Thursday, December 31, 2009

Enjoy your New Years Eve everyone!

I've been neglecting this website. I don't think I've made a 'live' post in all of December, with the stuff you've seen automatically moved over from the 'scheduled' pile. I'm not at all sorry for that, as I needed the break, but I do feel obliged to at least post something new to end this year. Well, not "new" but certainly new to this site. It's a collection of Facebook status updates from the last six weeks. Exciting innit?

As for New Years Eve Lisa, Ginger, LuLu and I will be spending the evening at home. YaYa's at a sleepover, while Smiley is partying at my Mom's place. We have plans to make homemade onion rings, sloppy joe's, and spinach and artichoke dip, while enjoying some margaritas, with cider for the kids.

There's not much to recommend this crappy, taint of a year. There are three exceptions that come to mind: the birth of my new Godson on December 10th, the publication of my columns/public reading of my Halloween story, and last, the Grand Restoration of the Proper Order of Events in the Universe.

By which, of course, I refer to my Yankees taking a 27th - yes, 27th - World Championship.

Anyhow, 2010 has to be better. It has to be, or all is lost. And on that cheery note, on with the show!

* * *

December 22nd: In the midst of our first family fun night . . . homemade tacos, now getting ready to play Topple and Go Fish
[this is a deliberate effort on our part to structure together time with the family. In the end, Week #1 was tacos and bingo instead, but it went great. Both of my older girls took time to tell me how much they loved it over the next few days, and YaYa went so far as to add "Family Game Night" to every Tuesday on her calendar!]

December 17th: So Smiley is wrapping presents with Lisa at the dining room table, and he spots the Zuzu pets we've kept hidden. Speech problems? Not today "Zuhzu Pets!" he yells, inspiring his two year old sister to run around the house repeating news of the sighting.

December 11th: Spent all evening getting the house ready for a visit from Smiley's speech therapist, only to have her cxl this morning because of illness. Good luck keeping this house clean until the rescheduled appt.

Regarding a news report that the remains the Soviets had were not, in fact, Hitler's: I'm not a conspiracy guy. The Towers fell because of the airliners, Oswald killed Kennedy, FDR didn't set out to sacrifice the Pacific fleet, etc. But I think the Ruskies were full of shi* about Hitler's remains. I don't think they ever found the corpse, or at least couldn't ID it.

December 9th: Pretty crappy night. Lisa broke her glasses, I lost five pages of newly written text due to gremlins in the computer, it's snowing, and [soap operal] As The World Turns was cancelled. :(

December 8th: Just gave a hitchiker a ride, which would be a first for me. He came begging for a lift at a gas station, drunk and stranded at 7 at night. Gotta love the South Side.

[I had a 200 pound advantage on the man, and while I agree it was foolish and I won't do it again, I don't think I was in any danger]

[the next night I came to an abrupt stop when a blind man was nonchalantly walking in the middle of a large intersection. With his cane tapping in front of him, he was making a wide, meandering circle in the road, bringing traffic to a stop from all four directions.]

December 8th: Took the kids to school, went to Mass (Feast of the Immaculate Conception), shoveled my walk, now writing and working up the nerve to hit the road to get some things done. Or, I may nap. Either/or.

December 6th: An unusually quiet and Hallmark-y morning, with Lisa sitting with the two oldest girls in the living room, teaching them to sew so they can make their own costumes from some old sheets they found. Oh, and 'Bama crushed Florida. What a nice weekend so far.

December 4th: On hold or voicemail, on hold or voicemail it's all I ever get. I know I'm not a phone person, so I'm just as guilty, but I do, when required, answer the phone AT MY JOB . . .

December 2nd: I bought Smiley a gumball from a quarter machine. He rejected it when I brought it home, pointing to his teeth and starting a fit. Ten minutes later I asked if we were cool. "na-uh," he said, patting his breast. "ooo bwoke my [h]eart". Jeez, what a momma's boy lol

November 23rd: I just took the garbage out and happend upon a possum in our backyard, the first I've ever seen. It looked at me as if to say "WTF dude?", then calmly walked beneath the trampoline. I've been wondering what's been crapping in our (fenced-in) yard. Now I know.
[I don't live in the country. I don't like sharing my backyard with a petting zoo. Ick.]

November 21st: F*! I forgot the baby shower for my best friends wife. I lost the invite but had assumed - there's that word - that it was closer to the due date. No way to get Lisa and Grace home to attend. My status as "Tre's Loser Friend" is assured. &*^@!

November 17th: As of an hour ago my Mom was out of surgery and doing well (knock on wood) [after spending several weeks in a nursing home to recoup, she's back home and back on track]

November 17th: Angel (one of our cats) knocked over a fishtank last night and ate YaYa's Beta. Tears this morning, mitigated by her respect for Angel's prowess. We'll have to buy another soon.
[Actually, while she did knock it over, I later found the Beta on the floor (deceased of course)]

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Blessings Amid Recession

Here's the full text of my Oct 21st (2009) column "Blessings Amid Recession"

* * *

About a year ago, I was told I was being laid off. It was not entirely unexpected (in short order, almost all of the staff would be replaced). My employer wished me well and told me that, if I liked, I could finish the 20 minutes left in my shift. Shockingly, I refused this generous offer.

Within a few weeks, my car would begin to act its age, limiting my options to workplaces nearby or on bus routes. While I found work, it provided neither the hours nor the financial weight of Job Prior. As my job search continued, bills began to be paid in triage fashion, with the mortgage a priority and extras now . . . extras.

Gone were dance lessons for the kids, Brewers games and our plans to repair the roof and replace that troublesome car. As for that long-planned family vacation of 2010, well, that's been bumped to 2011. Knock on wood.

Welcome to the Great Recession.

We're not out of the woods yet - I'm still looking for better employment - and I'll cheer like mad when this lousy year is history. But here's the kicker:

It's not all misery and grief. The fact is, my wife says one of the most frustrating parts of this whole experience is that I still seem . . . happy.

Well, why not? After 14 years, my wife and I are still in love. I have four great kids, a house, two cars (one of which runs) and a valid library card. Give me a little jazz on the radio, and I'm good to go.

Don't confuse that with apathy. I miss being able to provide the extras for my family. I miss putting on a tie in the morning. I miss the feeling that I was contributing to the world in ways somewhat indicative of my intelligence and education. I miss, when all is said and done, having a dollar to spare at the end of the week.

But at this time last year, when I was making X dollars more a month, I thought I was broke. Every purchase and fee was an unfair burden, and life was ever so complicated and stressful.

The sad, silly little truth is I'd lost perspective, and just like in the movies, it took a disaster to make me see the light. Of course, in the movies, the disaster is only a hiccup, and by the end of the hour, the hero is back on his feet and better off than when he started.

Here's hoping I've got a little bit of Hollywood in my future.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Cemetery Dance

Cemetery Dance is the first book I've read by the popular team of Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child, and it didn't disappoint.

A reporter for the New York Times is murdered in his own home by someone easily recognized by witnesses. The only trouble? The murderer died and was autopsied weeks ago.

Cue the arrival of FBI Special Agent Pendergast and Lieutenant Vincent D'Agosta, both of whom counted the reporter as a friend. It's soon discovered that a cult inhabiting the very far north of Manhattan is rumored to have created and unleashed zombies throughout its centuries of existence. As more victims appear, all apparently killed by people believed dead, the likelihood of a supernatural solution seems certain - or is it?

I liked the book quite a bit, and was impressed with the easy style and quirky storyline. I'm not as impressed with the Scooby-Doo like ending, and I found the frequent references to past events in the series a bit daunting for a first time reader, but those are small issues.

It won't be the last book I'll read by this duo.

3.1 out of 4

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Books Read 2001

Well, the title says it all. As always, a consistent concentration on a subject or author, followed by a rapid change to another interest.

Let me know what you think.

* * * *
Books Read – 2001

1. Soul of the Fire by Terry Goodkind (not good enough to inspire me to read more of the series, but for some reason I did – and I’m grateful)
2. Faith of the Fallen by Terry Goodkind
3. Temple of the Winds by Terry Goodkind
4. Wizard’s First Rule by Terry Goodkind (needless S/M type torture, but a good read)
5. Stone of Tears by Terry Goodkind
6. Blood of the Fold by Terry Goodkind
7. Debt of Bones by Terry Goodkind
8. The Poet by Michael Connelly
9. Void Moon by Michael Connelly
10. Gangster by Lorenzo Carcaterra (EXCELLENT)
11. A Darkness More than Night by Michael Connelly (implausible plot, but decent)
12. We Can’t Teach What We Don’t Know: White Teachers, Multiracial Schools by Gary Howard
13. Shattered by Dick Francis (worst Francis to date)
14. From the Corner of His Eye by Dean Koontz (great book that Koontz didn’t know how to end)
15. Candyland by Evan Hunter/Ed McBain (not as good as the reviews suggested)
16. False Memory by Dean Koontz (Koontz is a paranoid, plain and simple)
17. Potshot by Robert B. Parker (this is why I love Parker)
18. Mr. Murder by Dean Koontz (nice read, well done)
19. Winter Moon by Dean Koontz (started off strong, finished weak)
20. The Godfather by Mario Puzo (the First Book I’ve ever re-read!)
21. Lightning by Dean Koontz (nice time travel tale with a twist)
22. Pop Goes the Weasel by James Patterson
23. Dark Rivers of the Heart by Dean Koontz
24. Dragon Tears by Dean Koontz
25. The Face of Fear by Dean Koontz
26. The Voice of the Night by Dean Koontz
27. Hail to the Chief by Ed McBain (good book, but I learned something: if you use slang in your writing, all you’re doing is dating your work – and making it un-saleable in the future).
28. Chosen Prey by John Sandford
29. Rise to Rebellion by John Shaara (as always, excellent, but it appears Shaara is pigeonholed as a historical fiction writer)
30. Gunman’s Rhapsody by Robert B. Parker (Spenser in the Old West. Yawn.)
31. Hot Money by Dick Francis
32. Money money Money by Ed McBain
33. Let’s Hear it for the Deaf Man by Ed McBain (fun)
34. 1st to Die by James Patterson
35. Hardcase by Dan Simmons (pretty lame)
36. Death in Paradise by Robert B Parker
37. Silent Joe by T. Jefferson Parker
38. The Archer’s Tale by Bernard Cornwell (Great, although he cuts the end short to leave room for a sequel)
39. Sharpe’s Triumph by Bernard Cornwell
40. Sharpe’s Fortress by Bernard Cornwell
41. Hope to Die by Lawrence Block (not as strong as past Scudder novels, but a good read)
42. Sharpe’s Trafalgar by Bernard Cornwell
43. Sharpe’s Rifles by Bernard Cornwell (yawn)
44. Sharpe’s Eagle by Bernard Cornwell (when Sharpe is set to be court-martialed and promoted instead – a great scene!)
45. Running From Legs by Ed McBain (short story collection with a few good tales)
46. Sharpe’s Tiger by Bernard Cornwell (fun, fun book to read)
47. Sharpe’s Gold by Bernard Cornwell
48. The Family by Mario Puzo (Excellent post-script to Puzo’s career)
49. Coldheart Canyon by Clive Barker (unexpectedly good)
50. The Pillars of Creation by Terry Goodkind (475 pages before any of the main characters pop up. Geesh!)
51. Desecration by Jerry B. Jenkins and Tim Lahaye
52. Patton: The Man Behind the Legend 1885-1945 by Martin Blumenson
53. The Emperor’s General by James Webb (excellent book by the author of Fields of Fire, written in a formal style I assume he used to mimic Asian formality)

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Another Stupid List - Concerts I've seen

I'm not a big concert person, so don't expect a long list here. I don't like crowds, I don't appreciate start times that mean "two hours from the time printed on the ticket" and I don't like artists who F with their songs on stage in the name of 'art'.

Alice In Chains
Kenny Rogers
Tina Turner
Bare Naked Ladies
New Kids on the Block
Cyndi Lauper
Billy Ray Cyrus
Black 47
Belinda Carlisle
Liz Phair
Joey McIntyre
Jordan Knight
Alanis Morrisette

I Love You, Man

"Jesus," Lisa said. "It's like they made a movie about you!"

Not true, I countered. Yes, "I Love you Man!" features a protagonist who is more comfortable among women than men, who hangs out at home with his lady rather than goes out with the boys, who doesn't drink often, and who.

But, I countered, unlike him I do have male friends, and rattled off a list.

"But you don't go hang out with them," Lisa said, "That's why your All-Star party is so important to you. It's the one time a year you do the guy thing."

"But that's my choice," I said. "It's different."

And so it is. Later in the film, however, it's revealed that the main character often slips into a cadence that resembles an Irish lilt. Lisa roared.

"That is SO YOU!"

I'll give her that. For some reason, I have developed a verbal tic where I slip into the same speech pattern. It's nuts, and I've been raked over the coals for it.

Anywho . . .

The great Paul Rudd plays Peter Klaven, all around nice guy without any male friends, and at the urging of his fiance he goes in search of a buddy to be the best man at his wedding. He finds him in the form of Sydney Fife, played by Jason Segal, and the two hit it off. Too well, as a matter of fact, because his fiance soon gets jealous. Will Klaven have keep his friend and his wife? Or will he have to choose between them both?

I thought this was a very good movie, and very funny at times. Segal is a little too laid back for the role, IMO, as you'd think it would take a complete extrovert to draw Klaven out, and not merely a more masculine introvert. There was also, as his fiance points out, a degree of awkward sexual tension between the two that seemed out of place at best.

Small potatoes really. An enjoyable film, and a 3.1 out of 4.

Tropic Thunder

This movie has everything it takes to implode the head of a Politically Correct watchdog.

There's an actor in blackface, a movie-in-a-movie portrayal of a mentally retarded man, a heroin addicted comedian who specializes in farts, a Jewish executive who's greedy and obnoxious, the kiling of a giant panda, and a whole mess of drug peddling violent South East Asians.


Tropic Thunder is a film about a Vietnam movie being filmed on location. Unbeknownst to the actors they are no longer part of an experimental film technique, they're actually at war with a local drug cartele. Hijinks ensue.

I thought it was a blast, a solid if not spectacular chuckler from beginning to end. And the cast was top notch - Robert Downey (who was great), Jack Black, Ben Stiller, Nick Nolte, Matthew McCaughnahay (sp?), and Tom Cruise (in a great part as the movie exec).

The drawbacks to the film are readily apparent and irrelevant - what, you wanted a complex plot and romance? - and shouldn't hold you back from seeing this movie.

2.5 out of 4.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Barbie - a rejected Journal column

Bratz - a rejected Journal column

On the day my first community columnist piece was published (an article on swim safety on a cold and snowy day; - how’s that for timing?) the Journal-Sentinel ran a column directly above my own. Written by Jonathon V Last of the Philadelphia Inquirer, it traced the messy battle between the makers of the Bratz line of dolls and the Barbie empire.

It was a fine article, one that hit a nerve in my house. We’ve been discussing the mammoth decision against MGA Entertainment, the makers of Bratz, for some time now. To greatly simplify the issue, after winning a court decision in their favor Barbie’s owners at Mattel want all Bratz merchandise removed from store shelves. The action would remove the most serious threat in years to Barbie’s domination of the market.

It also greatly worries the resident seven-year old Bratz fan in my house.

That last sentence is what worries me. Just by admitting, - in print no less - that my daughter likes Bratz I’m inviting trouble. To some people that’s no better than bragging that I let her juggle steak knives (and obviously, for the record, I don’t.)

My daughter has gone to birthday parties where the invitation clearly stated that no Bratz toys would be accepted, and she’s gone to homes where no such toys may cross their threshold. Fine. I have no objection to that. Every parent has the right to decide what is right and acceptable for their own child.

To me and my wife, that line in the sand doesn’t begin or end with a doll.

Bratz’ signature has always been funkier than good ol’ Barbie, and yes, to most critics that difference comes off as sexual. It’s an odd world that spends forty years decrying Barbie as a sexualized and unrealistic ideal, then decides to hold her up as a model citizen, but compared to Bratz Barbie comes off as your sweet Aunt Marie.

Bratz dolls dress funkier, they have more fashionable hairstyles, their tie-in merchandise is colorful and flashy, they’re urban rather than Malibu, and their feet pop off. You read that right. Rather than force tiny shoes on the doll, leaving a hundred lost pair around as a threat to my toddler, the makers of Bratz have the dolls switch out entire foot/shoe combinations.

Let’s see Barbie do that.

Those are some of the reasons why Bratz made such inroads into the market. It wasn’t about sex, and it certainly wasn’t to aspire to the ridiculous hyperbole labeling the doll‘s ‘streetwalkers’. It was because someone finally presented an alternative to their Grandmother’s increasingly bland and predictable Barbie.

As much heat as Bratz takes in the media, there must be a great and silent majority of parents who agree with me on the issue. After all, in 2005 sales of Bratz reached $750 million. They couldn’t all have been bought by ‘bad’ parents.

Who knows. Maybe once Mattel gobbles up the Bratz line it can use some of that revenue to give Barbie a makeover of her own - but, uh, maybe skip the bare midriff

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Night and Day

Night and Day is the latest in Robert B. Parker's series featuring Jesse Stone, former L.A. cop and (semi)recovering alcoholic who now heads the Paradise, MA police department.

Two related troubles are enveloping the town this time around. First, the female high school principal stands accused, correctly, of forcing her female students to display their underwear. More seriously, there is a peeping Tom on the loose, one whose activities grow bolder - and more violent - with each incident.

I wouldn't label this book a masterpiece of Parker's, but it was solid and entertaining. The characters seem to have worked their way into Parker's affection, to the point where I think he's finally comfortable exploring them to the fullest.

I continue to marvel at Parker's recent output, both in quantity and quality.

And best of all, there is (finally) a development between Jesse and his promiscuous ex-wife. No spoiler here - but I was pleased.

2.75 out of 4

My Best Friends Girl

This movie stars Dane Cook.

What, you're still here?

Huh. I'd have thought you'd have 'x'd out the window at the mere mention of his name. I would.

Cook plays a man who is hired by other men to date their former girlfriends. The idea is that he'll pretend to be a callous, awful jerk and therefore drive them back into the arms of their better-by-comparison ex.


His buddy, played by Jason Biggs, hires him to push Kate Hudson into loving him, but of course Cook falls in love. Blah blah, yada yada, boy loses girl, act three begins, more blah blah roll credits.

I admit I'm being a little harsh here. It was an OK movie, but I thought some of the actions - namely his performance at a wedding - would be/should be clear and permanent deal breakers.

Rent it if you have some spare time - and a free movie coupon.

2.5 out of 4

Sunday, December 6, 2009

I am Legend

Not the movie folks, the book.

This is the famous work by Richard Matheson that has inspired three major movies - one with Vincent Price, one with Charlton Heston, and of course the latest with Will Smith.

Robert Neville is a husband and father in the L.A. area when mankind is wiped out by a plague that turns its victims into modern day vampires. Neville is the last known survivor of the human race, presumably because he recovered from a vampire bat bite while in the service. For three years he makes a virtual fortress of his home and wages war against the vampires, until it becomes clear that he is the oddity. As the only remaining human, the only objection to the 'new race', he is, in fact, a monster. He has become, as Dracula once was, something to fear in the night.

He is legend.

Matheson's gone on record as saying the book was just what is seems on the surface, and nothing more. Yet I have read academic essays that ran thousands of words and placed the book behind only Moby Dick and Tom Sawyer in the realm of American literature.

That's nuts.

It's a fine novella, but it has plenty of flaws. Some can't be helped: references to a nuclear exchange between the U.S. and Soviets, dates that have long since passed, etc. Others are silly. Matheson has a habit of trying to rationalize his books with pseudo-scientific explanations. That vampire bat bite, for instance, or a goofy description of how vampire's gummy blood seals bullet holes.

It was giggle-worthy science in the '50's. Now it's just foolish.

[if I may drift into adult territory here: for much of the early part of the novella Neville is very horny, and understandably so. But here's where the '50's culture constricts the character. The guys aroused, he's been without sex for years, he's so horny female vampires are looking hot, and to settle the matter he goes and takes cold shower after cold shower.

For pete's sake man, rub one out.]

As I mentioned, I am Legend is a novella, not a full scale work. Nearly half the book is comprised of short stories. Some are good (Mad House), some are ho-hum, and one (Person to Person) is damn good.

Not a book for everyone and every taste, but I enjoyed it.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Joey McIntyre's New Single - "Here we Go Again"

Joe Mac is back, and with a pretty damn catchy song. He is (or will be) on tour to back the album, and will be in Chicago Jan 20th.

This is the official video, and Lisa, ever the New Kid fan, was visibly upset to see Joe's face take a punch in the shoot, staged or not. LOL :)

While we're at it, here's "I love you Came too Late" from his "Stay the Same" album

and "Rain", from his follow-up

YaYa's Baseball Season

This summer we signed YaYa up for baseball through the Milwaukee Rec Division. It took place every Saturday morning for a few hours, smacking headfirst into work schedules, so a variety of folks helped us make sure she made it to each game: my Dad, Tre, and my mother-in-law. Thanks to them all.

The pictures you see here were taken throughout the summer, and I can't lay claim to remembering what game goes with what shot. She hit well in every game I attended, and most (if not all) the games I missed. As a for instance, she went 2 for 3 with a double and 2 RBI's in the first game of the season, and followed it up with a 1 for 4 game with another double and a RBI. That meant she entered the third week of the season with a .429 batting average, two doubles, and three runs batted in.

And yet, after that second game, she cried. It takes a while to get used to the idea that success in baseball is measured not by eliminating failure, but by accepting it as a result seven times out of ten.

(this next one is from a practice)

YaYa often had a cheering section

but I will admit to one slight episode of parental rage. During the first practice this fat kid started picking on YaYa, covering up his own insecurity by berating her because of her gender. "Why bother swinging, you're a girl. What are you doing here anyway?" etc. On and on for the whole first hour.

Well screw that. I don't know why the coaches or his Dad didn't shut him up, but YaYa was getting visibly upset. I barked out her name and motioned her over.

"Is that kid bothering you?" I said. She nodded.

"Forget him. Do you understand me? [redacted] him. He's nothing. Girls can play baseball just as well as boys, especially one of my girls. The next time he opens his [bleep] mouth I want you to think about how fat he is, and how much he'll huff and puff just trying to run the bases. Ugh, look at him, he's already sweating through his shirt! Just think of that and ask yourself if that's the kind of yahoo you need to worry about. You understand?"

Don't mess with my kid.

She grinned. And damn if she didn't get back on the field and improve dramatically. I think she actually giggled in the boy's direction after a few comments, and after awhile the kid moved on to easier prey.

At the end of the season, on the day of Ginger's second birthday party, everyone was awarded a medal for their participation.

Great season YaYa!

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Books Read - 2003

Here's a list of books I read in 2003. Note the consistent binge-purge method; I fall in love with an author, consume his back catalog, and then move on. Ditto for non-fiction subjects, as you'll see with my Vietnam fetish in '03.

1. A Mist of Prophesies by Steven Saylor
2. Shooting at Midnight by Greg Rucka
3. Batman: No Man’s Land by Greg Rucka
4. Critical Space by Greg Rucka
5. Big Thaw by Donald Harstad - great writer. should be better known
6. Six Easy Pieces by Walter Mosley
7. Black Powder, White Smoke
8. The Stranglers
9. Chasing the Dime by Michael Connelly
10. One for the Money by Janet Evanovich
11. Two for the Dough by Janet Evanovich
12. Dead Cert by Dick Francis
13. The Stranger Beside Me by Ann Rule
14. The Crossroads of Twillight by Robert Jordan
15. In Conquest Born by CS Friedman - NOTE: I'd owned this one for years, having scooped it up based on a recommendation in a Waldenbooks newsletter in the '80's. A damn fine novel.
16. A Shortcut in Time by Charles Dickenson
17. Small Town by Lawrence Block
18. ’46 Chicago by Steve Monroe
19. Nick’s Trip by George Pelecanos
20. The Big Blowdown by George Pelecanos
21. The Last Detective by Robert Crais
22. Six Silent Men by Gary Linderer
23. Last Man Out: A personal account of the Vietnam War by James E Parker Jr.
24. Back Story by Robert B Parker
25. A Soldier Reports by Westmoreland
26. Vantage Point by LBJ
27. Reaching for glory : Lyndon Johnson's secret White House tapes, 1964-1965 / edited and with commentary by Michael Beschloss.
28. Lost Light by Michael Connelly
29. Autobiography of a One-Year Old by Rohan Candappa
30 The da Vinci Code by Dan Brown - drivel. Poorly done drivel and I don't care what anyone says on the matter.
31. Sharpe’s Havoc by Bernard Cornwell
32. In his Image
33. Sharpe’s Honour by Bernard Cornwell
34. TimeShare: A Time for War by Joshua Dann
35. Angels and Demons by Dan Brown
36.Timeshare by Joshua Dann
37.Timeshare: Second Time Around by Joshua Dann
38. Cold Pursuit by T. Jefferson Parker
39. Ruled Britannia by Harry Turtledove
40. The Haunted Air by F Paul Wilson
41. Legacies by F. Paul Wilson
42. Conspiracies by F. Paul Wilson
43.All the Rage by F Paul Wilson
44.Hosts by F. Paul Wilson
45.The Tomb by F.Paul Wilson
46. The Touch by F Paul Wilson
47.Reborn by F Paul Wilson
48.Reprisal by F Paul Wilson
49.Nightworld by F Paul Wilson
50. The Face by Dean Koontz
51. The Marine by James Brady
52.Naked Empire by Terry Goodkind
52.Icarus by Russell Andrews
53.Stone Cold by Robert B Parker
54.Naked Prey by John Sandford
55.A fistful of Rain by Greg Rucka
56.The Quick Red Fox by John D. MacDonald
57. Such Men are Dangerous by Lawrence Block
58. Heretic by Bernard Cornwell
59. A Long December by Donald Harstad
60. Persuader by Lee Child
61. Running Blind by Lee Child
62.Killing Floor by Lee Child
63. Die Trying by Lee Child
64. Flown Away by Max Allan Collins
65.True Detective by Max Allan Collins
66. True Crime by Max Allan Collins
67. Flying Blind by Max Allan Collins
68. Gateways by F. Paul Wilson
69. The Million Dollar Wound by Max Allan Collins
70. Angel in Black by Max Allan Collins
71. Blood and Thunder by Max Allan Collins
72. Magic Man by Max Allan Collins
73. Echo Burning by Lee Child
74.Without Fail by Lee Child
75. Auto Focus: The Murder of Bob Crane by Robert Graysmith
76. Screwball by David Ferrell
77.Kisses of Death by Max Allan Collins
78.The Hanged Man’s Song by John Sandford
79. Ghost Story by Peter Straub - one of my top 10 faves of all time

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Grumble grumble

OK, enough already. I don't know what's up with Blogger's "Scheduled" function, but on at least three occasions in the last week I've gone to bed having made sure nothing will run for a week or more, then find a random post published.

I truly don't think its user error at this point, so I may just let 'er rip, post everything, and be done with it. Bleepin' Google. This is why I Bing.

Partial list of Books Read 2004

Books Read 2004

Floating Dragon by Peter Straub
Koto by Peter Straub
Mystery by Peter Straub
The Throat by Peter Straub
Julia by Peter Straub
Shadowland by Peter Straub
Hammer of the Gods: The Led Zeppelin Saga by Stephen Davis
The Day the Music Died: The Last tour of Buddy Holly, The B.B., and Ritchie Valens Larry Lehmer
Big Bad Wolf by James Patterson
Bad Business by Robert B Parker
Shall we Tell the President? By Jeffrey Archer
A Marginal Jew V1 Joseph P. Maier
If You Could See Me Now by Peter Straub
The Hellfire Club by Peter Straub
The Birth of the Messiah: A commentary on the Infancy Narratives in the Gospels of Matthew and Luke by Raymond E Brown

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Keeping Faith: Memoirs of a President

I'll admit it's hard to review a political autobiography. It's in the author's best interests to ratinonalize away errors and magnify triumphs, and there's a desire to flip that on its head for her opponents. No matter how much they protest otherwise, there is always - always - partisan bias at play.

Still, take me at my word: I tried to remain objective.

As a book Keeping Faith is a bit dry at times, although Carter was never a bad writer, even at the early stage of his literary career. He uses a lot of background material and contemporary records to back up his recollections, which is obviously a plus for future historians.

From the distance of three decades, a few items stood out. One, he seemed to have a genuine dislike for Ted Kennedy, above and beyond bitterness involving the 1980 election. Oh, there's not much ink devoted to it, but when the subject comes up, it bleeds through the page.

Second, there is, perhaps understandably, relatively few pages devoted to his failure regarding the Iran Hostage situation ('few', relative to other subjects he discusses, that is). On the other hand, the Camp David Accords receive an exhaustive examination. Of note, given recent accusations of anti-Semitism, is Carter's annoyance and obvious displeasure with the Israeli Prime Minister, in contrast to his admitted affection for Sadat. Did that lead to a biased view of the Israeli conflict three decades later?

The decision to gift the Canal to Panama gets a lot of pages, and it has to be said: the amount of man hours and political captial devoted to the issue was staggering. Carter himself admits this, saying it was an issue that could have waited until a potential 2nd term.

There is one glaring, infuriating anecdote about Panama: Carter refutes the idea that he acted out of a fear that Panama would initiate bloodshed if we failed to give them the Canal. And yet, as soon as he writes of his success, he relates feeling relieved because - wait for it - he knew that Panama stood ready to attack the Canal, that very day, should the American Congressional vote fail! Weakness and a desire to avoid confrontation seems to be a Carter stereotype that rings quite true.

The book is worth a read, 3.25 out of 4.