Sunday, December 26, 2004

Curmudgeon in the Wry 283

Monday, December 27, 2004—572 Words---Average reading time: 2-minutes, 11 seconds
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Rave: Kathryn Grayson
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Under Rated: John Payne, Thelma Ritter.
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A Pro’s Pro: Whenever you need a seasoned professional with just the right voice, check out Randi Martin at
www.randimartinvo.com. I guess I have known Randi for twenty-five or more years and she has always been a head of the curve.
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Rave: Saturday night Tim Russert convened his annual baseball discussion show at the Yogi Berra Museum. This year the guests were Jim Palmer (#22), Roger Clemens, Whitey Ford and Yogi. Pure joy! Last year it was repeated about a half dozen times. Check your listings on upcoming weekends. It is a major league treat.
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Rant: One truly needs a wide screen TV for Kirstie Alley and Anna Nicole
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Over rated: Any reality show.
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Way over rated: Any other reality show.
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TV Time Out: Turner Classic Movies is helping alleviate the drudgery of second-rate bowl games with the initial four "Thin Man" movies on Tuesday starting at 12:30 PM. William Powell and Myrna Loy first teamed up as Nick and Nora Charles in "The Thin Man" and arguably became the screen’s premiere romantic team. "The Thin Man" was completed in less that two weeks.
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TV Time Out, Part II: On Friday (New Year’s Eve) TCM presents seven Humphrey Bogart motion pictures. Starting at 6:30 AM with 1937’s "Dead End" with Joel McCrea, it is a film noir fan’s delight.
At noon is my particular favorite Bogart flick, "The Maltese Falcon." The lightning pacing enhances the drama and suspense of this remarkable adaptation of Dashiell Hammett’s novel. Mr. Hammett also wrote "The Thin Man."
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Speaking of movies: Moviegoers hold the following truths to be self-evident.
All grocery bags have at least one loaf of French bread and one bunch of celery.
All U.S. telephone numbers begin with 555.
The Eiffel Tower can be seen from any window in Paris.
Most laptop computers are powerful enough to override the communication systems of any invading civilization.
There is always a parking place directly in front of whatever building one is visiting.
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Quote: "Under capitalism man exploits man. Under socialism it is just the opposite." (Anon)
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Factoid: 911 days separated the September 11 terrorist attacks on the U.S. and the 2004 train bombings in
Madrid, Spain.
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I miss: Don Shula, Rich Dauer, Nellie Fox, Minnie Minoso, Jungle Jim Rivera.
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Truism: The
Marlboro Man died of lung cancer.
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Rimshot: A bicycle cannot stand on its own because it is two-tired.
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Farewell: They entertained us, thrilled us, made us laugh, made us cry, lead us, sacrificed for us and most importantly they touched us in immeasurable ways. We are richer for all they gave us. Their like will never pass this way again.
Thanks for the memories: Ray Charles, Illinois Jacquet, Jerry Goldsmith, Virginia Grey, Ronald Reagan, Richard Avedon, Alistair Cooke, Cy Coleman, Marlon Brando, Laura Branigan, Elvin Jones, Bob Keeshan, Alan King, Estee Lauder, Ann Miller. Russ Meyer, Tony Randall, Janet Leigh, Jack Paar, Tug McGraw, Christopher Reeve, Fay Wray, Red Adair, Elroy "Crazy Legs" Hirsh, Harry "The Cat" Brecheen, Barney Kessel, Julia Child, Skeeter Davis, Billy May, Robert Merrill, Vaughn Meader, Johnny Oates, Lester Lanin, Timi Yuro, Terry Melcher, Pat Tillman, Don Cornell, Howard Keel, Pierre Salinger, Ray Boone, Elmer Bernstein, June Taylor, Peter Ustinov.
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Born this day: Scotty Moore, Cokie Roberts, Oscar Levant, Marlene Dietrich, Sydney Greenstreet, Louis Pasteur.
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That is all.
As you were.

Friday, December 24, 2004

Curmudgeon in the Wry 282

Friday, December 24, 2004—546 Words---Average reading time: 1-minute, 58 seconds
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Rave: Ida Lupino
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Rave: I am getting XM Radio.
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Rant: I am getting XM Radio so I can watch baseball on the tube and not have to ever hear another ESPN announcer or Tim McCarver and Don Sutton say another word.
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Hmmmm: When everyone appears to be headed in the same direction---it may be time to look the other way.
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Quote: "Success is never final…failure is never fatal." ---Anon.
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Truism: Commuting is not necessarily bad---you just need a good reason for it, such as loving your job or loving your house. The longer the commute, the better the reason needs to be.
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Under Rated: Dennis Quaid, Rita Coolidge, Ann B. Davis, Teresa Brewer, Gabby Hayes, Candice Bergen.
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Over rated: Pro wrestling, John Madden, Dennis Rodman.
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Way over rated: Colin Farrell.
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Quote: "I find ‘Season's Greetings’ so insipid. It is barely one step up from ‘Dear Sir,’ isn't it? Have you ever in your life heard anyone say ‘Season's Greetings?’ I didn't think so. If you don't say something, please don't write it on a card." ---Frank Deford
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Business 101: No matter how late you work, always arrive at work on time.
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Hmmmm: How do you display an easel?
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Quote: "As long as people will accept crap, it will be financially profitable to dispense it." ---Dick Cavett
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Absolute truism: The people in the field are the true heroes of most business organizations.
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Rave: I truly admire people who can use chopsticks.
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Never forget: It is your credibility on the line when you give a recommendation.
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I miss: Johnny Unitas and the black high tops, Tyrone Power, Glenn Ford, Phil Silvers, Bob Cummings.
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Rave: Robert B. Parker is a master at putting together the character, plot and dialogue combo.
His fourth Sunny Randall novel, "Melancholy Baby" is no exception. What’s not to like?
Sunny is a dynamic, thirty-seven year old Boston PI from a law enforcement family. She has plenty of baggage and a dog that gets much too much attention…but is resourceful and is surrounded by a marvelously drawn, frequently eccentric supporting cast.
The dialogue is sizzling and witty---the chatter scintillates. The colloquy is magic, snappy, cadenced and crisp.
The characters sparkle, especially Eugene Corsetti, a NY cop. He is a classic---arrogant, astute and full of attitude. I hope he reappears in future Parker novels.
The solution to the puzzle is no shocker…but the journey is such a fun ride you are addicted all the way to the final page.
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Free advice: When the alternative is "now" or "never"---always choose "never."
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More free advice: You need to ask the right questions to get the right answers.
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Oh so true: No software you ever bought did anything with "just a click."
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Remarks people will thank you for making: "Half-mast, pal," about the green something on their teeth, what color brings out her eyes.
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Remarks no one will thank you for making: "I used to go out with her too," "Gosh, you look tired."
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Five necessities you can never find that start with the letter S: Scissors, studs, shoehorns, shoelaces, Saran Wrap.
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Born this day: Ava Gardner, Kit Carson, Howard Hughes, Michael Curtiz.

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That is all.
As you were.

Tuesday, December 21, 2004

Curmudgeon in the Wry 281

Wednesday, December 22, 2004—485 Words---Average reading time: 1-minute, 51 seconds
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Rave: Jack Jones
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Rant: By writing a book about her involvement with Scott Peterson, Amber Frey is taking tacky to an all-time high…or low as the case may be.
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Rave: Being able to renew my Florida driver’s license and automobile tag on line…and getting the license and tag within seven working days.
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Hmmmm: Why do fat chance and slim chance mean the same thing?
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Rave: High marks to Charles Osgood who skewered the PC crusade to replace the word "Christmas" with "holiday." Especially interesting since it occurred on the liberal-Dan Rather-CBS Network. He demonstrated the foolishness with such examples as: "I’m Dreaming of a White Holiday," "A Holiday Carol," "We Wish You a Merry Holiday" and "All I Want for Holiday Is My Two Front Teeth" among others.
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Rave: Good for Chris Matthews (closing his NBC Sunday show) and Bob Schieffer on "Face the Nation" for taking similar stands on this crusade that some would call misguided.
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Have no interest in: Meet the Fockers, Ocean’s Twelve, Spanglish, Lemony Snicket, Blade:Trinity, Christmas with the Kranks, Alexander.
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Under Rated: Lila McCann, Little Richard, Eli Wallach, Louis Prima, University of Arkansas Men’s Basketball Team.
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Rave: No matter how great the vocalist, they all sounded better with the Basie Band behind them.
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Just asking: Why do airlines call flights nonstop? Won't they all stop eventually?
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Quote: "A centipede is an ant made to government specs." ---Anon.
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Over Rated: Eminem, Ozzy Osbourne, Lucy Liu.
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Way Over Rated: Ludacris.
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Always a high standard: George Will, Dale Turner, Woody Allen, Michael McDonald, Walt Disney, and Larry Bird.
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Factoid: The Birdman of Alcatraz never kept any birds during his seventeen years on The Rock. He had them while incarcerated at Leavenworth.
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I Will Miss: "NYPD Blue" will have its jersey retired on March first of next year. There are nine more original episodes on deck. It has been a spectacular twelve-year run---many awards and superb characters. It always set a high standard. It is doubtful that in today’s "instant ratings or die" network mentality that "Blue" would get renewed for a second season.
Today, something this good would start on cable.
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We all do it: How come we press harder on a remote control when we know the battery is dead?

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I miss: "M Squad." "Richard Diamond, Private Detective," "77 Sunset Strip" and Humprey Bogart.
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Quote: "Publicity is like poison; it doesn't hurt unless you swallow it." ---Joe Paterno
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Hmmmm: What color is a chameleon on a mirror? +++++++
Rave: Every time Turner Classic Movies shows their "100 Years at the Movies" short I sit transfixed and marvel at how great the movies were at one time. The computer-generated action used today leaves me cold.
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Born this day: Hoagy Carmichael, Wiley Post, Doris Duke, Connie Mack, Gene Rayburn, Barbara Billingsly, Diane Sawyer, Steve Garvey.
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That is all.
As you were.

Saturday, December 18, 2004

Curmudgeon In The Wry 280

Saturday, December 18, 2004—635 Words---Average reading time: 2-minutes, 22 seconds
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Rave: Peter Marshall
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Rant: The next time there is a war in Europe, the loser has to keep France.
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Hmmmm: If there was a crumb on the table and you cut it in half, would you have two crumbs or two halves of a crumb?

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Quote: "When you have eliminated the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth."---Sherlock Holmes.
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Rant: Pedro Martinez----$54 million----100 pitches or six innings, whichever comes first. Such a deal!
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Hmmmm: Hardly anyone has a globe at home anymore.
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Truism: If you ever wish to feel inadequate, try hanging wallpaper.
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Question: Do you know your hat size? Your ring size?
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I Miss: Baseball hats being worn correctly (brim facing forward); true shorts on basketball players; pitchers tossing complete games; knock-knock jokes.
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Rant: At Wal-Mart, I wonder what the other 15 checkout lanes are used for.
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Rave: In Michael Crichton’s "State of Fear" the narrative punch is derived from reality. His comprehensively thorough and meticulous bibliography and appendices back up the theories proposed in the novel. Dr. Crichton has done his homework.
The extensive research (fastidiously footnoted) contradicts environmental concerns most people believe and fear, and casts those preoccupied about global warming as gullible pawns of Hollywood and environmentalists.
While the bad guys in the novel are particularly odious, it is the PLM (politico-legal-media complex) that is the true villain. The PLM is the new military-industrial complex. The PLM promotes fear in the population under the appearance of promoting safety.
Rouge members of a high profile environmental activist group (NERF) are set to manipulate and amplify a series of natural disasters to occur simultaneously with their massive media conference---allowing their prophesies to appear authentic.
It is up to a ragtag band of scientists, a billionaire philanthropist and lawyers using a multitude of high tech toys to uncover the scheme. The brilliantly conceived ticking clock scenario bristles with clarity and plausibility.
The articulate cast of protagonists leaps to life as the puzzle pieces lock into place and the chase is on.
"State of Fear" is a consistently exciting and suspenseful tale, as well as a serious thriller.
After you finish "State of Fear" it becomes difficult to accept on faith much of what you will hear or read about global warming and other environmental catastrophes.
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Under Rated: Spin and Marty, Woody Herman, Michel Legrand.
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Just Asking: What was Captain Hook's name before he had a hook for a hand?
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Hmmmm: How come they never list the weight of the members of women’s basketball team in the game program?
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Over Rated: Jude Law, Buddy Rich, New York Times, Dr. Phil.
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Way Over Rated: Bryant Gumble.
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Rant: College football’s Bowl Championship Series is neither a series, nor a championship.
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Rant: Five of this season’s bowl games feature a pair of 6-5 teams doing battle. The Mediocre Bowl, The So-So Bowl, The Average Bowl, The C Student Bowl, and The Middling Bowl. What a joke!
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Always a high standard: Les Brown, Gregory Peck, Van Johnson.
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Factoid: The top of the Washington Monument is capped with a metal, then considered rare, that today is used to wrap leftovers---that is correct, aluminum.
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Hmmm: Do stairs go up or down?
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Rant: Always be skeptical of people who say, "frankly," "candidly" or "to be honest." They are probably are none of those things.
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Rimshot: A jumper cable walks into a bar. The bartender says, "I'll serve you, but don't start anything."
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Irony: Why are the commercials for cable companies on cable but not on regular television? Don't they want the people without cable to buy the cable?
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Born this day: Betty Grable, Fletcher Henderson, Brad Pitt, Leonard Maltin, Sir Steven Spielberg, Ossie Davis, Ty Cobb, Ray Liotta.
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That is all.
As you were.

Saturday, December 11, 2004

Curmudgeon in the Wry 279

Sunday, December 12, 2004—540 Words---Average reading time: 1-minute, 56 seconds
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Rave: John McCain.
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Rant: Barbara Walters, it is time to retire when you think Paris Hilton is the most interesting person in 2004.
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FYI: The number ONE request at Walter Reed hospital is phone cards. The government does not pay long distance phone charges and these wounded soldiers are rationing their calls home. Many will be there throughout the holidays. Really support our troops --Send phone cards of any amount to: Medical Family Assistance CenterWalter Reed Medical Center6900 Georgia Avenue, NWWashington, DC 20307-5001
I have checked this out and it is legit…the cards will make a bunch of brave kids happy. It is better than a ribbon on your SUV.+++++++
Rant: The more lights a person has on the front end of their car is inversely proportional to the lights they have on inside their head.
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Times, they are a’ changin’: How about R. Crumb having the cover of The New Yorker? That is a long way from the Zap Comix of the sixties.
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Factoid: The New York Times released their list of the 100 Notable Books of 2004.My unbroken streak of being 180 degrees out of the touch with the literati continues, as I had not read even one of them…and I have read over a hundred book so far in 2004.+++++++
Under Rated: Jay Bilas, Daniel Ewing, Jane Pauley.
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Over Rated: Donald Trump, Katie Couric, University of Florida men’s basketball team.
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Always a high standard: Coach K.
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Rave: "Whiteout" by Ken Follett, a contemporary thriller set in Scotland, conveys a refreshing and horrifying spin to the stolen deadly virus scenario.
As the caper is completed, a monster snowstorm shuts everything down…frustrating the security chief (Toni Gallo) of Scotland’s largest pharmaceuticals company in her struggle to track down the villains.
In addition to the brutal weather, an obstinate local cop refuses to cooperate until Scotland Yard applies pressure…granting the thieves a lengthy head start.
Mr. Follett deftly weaves the multiple plot lines together. Many a shocking plot twists keeps the pages turning, as the terrifying terrorist plot is unraveled.
Plenty of action, tension, colorful and well-developed characters in this most suspenseful ticking clock novel.
Perfect for airline reading.
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Truth in advertising: If the tree has been sawed off above the roots it is not a live tree.
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I miss: Earl Weaver, Smarty Jones, Boomtown, film noir.
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Rave: Dennis Miller had Frank Deford on his show Friday (12/10) and it was spectacular. Sure to be repeated…look for it---you will not be disappointed.
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Rant: If you are going to drive like the devil, remove the fish from your car!
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Hmmmm: If the price of crude oil is going up, why is gas so high, but motor oil unchanged?
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Sportsman of the Year: While I am a fan of the Red Sox, what about Roger Federer? The Swiss tennis champion won eleven tournaments (three of four Grand Slams) and was undefeated versus Top Ten players. And, he did it all with class and style.
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Born this day: Edward G. Robinson, Frank Sinatra, Dionne Warwick, Bob Barker, Connie Francis, Tracey Austin, Casey Cleavage, Honor Blackman.
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That is all.
As you were.

Thursday, December 09, 2004

Curmudgeon in the Wry 278

Friday, December 19, 2004—534 words---Average reading time: 1-minute, 59 seconds
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Rave: Coyote Calhoun, HOF.
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Over Rated: Rappers, Ben Affleck, The Apprentice, the 18-34 demo, deep fried turkey, Desperate Housewives, James Patterson.
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Way over rated: Chris Berman.
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Far and away the most over rated: Black as a fashion statement.
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Under rated: American Dreams, Third Watch, George Pelecanos, Laura Lippman, Stacey Dales-Schuman, Rece Davis, Karl Revech.
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Always a high standard: Jon Miller, Michael Connelly, James W. Hall, Tom Cruise, Rod Stewart.
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Rant: Ron Artest and Barry Bonds should be sharing a jail cell. In the adjoining cell should be Bud Selig and Don Fehr.
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Factoid: Harry Truman is the last president who did not go to college.
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Rave: Do not miss Nelson DeMille’s "Night Fall" if fast-pacing, witty dialogue, surprising turns and sophisticated writing wrapped around a conspiracy theory is your cup of tea.
Former NYPD detective John Cory returns. He is now a contract employee for the Anti Terrorism Task Force. Corey is cynical, sarcastic, politically incorrect, self-deprecating, street smart and anti-authority…my type of guy.
Corey’s wife, Kate Mayfield (FBI lawyer on the same task force) takes him to a memorial service for the fifth anniversary of the crash of TWA Flight 800.
Corey and Kate are convinced the government arrived at their conclusion too quickly and too conveniently. Corey, always concerned with justice, sets off on his own renegade investigation.
A particularly arrogant senior FBI agent warns Kate and Corey not to question the official version. That ensures that Corey will be relentless in his pursuit of the truth.
Any more would give away too much of this muscular thriller.
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Truism: Nobody looks good while eating.
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Rant: Artificial logs are just not acceptable.
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Just curious: If you could go through a shorter security line at the airport by allowing law enforcement agencies check your background beforehand, would you do it?
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Rave: I think it is entirely possible that the University of North Carolina can do what U-Conn did last season---win both the men’s and women’s NCAA Basketball championships. Roy Williams needs to keep his star laden individuals focused on team goals for the next four months. Sylvia Hatchell (women’s coach) is average at best---but with Ivory Latta and Camille Little on the floor this team is fierce.
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Rave: I agree with Frank Deford about starting the women’s college basketball season a month before the men’s. That would allow the women to have their NCAA Tournament in February when no other major sporting event conflicts. ESPN networks carried every game last season, but everyone was watching the men’s conference tourneys and run to the Final Four.
The women’s game gets more competitive each season. No longer is there just one elite program (Tennessee)---at least two dozen teams are now playing at an upper echelon level.
And, each year there are more blonde ponytails on the court---always a plus for TV and Madison Avenue.
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Hmmmm: Is it really possible to dissolve a pearl in a glass of champagne? And, why would you want to?
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If anyone finds a scarf, it is mine!
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Born this day: Dorothy Lamour, Chet Huntley, Emily Dickinson, Tommy Rettig, Gloria Loring.
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That is all
As you were.