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Archive for July, 2008

An Expert in Murder by Nicola Upson

bookrev: An Expert in Murder by Nicola Upson

An Expert in Murder by Nicola UpsonThis murder mystery, the first in a new series, features London settings, the West End and the stage, an excellent historical period (England between WWI and WWII). What more could you ask for? Well, for one, a plot where you cannot guess “whodunit”, which is the main reason I do not read very many mysteries. But Ms. Upson does herself proud: the plot is intricate and well thought out, the characters engaging and flawed, and the scenery described in detail but not boringly or intricately so.

Josephine Tey has authored the hottest play in London and takes the train from Scotland to see the plays closing and visit with friends.  She meets a female fan on the plane but shortly after their arrival in London, that fan is murdered on the train (a murder on a train in a mystery?). The murderer dresses up the scene of the crime to indicate the act had something to do with Josephine’s play, and a second murder the next day occurs directly connected to the play. Josephine’s friend Inspector Archie Penrose leads the investigation, which begins to point to the actors and others associated with The New Theater in London.

Obviously to give away more would spoil the surprises, but the novel is populated with great characters: (more…)

My son the pilot

My son the astronaut

I spent of few of my early years living just outside of Cape Kennedy/Cape Canaveral. My mother would sit us on the roof to watch the Apollo launches, while my father travels to the South Atlantic in his work to retrieve and study the fallen stages of the rockets. This was in the late sixties, and the people of the world were amazed at the images of rockets heading into outer space; seeing it in person was profoundly inspiring.

So when my son told me he wanted to be an astronaut early on, I knew it was genetic; My son the pilotwhen he took the first step and had his first pilots lesson this week, I knew he was on his way.

Granted, it wasn’t an Apollo rocket or even a new generation Ares one, it was a Cessna 172. He’d been in small planes before on trips to some of the crazy places his Dad drug him to (a four seater landing on a barely visible runway in Belize comes to mind). And using that inherited charm he’s talked his way into a few cockpits. But this was his first flight where he was in control (except for takeoff and landing, lucky for all of us; and yes, he did wisecrack “this is your captain speaking” many times. (more…)

The Alexandria Link by Steve Berry

bookrev: The Alexandria Link by Steve Berry

I am anxiously awaiting the novel Unburning Alexandria, the sequel to The Plot to Save The Alexandria Link by Steve BerrySocrates by my friend Paul Levinson. In addition to reacquainting myself with some ancient Middle Eastern history, I’m also reading some fiction, the latest in the form of The Alexandria Link by Steve Berry.

This novel featured two historical premises: what if ancient scholars saved and hid manuscripts from the Library at Alexandria? and what if some of those ancient manuscripts proved that the Jewish claim to the Holy Land, based on the Old Testament, had been re-written through time? While I enjoy the pacing of the novel (I’m a sucker for lots of short chapters) and I enjoy the premise of the novel, The Alexandria Link will go on my paperbackswap list as a non-keeper: too many elements that could be predicted, too many characters that appeared to be the same, and too many plot points that looked to be from other novels. (more…)


Our unofficial rating of the 2008 Super Hero flicks

We’ll update once Batman hits the screen, but the arguments have gotten spirited and somewhat philosophical about the rating of the rash of Super Hero flicks this summer.

Therefore, to at least get to a rating system we can all agree on, we present the following matrix (TBD’s/???’s will be filled in as the arguments are finalized and the movies released):


From our list, so far Hellboy is the leading movie of the summer. If I would have had a category for Cuban Cigars, he would have won in a landslide. Tecate, five-fingered Mary and singing Barry Manilow with Abe Sapien is a difficult trio to compete with, plus the fact that all of the other movies have the super hero’s main battle with something that is similar to himself (Iron Man fights a bigger Iron Man, Hulk fights a GI Joe turned hulkish, Hancock fights someone with similar powers (no spoilers) and Batman fights Joker (in a movie set to show how much they are alike)).

Hancock almost won simply because of the prison scene described in the rating matrix, but even my teenage son (who could be heard laughing the loudest at that particular piece of classic moviedom) put Hellboy and Iron Man over Hancock (the ending was mostly lame).

I know the first argument is going to be the Hulk and Batman are not meant to be amusing, so it is doubtful they will get a decent entry in this splendid matrix.

We were going to include a category for “Setup the sequel” but heck, this is Hollywood, they ALWAYS set up the sequel.

My daughter weighs 117

That’s the message that she SMS’d me this week, and that she was happy and felt good about herself at that weight. As the father of someone who has suffered through several years of anorexia and bulimia, I was proud…and sad. Proud because though she continues to fight it, she’s getting through it and she’s actually beginning to lead a successful life, by most definitions but most importantly by hers. Sad because I think I should have done more, though I’m not sure what that more would have been. Anorexia and Bulimia are confusing to fight, especially for guys like me that rarely miss a meal.

About seven years ago, I checked her into a hospital weighing 80ish pounds, with Osteoporosis that would have made a grandmother cringe and a multitude of other ailments. She’s been through that hospital stay, a session at a “camp”, several counseling sessions. She now has two Bachelor’s degrees, a great job and a growing self-esteem.

Normally there would be little reason to put this info into the blogosphere, but my daughter and I have found a lot of material and books aimed at those fighting this, and at the mothers, but little for the fathers. So, in the interest of sharing info with other Dad’s like myself, here are some bullets (please feel free to comment): (more…)

Re-reading MSandT

Re-reading Tad William's Memory, Sorrow and Thorn

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Dusk Before the Dawn

Dusk Before the Dawn

Software By the Kilo

Software by the Kilo


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