Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Wednesday, December 28, 2005—525 Words---Average reading time: 1-minute, 58 seconds
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Rave: Leroy Vinnegar Sextet
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Almost completely free of original ideas
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Rant: With Imus on vacation, I trolled up and down the TV dial and was appalled at the foul state of the morning shows.
“Fox and Friends” triggered my gag reflex equally as swiftly as does Katie Couric. Both shows offer to OD you on saccharine.
The MSNBC crew is way below average in the absence of Imus.
CBS and ABC have no clue and offer nothing of substance. No one is that cheerful at 7 AM in the real world.
The new morning line-up on CNBC does not get a passing grade from me. Carl Quintanilla lacks the gravitas to lead a two car funeral---let alone a financial discussion with people far more expert in the category than he is. Becky Quick and Joe Kernen are razor sharp.
It sure makes a short day for Mark Haines, who needs to spend more time in makeup.
Even if you are not threatened by a hurricane, blizzard, ice storm, forest fire or tornado, The Weather Channel makes weather intriguing. All the anchors seem to be weather nerds…but are attractive and well spoken. Easily the best of the bunch!
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“Show me a man or woman who cannot stand mysteries and I will show you a fool, a clever fool perhaps, but a fool all the same.”---Raymond Chandler
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One Liners: 99% of lawyers give the rest a bad name.
Borrow money from a pessimist---they don’t expect to get it back.
Consciousness: That annoying time between naps.
A clear conscience is usually the sign of a bad memory.
If at first you don’t succeed, destroy all evidence that you tried.
Nothing is fool proof to a sufficiently talented fool.
All generalizations are false.
For every action there is an equal and opposite criticism.
I used to be indecisive, but now I am not so sure.
Gravity always gets me down.
Eschew obfuscation.
Atheism is a non-prophet organization.
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Rant: The saddest part of the Tookie Williams story was that he lived longer than his victims.
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Rave: Sky writers! Truly a dying breed…I sure do miss watching them.
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Rant: The 2005 winter storm plan: FEMA provides cash and a hotel room. But you have to loot the TV set
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Rave: Turner Classic Movies creates outstanding promo spots for its features. The latest: “See the originals….movies that inspired the remakes” is just terrific. In every case the original is vastly superior to the lame remake.
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Rants on why sports are losing me: Rock music blaring out over the stadiums.
Female boxers.
Fishing on television.
Alternate possession instead of jump balls.
Doris Burke, Joe Buck, Tim McCarver, Don Sutton, Rick Sutcliff, Jeff Brantley, Chris Berman.
28 bowl games…56 teams. Come on! How would you like to be there when #52 and #55 play for all the marbles?
World Series played under moonshine instead of sunshine.
Baseball managers being interviewed in the dugout while the game goes on.
Those sideline reporters who stick a microphone in the face of a coach with a question that has no answer.
Basketball players in sagging shorts that look more like laundry sacks
A baseball commissioner who was a car salesman in his other life.
When television sets everybody’s clock, when to kick off, when to tip off, when to throw the first pitch, when to drop the puck and tells the horses when to break from the gate.
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Rant: You know the Apocalypse is getting close when GQ's man of the year is 50 Cent.
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Rave: How good is UConn? Right now they're the second-ranked team in the country, and their star point guard hasn't played yet.
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Rant: I have no desire to see another remake of King Kong, but then I'm not 10.
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Factoid: There are now only three position players on the Red Sox left from the 2004 title team.
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The Curmudgeon as conundrum: While I still get great enjoyment from Christmas music (“Jingle Bell Rock” remains my favorite---even now I remember where I was, when first I heard it)---there is not one Christmas movie I can watch past the opening credits.
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Don’t forget to floss.
That is all.
As you were.

Curmudgeon in the Wry 312

Wednesday, December 8, 2005---507 Words---Average reading time: 1-minute, 52 seconds (time well spent)
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Rave: Stevie Nicks
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Must see TV: #1 Duke vs. #2 Texas this Saturday on CBS…1:30 in Atlanta---12:30 in Birmingham.
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Hmmmm: What were the odds in 1965 that the Rolling Stones would be performing at the 2006 Super Bowl?
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Rant: There is nothing more permanent than a temporary tax
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Rave: Joe Lieberman is too good for the Democratic Party.
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Rimshot: If not for Venetian blinds, it would be curtains for us all.
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Hmmm: Is there anything more dangerous than the earnestly well-intentioned?
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Fact: I can tell that it will quite some time before I graduate to doing Suddoku puzzles in ink.
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Truism: No one is listening until you make a mistake.
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Rave: For my money the best NFL pregame show is Terry Bradshaw’s twenty minutes on Imus in the Morning every Friday.
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Rant: A decade ago, no one knew what a concierge was. Now everyone wants one.
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Truism II: As long as there are exams, there will be prayer in public schools.
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Hmmmm: Is it bad luck to be superstitious?
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Rimshot: If a corrupt politician used ill-gotten gains to purchase fine window treatments, would they be called “The Drapes of Graft”?
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Truism III: The early bird may get the worm, but it is the second mouse that gets the cheese.
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Factoid: The SR-71 Blackbird stealthy looking matte black plane is the fastest plane in the world. It made it from LA to Washington, DC in 1 hour, 4 minutes and 20 second---quicker that it takes to get through airport security nowadays. And, it was built in 1964!
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Rant: Good & Plenty now comes in a bag. You cannot shake a bag and make “Choo-Choo Charlie” noises.
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The big question: Will Mayor Ray Nagin sell his house in Dallas (that he bought the week after Hurricane Katrina) and move his family back to New Orleans?
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Quote: "In major-college basketball, nine out of 10 schools break the rules. The other one is in last place."-- Jerry Tarkanian
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Hmmm: How come TV reporters have to tell you they are reporting “live”?
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Truism IV: To-do lists are good only if they induce guilt. If those uncompleted tasks fail to make you feel worthless, you will never get them completed.
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Rave: Things not worth economizing on: toilet paper, Kleenex, fresh fruit and chocolate.
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Rant: Most of the 50-year-old Warner Bros. cartoons are funnier than most of the new alleged comedies on TV this season.
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Rave: Google Earth is neat. However watching the satellite zoom in from space can make you dizzy enough to fall off the computer chair you have been sitting on for far too long.
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Hmmmm: How come leaves are attracted to gutters?
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If you can read this, thank a teacher. If you are reading it in English thank a Veteran.
That is all.
As you were.

Thursday, November 17, 2005

Curmudgeon in the Wry 310

Thursday, November 17, 2005---532 Words---Average reading time: 1-minute, 52 seconds (time well spent)
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Rave: Big and Rich.
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Rant: Don’t know which I dislike more: looking my age or feeling my age.
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Rave: In his strong debut legal thriller “The Color of Law,” Mark Gimenez keeps a tempo going that makes it impossible to put down.
A. Scott Feeney was football hero at SMU, married the head cheerleader, owns a home in the tony Dallas suburb of Highland Park and is the youngest partner in the most prominent law firm in "Big D.” In short, he has the perfect life.
After giving an especially disingenuous speech about legal idealism he is assigned a pro bono case by a Federal Judge. He must defend a black prostitute hooked on heroin who is accused of murdering the debauched son of very wealthy Texas Senator---who is the Presidential frontrunner for his party.
A. Scott assumes she is guilty. However, if he exposes the son’s sleazy past, he may save her from the death penalty. This does not please the Senator.
After the powerful Senator calls in favors all over Dallas, A. Scott has his mortgage called, his Ferrari repossessed, the country club membership gone, fired by his largest client and his firm…the perfect life evaporated.
He rediscovers his conscience and decides to give his best effort.
We know he will prevail, but the how keeps you reading into the wee hours.
I was so engrossed in his story telling that it was only near the end of the book that I started to wonder who really committed the murder.
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Hmmmm: Are neckties getting skinny again? Does that mean I can get my old ones out of moth balls?
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Rant: If we can ban people from bringing nail clippers aboard airplanes, we can ban people from bringing cell phones into movie theaters.
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Factoid: An acronym is an acronym only when you can pronounce it as a word, such as OPEC, scuba, NATO. If it does not form a word, and is read as letters, it is not an acronym, rather it is a pronounced abbreviation: YMCA, NFL, MSNBC.
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Truism: Purchasing a new laptop makes buying a pig in a poke seem easy. Especially if you expect customer service after they get your dough.
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Helpful hint: If you are discontented with the disastrous redesign of TV Guide, try Zap2It.com.
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Numbers game: The lowest Gallup approval rating for a president was Harry Truman’s 23 percent in 1952 during the Korean War.
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Hmmmm: How come the old Doonebury cartoons are so much funnier than the current ones?
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Wish list: Somebody to invent a quiet vacuum cleaner.
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Congratulations: To “The West Wing” for its live (scripted) debate episode. It was almost as dull as an actual presidential debate.
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This just in: Richest country in the world? British Virgin Islands…followed by Luxembourg, Norway and the USA. Most taxed? Belgium, Hungary, Germany, Sweden and France. The USA checks in at number 21.
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If you can read this, thank a teacher. If you are reading it in English thank a Veteran.
That is all.
As you were.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Curmudgeon in the Wry 309

Tuesday, November 15, 2005---585 Words---Average reading time: 1-minute, 52 seconds (time well spent)
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Rave: Ornette Coleman
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Rant: People don’t realize how stupid they look with one of those telephone things attached to their ear.
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Didjaknow: Heisman Trophy winner get to vote in subsequent years. Southern Cal QB Matt Leinhart (last season’s winner) promises to fill his first three choices with teammates.
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Factoid: The federal and state governments make more money off of a gallon of gas than the oil companies. Who is zooming who?
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I wonder: If we free France for the third time, do we get to keep it?
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Fair’s fair: If you can blame Dubya for the price of gas…you can blame him for the low World Series TV ratings.
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Factoid two: Ounce for ounce, gasoline is still cheaper than those sodas you get from vending machines.
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Hmmm: Why is it that fortune tellers never live in the expensive part of town?
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Rimshot: Church’s Chicken is adding beef to the menu? What about the separation of church and steak?
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Truism: BlackBerries are labor-saving devices that increase your workday from eight hours to eighteen.
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Rave: With “The Camel Club,” David Baldacci keeps the plots churning with his tale of four elderly, unconventional gentlemen of assorted backgrounds whose Camel Club is a “conspiracy watchdog group.”
They hold no power…their objective is to learn the “truth” behind the exploits of the US government.
Their leader has no acknowledged past and calls himself (with a touch of irony) Oliver Stone.
The four witness a gruesome murder and their hunt for the perps leads them on a path where the truth gets hazier with each clue and each new double cross…and could lead right to the Oval Office.
A Secret Service agent who is three years shy of retirement becomes an unexpected ally after being warned off by his superiors.
The amount of suspension of disbelief needed depends on how effortlessly you embrace conspiracy theories. Myself, I have yet to meet a conspiracy theory I couldn’t buy.
“The Camel Club” demands your attention and captures your imagination. It is certain to keep you engaged.
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Hmmm: Anybody who hates geometry isn’t thinking straight.
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Rant: Amazing how people use a photo ID to drive or cash a check but object to using one to vote
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Truism: Forward this newsy letter to five of your friends, and in 24 hours, nothing will happen.
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Rule one: Never wear a white shirt to an Italian restaurant.
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Rant: Looks to me like liberal columnist Maureen Dowd has injected a lifetime supply of botox…almost in the Joan rivers category.
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Rave: Finally saw my first movie of the year, and “Goodnight and Good Luck” was ten out of ten. It is an intelligent, brainy, well turned-out film. As good as George Clooney is as CBS’s Fred Friendly, David Strathairn is beyond excellent as Edward R. Murrow. He absolutely channels ERM.
The Diane Reeves soundtrack sets the mood perfectly…the black and white photography adds the proper authenticity…and it clocks in at a tidy ninety minutes.
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Useless factoid: There are 18 different animal shapes in the Animal Crackers cookie zoo!
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Rant: Three hours of Wolf Blitzer is two hours and 58 minutes too much.
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Truism II: Growing business opportunity: Tattoo removal.
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If you can read this, thank a teacher. If you are reading it in English thank a Veteran.
That is all.
As you were.



Thursday, October 20, 2005

"School Days" by Robert B. Parker

"I'm learning more and more about less and less. Pretty soon, I'll know everything about nothing." So says Spenser about midway through “School Days” by Roberts B. Parker.

This is a thoroughly enjoyable entry in the prolific Mr. Parker’s long running series featuring the wisecracking, sardonic and resourceful Boston PI.

The tedious, whiney, monotonous Susan is away at a shrink confab at Duke, so we are spared her overbearing, insufferable scenes.
Hawk is also missing, so Spenser is flying solo when he is hired by the wealthy grandmother of one of two accused private school student shooters.

The crime left seven dead and others wounded.

Spenser feels something is amiss when it seems everyone from the boy’s parents, the local cops, the school officials to the kid’s lawyer all want to rubber stamp the allegations and see the boy (Jared Clark) behind bars. It appears someone wants something hidden.

The more they stonewall him the more he snoops around.

He upsets a myriad of people as he endeavors to learn how two seventeen year kids could acquire four new semiautomatic pistols and learn to shoot so efficiently.

The journey to find the cause and those responsible for igniting the teens to such violence is imaginative and always interesting.

Spenser’s laconic banter is always dry and filled with irony…and the New England atmosphere comes electrically to life.

This one is lotsa fun.

Curmudgeon in the Wry 308

Thursday, October 20, 2005---538 Words---Average reading time: 1-minute, 42 seconds (time well spent)
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Rave: Michael Tomlinson
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Rant: You could stop illegal immigration with one law. Make it a federal offense to provide housing to anyone without a Social Security number or green card.
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Rave: Rod Stewart IV. What a thirteen song treat. The duet with Chaka Kahn on “You Send Me” is out of this world.
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Rant: The slogan for the 2005 World Series should be “bunter up.”
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Rant: Has anybody ever had a loaner car that smelled good?
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Hmmm: Four out of three people have trouble with fractions.
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Bumper sticker winner: “Gun’s don’t kill people, drivers using cell phones do.”
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"I'm learning more and more about less and less. Pretty soon, I'll know everything about nothing." So says Spenser about midway through “School Days” by Roberts B. Parker.
This is a thoroughly enjoyable entry in the prolific Mr. Parker’s long running series featuring the wisecracking, sardonic and resourceful Boston PI.
The tedious, whiney, monotonous Susan is away at a shrink confab at Duke, so we are spared her overbearing, insufferable scenes.
Hawk is also missing, so Spenser is flying solo when he is hired by the wealthy grandmother of one of two accused private school student shooters.
The crime left seven dead and others wounded.
Spenser feels something is amiss when it seems everyone from the boy’s parents, the local cops, the school officials to the kid’s lawyer all want to rubber stamp the allegations and see the boy (Jared Clark) behind bars. It appears someone wants something hidden. The more they stonewall him the more he snoops around.
He upsets a myriad of people as he endeavors to learn how two seventeen year kids could acquire four new semiautomatic pistols and learn to shoot so efficiently.
The journey to find the cause and those responsible for igniting the teens to such violence is imaginative and always interesting.
Spenser’s laconic banter is always dry and filled with irony…and the New England atmosphere comes electrically to life.
This one is lotsa fun.
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Bumper sticker I want to see: “Welcome to America…now speak English.”
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Contrarian view: I see nothing wrong with iceberg lettuce
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Hmmm: Raise your hand if you when Arbor day is. And how come we don’t get the day off?
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Rant: Being forced to listen to so many rude cell phone user’s phone call it appears that they say “goodbye” about a dozen times before actually ending the damn call.
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Didjaknow: A submarine is called a “boat”---unless it is a nuclear submarine, in which case it is called a “ship.”
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Helpful hint: If you are looking for a new car, but have no idea what you want, just go to any shopping center and drive around the parking lot to see all the makes and models.
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Huh?: Not a single SI swimsuit edition in the Top 40. Were the judges blind?
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Admit it: You get aggravated when you cannot pay at the pump.
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If you can read this, thank a teacher. If you are reading it in English thank a Veteran.
That is all.
As you were.

Saturday, October 08, 2005

"The Linclon Lawyer" by Michael Connelly

Michael Connelly’s “The Lincoln Lawyer” has rekindled my interest in the legal thriller. He may or may not have reinvented the genre…but he certainly has refreshed it to an amazing degree and sets a new standard for the category.

The Lincoln lawyer of the title is Mickey Haller…so named because his office is his Lincoln Towncar tricked out with fax, phone, internet, folding desk and files. Chauffeured by a former client working off his fee, Mickey does business while commuting between the numerous court houses in Los Angeles.

On the surface Mickey appears to be the stereotypical sleazy defense attorney. His two ex-wives and young daughter are still fond of him (wife number two is his case manager)…he does his share of pro bono work…and is fiercely honorable in his own way. So beneath the surface of the lawyer with bus bench advertising, whose clientele are hookers, drug dealers, scam artists and assorted LA lowlifes is a flawed and complex character.

This practice provides a decent living (he has a home “with a million dollar view and a million one mortgage”), but not what the esteemed law firm pull down.

His chance at the brass ring (the franchise client) turns up when a rich Beverly Hills real estate broker is pinched for attempted rape and murder.

Mickey feels this may be an unusual client for him---an accused who is actually innocent. The fee is huge and the checks do not bounce.

Naturally the case swerves in different directions and Mickey is compelled to reevaluate the veracity of his profession and the viable aspects of the law itself.

“The Lincoln Lawyer” has plenty of deduction and suspense, compelling ethical dilemmas, characters with depth and texture and razor sharp dialogue.

Mr. Connelly draws precise portraits of the individuals and their motivations. Mickey’s audacious scheme drives a slide rule perfect plot that leads to a turbulent climactic encounter followed by a stupefying revelation.

“The Lincoln Lawyer” proves that crime novels can be art. It deserves the careful reading its plot demands.

Curmudgeon in the Wry 307

Saturday, October 08, 2005---633 Words---Average reading time: 2-minutes, 12 seconds (time well spent)
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Rave: Becky Quick
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Hmmm: Why do the bartenders in a cowboy movie never give change?
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Rave: Elizabeth Taylor was never more beautiful than she was as Rebecca in 1952’s “Ivanhoe.”
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Quote: “A bore is a person who deprives you of solitude without providing you with company.”---John D. MacDonald in “The Turquoise Lament.”
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Rant: Did Ray Nagin have any comment about the pictures of school buses being used to evacuate people from Galveston?
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Hmmm: Before Albert Einstein’s time who did we reference complete imbeciles against?
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Rave: Michael Connelly’s “The Lincoln Lawyer” has rekindled my interest in the legal thriller. He may or may not have reinvented the genre…but he certainly has refreshed it to an amazing degree and sets a new standard for the category.
The Lincoln lawyer of the title is Mickey Haller…so named because his office is his Lincoln Towncar tricked out with fax, phone, internet, folding desk and files. Chauffeured by a former client working off his fee, Mickey does business while commuting between the numerous court houses in Los Angeles.
On the surface Mickey appears to be the stereotypical sleazy defense attorney. His two ex-wives and young daughter are still fond of him (wife number two is his case manager)…he does his share of pro bono work…and is fiercely honorable in his own way. So beneath the surface of the lawyer with bus bench advertising, whose clientele are hookers, drug dealers, scam artists and assorted LA lowlifes is a flawed and complex character.
This practice provides a decent living (he has a home “with a million dollar view and a million one mortgage”), but not what the esteemed law firm pull down.
His chance at the brass ring (the franchise client) turns up when a rich Beverly Hills real estate broker is pinched for attempted rape and murder. Mickey feels this may be an unusual client for him---an accused who is actually innocent. The fee is huge and the checks do not bounce.
Naturally the case swerves in different directions and Mickey is compelled to reevaluate the veracity of his profession and the viable aspects of the law itself.
“The Lincoln Lawyer” has plenty of deduction and suspense, compelling ethical dilemmas, characters with depth and texture and razor sharp dialogue.
Mr. Connelly draws precise portraits of the individuals and their motivations. Mickey’s audacious scheme drives a slide rule perfect plot that leads to a turbulent climactic encounter followed by a stupefying revelation.
“The Lincoln Lawyer” proves that crime novels can be art. It deserves the careful reading its plot demands.
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Didjaknow: Jayne Mansfield had a 160 IQ and played the violin.
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Idle thought: In case you were wondering, no, I am not particularly interested in how your Fantasy League team is doing.
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Truism: The farther you go, the more likely it is you left the coffee maker on.
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Truism II: People will collect anything.
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Truism III: A lot of people who have tattoos today will regret them tomorrow.
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Quote: “An alcoholic is someone who drinks as we do, and we don’t like him.”---Lawrence Block.
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Hmmm: Whatever happened to all those Rubic’s Cubes?
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Ever wonder: Whatever happened to Pong?
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Didjaknow: William Shakespeare coined the phrases: “Foregone conclusion” (“Othello”) and “Off with his head” from Richard III.
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Good advice: Never trust a man who owns his own pool cue or a woman who says she never wore a scrunchy.
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Hmmm: How come you never see anyone looting Barnes and Noble?
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If you can read this, thank a teacher. If you are reading it in English thank a Veteran.
That is all.
As you were.

Monday, September 19, 2005

Curmudgeon in the Wry 306

Monday, September 19, 2005---837 Words---Average reading time: 2-minutes, 43 seconds (time well spent)
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Rave: Jamey Johnson
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Rant: Is there any televised sporting event that enjoys more hype and is more tedious than an NFL exhibition?
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Underrated: Fred MacMurray, Gabby Hayes, David Niven.
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Rant: Kanye West should consider visiting the Wizard of Oz and asking for a brain.
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Hmmmm: Why haven’t the Red Sox retired Johnny Pesky’s number?
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Rave: The latest commemorative stamp set from the USPS, “50s Sporty Cars” is absolutely terrific…eye-catching and a reminder to the time when cars had sex appeal.
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Rant: When are sponsors going to learn that naming rights are the biggest waste of money in sports advertising?
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Batter Up: Since Atlanta rookie Jeff Francoeur had zero walks in his initial 130 plate appearances, why would anyone ever throw him a strike?
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Factoid: Since 1920, when Agatha Christie published “The Mysterious Affairs at Styles”, two billion of her books have been sold, a number surpassed only by the Bible and Shakespeare's plays.
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Rant: Finding a grocery store clerk who knows how to pack a paper bag correctly is a real challenge these days…it is another dying art.
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Rave: The ESPN 90 minute tribute to Frank Deford, “You Write Better Than You Play” was beyond outstanding. I feel certain it will be replayed more than once.
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Didjaknow: The great Gypsy jazz guitarist and composer, Django Reinhardt could neither read nor write music. In fact he could not write until very late in life when learned to sign his name. Until then he signed his contracts with an “X”.
He composed hundreds of songs, but only between fifty and seventy were published…and was a most impressive improvisatorial jazz player…maybe the best ever.
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Rant: One would think those who vote for the Baseball Hall of fame are reexamining the non-steroid power stats of Jim Rice, Andre Dawson, and Dale Murphy, to name three.
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Hmmmm: Where did spiders live before there were garages and basements?
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Paperback reader: **“Mallory’s Oracle” (1994) and the subsequent books in the Mallory series have garner outstanding reviews. I can see why as Carol O’Connell writes quite well and presents worthy characters. For my taste it missed the mark. I think her books will hit a bull’s-eye with fans of John Sanford’s “Prey” series psychological thrillers.
**George Pelecanos’ second Nick Stefanos novel, “Nick’s Trip” (1993) is terrific. Nick has received his DC PI License, but keeps the day job tending bar. When a friend from his past hires Nick to find his wife who is missing with $200K taken from a DC crime boss the intrigue accelerates. The subplot has Nick tracking the killer of a reporter friend. The two trails take Nick through DC and Maryland’s Eastern Shore. Mr. Pelecanos delivers wonderful street dialogue, vivid description of the area and a plot that never slows. Every one of his books is a winner!
**”Deader Than Disco” (2005) by David Hiltbrand had a promising start, but then dissolved into a miasma of similes that became just too much. The main character is based on Madonna and one does not need a road map to figure out the others in the record and movie business. Too many clichés and stereotypical characters offset a pretty decent plot.
**Ross Thomas deservedly won the Edgar for Best First Novel for “The Cold War Swap” (1966). Peopled with unpredictable characters with hidden agendas in a world rife with numerous layers of deceptive conspiracies, there never a dull moment. Extremely well written, with suspense building on every page, plot twists and turns, ironies heaped upon shocking disclosures---“The Cold War Swap” has it all. Other than some of the money figures in the espionage game and smoking on airplanes, there is no dated feel. Just a great read!
**I thought P.J. Tracy’s third installment of the Monkeewrench game (“Dead Run” 2005) the weakest of the trio. It has its moments, a pretty neat plot…but gets bogged down by what Elmore Leonard calls the parts that readers tend to skip. As usual in the series, I found the secondary characters most entertaining…and thought they carried the story.
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Rave: The last 23 finals tennis great Roger Federer has played, he has won. Victory in 23 straight finals…has any athlete or team matched that?
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Rant: Someone tell Sean Penn that he can pick up more survivors in his boat if he leaves his "personal photographer" behind.
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Just a thought: It wouldn't be a bad idea for all NHL teams to turn around and applaud the fans before all first pucks are dropped on the respective Opening Nights.
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Rant: I suppose it's only a matter of time before Jesse Jackson shows up in New Orleans to tell the looters that he feels for them.
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If you can read this, thank a teacher. If you are reading it in English thank a Veteran.
That is all.
As you were.

Monday, August 22, 2005

"Shoedog" by George Pelecanos

Few crime novelists can hook you like George Pelecanos. His 1994 stand-alone “Shoedog” was out-of-print until last fall in paperback….great news!

There are no good guys in this tale of violence, extreme betrayal and social realism. Every character is morally questionable. Like great film-noir, the cast is either anti-hero or villain.

After drifting worldwide for seventeen years, Constantine decides to hitchhike back to DC. He accepts a ride from an older hood called Polk (everyone in “Shoedog” goes by one name).

Outside DC, Polk needs to make a stop to “collect some dough.” That stop sets a dreadfully dark caper in motion for Constantine.

A dual liquor robbery in DC on payday…two inside men on both jobs and a driver. Well cased and set up…it looks okay…and no one has a chance to say no.

In the great noir tradition a woman upsets loyalties and outsiders are after Polk.

The dénouement is stunning and will resound in your mind for an extensive period.

Packed with remarkable dialogue, suspense, treachery, fanatical duplicity and filled with superb pop culture references, “Shoedog” is best read in black and white.

Curmudgeon in the Wry 305

Monday, August 22, 2005---503 Words---Average reading time: 1-minute, 52 seconds (time well spent)
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Rave: Jethro Tull
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Underrated: Jack Elam, Roy Barcroft, Ellen Barkin, Scott Glenn
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Rant: The behavior of homeless advocates is scarier than that of the homeless.
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Rave: “Over There” is outstanding television. Bochco has done it again. Erik Palladino as Sgt. Scream is outstanding.
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Rave: Few crime novelists can hook you like George Pelecanos. His 1994 stand-alone “Shoedog” was out-of-print until last fall in paperback….great news!
There are no good guys in this tale of violence, extreme betrayal and social realism. Every character is morally questionable. Like great film-noir, the cast is either anti-hero or villain.
After drifting worldwide for seventeen years, Constantine decides to hitchhike back to DC. He accepts a ride from an older hood called Polk (everyone in “Shoedog” goes by one name).
Outside DC, Polk needs to make a stop to “collect some dough.” That stop sets a dreadfully dark caper in motion for Constantine.
A dual liquor robbery in DC on payday…two inside men on both jobs and a driver. Well cased and set up…it looks okay…and no one has a chance to say no.
In the great noir tradition a woman upsets loyalties and outsiders are after Polk.
The dénouement is stunning and will resound in your mind for an extensive period.
Packed with remarkable dialogue, suspense, treachery, fanatical duplicity and filled with superb pop culture references, “Shoedog” is best read in black and white.
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Rave: I admire those who can row a boat in a straight line.
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This just in: In order not to offend those of the Polish persuasion, the NCAA has renamed the pole vault event to stick vault. Lest people from Finland may get offended, the same NCAA has replaced finish line with end line.
What will they rename the foul pole?
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Rave: The History Channel takes some of the pain out of commercial breaks with their interesting and informative facts on the movie they are showing.
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Rant: After watching about three seconds of the promos for “Dog the Bounty Hunter,” it is painfully evident that its audience is composed of those who believe pro wrestling is both a sport and not fixed.
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Overrated: Nancy Grace, Whoopie Goldberg,
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Hmmm: If you remember when men’s suits came with two pairs of trousers, you are even older than I am.
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Remind me again: At the beach, what was so enjoyable about being buried in the sand?
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Hmmm: How come only drug dealers and high school teachers understand the metric system.
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Rant: why can't/won't home remodelers park those huge trash bins in their driveways and their cars in the street?---Thanks to Dandy Don Whittemore.
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Truism: Nobody ever got their money's worth out of a tube of Super Glue.
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If you can read this, thank a teacher. If you are reading it in English thank a Veteran.
That is all.
As you were.

Sunday, August 14, 2005

"The Fools in Town Are on Our Side"

At eight years of age, Lucifer Dye could “shill a crap game, pimp for a whore house, speak six or seven languages, roll drunks, and hustle the rubes,” but could neither read nor write.

Dye is the central character in “The Fools in Town Are on Our Side” (1970) by Ross Thomas.

It is a complex, unique, compulsively entertaining small town corruption novel.

After Dye completes his education on a “scholarship” granted by a clandestine government agency he is employed by the agency, Section Two. And, he is told, “There is no Section One.”

After being unceremoniously dumped by the outfit, he is hired by Victor Orcutt to corrupt the corrupt in a Gulf Coast city.

Myriad scalawags abound, chicanery is the order of the day and abundant deceptions are trump cards, as a cast of sharp, unforgettable characters are manipulated by Dye, Orcutt and two associates.

There is never a dull moment in the absorbing narrative.

The “heroes” are tarnished and shady, and not much better than their adversaries.

The novels of Ross Thomas are fascinating and impossible to put down.

Out of print for nearly a decade, several of his works are being reissued by St. Martin’s Press. Do yourself a favor---pick one up and enjoy the ride.

Curmudgeon in the Wry 304

Sunday, August 14, 2005---545 Words---Average reading time: 1-minute, 52 seconds
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Rave: Fanny Grace
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Didjaknow: Yogi Berra was among those who stormed ashore on D-Day at Normandy.
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Underrated: Glenn Ford, John Garfield, Laura Lippman, and “Band of Brothers.”
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Rave: At eight years of age, Lucifer Dye could “shill a crap game, pimp for a whore house, speak six or seven languages, roll drunks, and hustle the rubes,” but could neither read nor write.
Dye is the central character in “The Fools in Town Are on Our Side” (1970) by Ross Thomas.
It is a complex, unique, compulsively entertaining small town corruption novel.
After Dye completes his education on a “scholarship” granted by a clandestine government agency he is employed by the agency, Section Two. And, he is told, “There is no Section One.”
After being unceremoniously dumped by the outfit, he is hired by Victor Orcutt to corrupt the corrupt in a Gulf Coast city.
Myriad scalawags abound, chicanery is the order of the day and abundant deceptions are trump cards, as a cast of sharp, unforgettable characters are manipulated by Dye, Orcutt and two associates.
There is never a dull moment in the absorbing narrative.
The “heroes” are tarnished and shady, and not much better than their adversaries.
The novels of Ross Thomas are fascinating and impossible to put down.
Out of print for nearly a decade, several of his works are being reissued by St. Martin’s Press. Do yourself a favor---pick one up and enjoy the ride.
+++++++
Overrated: Jude Law, poker on TV, reality shows, TV coverage of Natalee Holloway
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Driver’s Ed 101: It is infinitely easier to back into a parking space that it is to back out of one!
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Absolutely meaningless factoid: The Baltimore Orioles are the first team in the history of baseball to replace one manager (Lee Mazzilli) with two zees in his name with another (Sam Perlozzo) who has a double zee.
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Rant: Why are the Lakers scheduled to be on national television 24 times next season? Is America that eager to watch the seventh-best team in the West?
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Could be: Are the Polish going to get the NCAA to eliminate the pole position in automobile races?
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Funny Biz: While my political views swing 180 degrees away from those of Bill Maher, he can be a funny, funny man. In his latest book, “New Rules: Polite Musings of a Timid Observer” he effectively skewers the cult of celebrity, pop culture and politics as only he can.
And, life is too short if one cannot laugh at oneself, and “New Rules” gets me to do just that.
Things do have a way of balancing out however, as Bernard Goldberg’s “100 People Who Are Screwing Up America” is the #4 Best Selling Nonfiction title according to Nielsen BookScan.
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Quote: “Never force yourself to read a book that you do not enjoy. There are so many good books in the world that it is foolish to waste time on one that does not give you pleasure.”---Atwood H. Townsend.
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If you can read this, thank a teacher. If you are reading it in English thank a Veteran.
That is all.
As you were.

Saturday, August 06, 2005

Curmudgeon in the Wry 303

Saturday, August 06, 2005---514 Words---Average reading time: 1-minute, 52 seconds
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Rave: Tony Blair
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Confession: I don’t know how I tested positive for sarcasm.
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Quote: “If an amateur gets enough rejections from enough publishers, the amateur thinks ‘Oh, what the hell do they know?’ The professional wonders ‘what is wrong with my book?’”---Evan Hunter.
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Rant: If you absolutely trust the directions on MapQuest, you are more lost than you know.
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Just asking: What is the difference between scattered showers and isolated showers?
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Guilty pleasure: I confess---I continue to enjoy the Andy Hardy movies to this day. Mickey Rooney was a helluva talented youngster. And you can feel the star power of Judy Garland.
It is a shame what the studios did to her.
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Hmmmm: How could anybody possibly know that every snowflake is different? Is somebody keeping track? And, where do they keep them all?
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Power rankings: In July, the Yankees’ Jason Giambi hit 14 home runs, one more than the Washington Nationals .
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Picture this: Raymond Chandler was an in-house scriptwriter for Paramount when they released the film version of his novel, “The Big Sleep” in 1946.
Humphrey Bogart’s dynamic portrayal of PI Philip Marlow in this most enduring of all film noirs, made an icon of Chandler’s 1939 creation.
Chandler had wanted Cary Grant to play Marlow.
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Rant: People who watch reality shows have nothing better to do than sit and watch people who have nothing better to do.
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Rave: “One Shot” by Lee Child is just about as high-quality as suspense writing gets.
Protagonist Jack Reacher is a former MP, and possesses the size to be most imposing to the bad guys.
He lives under the radar---no family, no fixed address, no phone, no credit cards…and no wearisome questions. But---when the situation warrants…he does not hesitate to join in the fray. A modern day knight errant.
Five people are dead from six shots fired by a sniper. The police have a prime suspect (James Barr) in custody within hours. He claims innocence and says only, “Get Jack Reacher.”
When Reacher arrives, the slam dunk case is gradually eroded. And, not by any storybook surreptitiousness---rather by tough bits of information, forensic, personal and psychological that Reacher pieces together.
There is a great deal of interior dialogue, enabling the reader to follow Reacher’s deductive powers.
Follow sniper suspect James Barr’s example and “Get Jack Reacher.”
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Quote: Shoot first: Antoine Walker, who just joined the Miami Heat via a trade, once was asked why he shot so many 3-pointers . “Because,” he said, “there are no fours.”
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Meaningless Factoid: There are 490 U.S. bills to a pound.
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Rant: People who use made-up swear words like, “Oh sugar!” are just kidding themselves.
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Useless Factoid: According to reference books and Web sites, there are more mysteries about journalists than lawyers.
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If you can read this, thank a teacher. If you are reading it in English thank a Veteran.
That is all.
As you were.

Sunday, July 31, 2005

Curmudgeon in the Wry 302

Sunday, July 31, 2005---673 Words---Average reading time: 2-minutes, 14 seconds
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Rave: Kay Starr
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We know this to be true: When the Tour de Lance reverts to the Tour de France next summer, you and I, almost all of America, will stop caring about the race.
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Hmmmm: Can hotels on islands offer continental breakfasts?
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Good advice: Always avoid single ply toilet paper.
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Rave: I really enjoyed Steven Bochco’s “Over There.” In fact I watched the instant replay. I was not alone as it was one of the 10 highest-rated debuts in the history of basic cable and the highest rated series of the night on cable TV.
It got a lot of ink and TV talk time…and mostly favorable reviews.
I agree with one commentator who said it “is not about pro-war or anti-war…it is just about war.”
I do wish The New Yorker could have kept their editorial out of the review.
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Paperback Reader: Two merciless natural born killers make their way to Washington, DC as the Bicentennial approaches in “King Suckerman” by George Pelecanos. They cross paths with Marcus Clay and Dimitri Karras during a minor drug deal. The results force Clay and Karras to hunt down the killers before the killers wreck havoc on their families. Nobody gets Washington better than Pelecanos. He has not written anything less than A material.
******
Ross Thomas never got his fair share of credit for having written some of the best works of crime fiction ever published. Among others, Michael Connelly and Laura Lippman urge their readers not to miss his works. “Chinaman’s Chance” (1978) was enough to hook me. An intricate sting perpetrated by Artie Wu and Quincy Durant---and no one can work a great con like this duo. Those being conned realize it, but feel they can out con the conmen. Add in a colorful group of grifters, ex-CIA types and the former folk trio, Ivory, Silk & Lace. The layers of deceit and inveigling are uncountable and end up with a conspiracy in Dallas in the fall of 1963. Not to be missed…unbeatable fictional creations.
*****
“Cop Hater” (1956) is the first 87th Precinct novel from Ed McBain, and broke new ground in crime fiction. The scene is set for the 87th and the cops that will fill over fifty novels. Crisp, lean prose and complex character development make for a fast read. It looks like a serial killer is targeting cops. Detective Steve Carella has one slender clue and parlays it into a white hot finale. Easy to see how “Cop Hater” was the genesis of one of the longest and most enduring crime series.
*****
In 1973, Robert B. Parker’s highly popular and influential Private Detective, Spenser was introduced in “The Godwulf Manuscript.” Spenser’s unapologetic confidence, snappy repartee and deductive powers explode off the pages and continue thirty-some novels later. No Hawk yet…but Spenser is a pretty self-reliant sort anyway. No tedious Susan or tiresome Pearl the dog, and for that I cheer. Great read!
+++++++
Rope-a-dope: Forty-six-year-old Thomas Hearns returned to the ring for a scheduled 10-round fight Saturday, said, “I’m going to prove that age is just a number.” Guess he did just that.
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Hmmmm: It has been said that Grahame Greene wrote exactly 400 words a day, and would stop when he hit that number, even if he was in mid-sentence. May or may not be an urban legend.
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Rant: “Please wait, all of our customer service associates are busy helping other customers.” This translates to: This company does not hire enough people to adequately provide customer service.
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Hmmm: Why do we press harder on a remote control when we know the batteries are getting weak?
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Ever wonder: What did bagpipers play before that guy wrote "Amazing Grace"?
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Best line going on TV: “The matrix is not perfect.”
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If you can read this, thank a teacher. If you are reading it in English thank a Veteran.
That is all.
As you were.

Saturday, July 16, 2005

Curmudgeon in the Wry 301

Saturday, July 16, 2005---785 Words---Average reading time: 2-minutes, 22 seconds
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Rave: Ed McBain/Evan Hunter
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100% Absolute Truism: The volume level of a cellphone conversation is in inverse proportion to the intelligence of the participants.
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Suggestion box: The best way to improve HOV lanes is to do away with them.
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Don’t I wish: Why can't some of these hurricanes hit France?
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Factoids in History: The telephone was invented in 1876---the light bulb in 1879---but the zipper did not debut until 1893.
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Rave: Without question and without exception, I will watch any film with Ida Lupino in it. Not just a talented actress and a “hot number” as the cops in “The Hard Way” referred to her…she was among the first females to produce and direct in Hollywood.
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Rave: In his fortieth novel Elmore Leonard takes us back to 1930’s-era Oklahoma in “The Hot Kid.”
The kid is Carl (Carlos) Webster, who became a US Deputy Marshall at age twenty-one…his goal is be “America’s most famous lawman.”
“If I have to pull my weapon, I shoot to kill,” is his trademark calling card. And, he is quite the lady’s man as well.
The villain of the piece is millionaire’s son, Jack Belmont…as bad as they come…but not a candidate for The Mensa Society. As a teenager he tried to blackmail his father about his mistress---when that failed, he kidnapped the mistress and was surprised when she recognized him. His goal is to be Public Enemy Number 1.
True Detective Magazine writer Tony Antonelli is the chronicler of the events that aid Webster’s rise to fame. Carl Webster always makes certain to get credit when he shoots someone in the line of duty.
Like many of Mr. Leonard’s works, a stunning ensemble cast vividly emerges to propel the story along with the inevitable showdowns, gunfights and hair-raising turns. Sardonic, witty and sharp dialogue enlivens the narrative.
The so-called heroes are not that much different from the criminals…there are not a lot of noble ambitions on either side of the law. Moral ambiguity and hard-boiled cynicism rule the day.
Nonstop action, sly humor, and the cinematic portraits of the women whose desire is to be a “gun moll” of a famous criminal are other high points in this rousing tale.
Elmore Leonard, one of our most acclaimed crime writers has hit the bull’s-eye once again.
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Just wondering: Before taking a trip to Miami, do Americans need a passport now that it has become a foreign country?
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Rave: “Murphy’s Romance” was run twice early this week on WE and I was hooked for both showings. Directed by Marty Ritt, it starred Sally Field and James Garner in his Oscar nominated role. The spectacular soundtrack was a Carole King, David Sanborn, Lou Adler collaboration. This movie hit on all cylinders.
I had forgotten just how well done it was.
+++++++
Speaking of Carole King: Starbucks has released a 2 CD collection of her music recorded during her “Living Room Tour.” Enormously satisfying…lotsa hits, many a memory, countless goose bumps.
Not to be missed!
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Rant: The people who complain about how slow those who work at the Wal-Mart deli are, (it may be an urban legend that when you order meat there, it's already expired by the time they give it to you), deserve what they get. I would not trust the quality of deli food at Sam’s, Wal-Mart, and BJ’s, any of those deep discounters.
+++++++
Hmmm: When it comes to bike riding, President Bush is no Lance Armstrong.
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Quote: “Few enough would be cheering for Bonds to eclipse the noble Mr. Aaron even if the fog of steroids didn't hang round his big head. Records are made to be broken. But, oh my, couldn't we have it so we make the record-breakers more to our taste?”---Frank Deford
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Rant: Had Paris gotten the nod for the 2012 games, they could have introduced rifle-dropping as an Olympic demonstration sport.
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Stats ‘R Us: Boston College is the only team in the nation to have won a bowl game in each of the past five seasons. This after the Eagles College suffered back-to-back 4-7 seasons in Coach Tom O'Brien's first two years.
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Hmmm: So, has the Segway revolutionized anything yet?
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Marketing 101: What is it that makes business owners think that having a person wearing a bunny suit waving at me will make me pull in and buy a car or rent an apartment?
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If you can read this, thank a teacher. If you are reading it in English thank a Veteran.
That is all.
As you were.

"The Hot Kid" by Elmore Leonard

In his fortieth novel Elmore Leonard takes us back to 1930’s-era Oklahoma in “The Hot Kid.”
The kid is Carl (Carlos) Webster, who became a US Deputy Marshall at age twenty-one…his goal is be “America’s most famous lawman.”

“If I have to pull my weapon, I shoot to kill,” is his trademark calling card. And, he is quite the lady’s man as well.

The villain of the piece is millionaire’s son, Jack Belmont…as bad as they come…but not a candidate for The Mensa Society. As a teenager he tried to blackmail his father about his mistress---when that failed, he kidnapped the mistress and was surprised when she recognized him. His goal is to be Public Enemy Number 1.

True Detective Magazine writer Tony Antonelli is the chronicler of the events that aid Webster’s rise to fame. Carl Webster always makes certain to get credit when he shoots someone in the line of duty.

Like many of Mr. Leonard’s works, a stunning ensemble cast vividly emerges to propel the story along with the inevitable showdowns, gunfights and hair-raising turns. Sardonic, witty and sharp dialogue enlivens the narrative.

The so-called heroes are not that much different from the criminals…there are not a lot of noble ambitions on either side of the law. Moral ambiguity and hard-boiled cynicism rule the day.

Nonstop action, sly humor, and the cinematic portraits of the women whose desire is to be a “gun moll” of a famous criminal are other high points in this rousing tale.

Elmore Leonard, one of our most acclaimed crime writers has hit the bull’s-eye once again.

Friday, July 08, 2005

Ed McBain/Evan Hunter

To me, Ed McBain/Evan Hunter was a perennial figure in crime fiction…even though I “discovered” him late in the game.
I came to know his body of work via the Matthew Hope series while searching for mystery novels set in Florida. It was only natural that the 87th Precinct collection became an effortless addition to my library. Over fifty books on the realistic 87th have been issued…a most healthy crop for readers to harvest.
Effortless is a pretty good way to describe how I found his writing. Loved the characters…and enjoyed how slowly they aged while all that was transpiring in the real world around them was up to date in “the big bad city.”
He certainly did a great deal to feature the city as a principal character. He may not have been the first to do that, but he sure picked up the flag and led the charge.
He was one of the creators of the police procedural, now a huge component of mystery and crime fiction.
In the awards category he was no Forest Gump. In 1998 he was the first American to receive a Cartier Diamond Dagger from the Crime Writers Association of Great Britain. In 1986 The Mystery Writers of America awarded him its Grand Master Award for lifetime achievement. Well deserved indeed.
I especially enjoyed “Candyland” co written by Evan Hunter and Ed McBain…quite a concept. And, hard as it may be to pick one…I think “Money, Money, Money” is my favorite 87th Precinct novel. However, I still have a number of 87ths to go.
Ed/Evan has given me many pleasurable hours of reading…and, lucky for all of us, his books will live on.
While I did know it at the time (1955 at the ripe old age of 12) I was introduced to Evan Hunter when I viewed “Blackboard Jungle,” a film based on his novel. The motion picture also presented Bill Haley and “Rock Around the Clock” to me…showing me the way to a misspent youth.
Perhaps there is some synchronicity that Evan/Ed’s passing coincides with the 50th anniversary of the landmark movie and pop-culture-changing song.
Rest In Peace Evan Hunter/Ed McBain.
For perhaps the first time I agree with a column by the NYT’s Marilyn Stasio. Her obit is a good one.

Monday, July 04, 2005

Curmudgeon in the Wry 300

Monday, July 04, 2005---519 Words---Average reading time: 1-minute, 52 seconds
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Rave: C.R. Hook
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Hmmm: Has science ever answered the question, are oysters alive when you eat them?
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Truism: Many of the new SUVs look so much like station wagons that it makes you wonder what all the fuss is about.
+++++++
Confession: I have never understood the purpose weather vanes. So you know when the wind is blowing from the southwest. What then?
+++++++
Rant: Some people will throw all the trash out of the car window but themselves.
+++++++
Quote: “Highlights are the ruination of sport. They show all the wrong things. Dunks. Fights. Holes-in-one by golfers not in contention. Home runs. And highlights, like mirrors in men's rooms, never will change.”---Frank Deford
+++++++
Rave & Rant: Love the Grey Goose Vodka print ads…very creative. As the product is made in France I would never spend a penny on it.
+++++++
Rave: One does not simply read Laura Lippman’s “To the Power of Three”…one becomes immersed in it.
Told from multiple points of view, it is in fact a character driven novel. The secondary characters are just as vivid and infused with distinct personalities and back stories as those in the lead roles.
Three suburban high school seniors (inseparable since third grade) are involved in a shooting in a locked girl’s restroom…one dead, one in a coma and one shot in the foot.
What precisely did go down in the restroom? Who in fact pulled the trigger?
Homicide Sergeant Harold Lendardt and partner Kevin Infante come across inconsistencies between the crime scene and account given by the coherent survivor.
The setting in the upscale development of Glendale is illusory, but the way the “event” affects the entire community is all too authentic.
Everyone is so fully realized, it is effortless to picture the novel as nonfiction. They all resonate with authenticity.
And, the plot is crisp, suspenseful, taut and moves along in a calculated rhythm. The reader is enticed to learn more about all the players…and care about them.
“To the Power of Three” hooks you from start to finish.
+++++++
Rant: Memo to the NBA. Longer does not necessarily mean better. The regular season ended in mid-April.
Fans in such cities as LA, Atlanta, Minneapolis, etc. had no intrinsic tie to the NBA for over two months, as the playoffs dragged on and on and on and on, incessantly.
+++++++
Stats: More relationships have broken up on Valentine’s Day than have ever been started on Valentine’s Day.
+++++++
Hmmm: Is it true that if you stay hot for more than four hours in the Cialis Western Open, you are supposed to call a golf doctor?
+++++++
Rant: Before send billions of dollars to Africa, let’s spend some dough bailing out the Veteran’s Administration, vastly improve teacher’s salaries and seal our southern border.
Charity begins at home.
+++++++
Enjoy the 4th, Fly the Flag.
If you can read this, thank a teacher. If you are reading it in English thank a Veteran.
That is all.
As you were.

Sunday, July 03, 2005

"To the Power of Three" by Laura Lippman Review

One does not simply read Laura Lippman’s “To the Power of Three”…one becomes immersed in it.

Told from multiple points of view, it is in fact a character driven novel. The secondary characters are just as vivid and infused with distinct personalities and back stories as those in the lead roles.

Three suburban high school seniors (inseparable since third grade) are involved in a shooting in a locked girl’s restroom…one dead, one in a coma and one shot in the foot.

What precisely did go down in the restroom? Who in fact pulled the trigger?

Homicide Sergeant Harold Lendardt and partner Kevin Infante come across inconsistencies between the crime scene and account given by the coherent survivor.

The setting in the upscale development of Glendale is illusory, but the way the “event” affects the entire community is all too authentic.

Everyone is so fully realized, it is effortless to picture the novel as nonfiction. They all resonate with authenticity.

And, the plot is crisp, suspenseful, taut and moves along in a calculated rhythm. The reader is enticed to learn more about all the players…and care about them.

“To the Power of Three” hooks you from start to finish.

Wednesday, June 29, 2005

Curmudgeon in the Wry 299

Wednesday, June 29, 2005---607 Words---Average reading time: 1-minute, 52 seconds
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Rave: Dwight Yoakam
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Rant: I am with Dick Vitale on the NBA’s new 19 and under mandate. Merely a band aid on a broken leg. Pure Stern BS.
+++++++
Rave: The tie breaker in the Venus Williams and Mary Pearce quarter finals at Wimbledon was absolutely riveting.
A shame so few saw it. Tennis ratings have plummeted since the mid-1980’s heydays.
Today’s players may be better athletes and in better shapes…but cannot match the personality/star power of yesteryear. There are no Conners, McEnroe, Borg, Martina or Chris on the tour today.
+++++++
Hoops du jour: Bottom line on an NBA Finals that drew poor TV ratings: Defense wins championships ... and loses viewers.
+++++++
Rave: The John Pizzarelli “Sound Check” on ESPN’s Sunday Night Baseball with Jon and Joe. Great music and baseball savvy.
+++++++
Rant: Three most annoying TV ads---NFL Sunday package on Direct TV, the Ditech cross dresser and anything with Billy Mays giving the pitch.
+++++++
Truism: Golf is one of those sports often discussed by people who think that golf history began the day they got interested in it.
+++++++
Cliff Notes:
*“Shame the Devil” (2000) by George Pelecanos is outstanding…an A. My first encounter with protagonist Nick Stefanos…and I will read the entire Stefanos oeuvre. A profound crime store featuring killers who embody pure evil…and a bona fide Peckinpaw finale.
*Ron Faust’s “Dead Men rise Up Never” (2004) features former CID, now paralegal Dan Shaw.
Shaw wants to be a lawyer in the near future, but goes for some easy dough when a top lawyer hires him to locate an heir to millions of dollars...
The heir is kidnapped…and the chase is afoot against some particularly vicious modern day pirates.
Wonderful characters and lean prose from a stylish storyteller.
First in a series set me up to read the rest.
*James Lee Burke’s “In the Moon of the Red Ponies” (2004) did not do it for me.
While the writing is terrific and the scene setting colorful and breathtaking, the plot seemed perpetually stuck in low gear. A C minus here.
*I loved the early Doc Ford novels from Randy Wayne White, but was flummoxed by his latest, “Dead of Night” (2005).
Not great, not awful. It has its moments, but there are too few of them. The reading went pretty fast, but never took off and grabbed me.
Methinks RWW ought to give Doc a bit of a rest and do a stand alone next year. He is too good a writer to give us C plus material.
+++++++
Rave: The Nat King Cole CD distributed at Starbucks…many of Nat’s standards and a few I was unfamiliar with. Great stuff!
+++++++
Rant: The idiots who do not turn right on red.
+++++++
Rave: Altoids sugar free cinnamon gum. I may become addicted.
+++++++
Rave: Those wonderful people who gave the world the Dove bar have come out with a line of cookies that are spectacular---and contain no trans-fats.
+++++++
Look it up: Cigarettes=pesticides for humans.
+++++++
Stats: Yankee second baseman from the 1940’s, Joe Gordon played in exactly 1000 major league baseball games and had exactly 1000 hits. How’s that for symmetry?
+++++++
Hmmm: What if there were no hypothetical questions.
+++++++
Universal law of nature: You never have an alibi when you need one.
+++++++
Truism: The two most commonly found elements in the universe are hydrogen and stupidity.
+++++++
If you can read this, thank a teacher. If you are reading it in English thank a Veteran.
That is all.
As you were.

Saturday, June 18, 2005

Review: "Appaloosa" by Robert B. Parker

The Old West. If you want to learn the real history, watch The History Channel---but if you want a crackling, fast paced and highly entertaining yarn about the mythic west, then “Appaloosa” by Robert Parker is the perfect way to spend a day.
Marshall Virgil Cole and his deputy Everett Hitch are itinerant lawmen (town-tamers) who are hired by the aldermen in Appaloosa. Rouge rancher Randall Bragg and his hired guns have terrorized the town and killed the previous Marshall and deputy.
Cole is a born killer who justifies himself by sticking to the letter of the law and the town must agree to let him make the laws.
Mr. Parker’s spare, terse prose sets perfect scenes with a handful of words and explores characters and motivations with intensity. Gunfighters, storekeepers, bar tenders, painted women, hostile Kiowas and people without a past come to life as members of the secondary cast.
Cole’s duplicitous and two-faced girlfriend is the wildcard that helps set situations akimbo.
The narrative gallops along to a classic western ending with a twist…while throughout Mr. Parker has something to say about the nature of men and women in the Old West.
With themes reminiscent of “The Magnificent Seven,” “Gunfight at the OK Corral” and “My Darling Clementine” the story of Appaloosa is elegant western escapism.

Curmudgeon in the Wry 298

Saturday, June 18, 2005---549 Words---Average reading time: 1-minute, 52 seconds
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Rave: Tex Beneke
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Rant: Howard Dean & Richard Durbin (Dem.-Illinois) ---what Volkswagen did these clowns come piling out of?
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Check it out: If you look closely, you can see Howard Dean’s lobotomy scar.
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Truism: A penny saved is a government oversight.
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Rant: Free snacks do not break airlines, million dollar bonuses do.
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This just in: Saddam Hussein is attempting to move his trial to California.
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Could be: Has M.J. hired O.J. to find the real pedophile.
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Rant: Nancy Grace may miss a few days of work due to surgery. The docs are trying to remove both her cloven hooves from her mouth.
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Rave: The Old West. If you want to learn the real history, watch The History Channel---but if you want a crackling, fast paced and highly entertaining yarn about the mythic west, then “Appaloosa” by Robert Parker is the perfect way to spend a day.
Marshall Virgil Cole and his deputy Everett Hitch are itinerant lawmen (town-tamers) who are hired by the aldermen in Appaloosa. Rouge rancher Randall Bragg and his hired guns have terrorized the town and killed the previous Marshall and deputy.
Cole is a born killer who justifies himself by sticking to the letter of the law and the town must agree to let him make the laws.
Mr. Parker’s spare, terse prose sets perfect scenes with a handful of words and explores characters and motivations with intensity. Gunfighters, storekeepers, bar tenders, painted women, hostile Kiowas and people without a past come to life as members of the secondary cast.
Cole’s duplicitous and two-faced girlfriend is the wildcard that helps set situations akimbo.
The narrative gallops along to a classic western ending with a twist…while throughout Mr. Parker has something to say about the nature of men and women in the Old West.
With themes reminiscent of “The Magnificent Seven,” “Gunfight at the OK Corral” and “My Darling Clementine” the story of Appaloosa is elegant western escapism.
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Rant: When Phil Jackson’s return to the Lakers is a bigger story than the NBA Finals, then just maybe the sport is in trouble.
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Job search: Some have suggested that Mike Tyson could become a greeter at a Las Vegas casino. Of course, he might quit halfway through his shift.
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Rant: Bank behavior has gotten worse as bank fees have increased.
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Rave: In terms of clean design, it is difficult to improve upon the waffle.
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Truism: Anyone who answers a ringing pay phone deserves what he gets.
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Rave: Skipping stones well is a fine art.
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Sad, but true department: Hardly anyone plays the concertina any more.
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Rimshot: You can always tell when you are in a mob owned restaurant…they serve broken leg of lamb.
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So true: You can never get rid of dust. The best you can hope for is to move it from one place to another.
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Hmmmm: Cherry Vanilla Dr. Pepper? Let me guess---the idea is to get it to taste like anything other than Dr. Pepper.
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If you can read this, thank a teacher. If you are reading it in English thank a Veteran.
That is all.
As you were.

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

Curmudgeon in the Wry 297

Wednesday, June 15, 2005---531 Words---Average reading time: 1-minute, 48 seconds
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Rave: Tony Benken
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Rant: Will the NBA playoffs end before the new season starts?
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Quote: “If you hurt, you do not play. If you play, you are not hurt.”---Harry Hopman, former Australian Davis Cup Captain.
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Hmmmm: Where do birds live while they are building their new nest?
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Didjaknow: Asparagus is part of the lily family.
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Quote: “It is not the cynics who ignite revolutions, it is the disillusioned idealists.”---Anon.
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Rave: “I Play Chicken With The Train.”
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Rant: While in Washington to play the Nationals, the Milwaukee Brewers were offered a tour of the Capitol. A single player, Lyle Overbay, accepted the invitation.
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TV timeout: ESPN once again broadcasted the National Spelling Bee. It has to be must viewing for parents who think their kids are odd
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Rant: It is amazing that at his age, former President Jimmy Carter can still fit both feet in his mouth.
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Rimshot: Didja hear about the android that got mad? You know, C3-PO’d.
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Rant: Arena Bowl XIX just completed. Wow! I know what you are thinking…how could the first XVIII have gone by this fast.
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Quote: “Revenge is the best revenge.”---Anon.
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Rave: It was Walt Disney who first changed the world with a mouse.
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In passing: Here’s to you Mrs. Robinson.
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Hmmmm: I do not know any Fullbright Scholarship winners, but I sure know a whole bunch of Halfbright winners.
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Just asking: Will someone explain to me why a disabled veteran wounded in the war has to pay for prescription drugs, while an illegal immigrant can have a baby free and be given food stamps?
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Discuss this: Is Randy Moss’ NFL jersey the top seller in spite of his bad guy image or because of it?
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Rave: During the recent Ottawa Marathon, one participant skipped rope the entire distance in four hours, 49 minutes.
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Go figure: Nomar Garciaparra leads the NL shortstops in All Star votes…yet has not played since April. Baseball fans are either delusional or oblivious. Next we will discover that Cal Ripken Jr. is getting votes.
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Hmmm: If a man makes a statement and no woman is present, is he still wrong?
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Rave: Why not have a lane for rubberneckers?
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Rant: My definition of eternity is the NBA playoff schedule.
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Rant: When will Jesse Jackson arrive in Aruba?
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Rave: Shaquille O’Neal paid for George Mikan’s funeral…classy move!
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Quote: “Bigamy is having one wife too many. Monogamy is the same.”---Oscar Wilde
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Hmmmm: So what do you suppose appeared over Edison’s head when he thought up the light bulb?
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Just did it: Nike recently dropped Jason Giambi…the men from swoosh a bit tardy at getting religion in the church, right?
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Factoid: At close to $100 million, George Steinbrenner’s pitching staff alone has a payroll higher than 27 other teams.
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Wondering: Have Steffi and Andre finished that tennis match yet?
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If you can read this, thank a teacher. If you are reading it in English thank a Veteran.
That is all.
As you were.

Wednesday, May 25, 2005

Curmudgeon in the Wry 296

Wednesday, May 25, 2005---685 Words---Average reading time: 2-minutes, 27 seconds
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Rave: Dan Duryea
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Quote: "When one says that a writer is fashionable, one practically always means that he is admired by people under thirty."--- George Orwell
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Rave: Monument Valley
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Useless factoid: There are about 40,000 Chinese restaurants in the USA…more than McDonald’s, Wendy’s and Burger King combined.
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Rant: “Kicking & Screaming,” is a Will Ferrell film about a soccer dad. Coincidentally, the words “kicking and screaming” also describe the way most American fans are taken to soccer games.
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Idle thought: In the last couple years, Jason Giambi has been the biggest baseball bust since Morganna’s.
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Rant: Mysteries that include recipes are not interesting on either level.
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Bumper sticker of the week: Eve was framed.
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Totally useless factoid: 5% of Americans iron their socks.
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Rant: What’s wrong with this picture? Disabled veterans in this country do not receive free medical care, but illegal immigrants do.
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Quote: “A whole world of evil lies right on the edge of the everyday world and you can cross the border in a city minute.”---James M. Cain
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Rave: Harry Bosch has become one of crime fiction’s most fleshed-out characters…and he keeps improving with each novel Michael Connelly writes. Mr. Connelly is a modern master.
Harry has returned to the LAPD, repartnered with Kiz Rider in the recently created Open Unsolved Unit. He remains a relentless, smart, hard working, compassionate, fundamentally decent detective. He is a complicated character---still seeking justice.
Harry and Kiz draw a case from 1988…the murder of an eighteen year biracial girl. DNA is available from the murder weapon…and they get an immediate match.
They both feel there are enough inconsistencies in the match’s history to question whether he is the perp.
As they work the case they uncover the crime’s heartbreaking effects for the victim’s family. These unsolved mysteries can haunt a department…often defining the police force that cannot resolve them.
Even with the tools unavailable in 1988, it still takes dogged legwork, cop’s instinct and long grinding hours to decipher the case. This is where Michael Connelly excels…the calculated progress of Police Procedure 101.
The suspense is constant; surprises appear at every turn, the entire cast vibrant in this taut crime thriller. “The Closers” is well executed and well envisioned.
The plot builds in a deceptive manner…accelerating geometrically as the novel progresses. It ignites in a hushed manner…propelling you to the resolution.
Mr. Connelly is most adept at setting the hook in a most subtle manner…he hides the clues in plain sight as well as any writer. He makes discovering the solution completely satisfying.
It is easy to immerse oneself in “The Closers.”
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Hmmm: Is it true that a Texas-cattleman-vegetarian is someone who only eats meat once a day?
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Rave: I cannot help it…I love the vibraphone. And, am torn between Lionel Hampton and Milt Jackson, as to whom I like the best.
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Rant: I plan to see "Monster-in-Law" just as soon as I finish re-reading the Dowd Report on Pete Rose.
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Rave: Rob Bartlett's version of Dr. Phil on "Imus in the Morning" is only an absolute scream.
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Rave: Bernard McGuirk’s Cardinal Egan (on Imus) is as funny as anything I have seen on the tube.
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Truism: The Rolling Stones kick off their world tour at Fenway Park this August, which means that the Yankees won't be the oldest team to play there this season.
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Rant: If the doctor shows on television cannot run out of storylines, I guess the Mets can keep coming up with medical reasons why Mike Piazza has to get a day off when Pedro is pitching.
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Hmmm: Okay, what is harder in sports, winning the Tour de France as many times in a row as Lance Armstrong has, or walking Jose Reyes?
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Perhaps: Perpetual motion is a Slinky on an escalator.
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If you can read this, thank a teacher. If you are reading it in English thank a Veteran.
That is all.
As you were.

"The Closers" by Michael Connelly

Harry Bosch has become one of crime fiction’s most fleshed-out characters…and he keeps improving with each novel Michael Connelly writes. Mr. Connelly is a modern master.

Harry has returned to the LAPD, repartnered with Kiz Rider in the recently created Open Unsolved Unit. He remains a relentless, smart, hard working, compassionate, fundamentally decent detective. He is a complicated character---still seeking justice.

Harry and Kiz draw a case from 1988…the murder of an eighteen year biracial girl. DNA is available from the murder weapon…and they get an immediate match.
They both feel there are enough inconsistencies in match’s history to question whether he is the perp.

As they work the case they uncover the crime’s heartbreaking effects for the victim’s family. These unsolved mysteries can haunt a department…often defining the police force that cannot resolve them.

Even with the tools unavailable in 1988, it still takes dogged legwork, cop’s instinct and long grinding hours to decipher the case. This is where Michael Connelly excels…the calculated progress of Police Procedure 101.

The suspense is constant; surprises appear at every turn, the entire cast vibrant in this taut crime thriller. “The Closers” is well executed and well envisioned.

The plot builds in a deceptive manner…accelerating geometrically as the novel progresses. It ignites in a hushed manner…propelling you to the resolution.

Mr. Connelly is most adept at setting the hook in a most subtle manner…he hides the clues in plain sight as well as any writer. He makes discovering the solution completely satisfying.

It is easy to immerse oneself in “The Closers.”

Tuesday, May 24, 2005

Michael Connelly Book Signing

Michael Connelly gave a noon talk and book signing today at Barnes and Noble in Greensboro, North Carolina.
Since I am participating in the Healthy Escapes program at the Duke University Center for Living, I hopped in the Buick coupe and motored the sixty miles over there to sit at the foot of the master.
Over one hundred attended the event.
Michael spoke about the latest Harry Bosch novel, “The Closers,” explaining the genesis of the idea…read a couple of pages and took questions---giving about fifty minutes of conversation.
He considers law enforcement a noble pursuit, and the cold case detectives to be the most noble of the men in blue. He stressed that “the chorus of forgotten voices” is very real to the dedicated detectives.
He follows his instincts when writing and wanted to “shake the series up” when he had Harry retire and become a private eye. He was happy with the pair of PI novels, but felt the structure for continued PI novels would be too repetitive. He worried that would shorten the life of his main character.
Then real life stepped in and allowed Michael to bring Harry to the LAPD.
An LAPD homicide detective who retired and moved to Maine was recruited to return to the force and work in the cold case section. The detective (the real life Tim Marcia) was close to Michael Connelly and called him up to say he was returning.
Tim Marcia gave Michael lots of access to the new squad, making “The Closers” his most researched book in over ten years. The LA Opened Unsolved Unit allowed Michael Connelly to bring Harry back to the LAPD in legit fashion.
Michael was as happy as Harry Bosch was in returning to LAPD. He said Harry has found his true calling with Open Unsolved, knows how lucky he is to be there and will revel in it.
Open Unsolved in LA has about 8,000 cases going back to 1960. 1960 was chosen as the cut off as cases older would have too many witnesses, cops and contacts dead…making solutions nearly impossible.
He writes without an outline. “It is risky without an outline…an outline is like having a boss…much more fulfilling to write without one.”
His initial draft is based on momentum and velocity. Further drafts are used to “hone it down to the best possible writing…sometimes sentence by sentence.”
There have been six failed attempts at screenplays for a Harry Bosch movie…including one he did and one he worked on. He remarked that the movies rely on dialogue and action to define the character…and Harry does not say much. Much of the development of Harry is done through interior dialogue---most difficult to convey in a film.
There will be a second 2005 book out in October…”The Lincoln Lawyer.” It is a legal thriller inspired by a situation with a lawyer six years ago. The Lincoln Lawyer refers to those LA lawyers whose “office” is the Lincoln Towncar and who commute between the 39 criminal courts in the LA jurisdiction.
His first attempt at writing was a short story in high school entitled “The Perfect Murder” featuring Jack McEvoy…who later became the journalist in “The Poet.”
“I am a writer because I am a reader.”
He feels readers read more for character than plot…”and I never miss an opportunity to say something about a character.”
The music mentioned in the books is the music he is listening to at the particular time it shows up.
“Void Moon” was written off a conversation Michael Connelly had with an LAPD cop over a cup of coffee after a book signing.
After the question period he signed as many books as you brought. Every book and every person received an individual message.
Michael Connelly is most generous with his time and a most humble man. It is always a treat to attend his events.

Wednesday, May 11, 2005

"The Forgotten Man" by Robert Crais

In “The Forgotten Man”, Robert Crais weaves an exceptionally intricate plot and unravels it in a most satisfying and logical manner.

The police procedural aspect is realistic and intriguing.

We also learn a bit more of the back story on lead character, Elvis Cole (“world’s greatest detective”).

A murder victim’s dying words are that he the father Elvis never knew.

This revelation starts Elvis tracing the man’s history in a quest to learn the truth. He and the LAPD investigators cooperate and share information…a rare show of collaboration.

Crimes from the past show up as one generation casts a shadow over the next.

The twists and turns are genuinely well crafted…I was taken in often as the case evolved. Magnificent plotting!

Los Angeles is a major character and Mr. Crais is a master at getting the city’s culture, lifestyle and state of mind to seep into the reader’s consciousness without drenching the reader and overdoing it.

This is an outstanding addition to the Elvis Cole anthology. Not to be missed.

Curmudgeon in the Wry 295

Wednesday, May 11, 2005---560 Words---Average reading time: 1-minute, 48 seconds
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Rave: Herb Alpert
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Hmmm: Why do riding lawn mowers have head lights?
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Rant: I would gladly pay $5,000 for a device that disables all automotive subwoofers within a half-mile radius. And the inventor should get the Nobel Prize!
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Just wondering: Who do you figure out there has the capacity to creep Michael Jackson out?
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Rant: It never ceases to amaze me how quickly movies nowadays become “new classics.” Give me a break!
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Admit it: You refuse to take the top newspaper in the stack…even if it is in pristine condition.
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Rave: Cannot think of a nicer NFL story than Doug Flutie getting to finish his football career in New England, where it all started.
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Rant: Radio commercials should not be allowed to use car horns.
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Stats: On her current five-title streak, golfer Annika Sorenstam has won $1,025,000. In 1978, Nancy Lopez’s five consecutive LPGA tournament victories earned her $73,500.
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Rave: In “The Forgotten Man”, Robert Crais weaves an exceptionally intricate plot and unravels it in a most satisfying and logical manner.
The police procedural aspect is realistic and intriguing.
We also learn a bit more of the back story on lead character, Elvis Cole (“world’s greatest detective”).
A murder victim’s dying words are that he the father Elvis never knew.
This revelation starts Elvis tracing the man’s history in a quest to learn the truth. He and the LAPD investigators cooperate and share information…a rare show of collaboration.
Crimes from the past show up as one generation casts a shadow over the next.
The twists and turns are genuinely well crafted…I was taken in often as the case evolved. Magnificent plotting!
Los Angeles is a major character and Mr. Crais is a master at getting the city’s culture, lifestyle and state of mind to seep into the reader’s consciousness without drenching the reader and overdoing it.
This is an outstanding addition to the Elvis Cole anthology. Not to be missed.
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Rant: Those who refuse to fill prescriptions for birth control pills because of religious beliefs should have become preachers instead of pharmacists.
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Rimshot: I went bald at an early age; I suffered from premature Kojak-ulation.
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Rant: Nancy Grace should be named Nancy Disgrace.
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Rimshot II: The rehab clinic for people addicted to Girl Scout cookies is called the Betty Crocker Center.
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Rave: www.dandydons.com
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Rave: “Bad Day at Black Rock” is finally out on DVD.
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Rant: The toy-like coffee makers hotels place in your room.
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Useless Factoid: It takes the same amount of time for a ray of sunlight to reach the Earth as it does to listen to Don McLean’s 1971 hit, “American Pie”---eight and a half minutes.
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Rant: Those who walk around with wireless cellphone headsets in their ear all day look ridiculous. Hey Captain Kirk, wake up, the Star Trek convention left town a long time ago.
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Rave: Nobody on TV gets away with saying what he thinks — about anything — more than Charles Barkley. We need more people like him…especially in the disgustingly politically correct sports broadcasting.
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If you can read this, thank a teacher. If you are reading it in English thank a Veteran.
That is all.
As you were.

Sunday, May 01, 2005

"A Killing Night" by Jonathon King

Jonathon King is a seductive writer…he lures the reader into every scene and rewards the reader with a deeply satisfying pleasurable novel.

No one is better at setting a Florida scene…he is a pithy James Lee Burke in that respect.

He utilizes an economical cast of players, develops characters and balances the main plot and subplot without unnecessary complexity. He is a most efficient writer.

His fourth Max Freeman crime novel, “A Killing Night” continues Mr. King’s ability to get better with each installment.

Max is an ex Philly cop, now doing PI work in South Florida for lawyer (and mentor) Billy Manchester.

In a story that resonates with authenticity and emotion, Max is contacted by former girl friend and Broward County Detective Sherry Richards. She is investigating the disappearance of several young female bartenders, thinks the cases are related and has a suspect---another ex-Philly cop (Colin O’Shea)…one who saved Max’s life on the job.

Is Colin an innocent man caught in the grinding wheels of crime and justice? Or is he a sick, nasty criminal?

Max travels back to Philly in an attempt to unravel the mysteries of O’Shea’s departure from the Philly PD.

Nothing is as simple as it appears on paper and the info he gathers seems to say that everyone is wrong about everything.

Told in Max’s first person and a third person narrative (the killer’s) that permits the reader to ride along.

Mr. King builds the suspense and maintains the tension until the final twist that is uncommonly sensitive…a conclusion that you will not see coming.

Jonathon King and Max Freeman will be around for a long time.

Curmudgeon in the Wry 294

Sunday, May 01, 2005---572 Words---Average reading time: 1-minute, 58 seconds
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Rave: Robert Montgomery
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Rimshot: April showers bring May flowers. Mayflowers bring Pilgrims.
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Rant: Tracy McGrady recently was heard referring to his Houston Rockets teammates as “the supporting cast.” I wonder how that translates into Chinese.
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Quote: Charles Barkley, on why he has not kept his promise to run for office in Alabama: “I saw what the governor makes. That’s like four hands of blackjack.”
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Hmmm: I'm puzzled. Do men who do the "the combover" honestly think women don't notice the hair is 12 inches longer on one side?
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Draft Notice: Utah, of all schools, could pull off a rare double if, as widely expected, big man Andrew Bogut goes No. 1 in the NBA draft after Utes quarterback Alex Smith was the NFL’s top choice.
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Rave: Duke’s J.J. Redick and Shelden Williams are the only two players among the 15 on the AP All-America teams who have confirmed their plans to play college basketball next season.
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Rant: the best thing that could happen to ESPN would be for Chris Berman to take a vow of silence.
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Rave: Jonathon King is a seductive writer…he lures the reader into every scene and rewards the reader with a deeply satisfying pleasurable novel.
No one is better at setting a Florida scene…he is a pithy James Lee Burke in that respect.
He utilizes an economical cast of players, develops characters and balances the main plot and subplot without unnecessary complexity. He is a most efficient writer.
His fourth Max Freeman crime novel, “A Killing Night” continues Mr. King’s ability to get better with each installment.
Max is an ex Philly cop, now doing PI work in South Florida for lawyer (and mentor) Billy Manchester.
In a story that resonates with authenticity and emotion, Max is contacted by former girl friend and Broward County Detective Sherry Richards. She is investigating the disappearance of several young female bartenders, thinks the cases are related and has a suspect---another ex-Philly cop (Colin O’Shea)…one who saved Max’s life on the job.
Is Colin an innocent man caught in the grinding wheels of crime and justice? Or is he a sick, nasty criminal?
Max travels back to Philly in an attempt to unravel the mysteries of O’Shea’s departure from the Philly PD.
Nothing is as simple as it appears on paper and the info he gathers seems to say that everyone is wrong about everything.
Told in Max’s first person and a third person narrative (the killer’s) that permits the reader to ride along.
Mr. King builds the suspense and maintains the tension until the final twist that is uncommonly sensitive…a conclusion that you will not see coming.
Jonathon King and Max Freeman will be around for a long time.
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Hmmm: What is with people who refuse to use the moving walkways in airline terminals? Are they just showing off? Don’t they know how much fun it is to walk fast on a moving walkway?
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Just asking: Do you feel sort of goofy after a flight is over and you lurch up from your seat to grab your suitcase from the overhead bin---and you forgot to unbuckle your seatbelt?
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If you can read this, thank a teacher. If you are reading it in English thank a Veteran.
That is all.
As you were.

Sunday, April 24, 2005

Curmudgeon in the Wry 293

Sunday, April 24, 2005---618 Words---Average reading time: 1-minute, 58 seconds
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Rave: Ozzie and Harriet
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Rant: Female sports announcers would have more credibility if they did not refer to "the refs" in baseball.
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General rule of thumb: The ugliest building on a college campus is usually the School of Design.
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Hmmm: Maybe it is just me, but I have serious doubts that 3-D is going to make a comeback.
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Rant: How come it seems that the friendliest cab drivers screw you the most?
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Rave: “Swing” by Rupert Holmes is an absolute treat. It keeps you guessing from start to finish.
Mr. Holmes has won a pair of Edgars, a Grammy, three Tony Awards and his previous novel (“Where the Truth Lies”) is being made into a film starring Kevin Bacon. Mr. Holmes is no Forest Gump.
“Swing” is not a formulaic mystery…though a death transpires early on. It is a brainy, atmospheric, literate, nimble novel.
Set in 1940 during the Golden Gate International Exposition on the manmade Treasure Island in San Francisco Bay, the noirish fictional historic thriller is narrated by sax player and arranger Ray Sherwood. He is part of the Jack Donovan Orchestra of Note…playing an extended gig at the upscale Claremont Hotel in Oakland.
Upon arrival, Berkeley student Gail Prentice entices Ray into helping her score her prize winning piano piece for full orchestra. Part of the prize is a performance by Japan’s Pan Pacific Orchestra.
Ray agrees and enters into a world of betrayal, deceit, double crosses, murder and political intrigue.
Nazi sympathizers, a former lover from twenty years past, Sally Rand’s Nude Ranch, Heinold’s First and Last Chance Saloon, the Lindy Hop, Japanese diplomats, lime phosphates are just a few of the people, places and lingo that transport the reader solidly into the big band era and lifestyle. An era when what musicians loved to play was what the public loved to hear.
The book comes with a CD of original big band music composed by Mr. Holmes. Clues are contained in the music…I, myself, was far too obtuse to locate said clues. However the CD has dominated my player for the past 300 miles.
No matter…the story is about something more ominous and disturbing than a murder, but to tell more would diminish the pleasure of the denouement.
“Swing” is right on key and not to be missed.
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Quote: “Good photographs are not taken, they are given.”---Anon.
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Just asking: Do you know anyone who actually watches arena football?
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Rant: No waiter should attempt to make you feel guilty for ordering tap water instead of bottled water.
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Rave: Never underestimate how talented Buddy Holly really was.
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Translation: Anyone who says, “I am just playing the Devil’s Advocate,” is actually saying, “I really believe this, but I do not have the guts to say so.”
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Rave: On July 1st, San Francisco will ban smoking in parks, town squares, public gardens, beaches, etc. They are setting a great standard for others to follow with this legislation.
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Rave: Penguins are pretty funny.
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Hmmm: Does anyone still use shoe trees? And, why are they called that?
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Trust me: There is nothing static about static electricity.
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Rant: It is not your imagination---restaurants are getting noisier and noisier.
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Rave: If I were a drinking man, I would drink Grey Goose Vodka…just to support their spectacular print ads. Very creative, entertaining and imaginative stuff…and has a high (to me anyway) retention value.
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If you can read this, thank a teacher. If you are reading it in English thank a Veteran.
That is all.
As you were.