Thursday, January 26, 2017


RIP to the beguiling and funny Mary Tyler Moore, passed on at 80. She was a significant and influential presence in my childhood, but that’s only saying what most people of around my age who grew up watching TV can say.

Many of the encomia that have been offered to her since the news of her death broke have focused, rightly, on how The Mary Tyler Moore Show pioneered the image of an independent single woman. Important as this was, I think the show’s magic and originality ran even deeper.

It wasn’t just that Moore’s character, Mary Richards, was a career woman, or even that her career wasn’t just something to do until a husband came along. The show depicted how Mary Richards built, out her coworkers and her neighbors, a true family that was entirely sufficient to a fulfilling life. This seems commonplace now—indeed, it’s the basic dynamic of most sitcoms—but if there was an earlier TV series that hinged on it, I can’t think of it.

There was no real sense that Mary Richards was a lonely person. She wasn’t averse to marriage, but even if it never came along, the lyrics of the theme song weren’t just a platitude—the pleasure of the series was Mary’s discovery that love really was all around, and there really was no need to waste it.

Time for one more 2016 list, Your Humble Narrator’s annual rundown of the books I’ve read over the past year (as always, excluding newspaper and magazine articles, short stories, poems, comic books, blogs, facebook posts, shopping lists, owner’s manuals, graffiti, etc.):

Slade House by David Mitchell

The Mommy Dearest Diaries by Rutanya Alda

Communion by Frank Lauria

Almost Interesting by David Spade

Night of the Trilobites by Peter Leslie

Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell

The Man in the High Castle by Philip K. Dick

Close to Critical by Hal Clement 

Kramer’s War by Derek Robinson

Ben-Hur: A Tale of the Christ by Lew Wallace

The Green Man by Kingsley Amis

Alpha Centauri or Die! by Leigh Brackett

Frankenstein Unbound by Brian W. Aldiss 

Nightmare Abbey by Thomas Love Peacock

A shorter-than-usual list this year—I’m a ploddingly slow reader even with short books, and the ponderous Cloud Atlas and Ben-Hur slowed me to a crawl this year. Both were wonderful, however. In Ben-Hur, for instance, Wallace offers this bit of 19th-Century wisdom that the 21st Century seems to be having a hard time with: “A certain facility of accommodation in the matter of religion comes to us after much intercourse with people of different faith; gradually we attain the truth that every creed is illustrated by good men who are entitled to our respect, but whom we cannot respect without courtesy to their creed.

Note to Milla Jovovich: 

I know how you feel about me, so if there’s no review of Resident Evil: The Final Chapter on this blog Friday morning, please don’t be hurt: It’s not because I didn’t want to see it. It’s because the movie wasn’t screened for critics, at least not here in Phoenix. All the same, I did watch your convenient video recap of the series on Youtube, and greatly appreciated the refresher course.

In Milla’s honor…

Monster-of-the-Week: …this week we acknowledge the Popokarimu… 

…a bioengineered flying abomination from the movie.

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