Sunday, August 26, 2012

Zero Mostel

The challenge for August is to read a book about a super-hero.  Super as a noun can be defined as an article of superior quality, grade, size and as an adjective as of the highest degree, power of extreme or excessive degree.  A hero is a man of distinguished courage or ability or one who has heroic qualities.  A hero can also be the male character in a story.

The dust jacket for Zero Mostel a biography by Jared Brown states " Mostel was a uniquely talented actor, a gargantuan personality, and a man of many contradictions.  He was huge in stature..."  Certainly anyone who was six feet tall and weighed 300 pounds would be considered super at least in size.  He certainly by the above description had a large personality also.  Since, Zero is the main male character in this story of his life he is the hero of his own story.  Within the book it states that when Mr. Mostel returned to New York after his testimony before the committee that determined who was a Communist and hence blacklisted, "he received a hero's welcome from his family and friends."

In 1938, the House of Representatives created a temporary investigating committee called the Committee on UnAmericcan Activities or HUAC.  They investigated the Federal Theatre as they felt the its employees were engaged in a conspiract to overthrow our government. The Federal Theatre went out of existane in 1939.  If you denouced communism and cooperated with the committee you were ok otherwise you were considered unpatriotic and subversive.  This committee became a standing committee in 1945.  A political blacklist that would deprive any witnesses who refused to cooperate of their jobs was supposedly created between the Chairman of the committee and Hollywood producers. 

Zero when called to testify had to be funny.  He could not take anything seriously.  Zero would not name names.  He "emerged from the hearing with his dignity intat, he had the courage to assert his belief in freedom of speech and to oppose the committee's attempts to limit that freedom."  This is why he was called a hero.  He did not name anyone.  He retreated to his painting studio for a year after he testified.

Mr. Mostel won three Tony awards after the hearings.  His best known role was that of Tevye in Fidler on the Roof on and off Broadway.  Though he did not play the part in the movie.  

I did not know of Mr. Mostel's love of painting before I read this book or that he was blacklisted.  I did remember hearing about others being blacklisted and author's using others to front their works.  This book is well written and allowed opportunities to reflect on what was written.  Zero is certainly not a traditional super-hero but anyone who can stand up to a Congressional Committee the way he did is a hero in my estimate!

Friday, August 17, 2012

Science Fiction

I obtained The 5 Moons of Tiiana/The Chronicles of Rez Cantor: A swashbuckling, science fiction epic filled with adventure, mystery, romance, and fantasy by Paul Harry from Amazon for free on July 31, 2012.  This e-book was free for a limited time.

Rez Cantor is the protector of the Crown Princess of Melana and holds the rank of Captain.  When Melana empire is to be overthrown by the Relcor and the royal family killed.  He is asked to save Princess Leanna.  They flee the planet in a warp-drive ship which is blown up.  Rez winds up on one of the moons of Tiiana and is taken prisoner.  The book tells of how he escapes and how he is re-united with Leanna.  Before, he can return home he must save Tiiana.  Rez meets many "people" on the moons of Tiiana and unites the various species he meets to conquer their enemies.

I enjoyed the descriptions of the various species and the various locals.  Pyramids hide a means of travel between the various moons which Rez eventually understands.  The author loved Edgar Rice Burroughs Mars series and created this book along the same lines as that one.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Death In Show

Death in Show is another Dog Walker Mystery by Judi McCoy.  I am hooked on this series about Ellie, the dog walker, and Rudy, her own dog.

In Death in Show, Lulu, one of the dogs that Ellie walks is entered in the MACC which is a big dog show.  When Lulu's handler dies, her owner asks Ellie to be Lulu's new handler.  Ellie who feels very nervous in public agrees after Lulu "tells" her that she will lead the way.  Of course, things get complicated because Sam Ryder, Ellie's boyfriend, is assigned to investigate the murder.  Back on the dog walking front, Ellie is having trouble with her latest assistant walker.

I don't want to say how Lulu does in the dog show as that is a good part of the book.

I am reading the next book in the series and will probably finish that shortly, also.  I am a big fan of this series and gave Death in Show 5 stars on Goodreads.