Monthly Archives: September 2014

“The Golem of Hollywood” by Jonathan and Jesse Kellerman— A Supernatural Mystery


Kellerman, Jonathan and Jesse. “The Golem of Hollywood”, 
Putnam Adult, 2014.

A Supernatural Mystery

Amos Lassen

The story of the Golem of Prague seems to be a story that will last forever—each new generation is taken with it. The Golem was a creature fashioned by a sixteenth-century rabbi to protect his congregation and it is now lying dormant in the garret of a synagogue or so was thought. It appears that the Golem is no longer.

When detective Jacob Lev awakes one morning, he is confused and befuddled. He thinks that he picked up a beautiful girl in a bar the night before but he can’t really remember anything more about it and she is suddenly gone before he realizes it or has a chance to ask a question. This is but a minor mystery when we consider his new case. He is sent to investigate a murder scene high up in the Hollywood hills. He has received a new assignment to a Special Projects squad, one he did not know ever existed. No body could be found and all that was there was a head, unidentified, on the floor of the house. Burned into the wooden kitchen counter was the word “justice” written in Hebrew.

This case will take Lev on quite a journey—Los Angeles, other parts of America, London and Prague and it will test all that he has learned and believed. Jonathan and Jesse Kellermans (father and son) give us a book that is part mystery, part folklore, part fantasy, and part biblical history lesson. There are parallel stories and we meet the following characters: Jacob Lev, a discredited alcoholic former LAPD detective, busted to traffic patrol, the family of Cain and Abel, Jacob’s father Sam, rabbinic and Kabala scholar who is dealing with the memory of Jacob’s bi-polar (schizophrenic) artistic mother, a mysterious faction of the LAPD, calling themselves “Special Projects,” that mysteriously enlists Lev to solve a bizarre case and then there are giant bugs, the Golem of Prague and Rabbi Loeb/Loew who created the Golem back in 1580

Lev is given a credit card, a computer, some forensic assistance, and instructions to solve the case. As he moves to begin his investigation so does the Cain and Abel family. Lev travels though Hollywood, to Prague and beyond, hunting down the perpetrator(s) of the crimes and the mysteries behind them. Actually solving the crime is no problem—it is how Lev solves it. The story begins in the present and we learn that Lev had once been a religious Orthodox Jew who is now an agnostic. Because of his religious background he is put on the case and then the action of the story moves back in time to the Bible and to the story of Cain and Abel. In fact the entire book moves back and forth in time.

 There are chapters about Lev, his police work and personal life and then there is the Biblical story and then there is the story of the 16th century Jewish mystic, the Maharal of Prague, and his legendary golem. It does help if you know some of the Jewish background but it is not really necessary.

So we have these story lines going on and eventually they merge but much later. Lev’s story is straightforward and cleverly printed on white paper while the biblical story of Cain and Abel is printed on pages with a tint. In this way, it is possible, but not recommended, to read each story separately.

 The Detective Lev story is presented to the reader on white pages. The story of Cain & Abel story comes to us on white paper which has a kind of misty tint to the pages. If you wanted, you could read the stories separately because the white pages stand out clearly from the tinted pages.

The two stories take place in cultures which are entirely different from each other and which are separated by thousands of years. Both are excellent reads with great dialogue, plot and characters. Then we add the Golem story which does not come together with the others until the very end. There were moments when I admired the ambition of the authors but then were also moments when I felt that this had to be one of the most ludicrous books I have ever read. Here we meet a cop who at 31 one years old is washed up in his career, has been married and divorced twice, a Harvard dropout and a drinker. But he is also a Jew, albeit a lapsed one and we do not find too many Jewish cops (in California anyway). Because of this, he gets a special assignment and our story begins. And this is also where I stop summarizing and chide you to get a copy and have a great time reading this book.

“Parting Ways: Jewishness and the Critique of Zionism” by Judith Butler— Judith Butler Has Her Say and Falls from the Ivory Tower

parting ways

Butler, Judith. “Parting Ways: Jewishness and the Critique of Zionism” (New Directions in Critical Theory), Columbia University Press, 2012.

Judith Butler Has Her Say and Falls from the Ivory Tower

Amos Lassen

Judith Butler was one of my heroes when I was both a graduate and undergraduate student. But then Butler took a turn and lost many who loved and respected her. I am so reminded of what happened to Hannah Arendt and how she was left alone after having done so much academically. Butler, however, is a much more serious case. She is a critic of political Zionism and she maintains that it uses illegitimate state violence, promotes nationalism (dud!) and state-sponsored racism. She looks at various thinkers— Edward Said, Emmanuel Levinas, Hannah Arendt, Primo Levi, Martin Buber, Walter Benjamin, and Mahmoud Darwish and then gives her new political ethic which while indeed political is not in any way ethical. She has decided to dispute Israel’s claim to represent the Jewish people. She tries to show that a narrowly Jewish framework cannot suffice as a basis for an ultimate critique of Zionism. She then “ promotes an ethical position in which the obligations of cohabitation do not derive from cultural sameness but from the unchosen character of social plurality”.

She looks back at the arguments of Zionist thinkers and disputes the specific charge of anti-Semitic self-hatred often leveled against Jewish critiques of Israel. Her new political ethic rests on a vision of “cohabitation that thinks anew about binationalism and exposes the limits of a communitarian framework to overcome the colonial legacy of Zionism”. Her ideas are drawn from Edward Said and Mahmoud Darwish and form an important point of departure and conclusion for her engagement with some key forms of thought while derived in part from Jewish resources are always in relation to the non-Jew.

Butler looks the rights of the dispossessed, the necessity of plural cohabitation, and the dangers of arbitrary state violence, showing how they can be extended to a critique of Zionism, even when that is not their explicit aim. Further she revisits and affirms Edward Said’s late proposals for a one-state solution within the ethos of binationalism. Butler presents a startling suggestion: “Jewish ethics not only demand a critique of Zionism, but must transcend its exclusive Jewishness in order to realize the ethical and political ideals of living together in radical democracy”. It seems that her purpose is to intervene in the current political discourse and give her own Jewish concern about the state of Israel and how it relates to the “other”. She says that it is possible to develop a perspective on Israel/Palestine that is not Zionist and therefore it is easier to assert resistance to the Zionist movement as a Jewish value. In doing so, Butler question what it means to be Jewish and we see that she has no idea of an answer to that question—although she thinks she does.

In effect what Butler does here is attack Israel and its policies as it has been since the  country’s birth. It is very clear that she has adopted to Arab narrative and she accuses Israel of state – violence, willful dispossession and expulsion of the Palestinian Arabs.  What she does  not do is put the conflict in proper historical context. She does not even try to look at Israel’s efforts of peace with her neighbors. She also does not consider the constant and repeated that Israel has suffered from those who wish to destroy the country (and at all costs). I am quite sure that Butler derived some happiness with the latest attacks by Hamas against Israel. Hamas clearly states that it wants to see all Jews wiped off the face of the earth and that would also include Butler herself. She says that the constant threat is minimal yet she does not argue for the expulsion of the Jews of Israel as other anti-Zionists do. Her preference is for one-state solution and she believes that if that were to happen, then social equality would prevail and become the rule. As I look at America today from my home in Massachusetts, one of the states that does maintain some semblance of social equality, I think about those Americans living in Arkansas and Mississippi who have never experienced any kind of equality much less social.

Butler here relies on Jewish thinkers of the past Hannah Arendt, Primo Levi, and Walter Benjamin to explain this concept. Two of the other thinkers she relies upon, Edward Said and Mohammed Darwish want to see the State of Israel gone. as sources for her thought. Her thought, along with theirs, delegitimizes the Jewish state.

She also goes back to Hannah Arendt but she needs a refresher course on her. Arendt worked to send refugees in France to Israel , and told her great friend Mary McCarthy before the Six- Day War that the one public tragedy which would cause her greatest pain was destruction of Israel. Interesting that she would not include this but then it goes against her thinking. Has she also forgotten that Arendt was vilified by Jews after her thoughts on Eichmann were made public? Of course Butler has Sarah Schulman on her side but Schulman is little more than a nasty voice from an anti-Semitic Jew. Schulman always needs a cause and this year’s is Palestine—next year she may rail against breakfast cereal—the cause makes no difference but Schulman must rabble rouse about something otherwise she loses reason to exist.

Butler has distorted the thought of some Jewish intellectuals but she has done something even worse— she sides with and defends the enemies of Israel at the time that Israel’s existence is in great danger with the existence of the universal against the country. What is interesting is that she, like Schulman, holds on the being Jewish while other Jews of the radical left have abandoned their religion. This, for me, is the most offensive thing of all.

Butler (and her advocate Schulman) are totally ignorant of the history of the Jewish people and their relation to the land. She does not let any facts hinder what she has to say or her agenda which is fiction. There was never a Palestinian Arab nation in the Middle East. She ignores that.

Butler is an obvious Jewish anti-Semite. Here this is not a name but a disease. She cannot see reality and. comes across as being somewhat mentally off. Israel cannot be separated from the Jewish people.

 Trying the “separate” Israel from the Jewish people has been tried before and it has failed miserably before. What I do not understand is why Butler and her kind feel they have to espouse what they think here in the United States. Would they not be more comfortable in Gaza where there are many like them? For Schulman that would be an impossibility as she is an out lesbian and we are all aware at how Islam deals with sexual “deviants”. Butler is protected here in America and she can say whatever she wants.

I do not understand how American universities hire these people and allow them to spew their hatred. These are the minds that will teach future generations of Americans—we can only hope, that for once, they do not listen. Is it wrong to hope that she would part ways with us like her title suggests?

Below is some biographical information about Judith Butler—such a wonderful mind that is used for no gain.

 “Judith Butler is Maxine Elliot Professor in the Departments of Rhetoric and Comparative Literature and the co-director of the Program of Critical Theory at the University of California, Berkeley. She received her Ph.D. in philosophy from Yale University and was recently awarded the Andrew Mellon Award for Distinguished Academic Achievement in the Humanities. Her many books include The Power of Religion in the Public Sphere (with Jürgen Habermas, Charles Taylor, and Cornel West); Who Sings the Nation-State?: Language, Politics, Belonging (with Gayatri Spivak); and Is Critique Secular? (with Talal Asad, Saba Mahmood, and Wendy Brown)”.

“Homosexuality and Masturbation Refuted” by Prof WA Liebenberg— WTF???????

homosexuality and masturbation refuted

Liebenberg, WA Prof. “Homosexuality and Masturbation Refuted”, Amazon Digital Services, Inc.. 2014


Amos Lassen

We live in a world where anyone who wants to write a book about anything can do so and Amazon will sell it. How this piece of trash ever got published I will never know nor will I understand. Let me give you the blurb in the author’s own words:

 “Most homosexuals and their heterosexual supporters argue that homosexuality is an inborn condition, and one, moreover, that is no less valid than heterosexuality. They maintain that to discriminate in any way against a person because of his or her sexual orientation is the moral equivalent of discrimination against a person on the basis of colour or religion; that is to say, “rubbish” plain and simple. Jewish law also clearly prohibits male masturbation.” (Does anyone see any connection between these ideas?).

 “I keep hearing people say that YHWH hates sin but loves the sinner. Is it really what the Bible teaches? There are of course plenty verses in the Bible about how God hates the sinner. (Where are they?)  It is mind boggling how quick Christians can ‘select’ certain verses of the Old Covenant and then leave the rest out which as they say “does not apply anymore”…” (Can you give examples?)

 “The study proves: (says who?)

• Sexual relations/acts between homosexuals are clearly forbidden by the Torah. Such acts are condemned in the strongest possible terms, as abhorrent. (They are? Chapter and verse please—at least he spelled abhorrent correctly).

• The sin of sexual relations/acts between homosexuals is punishable by death by YHWH’s standard. (It is? Chapter and verse please)

• Homosexuals and pro-gay church leaders grossly misinterpret Scriptures concerning the relationship between Jonathan and David to promote homosexuality in the Bible. (They do?)

• Masturbation is forbidden in the Bible. (Chapter and verse please—what is written here seems to be part of the author’s masturbatory fantasy).

• YHWH hates the wicked and sin. (Define “wisked and sin” as YHWH [who?] does).

 Brace yourself, this booklet will challenge you!” (I am not challenged but I am amazed at your stupidity, however).

Yes indeed—you will be challenged—I am challenged to find the jackass who wrote this book and tell him a thing or two. I have no idea what Torah he looked at but it was not the one I read everyday. I have never read such garbage in my life and this man claims to be a professor? Why am I even bothering with this poor excuse of humanity? He is a lonely turd sitting on the toilet of his own life.

I have posted this in the gay fiction category.

“Plato at the Googleplex: Why Philosophy Won’t Go Away” by Rebecca Goldstein— Is Philosophy Relevant Today?


Goldstein, Rebecca. “Plato at the Googleplex: Why Philosophy Won’t Go Away”, Pantheon, 2014.

Is Philosophy Relevant Today?

Amos Lassen

 As a former philosophy undergrad major, I faced the question of the obsolescence of the discipline on a daily basis. Now almost 50 years later, I still have not resolved the issue. Are those ancient questions still relevant in the age of cosmology and neuroscience and crowd-sourcing and cable news? The acclaimed philosopher and novelist Rebecca Newberger Goldstein takes us into the drama of philosophy and shows us its hidden role in today’s debates on religion, morality, politics, and science. 

Standing at the origin of Western philosophy is Plato, who got about as much wrong as one would expect from a thinker who lived 2,400 years ago yet his role in shaping philosophy was pivotal. Goldstein is concerned primarily with the fate of philosophy. To understand this there are questions to be asked—Is the discipline no more than a way of biding our time until the scientists arrive on the scene? Have they already arrived? Does philosophy itself ever make progress? And if it does, why is so ancient a figure as Plato of any continuing relevance?

Plato brought ideas to life by using dialogue. Can we imagine Plato in the 21st century on a speaking tour? What would be his reaction to news programs that deny there can be morality without religion?  How would he mediate a debate between a Freudian psychoanalyst and a tiger mom on how to raise the perfect child? How would he answer a neuroscientist who argues that science has definitively answered the questions of free will and moral agency? What would Plato make of Google, and of the idea that knowledge can be crowd-sourced rather than reasoned out by experts? These are also the issues that plague us today.

 Goldstein examines the continuous nature of philosophical questioning through a partly expository  and partly fictional presentation of the thought of Plato. Many feel that all Western philosophy basically constitutes a series of “footnotes to Plato”.

Goldstein uses philosophy, fiction, and much else in this book and we find here one of those rare thinkers that writes with knowledge and insight on diverse, difficult subjects such as ancient philosophy and history, popular culture, Spinoza, and the mathematical philosopher Kurt Godel. Goldstein has a handle on it all and se does so with great ease. She starts by saying that science fiction novels required that you accept one absurd premise and then the rest of the novel had to obey common logic. She has done basically the same with this book.

She has moved Plato from around 400 B.C.E. and placed him in think tank discussions, Google headquarters, and cable TV talking heads debates and thereby she shows not only did Plato set the groundwork for rigorous debate, but that he is as relevant today as he ever was. However, she makes it clear that Plato was imperfect, partly for living in a time that was in the dark ages .

Goldstein explains in the first chapter Plato’s place in history and why Plato’s argument for making the abstract as relevant as the concrete. Then she moves on in the next chapter where Plato argues with a technophile at a chic bar in San Francisco about how arguments are made. The techie believes in the democracy of the Internet and crowd sourcing, using Google as a “rolling plebiscite” but he soon finds his arguments refuted by Plato. The great philosopher shows the difference between “Google information” and real knowledge.

 We constantly encounter some concept that began with Plato—politics, art, science—Plato was there first. ? Plato wrote entire books on public service and leadership. He pioneered ideas in physical cosmology yet the modern world resists Plato and this book is an attempt to find out why this is so. We have been led to believe that philosophy begins with one question—Why?

Philosophy, as we understand the word, begins with one fundamental question: “Why?”  This is the word that leads to dialogue and conversation. While Plato may be the foundation of philosophy, he did not invent it. It actually began with Greek scholars discussing what we now call science. They developed speculative cosmology. Plato shifted philosophy’s focus off physical science and onto human spirits. He initiated questions about education, politics, and morals are seen daily in modern schools, elections, and daily life.

Goldstein concedes that not everything Plato records remains relevant today and that can only be understood by performing legitimate Platonic philosophy. Plato had remarkably progressive ideas about, say, women’s rights and governance. But he didn’t believe we existed individually; “rights” may have scandalized him thoroughly.

Goldstein pictures Plato wandering in modern American settings, encountering public thinkers and social pathfinders, he tests contemporary ideas against pure reason. Platonic philosophy allows us wide latitude and that unlike Enlightenment thinkers, Plato brings few presuppositions to his thought. He has principles but few demands. To test ideas like Plato, we need only ask one important question: can this idea withstand its opposite?

Plato is not easy reading and so we are lucky that we have Rebecca Goldstein to read him and interpret him for us. Plato’s questioning voice engages three modern hosts in exploring what knowledge means in an age of computerized crowd sourcing. Then there are other dialogues that put Plato into conversation with an advice columnist fielding questions about love and sex, with a child psychologist arguing with an obsessive mother, with a television broadcaster trying to score political points, and with a neuroscientist certain he can resolve all intellectual questions with brain scans. The fact that Goldstein is also a novelist brings these to life and her scholarship gives them substance.

I would not say that this is an easy read but it is a fascinating read. Unlike other books, sentences flow together only after careful thought and I love that a book can do that to me. We can only hope for more from Rebecca Goldstein.


theres no place like utopia

“There’s No Place Like Utopia”

Across America

Amos Lassen

In “The Wizard of Oz”, Dorothy followed the yellow brick road because she believed that when she reached the end, a wizard would make her dreams come true. She discovered however that the wizard had no power. Here was Dorothy looking for utopia and no one could show it to her.

Let’s look at what Utopia means: Utopia (Greek: No Place) is an imaginary, perfect society, where everyone is happy. In Utopia, man has been perfected, it is heaven on earth, all human beings are equal, and think and act the same. The idea of a mythical perfect society was first mentioned by Plato in his work The Republic in 380 BC. The word ‘Utopia’ was coined by Sir Thomas More in his 1516 book Utopia, depicting a fictional island paradise in the Atlantic Ocean. In the Wizard of Oz movie, the Land of Oz was depicted as Utopia.

In 1848, Karl Marx wrote in the Communist Manifesto that it is historically inevitable for societies to pass through four stages: feudalism, capitalism, socialism, and finally communism. In communist society, Marx described a ‘workers paradise’ where perfect happiness and universal fulfillment would be achieved though the abundance of goods and services that only a government controlled society could produce. In the modern era, socialists adopted Thomas More’s satirical idea of Utopia and Marx’s worker’s paradise as the realistic blueprint for a nation state. Ruling over ‘paradise,’ the leader of Communist society was considered to be ‘God on earth’. However, countries that adopted the Marxist model suffered economic devastation and biological destruction as 100 million were killed in peacetime through starvation, gulags, and political repression in an attempt to mold human beings to fit into Utopia.

 All through history, millions of people have believed charlatans like Mao, Stalin, Castro, and others, each of whom promised Utopia, but delivered something quite different some of which included the gulag, economic devastation, starvation, and mass murder.

Filmmaker Joel Gilbert shows us why Dorothy followed that yellow brick road. He takes us across America to see what is at the end of the rainbow and whether it is Utopia or something else. Gilbert confronts Progressives and takes us into their political fantasy of utopia. What we see is an exploration of that what is known as Progressivism, amnesty for illegals, race relations, Islam in America, political correctness, and Barack Obama himself, who promises to “remake the world as it should be.”  What has not been decided, however, is whether Utopia is the destination of America or is the truth that happiness in this country belongs at home and from home it will come.

Utopia is a fantasy, one that can never exist on earth. Yet socialists, who now call themselves “Progressives,” believe that Utopia is a realistic model for the modern nation state. Tragically, 100 million people were killed by Progressives in peace time in the 20th Century as they were recreated to fit into Utopia.

 In “The Wizard of Oz” we saw that there was no wizard. President Obama is also no wizard and his promises have turned out to be empty ones. Going back in history we see that America’s character was formed by the Declaration of Independence and the Bill of Rights. These documents created an American identity of individual freedom, free markets, free speech, and limited government. Yet, America has been under siege by a vast left wing conspiracy against these great principles for many years. Obama’s election was the culmination of an American socialist movement that Obama’s real father, Frank Marshall Davis, nurtured in Chicago and Hawaii, and that has been quietly infiltrating the US economy, universities, and media for decades. They successfully took over the Democrat party, which today is a radical socialist party. Now they have managed to fool most Americans with a simple change of terminology. There is still a strong traditional society in this country and there are still Americans who want a traditional life and lifestyle and they are willing to do what it takes to attain and keep it.

Using “The Wizard of Oz” as an extended metaphor for the trickery and fraud that underlies the quest to perfect human nature and bring about heaven on earth that Marx promised is how the director brings his message home. He takes on big themes and then tells us the story of what is happening today. Joel is the Dorothy of his film but his yellow brick road leads him to find out what happens when politics try to create utopias. Gilbert travels to Detroit, Newark, Miami, Washington, DC, Hollywood, Dearborn, Los Angeles Chicago’s South Side and Hyde Park, and Denver, as well as his hometown of Oak Ridge, Tennessee. “We visit the house where Bill Ayers and Bernardine Dohrn live, talk to Michelle Obama’s mother through her closed door at the house where Michelle grew up, and attempt to walk down the street where the Obamas lived in Hyde Park. We speak with Jack Cashill, Jerome Corsi, David Horowitz, and former KGB agent Konstantin Preobrazhensky, who provide background and context.” We meet both ordinary and extraordinary people who are coping with what the director calls “Obama’s America”.

The film is a wake-up call—we see a “dying, deteriorating America, sick mentally and physically”. Joel Gilbert unmasks the New Leftist masters of America. He also manages to explain to Americans many complicated things and ideas and does so in a fun way. What we see is very sad— the destruction of American political life, at the hands of the Americans themselves.

“Kissing the Golem” by Danielle Summers— Interracial and Interfaith

kissing the golem

Summers, Danielle. “Kissing the Golem”, Dark Hollows Press, 2014.

Interracial and Interfaith

Amos Lassen

I must say that I approached this short story with trepidation. Having grown up in the South as a double minority, Jewish and gay, I know what I had to deal with. Danielle Summers adds another dimension to that by adding race. This brings to the total of three minorities in one couple—Jewish, black and gay and we might add that the author lives in the Midwest and that could add another dimension. When the author asked me to review this I was about to decline but not for any of the above reasons. Rather, I really do not review short stories and the only ebooks I review are those by authors I know and whose writings are only available electronically. But then I saw that this story is about Judaism so I could not say know although I decided that I would not read it until after the current holidays so that my Jewish bias would not affect the review. Well, here I am with one holiday down and two more to go and I decided I need the read this story now. What I learned immediately is that biracial, interfaith couples have the same issues that all of us have but they tend to magnify them more. Many interfaith couples that I know use that as an excuse for sometimes not getting alone and I usually find this humorous since neither of the two in the couple pay any attention whatsoever to faith and it really is a non issue.

With me, the opposite is true and I usually find myself to a Jewish man rather than a gay man when someone asks me who I am. We all deal with this in our own ways.

Here we meet Jacob Edelman and Marcus Hampton, an interracial interfaith couple. They fight about the usual issues– coming out, monogamy and marriage. And so their lives went—but they did not fight all the time just when something came up. This changed when they met the golem who has been the protector of Jacob’s family for years and years. For those of you who do not know what a golem is, let me explain. The most famous Golem is the Golem of Prague who was a man made of clay but had the ability to seem to be human. Wikipedia says, “In Jewish folklore, a golem is an animated anthropomorphic being, magically created entirely from inanimate matter. The word was used to mean an amorphous, unformed material (usually out of stone and clay) in Psalms and medieval writing. The most famous golem narrative involves Judah Loew ben Bezalel, the late-16th-century rabbi of Prague. There are many tales differing on how the golem was brought to life and afterwards controlled”. The key word here is folklore so we must then consider a golem to be paranormal.

What I do not know is the role that Judaism plays in the life of the writer but it plays an important part in this story. Jacob is from a Conservative Jewish family and he gets pressured to find a wife and settle down. Once while at a family party, his uncle Saul tells him about the family golem that has been a protector of the family for generations. Uncle Saul says that the golem likes men “like Jacob” and you might have to think about that for a while. Jacob ignores the story for the most part and as he and his boyfriend, Marcus, leave the party they are attacked by gay bashers. Even though he is a skeptic, Jacob prays and calls for the family golem. Sure enough, the golem comes and saves them.

Judaism also plays an absolutely critical part to the storyline of ‘Kissing the Golem.’ “One half of the couple in the story, Jacob Edelman, is from a conservative Jewish household,” Explains Danielle. “He’s getting a lot of pressure from his family to find a ‘nice girl.’”

“At a family party, his Great Uncle Saul tells him that the family has a Golem who protects them and, in particular, likes men like them. Jacob is very skeptical, but after the party, gay bashers attack Jacob and his African-American boyfriend, Marcus Hampton, and Jacob, despite his skepticism, says a prayer and calls on the Golem. The Golem does appear and does save them.” Now I am not sure what to make of this other than that it was an interesting read but I do not have any faith in either the paranormal or the supernatural. I wonder that the moral here is when in trouble, call for a golem or is it that each of us has some golem inside of us. We just need to call on it for help.

This is a fun read and if it is to be regarded as more than that we will just have to wait and see.

“Flick” (Volume 1) by James Robert Villanueva— A Special Guy


Villanueva, James Robert. “Flick” (Volume 1), CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform, 2013.

A Special Guy

Amos Lassen

One thing that there is no shortage of the world today are cheerleaders. Tony Lineras, the main character of “Flick” says that only two of then matter. After all not many people are born special and Tony is glad to let you know that he was. While he is on the stock show circuit, he is the best and he has many awards that prove that. He has no fear. But then Tony was taken down—after he pulled a prank against the team at Midway High School did not work and as punishment, he is forced to join the and learns, first hand, just how unimpressed by him they really are.

Because he knows livestock does not help him out with cheering and the team is determined to win the national cheerleading finals and life has suddenly become quite complicated for the guy who thinks he can do it all. Tony also knows himself to well and he is preparing to pull off the most ambitious prank he has ever tried.

There is only one problem— whenever he is anywhere near Kaily, the popular girl at school his heart turns over. Add to that that whenever he is around Jessica, a militant and fanatical captain of the team and her gay boyfriend, his heart beats equally as hard. Something is going to have to give but you will have to read the book to find out what.

“Best Friends Perfect, Book 2” by Liam Livings— Searching

best friends2

Livings, Liam. “Best Friends Perfect, Book 2”, Wilde City, 2014.


Amos Lassen

This is the second volume in Liam Livings’s “Best Friends Perfect” series. Set in 1999, eighteen year old Kieran is searching for his soul mate in Australia and London. His best friend Jo is there to help. What was not supposed to happen did—Kieran falls for a straight guy but Jo has the solution for this except that Kieran does not agree with it. He introduces Jo to his other best friends and they all think she is just fine. Then Jo and Kieran are off to college in London where they meet two Irish students, Sean and Andrew and twists and turns come our way.

Once again Livings has created wonderful characters and he has done an excellent job of developing the plot. He actually writes the kinds of stories that do not require anything more than opening a book and enjoying a read. Give him a try.

“Nerdy Little Secret: Coconut Grove, Episode 2” by MJ O’Shea— The Saga Continues

nerdy little secret

O’Shea, MJ. “Nerdy Little Secret: Coconut Grove, Episode 2”, Wilde City Press, 2014.

The Saga Continues

Amos Lassen

When last we were at Coconut Grove we witnessed the beginning of a new show—a gay teen drama with hot stars and fun and erotic drama. It has begun to win over the public and it seems that what goes on behind the scenes is as, if not more, wild to what we see on the screen. We have a guy whose ex is now a rising star and he is determined to enjoy some of that, there is a diva with severe attitude problems and there are plenty of goings on both sexually and romantically.

Blair Fletcher is a 24 year old native of Key West, Florida and he has been cast in the lead of “Coconut Grove” and he is excited, to say the least. However he feels a bit insecure as this is his first film and the rest of the cast is experienced. However, the members of the cast rallied behind him and soon he finds that there is a feeling of family here—except for Howie is just mean and nasty to everyone. Tony is Blair’s hot co-star and his role makes him one of Ryder’s small and elite inner circle.

Then the rumors began—who was doing what with whom and Key West is the perfect location for that—actually there was more action off of the set than on it. Blair, however, once had a past with Sander, a good-looking, Viking-like athlete who had once been a jock in high school but who is now off to college somewhere. Sander, however, is straight and Blair is a totally gay guy who has not seen Sander since he left for school.

Blair does not have an easy time getting into the character of Ryder who is both intelligent and scheming and this is because Blair is just the opposite. He enjoys trying to decipher what Ryder is really like.

One night, after a day on the set, Blair comes home and discovers someone sitting on the porch of the house next to his and even though he cannot quite believe it, he sees that it is Sander. It seems that Sander, having been away for years, has lost his job and is now home. Sander gets a job as a carpenter on the set of the series and Blair sees him there everyday.

Some might call this story fluff and indeed that is what it is but fluff is not necessarily a negative term. This is just a fun read and is not meant to be anymore than that. The characters are fun, the plot makes sense and I enjoyed the read. So what if it is all predictable? —Many times life is also predictable.

News about the Iris PrizeFestival, the world’s largest LGBT Short Film prize

News about the Iris PrizeFestival, the world’s largest LGBT Short Film prizeiris-prize-2014-montageIn Cardiff preparations are concluding for this year’s Iris Prize Festival, the world’s largest LGBT Short Film prize, which runs from October 8th-12th. The year the festival is expanding this year with Jury members increasing from 10 to 30 – presenting 6 awards including the new Best British Short sponsored by Pinewood Studios and the Iris Prize sponsored by the Michael Bishop Foundation.

The number of feature length movies presented over the course of the fest is also doubling to 16.

Festival Chair Andrew Pierce comments, “I always think of Iris as family. Granted a rather bigger family today than we knew back in 2007 when the world’s finest LGBT filmmakers gathered in Cardiff for the first time. We had 7 feature films as part of our inaugural programme, this year we have 16. In 2007 we had 5 programmes of short films, this year we have 10. There is no denying that our family is getting bigger.”

Film directors, producers, writers and actors from all four corners of the globe will be attending the five day festival in Cardiff. Former International model Hen Yanni, will be introducing the screening of Melting Away, for which she received many awards for her portrayal of a Trans person in Israel’s first feature film to deal with a Trans story. Cheryl Dunye is shortlisted for the first time for her short film Black Is Blue and travels from the US to attend the screening.

European films are well represented with seven making the programme including the German offering, The Samurai by former Iris Prize winner Till Kleinert. Following its sell-out screenings at FrightFest, the annual London horror festival, Total Film commented, “The Samurai is one of the most daring and stylish films we’ve caught at FrightFest.” Till Kleinert and his lead actor Michel Diercks will be in Cardiff for the screenings.

As a counterbalance to the horror the festival organisers are delighted to be screening The Way He Looks by another Iris Prize winner, Daniel Ribiero from Brazil, who will be attending the screening in Cardiff. The film is a feature length version of his popular 2011 Iris Prize winning short about a blind boy who falls in love with the new boy in class. The screening in Cardiff follows the London Film Festival premiere, proving the film has mainstream cross-over appeal.

“The Iris family is growing and this year we will have 4 previous winners join us in Cardiff. Till from Germany and Daniel from Brazil return with new feature films as they dominate the world film festival circuit. We also have the company of Tim Marshall, our winner from 2013 who has just finished filming Followers, his new Iris Prize funded short film. And if that was not enough we are also delighted to welcome back Eldar Rapaport (Iris Prize winner 2009) who will chair the Best Feature Film Jury,” added Andrew Pierce.

The 2014 Festival will have 5 independent juries – presenting 6 awards (listed below). The 10 strong Iris Prize jury is chaired by Sara Sugarman, who attends the festival for the first time. The jury members are all individuals who are at the top of their game and have generously given their time to support Iris.

The on-line box office is open and there is still time to organise your trip to Cardiff to experience what everybody is talking about!

The full programme can be found here: WWW.IRISPRIZE.ORG

Take a look below at a montage of this years Iris Prize nominated movies: