Saturday, June 26, 2004

Curmudgeon in the Wry 262

Saturday, June 26, 2004-520 Words---Average reading time: 2-minutes, 02 seconds
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Rave: Robert Mitchum
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Quote: "I watch so you don't have to." Barbara D. Phillips, former TV critic.
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Hmmmm: I will bet there are at least three pairs of shoes in your closet that you have not worn in the last three years.
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Rant: Buying a computer has become very, very easy, as computer companies have put huge resources into the training of their salespeople. But getting a computer problem solved is very, very difficult, because computer companies do not put resources into fixing what they have sold. In other words, once a computer company has your dough, it does not really care about you any more.
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Rave: Best Rat Pack member: Dean Martin.
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Rant: The Democratic Convention is $5 million over budget, and it has not even begun yet. And we are supposed to trust these people with the economy? Three suggestions: One, cut the first day when nobody is paying attention anyway. Two, charge speakers $25,000 for every minute their speeches go long. Three, auction off the vice presidency.
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Hmmm: Wonder what happened to all those aluminum siding salesmen? They became home security salesmen.
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Rant: The top three things travelers need in their hotel rooms these days: Power outlets, power outlets and power outlets. (And it would help if you didn't have to crawl behind the TV set or the bed to find them.)
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Rave: Carson Ryder and Harry Nautilus, two sharp street detectives, comprise the newly formed, Mobile, Alabama Psychological and Sociopathological Investigative team in Jack Kerley's astounding debut novel, "The Hundredth Man." Nautilus is the wizened veteran on the "psycho-crimes" pair.
When two headless corpses, inked with puzzling and bizarre messages turn up, the chase is on. The beheadings are clean and precise, indicating a pro. The crimes are at once reprehensible as well as cool, calm and deliberate.
Carson and Harry's investigation is undermined by the police department political circus and the secrets that abound in the Medical Examiner's office.
In fact, most everyone has a secret and a past to protect. The back-stories make for fascinating characters thrown together with startling results.
The action is fast paced, moving between crime scenes to the autopsies in the morgue…with sidebars where Harry and Carson outwit the police brass and the perp.
Snappy dialogue and intriguing characters help propel the unpredictable plot. It is a spectacular ride---a journey so gripping, it is easy to overlook the way over-the-top finale.
A captivating debut…I look forward to more from Jack Kerley.
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Go figure: Krispy Kremes are neither crispy nor creamy. And Spanish Moss is neither Spanish, nor moss.
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Rant: Delta Airlines recently announced it cannot survive "as is." Gee, I wonder why. It couldn't be because passengers have finally gotten fed up with lousy airlines that provide unfriendly service at high prices, could it?
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Hmmm: If you do not believe that four-leaf clovers are luckier that rabbits' feet just ask a rabbit.
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Born this day: Richard Maltby, Abner Doubleday, Peter Lorre, Babe Zaharias, Eleanor Parker, Colonel Tom Parker, Jay Silverheels.
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That is all.
As you were.


Monday, June 21, 2004

Random thoughts

Jim Swain's "Loaded Dice" was highly entertaining. Will post review later.

TCM's "Private Screening" feature is just wonderful. Just saw the one with Bob Mitchum and Jane Russell. Great stuff featuring two Hollywood stars who never went "Hollywood" and were great pals.

The History Channel has been great about making certain you could catch all of "Band of Brothers." This weekend past they showed five episodes per day.
I guess I have seen each installment three times, but have yet to get worn out. Great acting and superb special events.
It is amazing that Easy Company landed at Normandy on D-Day, fought in the Marketgarden fiasco and held Bastogne and so many made it thru all three to be the first into Hitler's Eagle's Nest.
They truly are "The Greatest Generation."

About a quarter of the way thru Vince Flynn's "Memorial Day." It is as timely as today's headlines...dealing with the war on terrorism.
Mitch Rapp is the CIA counter-terrorism operative who gets the job done...and not in a politically correct way...he does it the old fashioned way.
He is as good a political-thriller writer as there is. He and Daniel Silva are must reads.

Review: "The Hundredth Man" by Jack Kerley

Carson Ryder and Harry Nautilus, two sharp street detectives, comprise the newly formed, Mobile, Alabama Psychological and Sociopathological Investigative team in Jack Kerley's astounding debut novel, "The Hundredth Man." Nautilus is the wizened veteran on the "psycho-crimes" pair.

When two headless corpses, inked with puzzling and bizarre messages turn up, the chase is on. The beheadings are clean and precise, indicating a pro. The crimes are at once reprehensible as well as cool, calm and deliberate.

Carson and Harry's investigation is undermined by the police department political circus and the secrets that abound in the Medical Examiner's office.

In fact, most everyone has a secret and a past to protect. The back-stories make for fascinating characters thrown together with startling results.

The action is fast paced, moving between crime scenes to the autopsies in the morgue…with sidebars where Harry and Carson outwit the police brass and the perp.

Snappy dialogue and intriguing characters help propel the unpredictable plot. It is a spectacular ride---a journey so gripping, it is easy to overlook the way over-the-top finale.

A captivating debut…I look forward to more from Jack Kerley.

Friday, June 18, 2004

Jim Swain's latest Tony Valentine novel

Am about one third of the way thru Jim Swain's "Loaded Dice" and am loving it.
Tony is a great lead character and is surrounded by a most colorful supporting cast.
“Loaded Dice” takes Tony to Las Vegas and it appears he will be caught up in more than duplicitous adventures.
I thought his first three Tony Valentine novels were highly entertaining---this one is building on that string of hits.

Review: "Ice Run" by Steve Hamilton

“Ice Run” is Steve Hamilton’s sixth Alex McKnight novel…and the first that failed to electrify me.
Just as the first major blizzard of winter pelts Michigan’s UP, Alex is off for a romantic weekend with his newly found love, Ontario Provincial Police officer, Natalie Renaud.
Things get weird as soon as Alex arrives. An immaculately dressed elderly man approaches Alex and joins him in the elevator. The man shows Alex his out-of-date homberg, asking Alex to guess how old it is. Trying to ignore him, Alex remains silent.
Later that evening, the old man is found frozen to death…and the hat placed in front of Alex’s hotel room filled with ice, snow and a note that says, “I KNOW WHO YOU ARE.”
This incident restarts a generations old blood feud…Natalie’s past being as scarred as Alex’s. As usual, Alex will go to the mat for a friend in jeopardy.
He gets beaten within an inch of his life…and remains far from any answers. I felt Alex pulled so many stupid moves, that all credulity was stretched…and found his girl friend totally unsympathetic---slowing the plot.
On the plus side, we see quite a bit of Leon Prudell (Alex’s former PI partner) as well as Vinnie LeBlanc, Alex’s Ojibway comrade. These two are outstanding and well defined supporting characters.
The usual wonderful sense of place that is a Steve Hamilton hallmark transports you into the middle of the frozen landscape.
A C+.

Curmudgeon in the Wry 261

Friday, June 18, 2004—502 Words---Average reading time: 1-minute, 48 seconds
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Rave: The Notorious Cherry Bombs
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Hmmmm: By the time he played his second game of the season for the Red Sox the other day, Nomar Garciaparra already had accumulated 500,000 All-Star votes. Just so long as he earned them.
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Hmmmm: Might as well call the Pistons’ victory over the Lakers what it was: the NBA’s first five-game sweep.
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Rant: There will be 1,200 hours of Olympic coverage from Athens on NBC and various cable networks. In other words, Aug. 13-29 is a good time to get your rhythmic gymnastics fix.
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Factoid: The Sam Spade role in “The Maltese Falcon” that made Humphrey Bogart and established his antihero persona was originally offered to George Raft.
It was the first film directed by John Huston.
At age 61, it was Sydney Greenstreet’s screen debut.
It was also the initial pairing of Mr. Greenstreet and Peter Lorre, who went on to work together in nine more movies.
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In the rough: Complaining about his golf game, Jack Nicklaus said, “Everyone has always wanted to play like Nicklaus. Now they can.”
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Rave: G.M. Ford’s fourth Frank Corso novel, “Red Tide,” opens when a horrifyingly inventive biohazard terrorist plot is unleashed in Seattle’s underground Pioneer Square and never slows down. It is an irresistibly readable thriller.
This virus is engineered to last only a matter of seconds. The chilling ticking clock starts when the terrorists inform the authorities that the next virus will have a far longer and more deadly shelf life.
Renegade reporter turned successful true crime writer; Frank Corso instantly involves himself in the trackdown.
“Red Tide” is more an ensemble novel than a Corso tour de force. However, this time less is more. Corso’s powerful presence impacts every scene and influences every situation. His spirit permeates all the action.
The terrorists are most shrewdly thought out…and not who would first come to mind.
A particularly colorful supporting cast strengthens this group effort…especially the resourceful KING street reporter Jim Sexton and his assistant news director.
Dogged police work by the SPD detectives (utilizing Corso’s help) overcomes the pitiful bureaucracy they must battle. The bureaucrats are all passing blame and playing CYA.
And, the locals stay two jumps ahead of the arrogant FBI team’s interference, using street smarts and logic…always a reason to cheer.
The subplot revolves around the hunt for the murderer of Corso’s photojournalist’s ex-boy-friend. How it dovetails with the terrorists and their exceptionally well planned and imaginative second attack accelerates the plot.
“Red Tide” contains a fiendishly intricate plot that is as frightening as it is believable.
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Quote: "Basketball is like sex and Martha Stewart. It never goes away.” ---Frank Deford
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Rant: I saw a store advertising video books. I thought those were called movies.
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Just asking: What exactly were the Clintons' portraits painted on, velvet?
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Born this day: Pier Angeli, Guy Lombardo, Mildred Natwick, Lou Gehrig, Pat Buttram, Louis Jourdan, Kathleen Turner.
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That is all.
As you were.















Thursday, June 17, 2004

Curmudgeon In The Wry 260

Sunday, June 13, 2004-440 Words---Average reading time: 1-minute, 28 seconds
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Rave: Blossom Dearie
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Hmmmm: Do stairs go up or down?
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Do not forget: Half the people you know are below average.
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Rave: My choice to head the CIA: Rudy Giuliani.
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Rant: Those angry about Bill Cosby's remarks, must be the problem he was complaining about.
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Quote: "No good deed goes unpunished."-- Clare Boothe Luce
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Truism: Jennifer Lopez will beat Elizabeth Taylor's marriage record by age 40.
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Rant: Mets left-hander Tom Glavine gave up one hit over nine innings the other day. Eleven more one-hitters and he will tie Indians legend Bob Feller in that category.
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Rave: "Atkins will help you pick up chicks!"
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Useless Factoid: The pilot episode for "All In the Family" was called "Those Were the Days."
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Rant: I get the feeling that Michael Moore was an only child who was picked on at school.
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Rave: I agree John Kerry should delay accepting the Democratic nomination. Accepting between Thanksgiving and Christmas seems about right.
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Rant: I laugh when I hear sports announcers say that professional athletes are playing in a "hostile" environment. Iraq is a hostile environment.
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Utterly useless factoid: On "Happy Days," Potsie's actual name was Warren---Chachi's was Charles.
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Rant: How sad. There were more votes cast for "American Idol" than in the last presidential election.
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Hmmmmm: All those in favor of reducing gasoline consumption, raise your right foot.
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Rant: If the NBA finals were held in my back yard, I would not bother to walk out the door.
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Totally useless factoid: On "Get Smart," the letters in the name of the secret agency CONTROL and its arch-nemesis KAOS stood for nothing.
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Rant: People who do not have their paperwork done before they go up to the bank teller.
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Another useless factoid: Philip Morris was the original sponsor of "I Love Lucy."
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Rant: TV Sports---a lot to watch, very little to care about.
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Yet another useless factoid: "The Honeymooners" started as a sketch on the 1950's variety show, "Cavalcade of Stars."
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Rant: ESPN's self-promoting campaign celebrating the last 25 years in sports gives the impression that none of the great events would have happened had ESPN not been around to put the highlights on SportsCenter.
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Final useless factoid: Barbara Feldon (Agent 99 on "Get Smart") once won the title amount on the "The $64,000 Question." Her category was Shakespeare.
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Rant: French diplomacy in 1944 and 2004 is consistent. It is based on the fiction that France has a large and powerful army.
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Born this day: Cy Coleman, Gene Barry, Dorothy McGuire, Burl Ives, Steffi Graf, Boy George, Pierre Salinger.
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That is all.
As you were.

Wednesday, June 16, 2004

Review---"Red Tide" by G.M. Ford

G.M. Ford’s fourth Frank Corso novel, “Red Tide,” opens when a horrifyingly inventive biohazard terrorist plot is unleashed in Seattle’s underground Pioneer Square and never slows down. It is an irresistibly readable thriller.
This virus is engineered to last only a matter of seconds. The chilling ticking clock starts when the terrorists inform the authorities that the next virus will have a far longer and more deadly shelf life.
Renegade reporter turned successful true crime writer, Frank Corso instantly involves himself in the trackdown.
“Red Tide” is more an ensemble novel than a Corso tour de force. However, this time less is more. Corso’s powerful presence impacts every scene and influences every situation. His spirit permeates all the action.
The terrorists are most shrewdly thought out…and not who would first come to mind.
A particularly colorful supporting cast strengthens this group effort…especially the resourceful KING street reporter Jim Sexton and his assistant news director.
Dogged police work by the SPD detectives (utilizing Corso’s help) overcomes the pitiful bureaucracy they must battle. The bureaucrats are all passing blame and playing CYA.
And, the locals stay two jumps ahead of the arrogant FBI team’s interference, using street smarts and logic…always a reason to cheer.
The subplot revolves around the hunt for the murderer of Corso’s photojournalist’s ex-boy-friend. How it dovetails with the terrorists and their exceptionally well planned and imaginative second attack accelerates the plot.
“Red Tide” contains a fiendishly intricate plot that is as frightening as it is believable.
ISBN 0-06-055480-0
$23.95
Release date: 6/29/04