business news in context, analysis with attitude

One of the byproducts of an age in which there is so much product out there competing for consumer eyeballs is that even best-selling authors like Lee Child, author of the Jack Reacher series of novels, feels the need to generate content to fill the gaps between his books, or do more promotion than might ordinarily be the case. This means that a month before his next Reacher novel, "Never Go Back," is published, Child has just posted an e-novella, "High Heat," that is available for Kindle, iBooks and the Nook.

That's good news for Child and Reacher fans. "High Heat" is a tightly written story that has a 16-year-old Reacher stopping briefly in New York City while on the way to visit his brother at West Point. But as readers of the series know, there's no such thing as an uneventful stop for Reacher. And this visit to New York City takes place in July 1977. The temperature is in the high nineties. The Son of Sam is on the loose. And New York is about to suffer an enormous blackout.

Sounds like Reacher time. Guy buy it, download it, and enjoy.

Mrs. Content Guy and I disagreed mightily about Elysium the new Matt Damon movie. I liked it a lot. And she hated it. This is what we call truth in commentary.

Elysium is, in my view, a very good movie by director/writer Neill Blomkamp, who gave us the excellent District 9, a terrific science fiction film that served as an allegory for apartheid. Elysium, while it takes place in the future, has some very serious things on its mind - it depicts the year 2154, a time during which the richest and most privileged people live on a space station called Elysium that is free from hunger, want and illness; think of them as the one percent. The other 99 percent still live on Earth, which has devolved into a place of poverty, squalor and over-population.

The plot concerns how a desperately ill man, played by Damon, tries to get to Elysium so he can be cured of radiation poisoning, and how the bureaucracy of Elysium, as personified by an icy Jodie Foster, works to prevent him from doing so. But the movie is really all about such contemporary issues as poverty, health care, and even immigration ... though for me, the philosophizing is never laid on so thick that it becomes unpalatable.

Mrs. Content Guy thought there was a lot of senseless violence and that the movie was fairly predictable. I'd disagree with that ... while there was a lot of violence, I thought it was organic to the story, and I was carried along for a ride that I thought was pretty interesting, populated by excellent actors and offering a view of the world that I don't find that far-fetched.

Let me just say that John Oliver has done an amazing job hosting "The Daily Show" this summer while Jon Stewart has been off directing a movie. I think a lot of people thought "The Daily Show" might go off the rails during Stewart's absence, but Oliver has proven himself to be a funny and engaging host - perhaps a little sillier than Stewart, who can be a little cynical, but also capable of justifiable righteous indignation at the appropriate moment. He's also been lucky - it has been a terrific summer for news, and so there's been lots to talk about.

Well done, sir!

The weather has cooled off in the northeast, red wine has once again seemed like an appropriate choice ... and so, I have a couple of excellent red wines to recommend to you:

• Halter Ranch 2010 Cabernet Sauvignon, great with a steak.

Villa Puccini 2009 Toscana (90% Sangiovese, 10% Merlot), perfect with lasagne.

That's it for this week. Have a great weekend, and I'll see you Monday.

Fins Up!
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