Saturday, May 27, 2017

Jim Bunning, R. I. P.

ABC15 Arizona: SOUTHGATE, Ky. -- Former U.S. senator and baseball Hall of Fame pitcher Jim Bunning has died, Cincinnati-based WCPO news partner Fort Thomas Matters reports.

The Moses Deception -- Stephen Mertz

Back in the old days I read several books about discoveries that would change the Bible and change the world.  One of them was Robert Duncan's The Q Document, and another was Irving Wallace's The Word.  I like things like that, so I'm the target audience for The Moses Deception, in which a couple of archaeologists, Adam Chase and Lara Newton working along the Turkey/Syria border and are shown a cave that contains the nuclear bomb of all archaeological discoveries: the remnants of the tablets that contained the first version of the Ten Commandments.  The big revelation is that there was an eleventh commandment, and if it's genuine it will indeed change the world.  That is, it will if Adam and Lara can survive bandit gangs and all the other people who are trying to kill them.

Stephen Mertz is an expert action writer, and The Moses Deception is filled with intriguing characters, pursuits, escapes, slam-bang action, and suspense.  Chase's motto is "trust no one," but you have to trust someone now and then.  That can get people killed, and it does.  You never now when someone's going to die, or who's to blame.  It's not surprising to find this in a Mertz novel.  What surprised me was the serious discussion of religion and belief, something that you don't generally find in novels of action and adventure.  This is good stuff and The Moses Deception is a book you'll want to check out for sure.

2.2 Million Images from the Early Days of Photography

Now Online: 2.2 Million Images from the Early Days of Photography: We know how it is. You want lots and lots of olde-tymey pictures of men with big mustaches and ladies in absurd hats, but you just don’t know where to go. Fret no more, friends: Europeana Photography has got them all.

Song of the Day

Jethro Tull - Too Old To Rock'n'Roll Too Young To Die (HQ) - YouTube:

I'm Sure You'll All Agree

Presidential pets, ranked  

I wrote a short story about #5, which should, of course, be #1.

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Or Maybe You Have

7 Random Facts You've Probably Never Heard Before

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Ernest Haycox, Chaffee of Roaring Horse, Popular Library, 1949

Over 5000 Historical Novels Listed by Time and Place

Over 5000 Historical Novels Listed by Time and Place: Including more than 700 Reviews

I'm Sure You'll All Agree

'Sgt Pepper' at 50: Every song on the album, ranked

Forgotten Hits: May 27th

Forgotten Hits: May 27th

Al Franken: By the Book

Al Franken: By the Book: The author of “Al Franken: Giant of the Senate” has at least one Congressional Research Service report on his night stand. “But it’s under Carl Reiner’s book on ‘The Dick Van Dyke Show.’”

Friday, May 26, 2017

Zbigniew Brzezinski, R. I. P.

Zbigniew Brzezinski, the hawkish strategic theorist who was national security Zbigniew Brzezinski, the hawkish strategic theorist who was national security adviser to President Jimmy Carter in the tumultuous years of the Iran hostage crisis and the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan in the late 1970s, died on Friday. He was 89. to President Jimmy Carter in the tumultuous years of the Iran hostage crisis and the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan in the late 1970s, died on Friday. He was 89.

Jared Martin, R. I. P.

Hollywood Reporter: Jared Martin, the Dallas actor who portrayed Dusty Farlow, the rodeo cowboy and Sue Ellen Ewing seducer who perished in a plane crash, only to have producers resurrect his character by popular demand, has died. He was 75.

Or Maybe You Have

13 of the best Stephen King short stories you've never read

Song of the Day

Little Richard - Goodnight Irene - YouTube:

Summer Reading Recommendations, From 6 Novelists Who Own Bookstores

Summer Reading Recommendations, From 6 Novelists Who Own Bookstores  

Hat tip to Jeff Meyerson.

Denis Johnson, R.I. P.

Author Denis Johnson, Who Wrote "Jesus's Son," Dies At 67: Johnson was best known for his short story collection Jesus's Son and his novel Tree of Smoke, which won the National Book Award in 2007 and was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction in 2008. His novella Train Dreams was also a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction in 2012.

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I'm Sure You'll All Agree

Every Lynda Carter 'Wonder Woman' costume, ranked in order of wondrousness

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Charles N Heckelmann, Guns of Arizona, Lion, 1952

I Miss the Old Days

30 Black and White Photographs of Natalie Wood in the 1950s

7 TV Characters Killed Off Out of Spite

7 TV Characters Killed Off Out of Spite

First It Was the Thin Mints Melee

Rockwell, ‘Somebody’s Watching Me’ singer, arrested over sandwich: The performer, whose real name is Kennedy William Gordy, allegedly turned violent and hit his housekeeper because she didn’t make his lunch fast enough, TMZ.com reported.  

Hat tip to Jeff Meyerson.

Forgotten Hits: May 26th

Forgotten Hits: May 26th: Big movers on this week's chart include "Come On Down To My Boat" by Every Mother's Son (#58 to #41), "Can't Take My Eyes Off You" by Frankie Valli (#67 to #43), "Seven Rooms Of Gloom" by The Four Tops (#77 to #46), "Little Bit O'Soul" by The Music Explosion (#75 to #50), "Ain't No Mountain High Enough" by Marvin Gaye and Tammi Terrell (#68 to #55), "Sunday Will Never Be The Same" by Spanky and Our Gang (up 30 points from #87 to #57), "Shake" by Otis Redding (#78 to #61), "Sound Of Love" by The Five Americans (#82 to #62), "Ding Dong, The Witch Is Dead" by our buddies The Fifth Estate (#86 to #63) and "Here We Go Again"  by Ray Charles, which climbs from #90 to #73.

FFB Double Shot: Dragon Society & Dragon Venom -- Lawrence Watt-Evans

You all remember when I wrote about Dragon Weather, right?  I said that I'd enjoyed it so much that I'd ordered its big fat sequels.  I even read them, so I thought I'd tell you about them, with [WARNING] lots of spoilers [END WARNING].

In Dragon Society, the second book in the trilogy, Arlian is still looking to get revenge on his human enemies and to kill all the dragons.  The Dragon Society is composed of all those who've drunk dragon blood and become different from other people, like him.  They live 1000 years, for one thing, but that's the bad part.  After they live 1000 years, they give birth to a dragon.  

Many members of the Dragon Society are Arlian's enemies, the ones he's sworn to kill, but he's also a member of the society, and there are Rules.  This makes killing the other members difficult.  Also, no man has ever killed a dragon.  Can it even be done?  As Arlian struggles with these problems, he learns some things about sacrifice and courage, and now we're all set up for Book Three, Dragon Venom, in which we find the Dragon Society divided between those who are willing to see the dragons destroyed and those who want to stay on the dragons' side and live out their 1000 years.

Arlian discovers a great secret.  There once were gods, and the dragons feared them.  Arlian even learns now to make a god -- inject a pregnant woman with dragon venom.  So he does.  The dragons attack the city in attempt to kill the god, and Arlian kills the three who killed his family.  In doing so, he at last learns more about them.  They aren't entirely bad.  That's just a human interpretation of their sad story.  Arlian gives up trying to wipe them out and also gives up the idea of revenge on his human enemies.  He's badly wounded, and . . . I can't give everything away.  If you're looking for a big fat fantasy series about dragons to read, however, I certainly can recommend this one.

Thursday, May 25, 2017

First It Was the Thin Mints Melee

Cops Nab Woman For Pork Fried Rice Battery

South California Purples -- Baron R. Birtcher

South California Purples is set in Oregon in 1973, at the time of Wounded Knee and not long after the sad events at Kent State.  Ty Dawson is the owner of a working cattle ranch in a mostly rural county, and he has no idea that the unrest that other parts of the country is experiencing is about to come to where he is.

It begins when several of his cattle are killed, seemingly exploded, and it escalates when a local activist begins a protest against the Bureau of Land Management's plan to round up and slaughter herds of wild horses.  Before long there's a tent city, a motorcycle gang is running wild, and Dawson finds himself appointed under-sheriff of the county.  It's an almost impossible situation, and then his daughter comes home from college and is clearly siding with the protesters.  

Things get out of hand.  One of Dawson's ranch workers is killed, and the motorcycle gang members behave barbarously.  The high sheriff is more of a hindrance than a help, as are other state and local law enforcement officials.

The final confrontation between Dawson, his ranch hands, and his family is violent in the extreme, and Dawson administers some of his own brand of justice, the kind that wouldn't be sanctioned by any court.

Reading this book I was reminded of the work of James Lee Burke.  Dawson is a lot like Dave Robicheaux, and Birtcher's writing is descriptive and poetic in the vein of Burke's.  Strong writing and a strong central character -- good stuff.

By the way, the title is supposed to refer to Dawson's cattle.  Maybe so, but I never saw a purple cow, and I never hope to see one.  Birtcher might be having us on a bit here.  The title is also the title of a song by the Chicago Transit Authority, now known simply as Chicago.  That might tell us more than purple cows.

By the way #2:  The book might be set in 1973, but it's still relevant today.  This isn't a political comment, just an observation of a coincidence.

The Sad History of Hydrox Cookies

The Sad History of Hydrox Cookies, Which Were Probably Doomed Because They Were Called Hydrox

Song of the Day

What Is Life - George Harrison - YouTube:

The Unsung Charms of ‘Ishtar’

Bad Movie Night: The Unsung Charms of ‘Ishtar’: Welcome to “Bad Movie Night,” a biweekly feature in which we sift through the remains of bad movies of all stripes: the obscure and hilarious, the bloated and beautiful, the popular and painful. This week, on the 30th anniversary of its release, we look at the notorious 1987 megaflop Ishtar.

I'm Sure You'll All Agree

The 10 Best True Crime Books

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Things I See in Alvin, Texas

Trucks with slogans painted on their tailgates

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George C. Appell, The Man Who Shot Quantrill, Pocket Books, 1959

I Remember Him Well

Joe Pyne Was America's First Shock Jock

More Than 250,000 Bibliophiles Are About to Descend on "The Town of Books"

More Than 250,000 Bibliophiles Are About to Descend on "The Town of Books": The Hay Festival of Literature kicks of its 30th anniversary festival in Wales

Forgotten Music

George Harrison Is Still Classic Rock’s Best-Kept Secret