Space Force

Covid-19 Day 75

Space Force is an American comedy web television series created by Greg Daniels and Steve Carell, starring Carell, John Malkovich, Ben Schwartz, Diana Silvers and Tawny Newsome.

The series centers on a group of people tasked with establishing the sixth branch of the United States Armed Forces, the United States Space Force. Carell’s character, Mark Naird, is the general in charge of the effort and the series follows his collaboration to get “boots on the moon” per the orders of the President.

As others have pointed out, this should be sharper and more satirical. The premise is good and there are a few laugh out loud moments. But mostly is’s wryly observed humour about the USA military forces.

Ben Schwartz is fun as a very bad PR man. Carrell is an obvious choice to plan the General, although he does come dangerously close to his Gru (Despicable Me) character and generally shouts a lot. It’s not that hard to play an incompetent military character.

But it’s Malkovick who is the real star. Playing the Chiel Scientist, he gets to be the voice of reason and often the Generals savior.

In the end they get to the moon, but what happens next seems to end the series for good.



Jeeves Wedding

Covid-19 Day 74

Jeeves and the Wedding Bells
by Sebastian Faulks (2013)

Bertie Wooster his butler Jeeves return in their first new novel in nearly forty years.

Now, forty years later, Bertie and Jeeves return in a hilarious affair of mix-ups and mishaps. With the approval of the Wodehouse estate, acclaimed novelist Sebastian Faulks brings these two back to life for their legion of fans.

Bertie, nursing a bit of heartbreak over the recent engagement of one Georgina Meadowes to someone not named Wooster, agrees to “help” his old friend Peregrine “Woody” Beeching, whose own romance is foundering. That this means an outing to Dorset, away from an impending visit from Aunt Agatha, is merely an extra benefit.

Almost immediately, things go awry and the simple plan quickly becomes complicated. Jeeves ends up impersonating one Lord Etringham, while Bertie pretends to be Jeeves’ manservant.

It’s good to be back to a first person narrative. Faulks gets the tone and comedy right. Even when things are getting a bit complicated and starting to stray, the writing keeps things ticking along to a surprising ending.

Stand By Mars

Covid-19 Day 73

Stand By for Mars!
(Tom Corbett, Space Cadet #1)
by Carey Rockwell (1952)

The name Carey Rockwell was a pseudonym used by Grosset & Dunlap. It is unknown who wrote the books, or even if there was only one writer. It is interesting to note, however, that while much of the content was original, a number of scenes and plot points were taken from the television series of the same name.

It’s all very gong-ho. Protect the universe, save the day and uphold the white male institutions. Actually, well written and following all the tropes of military science fiction. The recruits get together and become top of the class, sealing their fate. Then it’s on to adventure on Mars, which appears to have been terra-formed and supporting a human colony.


101 Dogs

Covid-19 Day 72

One Hundred and One Dalmatians is a 1961 American animated adventure film produced by Walt Disney Productions and based on the 1956 novel The Hundred and One Dalmatians by Dodie Smith.

Directed by Clyde Geronimi, Hamilton Luske, and Wolfgang Reitherman, it was Disney’s 17th animated feature film.

The film tells the story of a litter of Dalmatian puppies who are kidnapped by the villainous Cruella deVille who wants to use their fur to make into coats.

The story is very straight forward, but well told. After the setup and kidnap comes the adventure and return. All executed with the usual Disney cuteness. This is aided by the wickedly villainous deVille and her two inept henchmen.

The animation of the dogs faces and movement is outstanding., they clearly communicate emotions and intend.

The graphic design is different. Ub Iwerks had been experimenting with Xerox photography to aid in animation. By 1959, he had modified a Xerox camera to transfer drawings by animators directly to animation cels, eliminating the inking process, thus saving time and money while preserving the spontaneity of the penciled elements. However, because of its limitations, the camera was unable to deviate from a black scratchy outline and lacked the fine lavish quality of hand inking.

According to Chuck Jones, Disney was able to complete the film for about half of what it would have cost if they had had to animate all the dogs and spots.


Biscotti Bodies

Covid-19 Page 70

3 Bodies and a Biscotti
(Lexy Baker #4)
by Leighann Dobbs (2013)

There’s a serial killer on the loose. And Lexy Baker’s grandmother, Nans, could be the next victim.

The bodies are piling up at the Brook Ridge Falls Retirement Center. Healthy people are dropping like flies. And yet no one believes a murderer is on the loose… except for Lexy Baker and the troupe of iPad-toting grandmothers who live at the center.

After four episodes, the series is getting shorter and less inventive. This is the end of the box set I got as part of a bundle. So although the series continues, here I will leave Lexie to her baking.


Marzipan Murder

Covid-19 Page 69

Murder, Money & Marzipan
(Lexy Baker #3)
by Leighann Dobbs (2012)


When Lexy Baker makes it to the finale of America’s most prestigious bakery contest, Bakery Battles, she thinks her biggest dream has finally come true. Until she stumbles across the frozen body of judge Amanda Scott-Saunders.

I’m starting to see a pattern. Lexie stumbles on a body and gets accused of the murder. Then through a series of coincidences and luck, along with help from Nana solves the murder.

It should be slight and boring. But somehow this author makes the formula work. It’s always in a light tone and the plot is always moving forward.




Thrawn Treason

Covid-19 Day 68

Thrawn: Treason
(Star Wars: Thrawn #3)
by Timothy Zahn (2019)


Thrawn’s pet project is halted because of a bet over pests chewing on ships and causing havoc.

An Zahn chews in this plot with a lot of weird names, political in fighting and not a lot more.

I barely made it through the last in the series, but this one sucks all the life of of any sense of scale or adventure in the Star Wars universe.


Danish Death

Covid-19 Day 67

Dying for Danish
(Lexy Baker #2)
by Leighann Dobbs (2012)

When Lexy Baker lands a high paying catering job that allows her to buy some much needed kitchen equipment, she’s excited that things are going so well … until she stumbles over the body of the bride-to-be.

Death goes quickly. The first in the series was read five years ago !
Again its a short (30K) Novella with an up-beat main character and a very safe plot (apart from the reading). Fun little ‘cozy’ mystery crime.


Solar Future

Covid-19 Day 66

The Solar Invasion
(Captain Future #20}
by Manly Wade Wellman (1946)

It comes from beyond the fifth dimension–an alien intelligence both invulnerable and totally evil. Its aim: bring the universe to its knees. Its primary objective: destroy the Solar System. As doomsday rushes ever closer, one lone man dares oppose the creature from beyond. Only he can save the universe from a brutal, blazing cataclysm.

Another author takes on Edmond Hamilton’s Hero. Just one story, and that’s a good thing. It has all the breathless excitement of the others, but just isn’t as good.

The moon is stolen. That’s right, just taken. Never mind the tides, it’s disappeared into dimension X. An that about sums up the amount of scientific thought that has gone into this story. There is a lot of science hand waving and avoidance. And at the end there is a big incomprehensible space battle. Fortunately it’s short at 40k words.