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.
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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.
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Hoops du jour: Bottom line on an NBA Finals that drew poor TV ratings: Defense wins championships ... and loses viewers.
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Rave: The John Pizzarelli “Sound Check” on ESPN’s Sunday Night Baseball with Jon and Joe. Great music and baseball savvy.
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Rant: Three most annoying TV ads---NFL Sunday package on Direct TV, the Ditech cross dresser and anything with Billy Mays giving the pitch.
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Truism: Golf is one of those sports often discussed by people who think that golf history began the day they got interested in it.
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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.
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Rave: The Nat King Cole CD distributed at Starbucks…many of Nat’s standards and a few I was unfamiliar with. Great stuff!
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Rant: The idiots who do not turn right on red.
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Rave: Altoids sugar free cinnamon gum. I may become addicted.
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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.
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Look it up: Cigarettes=pesticides for humans.
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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?
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Hmmm: What if there were no hypothetical questions.
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Universal law of nature: You never have an alibi when you need one.
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Truism: The two most commonly found elements in the universe are hydrogen and stupidity.
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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, 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.