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My books can be purchased as e-books for only $1.99. If interested, just click here: Books.
Match Play is a golf/suspense novel. Dust of Autumn is a bloody one set in upstate New York. Prairie View is set in South Dakota, with a final scene atop Rattlesnake Butte. Life in the Arbor is a children's book about Rollie Rabbit and his friends (on about a fourth grade level). The Black Widow involves an elaborate extortion scheme. Doggy-Dog World is my memoir. And ES3 is a description of my method for examining English sentence structure.
In case anyone is interested in any of my past posts, an archive list can be found at the bottom of this page.
My newest novel, Happy Valley, can be found here.

Sunday, March 30

J. Alfred Prufrock

T. S. Eliot’s J. Alfred Prufrock laments his becoming an old man, with a bald spot in the middle of his hair, with the bottoms of his trousers rolled, measuring out his life with coffee spoons. He describes “the Eternal Footman” holding his coat and snickering. He hears the mermaids singing to him until “human voices wake us and we drown.” What a neat paradox that is, both an awakening and a drowning. Measuring out his life with coffee spoons. One would have thought Eliot would have him measuring it out with tea spoons. More British, you know. In recent years I’ve been measuring out my life with equally mundane items. Every three weeks I sit down at the dining room table and measure out my life by re-filling my three weekly vitamin holders. Every three weeks. And it seems like I’m doing that ritual far more often than every three weeks. More related measuring sticks: the number of prescriptions that need constantly to be re-filled, the number of doctor and dentist appointments that fill my calendar, the increasing number of obituaries for old friends and relatives. I’m sounding morbid, I know, but that’s the nature of growing old, morbid thoughts while waiting for that Eternal Footman to take me by the hand. Dylan Thomas exhorts us to “not go gentle into that good night,” to “rage, rage against the dying of the light.” Emily Dickinson said that death was the “supple suitor” who woos us with pallid innuendoes and then whisks us away in a “bisected Coach,” leaving behind “Kindred as responsive as Porcelain.” In June we’re flying to South Dakota for my brother’s memorial service, and I’ll be one of those Porcelain Kindred, the last of my family still standing. I’m not looking forward to it.

Thursday, March 27

Confusion 1

So Many things confuse me. Men who keep a three-day beard confuse me. Do women really find that sort of facial hair attractive? I see Harry Connick on American Idol with that unshaven look and I wonder why. He’s a rational man, the only one on that trifecta panel who makes any sensible comments about the performers, yet he has that grungy look in clothes and facial hair. Why? Have the show’s producers instructed the three of them to dress down, way down, to appeal to the young crowd? Why must Keith Urban wear grungy t-shirts that expose his tats? Why must JLo wear tiny little skirts that barely cover butt and pubic zone (making it a public zone)? Why must we get constant shots of her and Keith bobbing their heads and mouthing the words to the songs the performers are singing? Why, why, why? But enough about American Idol. Why do some men have to whip out a wrinkled, soiled handkerchief and blow their noses in public restaurants? Why do some men, outdoors (thank God), hold one nostril closed and then blow nasty stuff out the other, then reverse the process? Am I disgusted too easily? Are we on the brink of becoming a classless nation (and I don’t mean social classes)? Where is the class of yesteryear? Going, going, gone.

Wednesday, March 26

Divergent & Breaking Bad

We went to see Divergent with some misgivings—mixed reviews, science fictiony stuff based on a young adult series by Veronica Roth too much like Hunger Games. But at this time of year with so little that seems good, we went anyway. Quick review. It was too long by at least twenty minutes. It was too reliant on too many plot threads that got confusingly tangled. It had too many fight sequences. What was good about it? Shailene Woodley as the female divergent Tris was great, with huge brown eyes that brimmed with tears in the many facial closeups. The plot background was an interesting takeoff on the current trend of dystopian futures, with a desolate Chicago ringed by an immense fence to protect the survivors from the nastiness on the other side. We’ll probably get to see what’s on that other side in future segments. The surviving population was made up of five factions, into which young adults at the “choosing” ceremony can go into the faction that they’re aptitude tests have determined to be best for them. Or they can choose any faction they want. There’s the abnegation faction, made up of selfless people who govern the city; the amity who provide comfort and care; the candor faction made up of the lawgivers; the erudite or smart faction made up of scientists; and the wild bunch, the dauntless faction who guard the fence and serve as police. Tris’s tests show that she’s a divergent, or one of the rare people who would be good at more than one of the faction’s talents, maybe all of them. She chooses to go into the dauntless faction, where she’s put through a four-week course similar to but harder than an army basic training. And she learns to kick ass. Her instructor is the oh so handsome Four (Theo James) and it’s immediately apparent that they have strings that will bind them for all three episodes of this series. So far, a lot like Hunger Games. Kate Winslet steps out of her usual character to play the baddie who plans to take over the governing from the Abnegators. And the plot thickens and thickens. Not a great movie, but I’ll probably go see the next installments, just to see what’s really on the other side of that fence.

We finished the last Netflix disc of Breaking Bad, Season 4, and both can hardly wait to see what they do with Season 5. Now that bad guy Gus is dead and the elaborate meth lab in the laundry blown up, where can it go? Will Hank ever catch up with brother-in-law Walter? Will Jesse stick it out with Andrea and her son? Will Skylar continue to launder money in the car wash? I can’t wait to find out. Breaking Bad has unanimously been hailed as one of the best ever. Maybe even THE best ever. We heartily agree. The plots are unexpected, the characters all developed to a remarkable degree, the actors all doing Emmy-worthy work, especially that of Bryan Cranston as Walt White, Anna Gunn as Skyler, and Aaron Paul as Jesse. And all the rest are superior. Thank you, Netflix.

Sunday, March 23

More Fictional Tough Guys


The Arizona Lottery likes to say in its tv ads, “You can’t win if you don’t play.” I like to think that the obverse is also true, “You can’t lose if you don’t play.” In fact, I like to think that over the last thirty or so years, I’ve won a bunch of money by not buying any lottery tickets. If I bought one a day, as a lot of people do, “d have lost almost $11,000. That makes me an $11,000 winner.

Talking Stick Resort, in Scottsdale, Arizona, has an ad that plays over and over whenever I’m watching a Phoenix Suns game. What’s so memorable about it is a quick shot of a young woman whispering sweet nothings into a man’s ear. Then her eyes shift to the right, directly into the camera. All male viewers must feel as I do: She’s looking right at me, the eternal come-on by the eternal flirt. Every time the ad comes on, I wait for that look, eternally susceptible to that glance as old as Eve.

In my essay on mystery/suspense series (March 21), I forgot to mention a few very good ones. C. J. Box has 15 novels about his Wyoming game warden, Joe Picket. Good action, great characters. P. J. Parrish (pseudonym for Kristy Montee and Kelly Nichols, two sisters who write collaboratively) has written ten novels starring a biracial p.i named Louis Kincaid. Well worth looking at. Stephen White, despite some fights with publishers, gave me a bunch of novels about the Boulder psychologist Dr. Alan Gregory and his police pal, Sam Purdy. Jeffrey Deaver began with The Bone Collector in which the forensic genius Lincoln Rhyme did his thing despite being a paraplegic. David Wiltsie provided the rock climbing FBI agent John Becker in a good series about catching really bad psychopaths. Lawrence Block, whom I mentioned as the author of the Matt Scudder series, also gave us the anti-hero Keller, a hit man who, despite his occupation, makes us side with him. Laura Lippman wrote a bunch about Tess Monaghan. And, how could I forget one of the masters of prose, James Lee Burke, who introduced me to the Louisiana cop/private eye, Dave Robicheaux. All of these, as well as those mentioned in my earlier blog, are worth reading, more than worth reading. Find them. Read them. You won’t be disappointed. You’ll be as intrigued as I am with that Talking Stick lady.

Friday, March 21

Fictional Tough Guys

I read quite a bit, but for the last twenty years or so I’ve read exclusively in the mystery/action/suspense genre. Except for all the British horse racing novels by Dick Francis, my wife was mostly too busy or too disinterested to read, but lately she’s taken it up. Nasty habit, reading. When you get hooked that’s about all you want to do. She had never read any of the Ed McBain stuff, so I started her on the Matthew Hope series, thirteen novels about a Florida lawyer who just can’t seem to stay out of trouble. Or trouble keeps finding him. She raced her way through that series and then I started feeding her the 87th Precinct series with McBain’s memorable cast of characters set in a fictional New York. She’s now starting the 44th with ten to go. Keeps her out of mischief. The 87th Precinct series was always one of my favorites, and as I do with most writers I like, I read them and then re-read them, sometimes more than twice. I’ve read both McBains twice, the John Sandford Prey series twice, the Parker Spensers and Jesse Stones and Suunny Randalls all twice, the Lee Child’s Jack Reachers twice, all of the Dick Francis books twice, the Lawrence Block Matt Scudders twice, and my favorite of all, John D. MacDonald’s Travis McGee series four times. Yeah, you could say I’m compulsive. I read the McGee series so often because I was trying to get a handle on MacDonald’s style and all the biographical details of Travis McGee in order to write the final in the series about this iconic tough guy, a novel I would call The Black Widow. But MacDonald’s son didn’t want anyone to touch his father’s legacy. I couldn’t feel too bad about his denial since he’d also said no Stephen King about doing the same thing. Right now I’m just beginning my second reading of Robert Crais’s series about Elvis Cole and Joe Pike, an obvious West Coast copy of Parker’s Spenser. I’ve read nearly all of what Stephen King has written, but he seems to be able to write faster than I can read. And Dean Koontz the same. A long time ago I began James Patterson’s Alex Cross series, but Patterson became so stupidly bloody that I gave him up, and he’s since become so commercial he writes four or five a year in collaboration with four or five other people. No thanks. I still have Michael Connelly and his Harry Bosch, Jonathan Kellerman and his Alex Delaware, James W. Hall and his Thorn, Kathy Reichs and her Temperance Brennan. What more do I need? I need more young authors with tough guy main characters. All the authors of my past preferences are dead or dying. If you’re looking for something to read and have never encountered any of the people I’ve mentioned, go there and rejoice.

Monday, March 17

Movie Memories

I’m a big movie fan. I’ve always been a big movie fan. I can’t even guess how many films I’ve seen over the years, but since I’ve got a lot of years on my odometer, it must be a lot of films. Often, when a movie or the people in it grab my attention, I’ll see it more than once, sometimes even three or four times. I remember when I first saw Joanne Woodward do her triple thing in Three Faces of Eve, I just had to see it twice more just to watch how she did it. The same thing happened with East of Eden. Not that James Dean was a great actor, but he was so different I wanted to share in his youthful infatuation with Julie Harris, so I sat through it twice in a row. Three times for the Gershwein score and the Gene Kelly dancing and the vision of the young Leslie Caron in An American in Paris. For Brando in maybe his best performance ever in On the Waterfront four times. And, yes, like a lot of Brando fans, I too tried to memorize some of his lines: (Terry to his brother Charlie): “You don’t understand. I coulda been a contender. I coulda been somebody, instead of a bum, which is what I am, let’s face it. It was you, Charley.” Three viewings of Young at Heart just to hear a scrawny Sinatra sing “One More for the Road.” You get the idea. I’m a little OCD when it comes to movies. The only other person I know that’s like that is my old teaching pal Anne Smith. She and I could talk movies for hours. I’m a bit older than she is, so my memories go back further than hers. I store vivid images from old old movies: Gary Cooper licking his thumb and applying it to the front sight of his rifle as he turkey calls Germans out of hiding in the WWI epic Sergeant York. I see the two choices the girl had when she was returning home, the dark tunnel and the moonlit street and she mistakenly chose the light and then the sight of blood dripping under the door casing when she didn’t make it home in The Black Panther. I see it vividly in my memory, but when I went to the IMDB web site to confirm it, there was no sign of a movie like that or named that. Did I make it up? Did I just imagine that scene? I don’t know. But I can still see that page flip over by some ghostly hand in The Uninvited. I see that bottle of booze Ray Milland hid in the ceiling light fixture in Lost Weekend. I was shocked when Jan Sterling removed her makeup and wig in The High and the Mighty. I still hear Brandon DeWilde calling out to Alan Ladd in Shane, “Shane, come back,!” I see Richard Widmark pushing his mother down a flight of stairs in her wheelchair, but I can’t for the life of me remember what the movie was. I remember the Indians leaping out of hiding from the holes in the desert to ambush Robert Taylor and others in Ambush. I see Humphrey Bogart rolling those ball bearings in his hand as he visibly went bananas in The Caine Mutiny. I watched in relief when Cornell Wilde waved back to his African pursuer in Naked Prey. I toiled wearily along with Gregory Peck on his long trek across The Purple Plain. I hear more than see the action as Tyrone Power swashed and buckled his way through Mexico in Captain from Castille, hearing Alfred Newman’s “Conquest,” so entranced by that theme that I went out and bought a recording of it. I choked down all those hard boiled eggs along with Paul Newman in Cool Hand Luke. I fell in love over and over again with the girls and women of those early shows: Greer Garson in Mrs. Miniver, Debbie Reynolds in Singin’ in the Rain, Elizabeth Taylor in Black Beauty, Gene Tierney in Laura (in love so much that I talked my wife into naming our second daughter Laura, only to fall out of love with the awful Gene Tierney when she hooked her foot in the rug at the top of the stairs to fall down and abort her child in Leave Her to Heaven), and of course, Julia Roberts, the pretty woman all male viewers fell in love with in Pretty Woman, and the young Scarlet Johannson that both Bill Murray and I fell in love with in Lost in Translation. I’m such a fickle lover. I laughed along with all the comics of that long ago time: Danny Kaye in The Court Jester, Abbot and Costello with their “Who’s on First” routine first seen in The Naughty Nineties, Abbot and Costello with their “Slowly I turned” routine in Lost in a Harem, the “I believe in the power of voodoo” routine that I and my buddies kept alive in our youths but I can’t remember where we first heard it. Who were the male stars I admired? Tyrone Power even though he was in the closet at the time, Burt Lancaster and his acrobatics, Kirk Douglas and his gritted teeth, Bill Holden in almost anything but especially Picnic, Stalag 17, The Bridge on the River Kwai, and The Blue Knight, of course John Wayne in almost anything but especially The Quiet Man, and the other old blue eyes Paul Newman, especially in The Long Hot Summer, The Left Handed Gun, The Hustler, Hud, Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, and The Sting. Have I missed any? Well, certainly. But I’m old and forgetful. One last word about a movie that broke my heart more than any other. Barbra Streisand and Robert Redford fell in love and then fell out of love in The Way We Were, and I felt to the quick the poignancy of lost time and lost opportunity and lost love that this film dramatized. Life is short and this movie brought it home to me with a sledgehammer. I love movies. Until I die I’ll continue to go there for the popcorn and the darkened theatres and the escape they provide. You should too.

Thursday, March 13

Band Concert

Last night we went to Glendale for our grandson’s band concert. He’s thirteen, just finishing the eighth grade, and has been playing the trumpet for four years. He’s taking after his grandmother’s family, who were practically all great players of the trumpet. Four years ago we’d given him my old cornet, the horn that I’d started playing almost seventy years ago. A local music store gave it new life, restoring its luster, unsticking the stuck valves, making it more playable than it was when I played it not very well those many years ago. He gave it two years before deciding he wanted a trumpet instead of the noticeably shorter cornet. Ah, the vagaries of youth. He’s tall, handsome, and extremely bright. This is not a grandfather saying what all grandparents say about their grandchildren. This kid really is all those accolades above. He’s representative of most young people today—taller, better looking, and smarter than my generation. They’re products of better nutrition and the information age. I can’t remember what I was like at his age, but I’m certain I wasn’t as well informed as he is. Back to the concert. It was held in the middle school gym with folding chairs along the sidewalls and bleachers at the back. We were unfortunate enough that we had to sit in the bleachers. Oh, my. Narrow bleacher seats made of the hardest wood I’ve ever experienced, and it wasn’t long before my butt began to complain. William, the tall, good-looking, bright grandson, had mentioned before we got there that the concert would probably last about two hours. As I sat on those steel-hard bleacher seats, I kept glancing at my watch to see how much time had passed. Not nearly enough. William was performing in a jazz ensemble on the stage, with what looked like hundreds of other musicians seated on the floor of the gym. The jazz group performed adequately but not greatly, with William and a sax player doing brief standup solos. The jazz wasn’t very jazzy with too much depending on too few notes repeated too many times. But they are young, and better jazz talent would come later in their lives. They were followed by a percussion/Stomp group with about a dozen drummers banging away on assorted plastic containers. I was impressed. I checked my watch: twenty minutes had passed oh so slowly. The concert action then moved to the gym floor, where what looked like hundreds of little people, sixth through eighth, were seated, waiting for their turn to perform. The reason for so many kids was the addition of two middle school bands from other nearby middle schools, invited for this concert. There were some twenty squeaky violins, about fifteen trumpets, eleven flutes in the front row, a scattering of other instruments, and only one trombone that I could spot. Is the trombone on the list of endangered species? Is the cornet an ignominious leftover from the past? Is the flute this generation’s instrument of choice? I noticed the faint aroma of sweaty children that I remembered from my years of teaching. Not necessarily unpleasant, just odorifically memorable. I checked my watch again. Yikes! Only forty minutes gone. I wanted to stand up, stretch my back, rub my butt, climb down from that fourth row bleacher seat, but I was hemmed in by too many other bleacherites and had to just sit there and take it. By this time, I could no longer feel my lower extremities and even if I’d been able to stand, I’d probably have pitched forward onto someone’s back or head. How embarrassing would that have been? I heaved a sigh and concentrated on the little people before me. They were all quite well-behaved, and some of them couldn’t be called little people. Many of the girls were tall and beautiful, and they had boobs. What are seventh and eighth grade girls doing with boobs? What must middle school boys think of those girls with boobs? Probably the same thing I once thought, what boys since the beginning of time have thought. The bands each played one selection separately, then one that included all of them. They played surprisingly well. When the combined groups finished their number, the director, a very young but very capable fellow who looked like he should have been playing IN the band instead of directing it, turned to us and bowed, then handed the mike over to the middle school principal, who thanked us all for coming to the concert, for supporting our sons and daughters, our grandsons and granddaughters. I looked at my watch as he waved his goodbye to us: just under an hour. And we were free after just an hour and not the dreaded two hours William had prophesied. I love music, I love William, but I think this may be my last band concert.

Monday, March 10

American Idol

We’ve been watching American Idol for all thirteen seasons, and nearly every year I complain about one thing or another—those irritating waving arms down front during a contestant’s song, that irritating audience noise during a contestant’s song, that irritatingly too loud band and backup singers during a contestant’s song, the inane and often meaningless comments from the judges, the nearly always awful song choices the contestants make. Then there’s Randy Jackson. I thought we were rid of him and his “Hey, Dog” when he stepped down, but this year he’s back as some sort of mentor to the contestants. I never did understand what his credentials were that qualified him as a musical judge or a mentor. And I still don’t. The judges seem to be more interested in how the contestants perform than how they sing, and this year they aren't singing very well. But despite my complaints, the final eight or ten contestants each season were always good enough to listen to. And despite Keith and Jennifer and Harry’s stock comments that this year’s group is excellent, I think that any of the top four or five from any of the previous seasons is better than any of the final twelve this season. Where is this year’s Jennifer Hudson or Carrie Underwood or Adam Lambert? Where’s Fantasia’s “Summertime”? Where’s Kelly Clarkson’s “A Moment Like This”? Where’s Katherine McPhee’s “Over the Rainbow”? This year, neither the quality of those past contestants nor the quality of the past song selections is anywhere to be found. And after last week’s set of stinky performances, we also aren’t going to be anywhere to be found.

Saturday, March 8

Spotify

One of the most pleasant features I’ve found on my new iPad is a music app called “Spotify,” with an insane amount of music from which I can choose. In the old days of music listening we had records, then tapes, then cds with twelve to eighteen tracks on each disc, then MP3 discs with about two hundred tracks. We could put in ear buds for listening to our tapes and discs, set it to shuffle, and away we went, our heads filled with song for an entire day, free from the babble of too many smart (or dumb) phones around us. Now I have Sirius radio in my car and on my television with an almost infinite number of radio stations on my computer that let me choose from any number of musical styles and artists. And now I have Spotify. This is a web site where I can select a playlist that someone has placed on the site with anywhere from thirty to several hundred tracks of their favorites within a specific genre of music. And there are hundreds of different playlists. One I really like is called “Jazzy Romance,”with mostly female jazz singers, some of whom I’m already familiar with and a bunch I’ve never heard of. Those familiar to me: Karrin Allyson, Stacey Kent, Jane Monheit, Norah Jones, Natalie Cole. Some I’ve heard of but never heard, like Amy Winehouse singing an old Gershwin, “Someone to Watch over Me,” Nicole Henry with a wonderful song called “Make It Last,” Melody Gardot and “My One and Only Thrill.” And a bunch of singers who’ve been hiding from me: Sos Fenger, Marie Bergman, Margareta Bengtson, Sinne Eeg, Caecilie Norby, Malene Mortensen, and Térez Montcalm. From the spellings of those names, I can only assume they’re from well out of this country, but they all sing in English. I guess that speaks well of the influence our singers and songwriters have on the musicians of the world. There’s a galaxy of music out there just waiting for us, and we don’t have enough hours in our lives to listen to it all. But it’s now available on our television hookups, our computers, our iPods and iPads, our smart phones and our dumb phones. I recommend to anyone who might be reading this, anyone who loves music as I do, that they go to the Apple app store and download “Spotify.”

Tuesday, March 4

PB & J Oscars

That had to be one of the blandest Oscars I've ever seen. Ellen was okay but not very funny nor very surprising. The biggest surprise was when she ordered in three boxes of pizza and then handed out pieces to a few of the audience. Dumb and classless. The whole show was a little like eating a peanut butter & jelly sandwich on very white bread, tastes pretty good but not very exotic and really forgettable. My mouth was all set for duck a l'orange or Beef Wellington and I get a pb & j. Gravity's Cuarón won for best director and the movie grabbed a bunch of the peripheral stuff, but 12 Years a Slave got best picture. Everyone else was pretty much predictable. The acceptance speeches were mercifully brief with the best Kate Blanchett's for her win as best actress in Blue Jasmine. The four songs up for best original song were emminently unsingable, with the Frozen "Let It Go" the winner. But where in this last decade are the songs that stick around and around and we all know and can sing them? Pink reminded us of great songs from the movies when she sang "Over the Rainbow," the winner 75 years ago. And one could go tripping through nearly all the winning songs from the last 65 years of the 21st century and know them and be able to sing them from memory. For example, "Love Is a Many Splendored Thing," "All the Way," "Mona Lisa," "Moon River," "Days of Wine and Roses," "The Shadow of Your Smile," "Raindrops Keep Fallin' on My Head," "For All We Know," "The Way We Were," "Evergreen," and "Beauty and the Beast." And then we get to the songs of this century: "Things Have Changed," "If I Didn't Have You," "Lose Yourself," "Into the West," "Al Otro Lado Del Rio" (I'd defy anyone to tell me they can hum this one), and one of the all time mistakes in this category, "It's Hard Out Here for a Pimp." I think you get the idea. They should look at how Neil Patrick Harris has hosted the Tony Awards. Now there's a classy awards show, and no one has ever hosted anything better than Harris has. Let's hope the producers for the Academy Awards learned something from this year's debacle.

Sunday, March 2

Oscar Buzz & Monuments Men


A rimshot comment about the upcoming Oscars: Dustin Hoffman claims his Tootsie role is better than Jay Leto’s Rayon in The Dallas Buyers Club. Leto seeks redress for the remark. But Jaye Davidson cries out that his role as Dil in The Crying Game takes them both by surprise.

Tonight’s Oscar show may be the most exciting in years, exciting in that so many of the films are all so good and the race for best actor/actress and supporting actor/actress are all so close. Let’s just say that all of them deserve to win. The buzz in the news seems to suggest that 12 Years a Slave will clean up in most of the categories. I hope not. 12 Years was a powerful examination of our nation’s most disgraceful chapter, our willing enslavement of other human beings. It needed to be said, and it was said powerfully, graphically, painfully. But was it the best film of 2013? I don’t think so. I’ll say gravely that Gravity should win it. I’m also looking forward to seeing Ellen as host. This isn’t her first time hosting the show, and she’ll certainly be better than the forgetable host a year ago, Seth MacFarlane, or three years ago with James Franco and Anne Hathaway. Now, there was a double stinker. Or maybe in the future they should just go with a proven winner as host, Billy Crystal, who has run the show eight times and made us laugh every time.

Quick note about a reasonably good film that should have been better, The Monuments Men, with a great cast that got misused—George Clooney, Matt Damon, Cate Blanchett, John Goodman, Bill Murray, and Jean Dujardin. This film was based on a true story about a small squad of older men who tried to save the art stolen by Hitler during WWII. Clooney directed, and he went wrong by using a humorous tone, especially at the beginning, when a humorous tone wasn’t needed or necessary or effective. Great actor and director that Clooney is, I’d have thought he’d know better.

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