Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson

I highly recommend the 2011 biography. Even if you have no interest in Apple or Jobs. It’s a fascinating and very well written book.

Surprisingly, Jobs cooperated with this book. He admired Isaacson.

It was published 19 days after Jobs’ death.

Steve asked for no control over what was written nor even the right to read it before it was published. He put nothing off-limits. He encouraged the people he knew to speak honestly. And Jobs speaks candidly, sometimes brutally so, about the people he worked with and competed against.

His friends, foes, and colleagues provide an unvarnished view of the passions, perfectionism, obsessions, artistry, devilry, and compulsion for control that shaped his approach to business and the innovative products that resulted.

The 2015 film was based on this book but really doesn’t have much of a connection to it. Personally I did like the film as did Rotten Tomatoes, but it did lousy box-office


Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children

Ransom Riggs‘ first book.

Published 2011.

Teenage Jacob Portman is the lead character. And the book seems written for teenage boys.

I didn’t see the 2016 film, but the trailer gives you a quick look at the plot.

Click PLAY or watch it on YouTube.

Director Tim Burton changed / improved details in the book, I’d say.

Movie reviews are mixed / average. I don’t plan to see it.

This young adult book was originally intended to be a picture book featuring photographs Riggs had collected, but on the advice of an editor at Quirk Books, he used the photographs as a guide from which to put together a narrative. …

Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children is a story about a boy who follows clues from his grandfather’s old photographs, tales, and his grandfather’s last words which lead him on an adventure that takes him to a large abandoned orphanage on Cairnholm, a fictional Welsh island.

I’ve no particular interest in reading any of the sequels.

mockumentary – I, Tonya

I finally saw the 2017 film I, Tonya.

… Watched it on my phone via the WestJet entertainment app. 

It follows the life of figure skater Tonya Harding and her connection to the 1994 attack on her rival Nancy Kerrigan.

Click PLAY or watch it on YouTube.

The film states that it is based on “contradictory” and “true” interviews with Tonya Harding and her ex-husband Jeff Gillooly, suggesting they are unreliable narrators. …

Allison Janney is fantastic as Harding’s foul mouthed, tough love mother LaVona Golden.  She won Best Supporting Actress at the Academy Awards.

Margot Robbie  is possibly even better as Tonya Harding. Though she trained to skate for 4 months, Heidi Munger and Anna Malkova served as skating doubles. 

The true story is so weird and unbelievable that it made a terrific film. A poor white trash girl rose to become the best skater in the world (at one point) in an elitist culture that hated everything about her aside from triple Axels.

Shawn Eckardt (who claims he’s Tonya’s “bodyguard”) was better than any fictional character.

The real life abusive husband Gillooly refused to take any money from the film’s producers … trying to take responsibility for the attack.

It sounds like Nancy Kerrigan has never watched the mockumentary.



Harry Potter and the Cursed Child – parts 1 & 2

Of dozens of possible stage plays to see in London, I chose 5+ hours of Harry Potter. I was keen to see magic stagecraft. And it was pretty cool.

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child is a two-part stage play written by Jack Thorne based on an original story by Thorne, J. K. Rowling and John Tiffany.

It premiered on 30 July 2016.

The story begins nineteen years after the events of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows and follows Harry Potter, now a Ministry of Magic employee, and his younger son Albus Severus Potter, who is about to attend Hogwarts …

One of the hashtags is #KeepTheSecrets … so I don’t want to reveal any spoilers.

I can say that my favourite character is Scorpius Malfoy, the son of Harry’s former nemesis Draco Malfoy.

Ron Weasley is entertaining, too.

The Palace Theatre, London is an appropriate venue. Very evocative of the Potter look and feel. Chairs are tiny, however.

The plot is dumb. I overheard people saying the action was rushed.  Personally I was happy they kept things moving quickly. I did fall asleep at one point.

Bottom line — Harry Potter fanatics will enjoy the stage play.

Regular fans like myself will enjoy a few scenes. Be impressed by the magic. But ultimately find the story too saccharine and predictable.

related review  – Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, review: A magical experience tailor made for the stage

Bohemian Rhapsody – my review

Loved it.

Rami Malek as Freddie Mercury was terrific.

I’ve been a fan of the band since 1974. Ron Shewchuk rang me up and told me to rush over to his place to listen to Queen II. I was blown away. They were so outrageous. So creative.

Click PLAY or watch the trailer on YouTube.

I saw it on London’s biggest Imax screen. Great sound!

The film received a mixed critical reception; its direction, screenplay and historical inaccuracies were criticized, but the Live Aid sequence and cast, particularly Malek’s performance as Mercury, received unanimous praise.

Farrokh Bulsara (5 September 1946 – 24 November 1991), known professionally as Freddie Mercury, was born of Parsi descent on Zanzibar, and grew up there and in India before moving with his family to Middlesex, England, in his late teens. He formed Queen in 1970 with guitarist Brian May and drummer Roger Taylor.

La Belle Sauvage (2017) by Philip Pullman

Did you see the 2007 film Golden Compass with Daniel Craig and Nicole Kidman?

The movie tanked considering the US$180 million cost.

But the books are great. It was based on Pullman’s His Dark Materials series:

La Belle Sauvage is a fantasy novel by Philip Pullman published 2017, the first volume in a planned trilogy named The Book of Dust. Set around 12 years before the start of His Dark Materials

Reviews have been great for the start of the prequel.

I’d agree. It’s well worth reading.

My only criticism is the same one I have with all fantasy: deus ex machina. The plot twists are unexpected appearances of magical things unrestrained by any logic or rules.

It always seems a bit cheap, to me.


Murial Spark – Loitering with Intent

Muriel Spark’s Loitering with Intent (1981) was published when she was 64.

The novel is written in the first person, framed as a memoir, as Fleur Talbot, the celebrated writer, looks back, “in the fullness of [her] years”, to the weeks and months of winter 1949-50, when she was working on her first novel, living in a bedsit, supporting herself by working in secretarial jobs.

Guardian review

It is an excellent book. With an excellent plot.

If you are a fan of literature over fiction, I recommend it. The themes are still important in 2018.

It was made into a film in 2014. It’s 33% on Rotten Tomatoes.