Sunday, July 23, 2006

Curmudgeon in the Wry 325

Sunday, July 23, 2006---511 Words---Average reading time: 1-minute, 51 seconds (time frittered away)
Offending readers one issue at a time since 2001.
Almost completely free of original ideas.
Often wrong…but never in doubt.
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Rave: Randolph Scott
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Currently reading: “If You Can’t Be Good” (1973) by Ross Thomas…wish I had discovered him decades ago. His novels read as contemporary as if this were just completed with the exception of the technology. Human nature, deception, deceit, political corruption, covert ops, duplicity and guile are timeless subjects---and he nails them.
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On the Victrola: The Miles Davis Collection, 1954-1959---part of the Starbucks Hear Music series. “Bag’s Groove” and “Milestones” are particular faves.
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Rant: In a way, Terrell Owens is right to blame the media for his tarnished image. If print and electronic outlets hadn't faithfully reported his asinine comments the last couple years, fewer people would know what a jerk he is.
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Truism: A proportionate response never won a fight.
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In Passing: Mickey Spillane was a huge influence and had great impact on America’s post World War II pop culture.
His 53 books sold over 200 million copies.
At one time he had six of top fifteen selling detective novels in the 20th Century.
Ayn Rand said he was her favorite novelist since Victor Hugo.
His Mike Hammer inspired three TV shows…two starring Stacey Keach as Hammer.
His “Kiss Me Deadly” was made into a movie in 1955---it remains one the most powerful film noir classics of all time.
All this from the man who parodied himself during sixteen years of Miller Lite commercials.
We may have lost Mickey Spillane…but Mike Hammer lives on.
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Just asking: Whose hair was Tim McCarver wearing while broadcasting the All Star Game? You would think that someone making his kind of money with a make-up assistant would be able to get the hair color correct.
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Rant: Somebody please tell me how I am better off because the New York Times exposed the secret monitoring of money traffic.
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Great Business Names Spotted: “The Fur Seasons”---a dog boarding service. “The Sod Father”---a landscaping operation.
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Money matters: Signing football coach Bobby Petrino to a new contract, Louisville got it backwards by offering him a $10,000 bonus if half his players graduate. Shouldn't Petrino be asked to give back $10,000 if at least 50 percent of his athletes don't leave with diplomas?
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My two cents: The Cadillac XLR looks like it is trying too hard.
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Rant: I hope my TV mute button doesn’t wear out until after the election.
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Me thinks: We have become so politically correct that we’ve lost our common sense and our sense of humor.
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Rant: The ESPYs---another TV show of contrived excitement. I missed it. By choice.
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Suggestion box: There should be a bumper sticker that says, "Hang Up And Drive."
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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, July 12, 2006

Curmudgeon in the Wry 324

Wednesday, July 12, 2006---619 Words---Average reading time: 2-minutes, 11 seconds (time frittered away)
Offending readers one issue at a time since 2001.
Almost completely free of original ideas.
Often wrong…but never in doubt.
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Rave: Steve McQueen
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Currently reading: “Prayers for the Assassin” by Robert Ferrigno. Good stuff!
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In the CD tray: West Coast Jazz Box Set, Disk 1. Love the Chet Baker tunes.
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Rimshot: Now that Anaheim's NHL team is known simply as the Ducks, the franchise has reduced by half a stupid nickname. Why did it take the team all these years to figure out that "Mighty" isn't all it's quacked up to be?
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Rave: The latest Imus mantra: “We’re not happy until you’re not happy.”
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Hmmmm: Is it true that Al Gore thinks that the Heat winning the NBA title and the Hurricanes capturing the Stanley Cup is just further proof of global warming?
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Rave: Laura Lippman’s ninth Tess Monaghan novel, “No Good Deeds”, is an assured polished work.
It is finely crafted suspense populated with realistic characters that are worth caring about.
PI Tess Monaghan lands a consulting job with her former employer, Baltimore’s Beacon Light.
The murder of a Federal prosecutor grabs Tess’s attention. It starts out as an abstract example for journalistic investigation…but grows into much more.
Chance steps in when Tess’s boy friend brings a scam artist/street kid home…the initial good deed. It turns out the kid (Lloyd Jupiter) is a link in the murder chain.
Wise enough to know he needs to remain invisible, Lloyd disappears.
During Tess’s odyssey of discovery, much seems amiss with the official investigation. Protecting her source (Lloyd), Tess gives the paper as much as she knows…another good deed. This places Tess, her boy friend and Lloyd in jeopardy.
In peril from whom is the question.
Tess’s life is turned upside down by rogue agents from the FBI and DEA abetted by an ambitious Assistant US Attorney…revealing a wholly amoral world.
The tension builds steadily as the plot strands start to entwine in this notable and provocative novel.
“No Good Deeds” is entertaining and disturbing. Laura Lippman captures the allure of Baltimore in convincing fashion.
It starts strong and holds your attention.
Laura Lippman is the real deal…she writes with poise and flair…must reading!!!
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Quote: “Nostalgia is the realization that things weren't as unbearable as they seemed at the time.” – Anon.
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Rave: Love the TV spot for baseball’s All Star Game…the Steel City hard hat theme and graphics make it my favorite MLB pitch since “Chicks dig the long ball.”
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Rant: With the advent of inter-league play, the All Star Game seems rather redundant to me. An unnecessary exhibition game. However, not as tedious as the Home Run Derby.
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Rave: AMC’s original western, “Broken Trail” was quite a treat. The usual stellar performance from Robert Duvall led the way. Thomas Church’s acting was a hugely pleasant surprise to me. Even with all the commercials, I will watch it again and again.
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Department of redundancy department: Exact replica, two-way dialog, UPC code, it’s raining outside, same exact.
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Rant: I see that Home Depot is thinking of adding fast food to its stores. Will customers be expected to hunt for the ingredients and cook for themselves?
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Rave: Is there a whiter white than a major league baseball team’s home uniform?
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Hmmmm: How the heck did we get the contraction “won’t” from “will not”?
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Quote: “Politicians will act rationally only when other alternatives are exhausted.”—John Reynolds, Jr.
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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 08, 2006

"No Good Deeds" by Laura Lippman

Laura Lippman’s ninth Tess Monaghan novel, “No Good Deeds”, is an assured polished work.

It is finely crafted suspense populated with realistic characters that are worth caring about.

PI Tess Monaghan lands a consulting job with her former employer, Baltimore’s Beacon Light.

The murder of a Federal prosecutor grabs Tess’s attention. It starts out as an abstract example for journalistic investigation…but grows into much more.

Chance steps in when Tess’s boy friend brings a scam artist/street kid home…the initial good deed. It turns out the kid (Lloyd Jupiter) is a link in the murder chain.

Wise enough to know he needs to remain invisible, Lloyd disappears.

During Tess’s odyssey of discovery, much seems amiss with the official investigation.

Protecting her source (Lloyd), Tess gives the paper as much as she knows…another good deed. This places Tess, her boy friend and Lloyd in jeopardy.

In peril from who is the question.

Tess’s life is turned upside down by rogue agents from the FBI and DEA abetted by an ambitious Assistant US Attorney…revealing a wholly amoral world.

The tension builds steadily as the plot strands start to entwine in this notable and provocative novel.

“No Good Deeds” is entertaining and disturbing. Laura Lippman captures the allure of Baltimore in convincing fashion.

It starts strong and holds your attention.

Laura Lippman is the real deal…she writes with poise and flair…must reading!!!

Curmudgeon in the Wry 323

Wednesday, June 28, 2006---749 Words---Average reading time: 2-minutes, 4 seconds (time well spent)
Offending readers one issue at a time since 2001.
Almost completely free of original ideas
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Rave: Cal Tjader
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TV timeout: ESPN canceled the "Bonds on Bonds" reality show. Because it was unwatchable? Or to make room for more paintball tournaments?
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Hmmmm: Are Panasonic, Sharp and Samsung stereo-types?
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Spell-check: The winning word in the National Spelling Bee was "ursprache." That's a German word meaning parent language. For sportswriters, the hardest word to spell each year is "Krzyzewski" - Polish for college basketball.
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Truism: Roger Clemens has had more comebacks than Cher.
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Your tax dollars at work: It costs 1.23 cents to manufacture a penny. The price hike is blamed on rising metals, manufacturing and transportation costs. Looks like a good opportunity to ditch the penny. Besides, the savings are needed to produce the nickel, which now costs 5.73 cents to manufacture.
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TV Guide: Clicking around the cablesphere recently, I stopped on Bravo, where James Lipton was interviewing Tim Allen of "Home Improvement" fame. It appeared to be an actual episode of Inside the Actors Studio. With Tim Allen? Either the show has run out of actors to invite or I stumbled across a Saturday Night Live skit.
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Summer Reading Recommendations: “Deadman’s Bluff” and “Deadman’s Poker” by Jim Swain. Tony Valentine returns in a two book story arc…a mobster’s cleaver cheating scam is afoot at the world’s richest poker tournament in Las Vegas.
“Baltimore Noir” edited by Laura Lippman contains sixteen wonderful mystery themed short stories set in Baltimore and the suburbs. Great stuff!!!
“Escape Clause” by Jim Born is the third in the series featuring South Florida FDLE agent Bill Tasker. Superb characters and a knotty plot make this one a sure keeper.
C.J. Box scores again with “In Plain Sight.” Wyoming game warden Joe Pickett and his family are threatened by a revenge seeking psycho, while Joe is investigating the suspicious disappearance of a local matriarch. I read C.J. Box’s novels as fast as any writer out there. If he were a baseball pitcher, he would be called sneaky-fast. Highest possible recommendation.
Robert B. Parker teams Paradise PD Chief Jesse Stone with Boston PD Sonny Randall in “Blue Screen” and the result is superb. Includes a couple of trips to LA for sleuthing---so we get a peek at Jesse’s back-story. Contains all the Parkers charm without the tedious Susan Silverman in the Spenser novels. However, Sunny has a ubiquitous dog every bit as annoying as Spenser’s Pearl.
“Reading is to the mind what exercise is to the body.”---Sir Richard Steele
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Fair’s fair: Those who question W’s ability to find Osama in the mountains of Afghanistan need to remember that Clinton never found Eric Robert Rudolph in the mountains of North Carolina.
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Drive time: The shortest distance between two points is probably under construction.
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Hmmm: One question about the reelection of New Orleans mayor Ray Nagin: What do you have to do to not get reelected in New Orleans?
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Screenings: Calling “Nacho Libre,” the new film starring Jack Black in tights, a wrestling comedy is sort of redundant. All professional wrestling is comedy, isn’t it?
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Rant: One invention that was severely underrated was the phone booth. Being forced to listen to someone else’s inane cell phone conversation is torture.
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Just asking: Wonder how crowded our hospital emergency rooms would be if we didn’t have 12 million illegal aliens using them as their primary health care?
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Hmmmm: With phone booths gone, where does Superman change his clothes these days?
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Speaking of ESPN: Just when we thought there was nothing on the World Wide Leader wackier than paintball tournaments, the network introduces dominos. Just letting you know, in case you want to be the first on your block to start a dominos rotisserie league.
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Rant: When did you have to start checking your IQ at the door when you go to the movies?
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Factoid: Bacteria will not grow on a copper surface.
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Hmmmm: You can call Jose Canseco a lot of things. But you can't call him wrong on baseball's steroid scandal.
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Quote: “A rumor without a leg to stand on will get around some other way.” -- John Tudor
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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.