I’d assumed THE LOST CONTINENT by C.J. Cutcliffe-Hyne (cover by Dean Ellis, all rights to current holder) would be one of those books I loved as a kid and would find disappointing now, but no, it’s still entertaining. This is an old-school epic in which Deucalion, governor of Atlantis’ Yucatan colonies, is called home to become husband to the usurper, Phorenice, who is now Emperor of Atlantis. This proves rather awkward as Deucalion is both a model of propriety who puts country before self and has little interest in women (it’s clear he’s a virgin), not because he’s gay but because back then a manly man often didn’t (as Jules Feiffer put it, the opposite of the undatable wimp wasn’t Casanova, it was a guy who could get lots of women but is too busy being manly). Surprisingly, Deucalion still comes off as a believable hero for all his nobility, while Phorenice, despite having the beauty required of evil queens, is also extremely smart and ruthless, entirely believable as a conqueror. Throw in some prehistoric life and sorcery and oh yes, Atlantis sinking, and you have a heck of a story.
white light/black rain — the Destruction of Hiroshima (2003) is a documentary in which a-bomb survivors, the Enola Gay crew and others discuss the impact of the bomb both literally (“The destruction just kept spreading outward.”) and psychologically (“I never had nightmares about it.”). Nothing terribly new to me, but hearing the first-person accounts (including their lives since the event) still packs a punch. “After the hysteria passed, I realized my skin was dangling from my arm.”
Woody Allen’s ANYTHING ELSE (2003) strikes me as an inferior remake of Annie Hall in which Jason Biggs has the Allen role as a struggling writer in a doomed, dysfunctional relationship with Christina Ricci. Where the earlier move showed both sides of the relationship were flawed, this unfortunately blames everything in Ricci; Biggs’ only flaw is that he just loves her too much to let go, even when she stops sleeping with him, sleeps with other men or invites her mother (Stockard Channing) to stay in their cramped apartment (it all feels very misogynistic). Allen has an interesting role as an older writer who’s almost as crazy as Ricci, but in different ways. And despite some great lines (“I couldn’t decide whose nihilistic pessimism would make you happier.”), it has lots of clunkers (seriously, jokes about psychoanalysis are as dated as jokes about the Korean War). So thumbs down. Jimmy Fallon plays Ricci’s ex, Danny de Vito plays Biggs’ inept agent. “There must be a million women who’d be thrilled to sleep with you—well you could probably find one provided you got her drunk enough.”
After Nightwing’s supposed death, Dick Grayson transitioned into the GRAYSON series ( ), of which I just read Vol. 2 (We All Die At Dawn) and 3 (Nemesis). The great strength is that the authors really respect Dick, who’s shown to be ultra-capable, heroic, and still with a streak of circus acrobat (the trapeze is his metaphor for a lot of what he goes through). The weakness is that the first volume is choppy to the point of having no narrative thread (judging from other reviews, my not reading the first book isn’t the problem) and Spyral—the secret agency Dick is infiltrating—doesn’t stand out from SHIELD or ARGUS despite its best efforts (the identity-concealing tech they use isn’t cool enough for that). The oddness is the constant emphasis on Dick’s sexiness, not in the sense that he can or does seduce women, but that everyone seems to enjoy looking at him (even the gay hero Midnighter makes quips about Dick’s butt) and thereby invite the audience to do so. It struck me as much closer to the way female heroes often get handled than the guys (so if you’ve ever lusted for Robin or Nightwing, this might be the book for you).