to it as JW3 from here on, OK?).

The reason I chose Ad Astra over JW3 was because I was down on the whole John Wick franchise. While I mostly enjoyed the first film (read my review of it here) I didn’t care for John Wick 2 at all (here’s the review for that film).

In fact, despite the near constant action and fighting and gunplay, I found John Wick 2 a complete bore, a film with precious little plot spread out into far too many repetitious action sequences.

However, the fact of the matter was that audiences and critics really seemed to like the film. Based on the aggregate reviews over on rottentomatoes.com, the film scored in the high 80% range for both, a very good score, and the film was a success.

Inevitably, JW3 was on its way and released.

With great trepidation, I watched the film this evening (imagine that, seeing not one but two films in one afternoon!) and, despite my worry that I’d not like the film, I found JW3 a BIG improvement over the second film.

Don’t get me wrong: JW3 is guilty of some of the same problems found in JW2. There is perhaps too little actual plot spread out over the film’s 2 plus hour runtime. This is again made up for with plenty of action sequences which, thankfully, are a little more interesting this time around versus in the second film.

JW3 opens seconds after the end of JW2. In that film, (MILD SPOILERS!) Wick find himself hunted by all the assassins for a very high price, and he schemes to get out of New York and see someone high enough on the assassin board (so to speak) food chain to offer remorse and hopefully forgiveness for the transgressions that got him in trouble in the first place.

Meanwhile, the people who helped him out in JW2 are in hot water themselves for helping him out.

So we effectively have parallel plots going on here, the doings in New York and afterwards with Wick and the trouble his allies get into and the blood payment they are forced to make to set things right.

Wick eventually seeks the help of Sofia (Halle Berry) and I thought bringing in a tough as nails female killer was another good step but I have to admit, her role turned out to be pretty small and ended rather abruptly. Of course, she will likely return in the next one, so at least there’s that.

I also liked the way the film ended. It managed to conclude the main story line yet also offer audiences something of a cliffhanger.

What I didn’t like was that in each film John Wick is becoming more and more of a Superman, and the very ending of JW3, unless I’m missing something, shows him surviving something no human being could.

Still, I repeat what I said: I liked JW3 more than JW2. Hell, I think its almost on the level with the original film, which is still the best of the lot, and that’s saying quite a bit.


Dragnet (1987) a Very (Just the Fact, Ma’am) Belated Review

Wow. 1987, eh?

That’s when the Dan Aykroyd and Tom Hanks starring parody remake of Dragnet, the famous no-nonsense police procedural which started as a radio show before becoming very famous as a TV show was released.

Thirty three years ago?!?


That, my friends, was the first, and only, time I ever saw the film. It was a date, you see, well before I met my future wife, and it went no-where. The date, that is.

But at least I remembered having fun with the film!

I hadn’t seen it since then and, frankly, hadn’t given it all that much thought.

Today, the movie was on one of the various cable channels and I caught it from almost the very beginning (I might have missed the first two or three minutes, nothing terribly big) and without the pressure of a date (which, I repeat, went absolutely nowhere), I was able to sit back and enjoy the film for what it was.

And it was a freaking hoot.

Here’s the trailer:

Dragnet was one of, if not THE first “parody” remake of a TV show. In more recent years we’ve seen parody remakes of Starsky and Hutch, Charlie’s Angels (the version with Barrymore/Diaz/Lui was pretty much parody… don’t know about the more recent one), and, for a while, there was talk about a Jim Carrey comedic version of The Six Million Dollar Man (obviously, it never came to be).

Dragnet originally featured the deadpan acting and narration of Jack Webb. Here’s a sampling of that…

Yeah, it could be a little… much.

But considering Dragnet first appeared in the 1950’s and continued through to the early 1970’s, I suppose one can excuse its super starched collar presentation.

By the time the film version was being made, it was ripe for parody and getting Dan Aykroyd to mimic Jack Webb’s ultra-seriousness (he also co-wrote the movie’s script) as “Joe Friday”, the grandson (or was it son?) of the original Joe Friday was a stroke of genius.

So too was getting Tom Hanks to play his much more loosey goosey new partner, Pep Streebeck. For almost the entire film we witness their interaction and, I have to say, it was almost always very funny.

Back in 1987 Tom Hanks was known primarily for his comedic talents, and he plunged headlong into the role along with Aykroyd to deliver a wonderful send-up on the whole bickering partners cliche.

The plot is delightfully silly, involving Pagan worshipers, a mayoral race, a porn publisher (Dabney Coleman in a humorous send up of Hugh Hefner), and a religious moral majority type (Christopher Plummer, positively oozing serpentine cool).

These various characters have plenty of story between them, double dealings and betrayals, while Friday and Streebeck try to bring the various wrong-doers in.

The movie at times reminded me of the Peter Sellers Pink Panther films and, while not quite as good as the best of them, Dragnet nonetheless managed to keep my attention and make me laugh many times throughout.

It’s always curious how some films are well remembered while others fade from the public consciousness. I suppose Dragnet isn’t one of the best remembered Dan Aykroyd or Tom Hanks films. One could even say it is mostly forgotten today. It’s quite a shame because the film is delightfully daffy and well worth checking out.

And remember kids: Thank God it’s Friday!


Workaholics and Charles Bronson…

Does the term “workaholic” apply to you?

Sometimes I think it applies to me. Other times, I feel I don’t do enough work and waste too much time.

Perhaps I’m too hard on myself.

The other day, over on Reddit, the topic of Charles Bronson’s 1974 film Mr. Majestyk came up. Adapted from an Elmore Leonard novel (many of his novels were adapted to the screen, including Hombre, 52 Pick Up, Jackie Brown, etc. etc.), the movie’s story is intriguing: Bronson is Vince Majestyk, a melon farmer (!) who runs up against the mob and a fierce hitman, all while trying to keep his crop going.

It’s an oddball yet very fun film, and the topic of 1970’s era Bronson films perked my interest. He’s one of those actors that was around a very, very long time but didn’t achieve true leading man stardom until he was at least a decade after beginning his career.

His very first role was in a 1949 TV show and he bounced between TV and movies for a while, mostly in relatively smaller roles. In 1960 he joined the all-star cast of The Magnificent Seven and that may well have been his first breakout role. He would go on to star with another all-star cast in The Great Escape in 1963. Between that time he was in plenty more TV roles.

It wasn’t until the very late 1960’s that Charles Bronson became a legitimate leading man in theatrical movies and left co-starring TV show roles behind (he would appear in a few TV movies, though), and from that point and through the 1970’s he was on a tear, appearing in an incredible amount of movies.

Anyway, for the hell of it, I wrote the following (I have made some minor edits/additions) in response to the Mr. Majestyk recommendation:


While going down the Charles Bronson 1970’s movie era rabbit hole, I recommend you check out these films as well. I’m not giving you all the films Bronson was in in the 70’s, and arguably the most famous is Death Wish, but I chose not to include it as I wanted to recommend films that might not be so well known:

Red Sun (1971) Bronson stars with Ursula Andress, Alain Delon, Capuccine, and (reads notes) Toshiro Mifune?! in an oddball western involving a samurai sword.

Chato’s Land (1972) Bronson stars as Chato, a half-Indian who in the movie’s opening minutes is goaded by a racist Sheriff into drawing and killing the man, which sets off a long manhunt to capture him. Bronson barely speaks in what is mostly a symbolic role, but the film wonderfully presents the whole “a few rotten apples” concept regarding the posse sent after him and, despite the film’s age, can be viewed as interesting symbolism with today’s politics. (I recently reviewed the film here)

The Mechanic (1972) Most may remember the remake and sequel with Jason Statham. Terrible films, IMHO, compared to the original which features Bronson as a experienced hitman who takes on a hotshot newcomer, played by Jan Michael Vincent, and plenty of games are soon afoot. Features a spectacular (IMHO!) ending. (I wrote about that film here, in the entry regarding the passing of Jan Michael Vincent)

Hard Times (1975) Bronson and James Coburn are illegal boxer and his “promoter”. Wonderful early script/direction by the great Walter Hill (The Warriors48 Hours, etc.).

Breakheart Pass (1975) a favorite of mine and based on a novel by Alistair Maclean. Bronson gets involved in a train ride with various shady characters and murder. In some respects, it plays out sorta/kinda like Murder on the Orient Express in the Wild West!

The White Buffalo (1977) Perhaps the most bizarre film on this list features Bronson as Wild Bill Hickok who meets up with Crazy Horse and they go hunting for the mythical beast. Part Jaws in the Wild West (!!!) part head trip, I nonetheless find the film a fascinating and unique work. (I reviewed that film here)

Telefon (1977) I conclude this list with this Don (Dirty Harry, the original Invasion of the Body Snatchers) Siegel directed film. Bronson plays a Russian agent tasked to stop a rogue Russian scientist who intends to awaken sleeper agents within our country. The sleeper agents, once awoken, will carry out murders and cause considerable destruction. A great thriller, IMHO!


Charles Bronson starred in an incredible 24 films between 1970 and 1979. If you do the math, it meant each year you could expect to see a whopping 2.4 new Charles Bronson films!

Think about that!

Compare that to some of the bigger stars today. Regardless of what you think of him, Tom Cruise is an incredibly prolific actor and regularly appears/stars in films (very rarely -such as his appearance in Tropic Thunder– is he in a more minor role in any film).

Here’s his stats:

From 1981 (his first role) to 1989 Tom Cruise was in 12 movies. The early ones were co-starring/more minor roles.

From 1990 to 1999 Tom Cruise was in 10 movies, one a year.

From 2000 to 2009, he was in 11 movies.

From 2010 to the present, add another 11 movies.

Currently, he has 5 projects in various stages of production.

Regardless, one of the more prolific modern actors has managed less than half the number of films Mr. Bronson did in the 1970’s.

I know an argument can be made that many of Mr. Bronson’s films of that time were relatively low budget affairs that didn’t require the huge effects of modern films. They were likely made and released very quickly.

And yet…

You have to give it to Mr. Bronson. I grant you the last decade or so of his work following the 1970’s involved many, many cheesy and/or poorly written material.

But the man worked.

And how.

I suppose in conclusion, one could say that compared to Charles Bronson during the 1970’s, we’re all slackers!

Corrosive Knights, a 1/16/2010 Update

It’s been a hard couple of weeks, let me tell you.

As the expression goes, sometimes you need a vacation from/after your vacation to recover.

Our holiday vacation was great but boy did we move around. A lot. When it was over and we got back we did some more moving around before finally returning home. The next day it was back to work and its been crushing the amount of it to deal with.

On the writing front, it was only this week that I’ve finally been able to get back into Book #8 of the Corrosive Knights saga.

When I left it toward the end of 2019, I had the first draft done. Understand, the first draft of any work of mine doesn’t necessarily mean all the details are in place and all I have to do is tidy up some sentences here and there and release the book.

In this case, what I had was a very rough map of the book but an incomplete one. There were parts I wrote which I knew I would go back and change and/or eliminate. There were other parts that would require compression or expansion. I left the book in 2019 also knowing that there were more scenes I needed to come up with to add to the overall story.

As incomplete as that first draft of the book was, however, I had my road map and I now knew where/how the book began, played out, and ended. It may sound obvious but when I began this book I had no clear idea of any of those elements.

Truly, I entered the book blind, which can be kinda scary but also incredibly liberating.

As I worked on that first draft, I had a couple of introductory sequences written which I will likely eliminate entirely. It’s the price one pays for figuring out a book on the spot: Your first ideas may wind up being useless.

What they do is get your mind in gear, moving and thinking about possibilities and with that, ideas which might work out.

Slowly, at times very painfully, I’d realize certain things simply weren’t working despite my best efforts. Yet in that failure I often -though not always- found alternatives, ideas that did work and which were expanded upon. It seemed for every idea that failed, there would be another that didn’t, and slowly, ever so slowly, that first draft started to take shape over the course of roughly a year, until just before the vacation I had that one breakthrough that wrapped it all up and made me realize I had a book.

This week, as I stated, I started working on it again after my vacation. Beginning this second draft entails First reading Through my first draft and eliminating all that stuff I said didn’t work, tightening up the stuff that does, and expanding where the book needs it. Plenty of red marker notes, scratched sentences/paragraphs/pages, and much use of sticky notes. Once that’s done I get to the computer and put all those notes into the book while eliminating what needs to go.

In many, perhaps even most ways, the second draft of this book will very much be a part of the formal writing process and, when all is done, I expect the book to contain most, if not all, the elements I need in it.

Thus Draft #2 is like an extension of Draft #1. Perhaps to other writers it may well be that, and they view any draft which involves creative writing versus proofreading as part of the first draft process.

Regardless, for me this is crunch time and while there are moments of elation in going over this draft, there are certain to be plenty of moments of hard, hard, hard work.

Despite what it may seem like, writing ain’t easy. It takes -at least for me- total concentration and no distractions and easily chews up your time.

Yet the most beautiful thing in the world is holding your latest novel in your hand and thinking: I did that.

I can’t wait to feel that again…!