Saturday, December 31, 2011

Curmudgeon in the Wry 518

Saturday, December 31, 2011---672 Words---Average Reading Time: 2 Minutes, 14 Seconds. (A pointless waste of time---time frittered away)

Offending readers and hindering productivity one issue at a time since 2001.

Continuing to call them as I see them.

Virtually free of original ideas.

Warning: Contains unsound bites from the apple of life.

Often wrong…never in doubt.

Being wrong is the risk you run by thinking and acting.

A Grumpy Old Man Production.

If you want this in a different language…move to a country that speaks it!

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Rave: Mary Katharine Ham.

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Reading: “Shortcut Man” by p.g. sturges.

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On the Hi Fi: “The Indispensable Bix Beiderbecke.”

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Under rated: Vincent Price.

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I miss: Chet Baker, Patsy Cline, Carmen Miranda, and Lew Burdette.

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Rant: Grammar tip to sportscasters and writers---there is no need to use a modifier on the word “unique.” “He’s a very unique player” or “He’s a little bit unique” is unnecessary---you are either unique or you’re not, as unique means one of a kind.

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Rave: As usual, Fox News Channel was the top cable news channel in 2011, and was the only cable newser to place in the top 10 list of cable channels in both primetime and total day. FNC placed fourth in primetime, behind only cable stalwart USA, sports juggernaut ESPN and TNT. In total viewers FNC placed sixth, behind Nickelodeon, USA, Nick at Nite, Adult Swim and TNT.

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Double Rave: MSNBC placed 28th in primetime and 30th in total day, while CNN placed 29th in primetime and 27th in total day. Somebody let Chris Mathews know that no one is watching.

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Didjaknow: Chicago’s population has dropped by 26% since 1950---7% since the last census.

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Hmmm: Remember when coeds were called coeds?

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Truism: Tim Tebow is neither a fancy passer, nor a passing fancy.

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Rant: Football players no longer fumble anymore---they “put the ball on the ground.”

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Quote: “I remember playing Catholic schools in basketball when every kid on the team would cross himself before he took a foul shot. I asked a Jesuit priest I knew if that helped. ‘Well,’ he said, ‘it does if you're a good free-throw shooter.’”—Frank Deford.

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Hmmm: By announcing a move to NASCAR, Danica Patrick found yet another way to increase her visibility without actually winning a race.

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Rant: With America’s obesity rate up to 34%, Jack LaLanne died too soon.

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Quote: “Do your best when nobody is looking. If you can do that, you can be successful at anything you put your mind to.”—Bob Cousy.

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Truism: Coaches and players always say, “I don’t want to throw anybody under the bus,” just prior to throwing someone under the bus.

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Quote: “Any time things appear to be going better, you have overlooked something.” – Anon.

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Quote: “Liberals regard themselves as moderates for the same reason that fish are unaware they’re wet. They simply have no other frame of reference.”—Bernard Goldberg.

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Holiday Cheer: The Green Bay Packers will be the first NFL team to play on Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s Day.

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Dubious Achievement Award: Should UCLA lose the Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl in San Francisco today, the 6-7 Bruins would become the first bowl team to lose eight games. UCLA’s opponent is no powerhouse, as Illinois is 6-6.

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Rant: Other bowl games featuring suspiciously mediocre contestants---Music City Bowl (12/30) Wake Forest and Mississippi State are both 6-6. Meineke Bowl in Houston on 12/31 has two 6-6 teams (Northwestern and Texas A&M.) In the Gator Bowl on 1/2/12 Florida and Ohio State are both 6-6. Why would anyone care about such pedestrian matchups is beyond me.

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Rave: Only one University has had three players become the number one draft pick in the NBA. That would be Duke---Art Heyman (1963), Elton Brand (1999) and Kyrie Irving (2011).

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One last thing: It’s always about the money.

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If you can read this, thank a teacher.

If you can’t, thank the teacher’s union.

If you are reading it in English, thank a Veteran.

That is all.

As you were.


Friday, December 30, 2011

Never Enough Bookshelves, 2011 Version

2011 was an intriguing year for those who enjoy mysteries and thrillers. From the Hawaii of Michael Crichton’s “Micro”---to Harry Bosch’s L.A.---to C.J. Box’s Wyoming---to the Florida of Jim Hall---to Daniel Silva’s international settings---to George Pelecanos’ mean streets of Washington, readers were treated to heroes and villains from hither and yon. Cunning villains full of devious, malevolent and malicious intent antagonized the innocent---only to meet their match in the 2011 version of the white knight

When you reread a classic you do not see more in the book than you did before; you see more in you than was there before.” ~ Clifton Fadiman.

For me, a year is incomplete without a new novel from Nelson DeMille, Jim Swain, John Katzenbach and James O. Born. I missed them and their wonderful lead characters. I trust that quartet will publish anew in 2012. Another wish is that Ken Follett write a book of more modest length.

“Good as it is to inherit a library, it is better to collect one.” ~ Augustine Birrell.

While I certainly did not come close to reading even a small percentage of the new releases, I have my favorites. Whether or these are the best reads of 2011, I can’t say---they are the ones whose pages flew by the fastest for me.

Among my reads of 2011 were nine from Ross Macdonald as I attempt to learn, enjoy and profit from the pioneers of crime fiction.

“No person who can read is ever successful at cleaning out an attic. ~ Ann Landers.

Here are my Sweet Sixteen Plus One…the fastest page-turners…the keepers that found a permanent place in my bookshelf. To all the authors…thank you for countless hours of pleasure…you sent me on many a great adventure in 2011.

“Never judge a book by its movie.” ~ J.W. Eagan.

1

Dead Zero

Stephen Hunter

2

Back of Beyond

C.J. Box

3

The Drop

Michael Connelly

4

The Cut

George Pelecanos

5

Northwest Angle

William Kent Krueger

6

Portrait of a Spy

Daniel Silva

7

Iron House

John Hart

8

The Little Death

P.J. Parrish

9

The Sentry

Robert Crais

10

Rogue Island

Bruce DeSilva

11

Dead Last

James W. Hall

12

The Fifth Witness

Michael Connelly

13

The Affair

Lee Child

14

Hollywood Hills

Joseph Wambaugh

15

Border Lords

T. Jefferson Parker

16

Zero Day

David Baldacci

Plus One

Micro

Michael Crichton

Books support us in our solitude and keep us from being a burden to ourselves.” ~ Jeremy Collier.

And, remember, books provided instant replay way before televised sports.

What were some of your favorite reads of 2011?

So many books...so little time...read on in 2012.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Curmudgeon in the Wry 517

Tuesday, December 20, 2011---567 Words---Average Reading Time: 2 Minutes, 1 Second. (A pointless waste of time---time frittered away)

Offending readers and hindering productivity one issue at a time since 2001.

Continuing to call them as I see them.

Virtually free of original ideas.

Warning: Contains unsound bites from the apple of life.

Often wrong…never in doubt.

Being wrong is the risk you run by thinking and acting.

A Grumpy Old Man Production.

If you want this in a different language…move to a country that speaks it!

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Rave: The Salvation Army.

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Reading: Stephen Hunter’s excellent “Soft Target.”

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On the Hi Fi: “Beyond the Sun” by Chris Isaak. (Thanks to Ron and Nancy for expanding my horizon with this CD).

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Under rated: Zachary Scott.

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I miss: Buddy Deane, Chuck Thompson, Johnny Unitas, John Steadman, Alan Ameche.

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Rave: At the end of every year Turner Classic Movies creates a wonderful salute to those in film industry that passed away. This year’s “TCM Remembers” is just a terrific and moving as always. I never tire of watching it.

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Hmmm: When all the politically correct individuals wish me a “happy holiday” I wonder if they realize that the word “holiday” is derived from “holy day.”

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Truism: Christmas just so happens to be a national holiday, unlike, say Chanukah, Kwanzaa and my birthday.

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Rant: When I notice the negative reaction of some people to the joyous greeting, Merry Christmas; I invoke the Dr. Seuss truism from “Green Eggs and Ham,”---“those who mind don't matter, and those who matter don't mind.”

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Rave: Barbara Walters’s annual The Ten Most Fascinating People of the Year saw a 23-percent ratings plunge Wednesday night.

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What recession?: The average Major league Baseball salary last year was $3.1 million---a 27% increase from the previous season.

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Full disclosure: I never “got” Jackie Gleason or Lucille Ball.

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Didjaknow: According the Center for Disease Control just 35% of American adults engage in regular physical activity…33% do no activity at all.

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Rant: We know that we are all living in the Twilight Zone with the news that Manny wants to make a comeback.

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Hmmm: Didn’t we just go through the NBA lockout to prevent the very thing that is happening now: star players playing wherever they wish?

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Didjaknow: The fastest growing investment segment in venture capitalism today is compliance software. Just shows what the excessive government intrusion on business from the obummer regime has created.

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Truism: Living In this complicated high tech world, it's getting harder and harder to remember that the simplest solution is usually the best.

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Quote: From Dr. Thomas Sowell on obama---“Only someone who has never had the responsibility for managing anything could believe he could manage just about everything.”

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Rant: Grammar and syntax alert to basketball announcers and writers-- it is incorrect to say that someone is “a player that shots well.” The correct way to say it is: “He’s a player who shoots well.”

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Hmmm: Any truth to the rumor that obama once started to read the Constitution, but quit as soon as he saw that it did not deal the redistribution of wealth?

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One last thing: If it's true, is it still sexist?

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If you can read this, thank a teacher.

If you can’t, thank the teacher’s union.

If you are reading it in English, thank a Veteran.

That is all.

As you were.



Monday, December 19, 2011

Welcome to Bracketville---Exams are over--Let the games begin again Issue.

Louisville despite all their injuries is undefeated and off to their best start in 15 years…and pretty damn great on defense. They run the break as well as any team in the country this season.

Even though Baylor got the “W” on a last minute tip-in vs. BYU; the Cougars won the rebounding battle in most impressive fashion, 41-26 (16-5 on offensive boards). Even more astounding is the fact that BYU grabbed the first 14 rebounds of the game.

Gonzaga defeated Arizona by eleven points…even while going a pathetic 3-20 from the three-point distance.

Florida’s perimeter players are as good as anyone’s.

Indiana State lead Vanderbilt fro start to finish. At Vandy!!! Lest we forget, Vandy was a preseason #7 pick. Hmmm.

And, what’s going on with Villanova? It looked like St. Joe’s was dunking on every other trip down the court in their crushing victory over Nova on Saturday.

If, like me, you feel the “U” in ESPNU stands for unavailable, there is nothing quite like ESPN3.com.

Two under-the-radar teams that no one will want to face in the NCAA Tournament: Kansas State and Louisville.

Oral Roberts’ 22 point victory over Xavier was the most lopsided loss inflicted on Xavier at home in a dozen years.

New Mexico’s Drew Gordon couldn’t hit water if he fell out of a boat in their ten-point win over Oklahoma State in OKC---but he did grab 20, yes twenty, rebounds.

Oakland rallied from down 17 points in the second half in their victory at Valparaiso.

Virginia is looking more and more like they could be the #3 team in the ACC this season. A healthy Mike Scott is making a big difference…and their coaching is top drawer.

In the Louisville win over Memphis, Russ Smith racked up seven steals…in addition to his 24 points.

Ohio State sophomore Deshaun Thomas went an unconscious 23-of-29 in two games last week.

North Dakota State shoved Washington around on their home court (a 19 point victory)…Nate Wolters had a pretty stout stat line for State…34 points, seven assists and five rebounds.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Welcome to Bracketville---Exam Week Issue

You don’t see this every day---In Miami’s win over UMass, Durand Scott scored 16 for Miami, all from the foul line as he missed every shot from the field.

Lefty Terrell Stoglin of Maryland leads the ACC in scoring, averaging 22.5 points a game…about a third of the Terps’ points. He’s more than twice as many shots as any teammate…been to foul line twice as much next teammate.

Iona’s road win at Richmond was its fourth away victory from home in the past five games.

I love watching Gonzaga’s point guard, Kevin Pangos.

Marquette’s victory over Wisconsin (at Kohl) is as good a nonconference win of any team in the Top 10.

North Carolina’s Kendall is just the second player in the past 15 years to put together four career games with 15-plus assists. The other is ESPN’s Doug Gottlieb.

When Michigan State defeated Gonzaga at Gonzaga, it was just the seventh home loss for the Zags since 2004.

It’s early, but a most positive sign for Duke is the lack of fouls from the Plumblee brothers. Too bad, Mason can’t sink a free-throw.

Coach K played in Madison Square Garden the first year it was open.

Can’t remember the last time both #1 and #2 were defeated on the same weekend.

Duke’s 1992 team is the lone preseason #1 pick to go through the entire season ranked at #1.

UNC’s Harrison Barnes is scoring on about 48% of his attempts, but I am not a fan. Isolate on him the next time Carolina is on TV. He moves away from the basket after a shot is released, rather than hitting boards. Notice he often accelerates to places where the action has already been decided. He does a great job doing the matador defense. In about half the minutes, both Reggie Bullock and Michael McAdoo nearly match Barnes’ 4.3 rpg.


Friday, December 09, 2011

Curmudgeon in the Wry 516

Friday, December 09, 2011---531 Words---Average Reading Time: 1 Minute, 53 Seconds.

A pointless waste of time---time frittered away.

Offending readers and hindering productivity one issue at a time since 2001.

Continuing to call them as I see them.

Virtually free of original ideas.

Warning: Contains unsound bites from the apple of life.

Often wrong…never in doubt.

Being wrong is the risk you run by thinking and acting.

A Grumpy Old Man Production.

If you want this in a different language…move to a country that speaks it!

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Rave: Suzannah McCorkle.

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Reading: “The Drop” by Michael Connelly. {All superlatives}

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On the Hi Fi: “Mood Indigo” by Frank Morgan.

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Under rated: Thelma Ritter.

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I miss: “Friday Night Lights,” Peter Lorre, Artie Shaw, Chico Carrasquel.

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Rave: Laura Nyro inducted into the Rock and Roll hall of Fame. What morons those voters must be to have waited this long. She should have been in the first class of inductees.

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Hmmm: Miley Cyrus looks like she’s getting to be Lindsay Lohan on training wheels.

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Rant: The Syracuse basketball team is one of the best in the country…sadly for the kids playing on the team; their exploits this year will be little more than a footnote.

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Quote: “ Ever notice that the busiest people are never too busy to tell you just how busy they are?”—Anon.

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Rave: New Red Sox manager, Bobby Valentine…someone everybody has an opinion on, one way or the other.

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Truism: Urban Meyer to Ohio State was a no brainer.

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Rave: “LeBron” jersey sales are down nearly 40% this season.

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Hmmm: What’s the difference between consecutive and concurrent?

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We report, you decide: Well, they decided to watch. In the just completed November ratings month, Fox News Channel has the top 13 shows in cable news among Total Viewers and 9 of the top 10 in younger viewers.

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Rant: I still don’t get the “Black Friday’’ thing, but then again there’s a lot of things I don’t get these days.

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Hmmm: Will we ever again believe in love everlasting when Demi and Ashton have called it quits?

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Truism: It used to be if you didn’t read the newspaper you were uninformed; then once you read it you, of course, became misinformed. Now if you read the newspaper you’re just old.

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Rant: I would pay NOT to go to an NBA game.

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Quote: “Hollywood is wonderful. Anyone who doesn’t like it is either crazy or sober.”
—Raymond Chandler.

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Rave: Fare thee well to Regis Philbin, who logged more hours on television than the test pattern.

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Rant: Gee, and all this time I thought Demi and Ashton were, like forever.

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Truism: Rex Ryan is funnier when his team wins.

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Rant: It took Kim Kardashian’s quickie divorce to give us a clue that the entire Kardashian phenomenon is based on nothing?

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Rant: Parents of young children will recognize what happened when the NCAA allowed UCLA to accept a bowl invitation with a 6-7 record. It’s the collegiate version of giving out trophies for participation.

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If you can read this, thank a teacher.

If you can’t, thank the teacher’s union.

If you are reading it in English, thank a Veteran.

That is all.

As you were.

Sunday, December 04, 2011

My Thoughts on "Dead Last" by Jim Hall

Jim Hall is an uncompromising novelist. His latest Thorn adventure is an intoxicating, noir shrouded Florida mystery/thriller.

Thorn at best is a conflicted and reluctant hero. After his bride of just one month dies, he withdraws and attempts to destroy all of his possessions. Underneath the rage, he appears to be re-evaluating his existence.

The self-pity is short lived when an Oklahoma Sheriff enters his life. She’s 19 years old and as fierce as any 19 year police veteran. She (Buddha Hilton) has a case that interlocks with Thorn’s past and present. The case takes Thorn out of his comfort zone in the Keys and into the urban jungle of Miami.

In Miami, Thorn is reunited with a lover from his past (Obituary writer, April Moss) and learns that he now has twin sons. He reacts as best he can…but it’s a tough one to come to grips with.

To get to the bottom of the murders, Thorn must match wits with both the law and the bad guys.

Everyone he encounters harbors some secret and suspicions weave through the story. No action (past or present) is without consequence.

“Dead Last” is smartly plotted. The plot is absorbing, disquieting and unpredictable.

Even with just a small cameo from Thorn’s best friend Sugarman, the supporting cast is wonderful.

April Moss, his former lover; FBI agent Frank Sheffield; Sheriff Buddha Hilton and April’s mom, Garvey are vividly brought to life.

Jim Hall captures the Florida feel in an authentic manner---you can feel the humidity, taste the salty sea breezes and feel the heat of the Florida summer sun.

At the end, past and present lock together for a payoff I never saw coming.

In the finale, Thorn requests one favor from April. The granting of that favor on the final pages is powerful, moving and unforgettable.

Just a great ending that leaves you thinking Thorn may have hope for some happiness in the future.