Some News, Some Gossip, and a Tiny Review

Before I jump into the meat of my column (film news, wine, roving bands of authors, sad musical news, etc.) let me just tell you that this year's crop of apples is deluxe. I just picked some up yesterday at our local orchard and they are sublime. I'm guessing the same heat that led to such sweet strawberries, peaches and melons this year also gave rise to these extra tasty apples. And you know, if I tried to describe the cider that's available, the words I'd use would probably make this column unsafe for work, so you'll just have to take my word for it and go snag some for yourself.

The Woot! website has long been popular with bargain hunters. Famed for their one product for one day business model and entertaining copy, they recently expanded with an adjunct site that sells wine; one offering per week. Even if you, like the Count, don't drink wine, you can find either amusement or delight in the descriptions. Who knew that Pinot Noir could smell like leather and strawberry? Certainly not I. Sadly not every state is in favor of this project so be sure to check the list of states and keep in mind this bit of wisdom, "If you’re drunk when the package shows up, you will not be allowed to receive it." That would be a bit of a bummer, wouldn't it?

Fans of the Spiderwick Chronicles will be very pleased to hear that I recently received a casting notice for a body double for Freddie Highmore, star of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. The notice said that he is playing identical twins and filming starts September 11th, running through Christmas of 2006. I'm given to understand that Mark Waters (Mean Girls, Freaky Friday) is directing. Filming is taking place in Canada and the movie should hit theaters some time in 2007.

Writer/comedian/PC John Hodgman is currently touring in support of his marvelous book, The Areas of my Expertise. He's accompanied by Jonathan Coulton, the infamous singer/songwriter. Mr. Hodgman will no doubt discuss hoboes, perhaps even naming some names, although probably not all seven hundred of them.

Also touring is Mr. Lemony Snicket, in support of The End, the thirteenth and final volume in the Series of Unfortunate Events. If you, like me, have noticed that Mr. Snicket is always turned away from the camera and have wondered if he has a face or if it's safe for him to appear in public, you won't want to miss the chance to see him and find out for yourself. Tour dates can be found here.

CBGB OMFUG, the club in New York that is practically the birthplace of punk, is closing its doors after 33 years, following a long-lasting rental dispute. Despite efforts from many to resolve conflicts, including Mayor Bloomberg offering to mediate and a star-studded benefit show last year, owner Hilly Kristal was unable to negotiate a new lease. He's now planning to open a new club in Las Vegas, vowing that there will be some form of a CBGB's as long as he's around. While it's hard for me to imagine and atmosphere that fostered bands like the Talking Heads and the Ramones in Vegas, it will certainly be interesting to see how the new club develops. Meanwhile if you're in the NYC area you'll want to try and catch the last show, taking place on Sunday, the fifteenth. Debbie Harry and Patti Smith are among the musicians expected to show up for the final night. If you can't get tickets to the tiny venue then you should definitely drop by to say goodbye and take one last look around.

My very favorite mystery writer, Dick Francis, is back with a new book called Under Orders. I haven't gotten my hands on it yet but I hear that it is terrific. It's the fourth book about Sid Halley, the swoony ex-jockey who had to give up racing when his hand was ruined in an accident during a race. Now he's working as a detective and has been looking into shady goings-on on and around the track for four books. If you haven’t read any of his previous adventures you owe it to yourself to get them right away. The first one is called Odds Against but I started with the second, Whip Hand, and it doesn’t seem to have done me any lasting harm. One of the things that make me love this character is that he's not a hard-boiled, tough talking PI, he's like Peter Parker in that he's had some terrible moments of self doubt, making him that much more human and accessible.

For this week's one sentence review we again stretch the rules a tad to run this three sentence comment from Xopher, who talks about the new Battlestar Galactica series running on the sci-fi channel and the expectations, or perhaps lack of expectations, new viewers bring to the show. He says, "People who've never watched the new BSG think it will be like the old one, only better done. And they're not too interested. They stare with astonishment when I tell them it's some of the most intense gut-wrenching drama on television." Have you got a one-sentence review you’d like to submit to Quality Time? Send it in to me at, and I'll run the best ones. You may focus on just about anything that fits a family entertainment format; games, movies, books, music - the sky is the limit, or is it? Want to review the status of poor ex-planet Pluto? Go right ahead.