The first edition of Complete Idiot's Guide to Bridge by H. Anthony Medley was the fastest selling beginning bridge book, going through more than 10 printings. This updated Second Edition includes some modern advanced bidding systems and conventions, like Two over One, a system used by many modern tournament players, Roman Key Card Blackwood, New Minor Forcing, Reverse Drury, Forcing No Trump, and others. Also included is a detailed Guide to Bids and Responses, along with the most detailed, 12-page Glossary ever published, as well as examples to make learning the game even easier. Click book to order.  


Thumbnails February 2010

by Tony Medley

Leap Year (7/10): Given terrific material, any competent actor can give a good performance. It takes more talent to work with something as trite and bromidic as this and still be spellbinding than it does to be outstanding with Shakespeare. This is worth the price of admission just to watch Amy Adams try to turn this sow’s ear material into a silk purse. She doesn’t succeed, but what a performance!

Youth in revolt (7/10): Michael Cera gives a captivating performance in this coming-of-age comedy of adolescent rebellion and obsession with sex. Cera plays a double role. Not only is he a teenager of divorced, self-centered, and disaffected parents yearning to have his first sexual experience, he is also his evil, mustachioed, cigarette-smoking alter ego, Francois, urging him on. Portia Doubleday, who would get any man’s hormones jumping, is the girl of his desires. Influenced by Francois, Cera becomes one of the more complicated protagonists one will find on screen. He does some really deplorable things, but, due mostly is his phlegmatic attitude, Cera still makes him sympathetic and funny.

Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Squeakquel (2/10 for adults; 8/10 for children): This has real actors with the chipmunks added in post production. For adults, it is a squirmer. But I attended with a six year old who was beside himself with joy throughout the entire movie. A major problem for me was that much of the chipmunks’ dialogue was incomprehensible. The silver lining is another scintillating performance by David Cross (who brightened up “Year One”) as the devious agent sponsoring female chipmunks competing with Alvin and his brothers.

North Face (7/10): Extreme filmmaking at its most extreme, this fact-based film about an attempt to conquer the north face of the Eiger by two Germans before WWII is exhausting (and cold; bring your parka). The camerawork and direction are phenomenal. The cameramen actually hung from ropes thousands of feet in the air on the Eiger to take the realistic shots. Unfortunately, the subtitles blend in with the background, so they are often difficult to read, and the heights are in meters, which diminishes their effect on Americans. In German.

The Book of Eli (4/10): This is a bleak, unforgiving parable set in the future. Denzel Washington and Gary Oldman are the antagonists in an apocalyptic, desolate, war-ravaged American desert fighting over a book, The Bible, Denzell feels can save mankind.  Despite good performances, this is so extraordinarily dark (it’s filmed in muted colors, often almost black and white without much white) it is meager entertainment.

It’s Complicated (2/10): Writer-director Nancy Meyers must have her Ph.D. in cliché. In this she uses a popup sprinkler as a phallic symbol and shows women to be blathering idiots who, when they all get together to talk, can only jabber and giggle about sex and their private parts. The problem, other than the inept writing and direction and demeaning characterization of women, is that the entire cast is woefully miscast.  About all Meryl Streep does is laugh, but laughing is not comedy. Comedy is making other people laugh, and, in that, Streep fails. Alec Baldwin and Steve Martin are similarly at sea in their roles. The one person in the cast who knows how to portray comedy in film is John Krasinski as Streep’s son-in-law-to-be. Only when he is on screen does the movie come alive. Alas, his appearances are limited and his comedy is not nearly enough.