Sunday, February 26, 2023

Film Review: Ip Man 4: The Finale

 Ip Man 4: The Finale

Ip Man (Donnie Yen) is having troubles with his moody son Ching (He Ye). He doesn't want to do anything his father tells him and gets into fights at school. Ip decides to travel to San Francisco, to see about getting his son into a school there. Time is of the essence, as he has just been diagnosed with cancer. A former student, Bruce Lee (Danny Kwok-Kwan Chan) invites Ip to witness a martial arts demonstration when he is there.  In order to get his son into the school, Ip needs a letter of recommendation from the Chinese Benevolent Assocation, located in Chinatown. However, the head of the association, Wan Zong Hua (Yue Wu) is dismissive of Bruce Lee's desire to teach Chinese martial arts to other people, and refuses to give Ip the letter.

Ip receives a letter from another source and takes it to the school, but he is told he still needs the letter 

from the CBA. While there, he witnesses a Chinese girl being bullied by a jealous classmate, and leaps to her defense. She turns out to be the daughter of Mr. Wan. However, when Ip returns Yonah (Vanda Margraf) to her home, her father is still not impressed. To complicate matters, Yonah's bully is the daughter of a racist Marine who advocates karate and has no use for kung fu or Chinese people. He is determined to close down the CBA and teach the Chinese their place. Something  has to give!

Sorry to say this is the last film in the series, and we have to say good-bye to Mr. Ip, but this film does not disappoint. The racist sergeant will make your blood boil, and I am angry that his bully daughter never faces any real consequences. The actor playing Bruce Lee did a good job, and all the fight scenes are well choreographed and very interesting. Although this is the last Ip Man, I plan to watch more Donnie Yen films. I'll give this film 4.5 Stars.

Saturday, February 25, 2023

Saturday is Horror Day #102 - Terrifier


It's Halloween night, and Tara (Jenna Kanell) and Dawn (Catherine Corcoran) are out having a good time. But they have a bit too much to drink, so they decide to get a bite to eat to eat at a small diner. There they see the same creepy clown (David Howard Thornton) that was annoying them earlier. Did he follow them? Dawn doesn't let him get to her and cheekily asks for a selfie while sitting on his lap.

After he leaves, they return to the car only to find one of the tires has been slashed. Distraught, Tara calls 

her sister Victoria (Samantha Scaffidi) for a ride. Although she's studying for midterms, she agrees to come get them when her roommate returns unexpectedly with a male guest, and it's obvious they are going to be noisy. While they wait, Tara has to use the bathroom, but where? Dawn smiles a man stepping out of a building and asks him on Tara's behalf to let her in. Mike (Matt McAllister) is an exterminator and he's reluctant, but finally agrees to let her in while Dawn waits in the car.

The building is disgusting and filthy, and it has rats, but beggars can't be choosers. But then Art the Clown makes his appearance and everything goes downhill from there...

This film was... I guess torture porn would be a good description. The little plot there is only serves to bring everybody together in this location in order to be killed. Why? I have no idea what this guy's problem is. He never speaks, remaining mute throughout the entire film. Why? No clue. Maybe we'll find out in the sequel. Is there gore? In spades. One scene after another. This movie is not for the squeamish, not at all. There is one scene where a girl is hung upside down, naked, and split open, down the middle, starting between her legs.

I had many questions, but few answers. One of the biggest was why this scummy building would even need or call for an exterminator. It looked to be abandoned. So why was he there? Or is that just bad writing? The guy playing the clown did a great job. Definitely gave up very creepy vibes. Did I enjoy this movie? Not really. Am I going to see the sequel? Of course I am. So, I'll so that if you know what you're in for going into this, you'll be fine. I wouldn't blindside anyone with this though. I'll give this film 4 Stars for doing what it meant to do pretty well. 

Friday, February 24, 2023

Book Review: Assassination Classroom, Vol 7 by Yusei Matsui


Assassination Classroom, Vol 7    

Author: Yusei Matsui

Publisher: Viz Media

American release date:  December 1, 2015

Format/Genre/Length: Paperback/Action Adventure Manga/200 pages

Overall Personal Rating: ★★★★★


Koro Sensei’s study methods prove invaluable to his students when it comes time to take their exams. Several students won first place in their class, one even beating out the principal’s son! Of course his father was less than thrilled with that news, and was certainly less than supportive of how well Gakushu did, focusing on what he didn’t do instead. Koro Sensei promised that those students who came in first place could shoot off one of his tentacles, so that makes seven tentacles he’s going to lose!

More importantly, the students in Class 3E have bested those in Class A, and are thus entitled to the summer prize of a three-day, two-night trip to Okinawa! Of course they will be spending the time before they go in devising new ways of assassinating Koro Sensei! The first semester under his tutelage may be over, but the assignment is still on!

Irina’s superior, Mr. Lovro, returns, determined to bring in the winning assassin to complete the job! He believes there is only one real person who can do this, the greatest assassin of them all, known simply as the Grim Reaper. The students are excited as they sail to the island of their holiday, planning how to kill Koro Sensei. Since one of his weaknesses is water, this seems like an ideal location for an assassination! They break up into groups with varying agendas, but at the same time they are timing their opportunities to kill their teacher very carefully. They devise a plan that includes the ballroom of the hotel where they are staying, a structure which sits over water! But just as they reduce Koro Sensei to an indefensible state, someone else strikes who turns all their plans upside down! And now it’s up to them, as well as Karasuma and Irina, to save Koro Sensei!

I loved the exams and their outcomes, and how the students showed up the supposedly superior class. I feel sorry for the principal’s son with such a terrible father. The vacation on the island is just what the students needed, but who could have predicted what happened at the end? Looking forward to seeing how they utilize the skills their teacher has taught them in order to rescue him.

Wednesday, February 22, 2023

Wednesday Briefs: Bad Karma and the Family Plan #62 (13.1)

 Good morning and Happy Hump Day! If it's Wednesday, then it must be time for more flash fiction from the Wednesday Briefers! We're a group of authors who bring you our finest flash fiction every week, 500 to 1000 words, inspired by one of our prompts.

Things took an ugly turn when Ethan's obnoxious brother was served with divorce papers while they were all at breakfast. Can things get worse? See what's going on in this week's chapter of Bad Karma and the Family Plan. Don't forget to stop by and visit the other Briefers, see what's going on with them. Their links follow my tale! Enjoy!

Bad Karma and the Family Plan #62 (13.1)

Once the process server had put us in her rearview mirror and gone on her merry way, Joey sat looking rather stupidly at the documents in his hand in what I imagine was stunned disbelief. Nobody said anything. Probably because nobody wanted to kick a man when he was down. At least we had some kind of explanation for Heather’s disappearance. Nothing sinister, or even really surprising. She’d left his dumb ass and filed for divorce. Who could blame her? Although I still suspected that the minister’s new leaf he’d so recently turned had something to do with that too.

Moments later, the parents returned and took their seats at the table once more.

“Who was that lady I saw standing here?” Joseph Senior asked. “She didn’t stay very long did she?”

“Just long enough to serve Joey with papers and get Troy’s autograph,” Sarah supplied with a grin she didn’t bother to conceal.

The father turned his piercing gaze upon his older son, who was squirming uncomfortably in his seat. I suspected he would have hightailed it out of there except for the fact he’d ridden with his parents and didn’t have the keys to their car, or money for a cab. So he was enforced to endure whatever his dad chose to dish out.

We were all staring at the minister by now, probably wondering how he would handle the news. It occurred to me, perhaps belatedly, that if there really were something between him and his daughter-in-law, this could be the cue for even more heartache. If he had a thing for her, or if they’d ever had a thing, maybe he would leave his wife for her? Or something like that.

Or perhaps I’d seen too many soap operas.

The waitress arrived with the check at that moment. Reverend Thorne handed her his credit card. Once she’d walked away, he looked at his son. “At least now you know,” was all he said. Within minutes, everything was paid for, and everyone had shuffled off to the parking lot.

I felt guilty when I saw our tails sitting in their cars, keeping an eye on us. I remembered having to endure such tedious duty, and being unable to eat anything other than the crap we brought with us. The least I could have done was order them something. Seeing my consternation, Ethan leaned in to me and murmured for my ear only, “I arranged to have something sent out while we were eating.”

He’s always so thoughtful. That alleviated my guilt. We all got into our respective vehicles and headed back toward the Thorne residence. However, when we got to the highway, we found ourselves a bored highway worker with a sign that said Detour, and we were forced to get off onto a smaller road with a lower speed limit. Oh well, that would give us a little extra time without Joey’s company.

“Isn’t Joey’s wife the one who works for Joe?” Uncle Benny asked from the back seat of our rental car. Once again, Troy had offered to chauffeur Sarah and little Alex, and Ethan’s sister hadn’t hesitated to take him up on his offer.

“She did, but I don’t think she does now,” Ethan said.

“What’s their relationship?”

Ethan’s uncle was very observant, much like his nephew. Ethan, that is, not Joey. I doubted Maureen had said anything to her brother on the subject, probably would have considered it disloyal. But some things couldn’t be ignored.

“Dad and Heather?” Ethan shrugged. “I think she fed his ego. Made him feel young again or something like that. I’d call it the seven year itch, but he and Mom have been married a lot longer than that.”

“Is she a pretty girl?” Benny wondered.

Ethan glanced toward me. Now it was my turn to shrug. “Not my type,” I commented, producing a snort from Benny and a smile from Ethan.

“I’d be worried if she were,” Ethan quipped. “Honestly, though, I remember the first time I saw her, I did think she was pretty, and I wondered why she was with Joey. Especially when he didn’t seem overly excited about her. But then I got to know her better, and I saw how ugly her personality really was. I always had the feeling Dad had somehow arranged their marriage, but I can’t prove it.”

Benny whistled softly. “Wow, what a tangled web.”

Ethan and I both nodded our agreement. 

“You know I’m very grateful that your parents have agreed to our staying there,” Benny said after a moment of silence. “Especially Joe. He’s certainly come around, and for that I thank—”

A sudden loud pop caught our attention. We were traveling behind Troy’s car, and he was following Ethan’s parents, with our tail bringing up the rear. But now I saw the minister swerving of the road. Then another loud pop as Troy followed suit.

And then I saw what the problem was as we too ran over the metal spikes that lay across the road and veered off the highway into the grass with a jarring thud.

to be continued

Now go see what's going on with the other Briefers!

Cia Nordwell

Tuesday, February 21, 2023

Book Review: Red, White & Royal Blue by Casey McQuiston


Red, White & Royal Blue     

Author: Casey McQuiston

Publisher: St. Martin’s Griffin

American release date:  May 14, 2019

Format/Genre/Length: Hardback/LGBTQ+ Romance/448 pages

Overall Personal Rating: ★★★★★


Alex Claremont-Diaz is the FSOTUS – or the first son of the United States. His mother has been elected the first woman president. Alex is a force to be reckoned with—he is both brilliant and wild. Along with his sister June, and Nora, who is the granddaughter of the Vice President, they form quite the merry trio, each of whom is talented in their own way. Not surprisingly,  Alex has definite political aspirations. It must run in his blood, as his father, ex-husband of the President Oscar Diaz, is a senator. The only regret Alex has regarding the election that put his mother into office is that she did not carry their home state of Texas.

Alex is no wilting flower. Far from it, he tends to speak his mind, although he is generally careful of consequences…except when it comes to Henry, Prince of Wales. Alex does not care for this famous Royal, and they exchange a few unkind words, which the press gets wind of. Definitely not good! As penance, the two are forced to show to the world what great friends they are, for the sake of diplomatic relations between the two countries. They are both adept at presenting a friendly face to the press while exchanging rude barbs under their breath.

However, Fate is a funny thing. And what begins as a fake friendship becomes a real one…and much more. So what do you do when you’re the son of the President of the United States and you find yourself in love with not just any guy, but the actual Prince of Wales?

This book is fabulous! I loved every bit of it! I especially loved watching Alex and Henry’s relationship develop and blossom into love, watching them grow as individuals and as a couple! Such a brilliantly written story! This book is filled with memorable characters, both good and bad. It will make you laugh, make you cry, and make you fall in love. I was gifted a copy of the collector’s edition, which not only is signed but contains a bonus chapter in Henry’s POV. What can I say but this book is perfect? I see no flaws, and I will happily read it again. I can only hope there is a series looming in the future. And I want to read more by this author!


Saturday, February 18, 2023

Saturday is Horror Day #101 - Haunt, Frankenhooker


It's Halloween night and a group of friends are bored and not in the mood for the usual Halloween tricks or treats. When they happen upon a flier for an "extreme" haunted house, they decide to check it out. But they quickly discover that some nightmares are for real...

This film is by the writers of A Quiet Place, and while it may not be a great film, it's a pretty good horror film, and will keep you guessing as to what is going on. This may even put you off of going to haunted houses, as it becomes hard to distinguish between what is staged and what is real. High gore factor as well as hitting on common phobias, such as spiders and confined spaces. All in all a satisfying watch. Also, it was produced by Eli Roth of Hostel fame. I'll give this film 4 Stars.


Jeffrey (James Lorinz) is a bit... unusual. A wannabe doctor/inventor, who dreams of the great contributions he'll make to help mankind. But when his fiancé Elizabeth is killed in a tragic lawn mower accident, he realizes he must do something to keep her alive. He steals her head and vows to rebuild her body. But how? Of course! He must come up with new female parts, so he decides to shop for them among the hookers!

Armed with a lot of money and drugs and little common sense, Jeffrey becomes involved a group of 

hookers who work for Zorro (Joseph Gonzalez). When Jeffrey realizes he can't go through with his plan, the hookers discover the drugs he has brought and ingest them, and chaos ensues. What else can he do but go through with his original plan? Although maybe the result isn't quite what he envisioned.

This was one hysterically funny and campy horror movie! From the same guys who brought us Basket Case, no less, it's an homage to Mary Shelley's Frankenstein, as well as low budget gory horror films of the 50s and 60s. It is simply hilarious from start to finish, from the lawn mower accident to the ending. Jeffrey finds relief from stress by inserting a drill into his brain. Also, look for a cameo by Louise Lasser (of Mary Hartman fame, and ex wife of Woody Allen) as Jeffrey's mother. I had no idea how good this film was or I would have watched it soon. 

The acting is spot on, writing is great, lots of gore and lots of laughs. Definitely a fun time. I'll give this film 4.5 Stars.

Wednesday, February 15, 2023

Wednesday Briefs: Bad Karma and the Family Plan #61 (12.6)

 Good morning and Happy Hump Day! If it's Wednesday, then it must be time for more flash fiction from the Wednesday Briefers! We're a group of authors who bring you our finest flash fiction every week, 500 to 1000 words, inspired by one of our prompts.

Breakfast continues, and all seems well...until Ethan's brother opens his mouth. See what's going on in this week's chapter of Bad Karma and the Family Plan. Don't forget to visit the other Briefers and see what's up with them. Their links follow my tale! Enjoy!

Bad Karma and the Family Plan #61 (12.6)

Troy was, not surprisingly, the center of attention at our table. Not that he did anything to hog the spotlight, but there was just something so naturally attractive, so very charismatic about him, that drew people to him, like moths to a flame. It didn’t hurt that he was good at speaking to people, not to mention he was a great storyteller.  But he was also sweet and sincere and he had a great heart. Ethan and I were proud to call him our friend. We loved him and Brendan too.

Despite all of charms, Troy was considerate. He made sure to show a genuine interest in other people and had a knack for making those around him feel good. Unfortunately, we may have forgotten to warn him about Ethan’s brother and what a miserable person he was, probably because we never thought their paths would cross. Our bad.

To even the most unobservant, Troy and Brendan’s relationship must have been obvious—their very body language, not to mention the way they held hands, even at the table, and were constantly gazing at one another. Too late, I realized that this made them a new target for Joey’s antisocial behavior.

At some point before the meal was served, Ethan’s parents excused themselves to talk to a couple at another table. So, naturally, the rest of us just talked amongst ourselves. Perhaps it was his father’s absence that emboldened the little shit.

“So, what would your fans think if they could see you like this?” Joey launched his assault directly at Troy.

“Excuse me?” Troy glanced at Joey warily, while maintaining a polite expression—kudos to him for staying calm. I noticed Brendan’s brow furrow and his cheeks flamed, but he said nothing. Beside me, I could feel Ethan’s displeasure. I laid a calming hand upon his arm even though I wanted to knock him upside his stupid head. I suspected Sarah felt the same way and held herself back because of the presence of her son.

Joe Jr. seemed oblivious of the trouble he was instigating. “Well, I mean with your macho man image and all, wouldn’t the ladies be dismayed to find out you play for the other team?” (Obviously, Ethan’s brother knew nothing about Troy or his films or he wouldn’t have made such a stupid comment).

I wasn’t about to let that slide, though before I could release any of the barbs I intended to wound him with, Uncle Benny had decided to add to the conversation.

“Is your wife one of those fans, Joey? Maybe we should ask her.”

At that moment, you could have heard the proverbial pin drop, shocked silence followed by Did he really go there? Benny’s verbal missile clearly hit its intended target as Joey’s face suffused with a deep red hue and he made no immediate rebuttal.

After spluttering for a moment or two, Joe Jr. seemed to regain some control over his thoughts. “My wife probably doesn’t even know who you are.”

Was that the best comeback he could come up with? Hardly devastating.

I could tell Ethan was seething, but holding it in for a number of reasons, just barely. But once again came a response from an unexpected source.

“That would be her loss. Troy’s one of the best actors around. And if you don’t know that, maybe you need to get out more.”

Now we all turned to stare at Brendan. Soft-spoken, good-natured Brendan, who obviously didn’t intend to let his man go undefended. He held his head high, his eyes boring into Joey. His cheeks had turned a soft pink but I could see a steely quality about him that clearly dared Ethan’s brother to keep talking smack about Troy.

“Thank you, Bren,” Troy said softly. He took Brendan’s hand, raised it to his lips and kissed it softly. I didn’t have to look to see whose excited squeal that was, or that Sarah was eating this up.

“Well, I don’t see any of your fans clamoring for your autograph,” Joey continued, rather recklessly, I thought.

For just a second, I thought I saw fire flash through Troy’s eyes, and I braced myself for his scathing retort…or Brendan’s…someone’s. But the moment passed, and when Troy spoke again, it was with the most dulcet and sweetest of tones.

“And what do you do for a living…I’m sorry, Jimmy, was it?”

The tension that had been building around the table visibly lessened at Troy’s words, and I distinctly heard a snort from Sarah. As for little Joe, he was visibly taken aback. His lips moved but I couldn’t hear anything immediately.

“Joseph,” he managed to get out at last. “Joseph Thorne, Jr. Named after my father. And what I do is none of—”

Fate in the form of a tall willowy blonde stemmed whatever he’d been about to say. She drew herself up beside him, and I’d swear she might have been six foot tall but perhaps that was from the perspective of being seated, before she leaned in to him. “Did I hear you say your name is Joseph Thorne Jr?” For some reason, she seemed really excited at hearing that, why I couldn’t imagine.

Joey seemed flustered too. He tripped over his tongue a few times before he said, with a certain amount of pride, “Yes, I am.”

The woman seemed pleased to hear that as she suddenly thrust out a sheaf of papers she must have been holding behind her back. “Mr. Thorne, it is my duty to serve you with these divorce papers.” She held the documents to him and he took them, obviously without thinking.

“Have a good day, sir,” she said. Just before she turned away from the table, she glanced at the rest of us and then asked, “Excuse me, but aren’t you Troy McGarrett?”

 to be continued

Now go see what the other Briefers are up to!

Cia Nordwell

Monday, February 13, 2023

Film Review: Ip Man 3

 Ip Man 3

In 1959 British Hong Kong, Ip Man (Donnie Yen) lives a quiet life with his wife Cheung Wing-sing (Lynn Xiong) and his younger son Ah Ching (Xiao Long Li). Ah Ching gets into trouble with another boy in his class and both parents are called to the school. There Ip Man meets Cheung Tin-Chi (Jin Zhang), who also practices the Wing Chun style of kung Fu. He is struggling as a single parent, and makes a living pulling a rickshaw, but his dream is to have his own martial arts school. However, he can't afford the rent. The boys reconcile and the fathers become friends.

Trouble comes in the form of a rich businessman, Frank (Mike Tyson) who desires to own the property the 

school sits on and is willing to do whatever he can to get it, including the use of force. He uses his thugs to terrorize the school, forcing Ip Man and his students to step in. While his wife understands what he is doing, she wishes he were at home more. And she hasn't told him, but she isn't feeling well, and fears something may be wrong.

Complicating matters, a jealous Tin-Chi has decided to make a name for himself by battling the other kung fu masters. He then challenges Ip Man to a fight... for the title of Grandmaster of Wing Chun. When Ip Man does not show up for the scheduled match, Tin-Chi declares himself Grandmaster. Meanwhile, matters at the school escalate, and some children are kidnapped in order to force a showdown with Ip Man

The third installment of the Ip Man series is just as good as the others. He and his family don't live the opulent lifestyle they once did before the Japanese invasion, but they have a good life. Ip Man is well known and respected in the community. The film deals with respect, and family, and standing up for right is right. Tin-Chi is not a bad man, and he means well, and has to make choices between getting ahead and doing the right thing. I have to say that I found the addition of Mike Tyson jarring. First, he is no actor, and he speaks mostly in English with a few Mandarin phrases thrown in for good measure, but his slight lisp doesn't help with the Mandarin. Secondly, he's a boxer and his movements are powerful and seem rough when seen in juxtaposition with the graceful moves of Ip Man. The fight between Ip Man and Frank is inevitable, as is the outcome. Side note: Donnie Yen broke Tyson's finger in that scene. The best fight in the film, among many good fights, is between Ip Man and Tin-chi. Also, there is a scene in an elevator between Ip Man and a Thai fighter  with poor Mrs IP trapped in the corner that is pretty good.

There is one more film in the series and I look forward to that. Also, there is another one with Tin-Chi called Master Z, and I'll watch that too. I'll give this film 4.5 Stars.

Saturday, February 11, 2023

Saturday is Horror Day #100 - Smile, Silence of the Lambs

 I'd like to start by saying welcome to the 100th post of Saturday is Horror Day! Little did I know when I first began to write this weekly adventure into the horror genre that it would last this long, but here we are. My first review is for the movie Smile, but I am going to look for something I like better before I post this for a second review. Thanks for taking the journey with me, hope you are enjoying the reviews and plan to continue to ride along!


Psychiatrist Rose Cotter (Sosie Bacon) has a disturbing encounter with a patient who insists that she is being stalked by an entity who changes faces and forms, but has only one constant - its smile. Trying to probe further into the young woman's problems, their session comes to a chilling end, traumatizing Rose.  Having witnessed her suicide, not only can Rose not get it out of her mind, but she is beginning to see strange things herself. The more she sees, the less people believe or trust her, and she is about to become a part of the same institution where she works, except for viewing it from the inside! Will no one save her from the creature who smiles?

I will admit this was a creepy film, but not anything extraordinary. Decent writing and acting, but a not 

overly complex plot which isn't even fully explained. I never did understand who or what the creature was. Nonetheless it's worth watching at least once. If for no other reason, than to see Kal Penn as Rose's boss. Also, Robin Weigert plays Rose's therapist. A good evening's entertainment. I'll give it 3.5 Stars

I decided to rewatch one of my favorite films for this post, hope you enjoy it too!

Silence of the Lambs

FBI trainee Clarice Starling (Jodie Foster) is called into the office of her supervisor, Jack Crawford (Scott Glenn), the last thing she expects is to receive an actual field assignment. He tells her that they are doing a survey among a number of known and incarcerated serial killers for a study. Most of them have been cooperative, but one in particular has not and he wants Starling to approach him with the survey and to see if she can get answers out of him. Clarice is surprised that this seems to take priority right now, what with the killer Buffalo Bill on the loose - so-called because he likes to skin his humps. But what can she do but obey? So off to Baltimore she goes.

Hannibal Lecter (Anthony Hopkins) has been incarcerated at the Baltimore Hospital for the Criminally Insane for a dozen years. He is held securely behind a wall of glass at the end of the hall. The director of the hospital, Dr. Frederick Chilton (Anthony Heald) is not only obnoxious but ambitious. He's miffed when Clarice snubs his advances and his assistance. Dr. Lecter becomes intrigued by Clarice and her naivete and toys with her. But when another inmate disrespects her, he gives her some actual information.

Clarice follows the clues Lecter obliquely gave her and discovers a severed head in the back seat of an 

old car in a storage unit. Crawford takes her with him unexpectedly after the discovery of another corpse in West Virginia, and she suddenly realizes she has become part of the Buffalo Bill case. In the meantime, Catherine Martin  (Brooke Smith), daughter of Senator Ruth Martin (Diane Baker) is kidnapped, and finds herself at the bottom of a well, being told to put the lotion on her skin.

Jealous of Clarice's continued association with Lecter, Dr Chilton bugs his cell and learns some interesting information that Crawford has fed to Lecter through Starling. But Chilton decides to make his own deal with the distraught senator in hopes of fostering his own career. However, he'll learn soon enough what it means to make an enemy of Hannibal Lecter. Clarice is racing against time, as Buffalo Bill is known to kill his victims after three days. But why? And what is the meaning of the marks on their backs? And why a death's head moth?

Tick tock, tick tock...time is ticking, Clarice...

Based on the novel by Thomas Harris, Silence of the Lambs is a magnificent thriller that keeps you guessing to the very last minute. Jodie Foster shines as Clarice, the naive young woman whose greatest desire is to be in the FBI, and aspires to be a profiler. Scott Glenn is her supervisor, Jack Crawford, who takes a chance on a trainee to entice Lecter into helping with the Buffalo Bill case, although he doesn't tell her that. Ted Levine is incredible as Jame Gumb (I am a huge Ted Levine fan) and his dance is pretty amazing. But the star of the show, without a doubt, is Sir Anthony Hopkins as Hannibal Lecter, one of the most fascinating characters to be found both in the book and on the silver screen. Prior to this, there was a film of the novel Red Dragon, called Manhunter, which starred Brian Cox as Lecter. But once Hopkins assumed the role, it became his.

Direction, acting, writing - this film has it all. And it stands up to repeated viewings. I don't think I'll ever get tired of this. I'll give this film 5 Stars.

Wednesday, February 8, 2023

Wednesday Briefs: Bad Karma and the Family Plan #60 (12.5) by Julie Lynn Hayes

Good morning and Happy Hump Day! If it's Wednesday, then it must be time for more flash fiction from the Wednesday Briefers! We're a group of authors who bring you our finest flash fiction every week, 500 to 1000 words, inspired by one of our prompts.

Troy is taking everyone at the Thorne house to breakfast, even the reluctant Joe Jr. Will things run smoothly? See what's happening in this week's chapter of Bad Karma and the Family Plan! Don't forget to visit the other Briefers and see what's up with them. Their links follow my tale! Enjoy!

Bad Karma and the Family Plan #60 (12.5)

Even as we were working out the details of where to have breakfast, something kept tickling the back of my brain, something I couldn’t quite put my finger on. And then I realized with a start what it was. Today was Sunday. So why wasn’t Reverend Thorne in the pulpit, pontificating and doing his weekly minister thing?

The same thought must have occurred to Ethan as we exchanged troubled looks. Sundays to us were usually days of rest, being lazy as we relaxed around the house (when we weren’t on assignment, of course). Not being churchgoers, we hadn’t automatically made the cosmic connection between his father’s being with his family and not being in his church.

Maureen supplied the answer to that mystery when she commented that having an assistant pastor was very beneficial, and allowed them to have more family time. Since Joseph Sr. didn’t repudiate her words, we had to conclude that Ethan’s father was indeed changing. And what a wondrous thought that was. Too bad the same couldn’t be said for his elder son. But I also couldn’t help but wonder if Heather was putting the same moves on the assistant pastor as she had on Reverend Thorne, now that he seemed to be behaving himself.

Ethan thought it best we coordinate with Anderson as well, considering we were all under surveillance. We finally settled on a home style restaurant in nearby Jasper and informed our boss of our plans so he could notify the agents keeping watch on the house. Since there were ten of us, we decided to split up into three cars.

Troy, being the absolute gentleman that he is, made Sarah’s day by inviting her and Alex to ride with him and Brendan. Ethan and I opted to take Uncle Benny, first making sure our pup was taken care of. That left Mr. Obnoxious, aka Joey, to ride along with his parents. I wasn’t about to shed any tears over that arrangement, let me tell you.

I got the distinct impression that Ethan’s brother would rather not go with us. He sidled in the direction of the stairs, probably with the idea of escape in mind. I’m not sure where he intended to go as his room was occupied with Sarah’s and Alex’s stuff, but he was quickly found out by his mother. Mothers have the maternal version of spidey senses, I swear. Without breaking a sweat, she told him to forget it. She gave him no choice but to join us, so for once he wisely held his tongue and got into his father’s car without a single protest. Troy helped Sarah place Alex’s car seat in the back of his rental as Ethan and Benny and I got into our own rental.

The skies were slightly overcast as we left, but the sun showed great promise of emerging in a blaze of glory, probably before noon. I could live with temperatures in the fifties. Truth be told, though, living in Virginia was spoiling me. Back in Joliet, this would have been a heat wave. Gotta love the South.

Once we were all in place, Reverend Thorne led the cavalcade to the restaurant. I noticed two cars tailed us, but I couldn’t count the agents through the tinted glass. Not that it mattered. I felt secure knowing they were behind us.

The restaurant was very warm and cozy, everything you’d want a small town restaurant to be. As I had predicted, the early morning breakfast crowd had gone on their merry way and we had no trouble in getting a table. Two tables, actually, pushed together on the less occupied side of the restaurant to accommodate our number.

Our server was a chipper thirty-something brunette with a friendly smile and an attitude that screamed she was glad to see us. She brought out a high chair for little Alex and fussed over him, proclaiming him “just the cutest little man”. Alex, of course, ate it up. Especially when she brought him a small bowl of cereal rings—with his mama’s permission, of course—both to tide him over until the food arrived and keep him occupied. I suspected she had kids of her own and knew how to keep them happy and under control.

Speaking of kids brought Ethan’s question to mind, the one I’d deliberately pushed aside when he asked. Did I want kids? I still didn’t know, not surprisingly, and tabled the question again…for now, anyway.

 to be continued

Now go visit the other Briefers and see what's up!

Cia Nordwell

Sunday, February 5, 2023

Book Review: Assassination Classroom, Vol 6 by Yusei Matsui


Assassination Classroom, Vol 6    

Author: Yusei Matsui

Publisher: Viz Media

American release date:  October 6, 2015

Format/Genre/Length: Paperback/Action Adventure Manga/192 pages

Overall Personal Rating: ★★★★★


Now that his class has learned that one of Koro Sensei’s weaknesses is water, they decide to come up with an assassination plan utilizing that knowledge! While pretending to play around in the new pool he created for them, they’ll throw him into the water. Once he is underneath and helpless, a hidden student will take advantage of his helplessness and stab him. Meg Kataoka is perfect for the job, being a top swimmer, and she is more than up for the challenge! When Meg reveals the reason why, with her good grades, she fell down to Class E, because of a supposed friend, her true friends and Koro Sensei decide to help her break the one-sided co-dependency.

When the pool is unexpectedly trashed, some of the students look toward Terasaka and his friends as the culprits, largely because of his horrible attitude toward school in general and Class 3E in particular. Itona and his assassin/mentor take advantage of Terasaka’s feelings to recruit him for some work for them, namely to help assassinate Koro Sensei. But when their actions endanger the other students and not just Koro Sensei, can Terasaka really go along with the program?

The time has arrived for the Final Exams! As extra incentive, those students who receive first place in a subject in their grade will be allowed to shoot off one of Koro Sensei’s tentacles. Karasuma and Irina warn Principal Asano not to interfere with the tests, and he claims he would never do such a thing. Asano does tell his very intelligent son, who is top of his class, that he expects Class A to defeat Class E. His son says he is sure he can do it, and makes a bet that when he does, his father has to tell him the secret he is hiding about Class E (which would be about Koro Sensei, who is unknown to most of the school, as well as the world). The principal agrees. Than young Asano and his cohorts make their own private bet with Class E, with special stakes.

By now, this class of would-be assassins is beginning to be conflicted. While on the one hand, they are seriously studying to assassinate their teacher and save the world, on the other hand, they like him quite a bit. When the time comes, will they actually be able to follow through? In this volume, we see more of Terasaka, who has been hovering on the edge of the class. But now he is faced with a do or die decision and will hopefully grow in the process. The final exams are going to be real nail-biters, especially given the track records of the other students and their principal. Is it possible there will be no monkey wrenches thrown into the works to sabotage them? Only time will tell.

Good volume, look forward to the next one!


Saturday, February 4, 2023

Saturday is Horror Day #99 - Barbarian


Tess (Georgina Campbell) books a night at an AirBnB for a job interview the following day. Arriving during a storm, she discovers to her dismay that when she uses the code on the lockbox, the key isn't there. That isn't supposed to work that way. Then her irritation turns to confusion when she sees a light inside. Knocking, she discovers that Keith (Bill Skarsgärd) is already there and he too has a reservation for the night. Tess decides to leave but Keith persuades her to stay, and gives her the bedroom. She is wary but doesn't have much of a choice. She goes to her room and closes the door, before going to bed. But in the middle of the night, she awakens, hearing a noise, to find her door open. She confronts the sleeping Keith, who denies all knowledge of the door.

Tess goes to her interview the next day and is shocked to see the neighborhood surrounding the AirBnB consists of decrepit, boarded-up houses. Good thing she isn't staying long. After her interview, she returns to the house but there is no sign of Keith. When the power acts up, she heads to the basement to deal with it, only to accidentally lock herself in when the door closes behind her. And she has left her phone upstairs. Searching for a way out, she stumbles upon a secret room which contains a bed whose mattress is covered in suspicious stains and a camera on a tripod. Who knows what once went on in this place. Spying a door, she opens it to discover what appear to be steps carved into the ground, leading down...

AJ (Justin Long) is a one-time actor whose career was ruined by false accusations from a female co-

star. Determined to get away from it all, he decides to go to one of the properties he owns, which he rents out as an AirBnB. He's confused to find evidence of occupation, since no one is supposed to be there.  But it looks like a couple of people are staying there, although they aren't in evidence. In looking around, he heads down to the basement and is locked in too. Then he too discovers the secret room, which leads to the secret door leading down, down, down... to where? Hearing a cry, he heads down to find out.

To be honest, this is the point where I just gtfo some other way and not down those creepy stairs. But then where would the movie be, right? She does go down the stairs, of course. This movie is not what it first appears to be. And it is pretty creepy. I'll admit I didn't find the ending as disturbing as some might, but I've seen this trope before. It's not something one would readily guess, though. Definitely worth watching, and probably rewatching. I'll give this film 4 Stars.

Wednesday, February 1, 2023

Wednesday Briefs: Bad Karma and the Family Plan #59 (12.4)

 Good morning and Happy Hump Day! If it's Wednesday, then it must be time for more flash fiction from the Wednesday Briefers! We're a group of authors who bring you our finest flash fiction every week, 500 to 1000 words, inspired by one of our prompts.

The long night has finally ended, and now it's time to go to breakfast with Hollywood hunk Troy McGarrett! Ethan's sister is surely in heaven now! See what's going on in this week's chapter of Bad Karma and the Family Plan! Don't forget to visit the other Briefers and see what's up with them! Their links follow my tale! Enjoy!

Bad Karma and the Family Plan #59 (12.4)

Call me unobservant, at least where women were concerned, but until that moment, I hadn’t noticed two things about Ethan’s sister. The first was that she was dressed rather nicely for first thing in the morning, at least when compared to how I remembered the way she dressed when she stayed with Ethan and me. The second was that she was wearing more make-up than I’d ever seen her use before. Not that I’m saying she was in full clown mode or anything like that. To be honest, it was minimal but tasteful… and I found myself wondering what Ethan might look like with make-up.

Note to self: Explore that possibility at a later date.

“I’ll get that!” she exclaimed in a chipper voice as she practically raced to the front door before the rest of us had even a ghost of a chance of responding.

Ethan cast a worried glance after her, and I knew what he was thinking. What if it wasn’t a certain actor standing outside? But moments later, our fears proved to be unfounded as Troy and Brendan trailed Sarah into the house. Their arrival was quickly followed by that of Ethan’s parents from upstairs.

The ever-polite Troy and Brendan wished everyone good morning and apologized for arriving so early.

“Nonsense,” Maureen responded. “You are both very welcome in our home. We’re very glad to have you, aren’t we, Joe?”

I glanced curiously toward my future father-in-law—and trust me when I say what a strange notion that was, to become related to the once-sinister minister—to see what his reaction would be. Joseph was at his most charming and seconded his wife’s words.

“I’m the one who should apologize for oversleeping,” Maureen went on, although truth be told it was still early. Barely eight o’clock. “Now, why don’t I put some coffee on? I bet most everyone could use a cup.”

Well, that did go without saying, didn’t it? I knew we were about to go out for breakfast, but even so, you couldn’t have too much of a good thing. Besides, that would give the early morning crowd, assuming there was one, time to thin out before we got there.

“Vinnie and I can do that, Mom,” Ethan volunteered our services. Not that I minded. That would just be some alone time for the two of us. I noticed Troy seemed about to offer to help as well, which would mean Brendan too, of course. But then he took one look at me, and I thought I caught a twinkle in his blue eyes, as if he knew just what I was thinking, and he turned his attention to Sarah instead, to her great delight.

“I’m shocked that Ethan never told me he had such a lovely sister.” I swear he just developed a very Southern accent such as I hadn’t heard since that ill-fated movie. I rolled my eyes and followed Ethan into the kitchen.

Once I was sure we hadn’t been followed, I pulled him to me and kissed him most thoroughly. Let’s just call this the early morning fiancé inspection. Utilizing both lips and tongue, I quickly ascertained that all was well. Better than well, actually—Ethan Thorne was perfect.

“How you holding up, Vinnie?” Ethan was nothing if not solicitous. Always thinking of me first. How could I help but love that man?

“There are worse places we could be,” I said, which produced a raised brow. Oops, open mouth, insert foot. My cheeks heated at my faux pas.

“I didn’t mean it like that,” I immediately apologized. I really hadn’t. Luckily, he knew that too. “I just meant that under the circumstances, we’re pretty lucky to be able to spend time with your family. Well, most of them.”

“Yeah, I know what you mean.” Ethan sighed. “Joey has gotten worse, I think. The stress of Heather leaving him must weigh on him. If I was in his shoes, I know I couldn’t bear not being with you. I’m trying to be understanding, but he certainly makes that difficult.”

Wasn’t that the truth?

“You know I’d never leave you, right?” I thought I knew the answer to that question, but I am still a little insecure… Okay, maybe more insecure than I’d like to admit. But hey, I’m getting better. Still, better to ask than to wonder.

“I know that,” he replied, gazing at me with those beautiful blue eyes so intensely I felt my insides begin to melt. Damn, I wished we were alone, but alas, that wasn’t meant to be. At least not anytime soon.

Our moment was interrupted by the entrance of Alex and our pup. It was hard to tell who was chasing who, but they looked as though they were both having fun.

“We better get on to making that coffee.” Ethan winked at me. “To be continued later.”

For now, I had to douse those fires burning inside of me, keep them on smolder. But I knew we’d find a way, and that would be well worth the wait.

 to be continued

Now go see what's up with the other Briefers!

Cia Nordwell