Book Report: The Goodbye Look by Ross MacDonald (1969)

This is another of MacDonald’s hardboiled detective things. In it, Lew Archer has to help a family find their son, who has had some mental problems. Of course, it opens into a can of worms wherein the boy might have killed his real father when he, the boy, was eight; people who change names but not skeletons in their closets; illicit love affairs during the war (World War II, remember) whose sins are avenged in the present, 25 years later; and so on, and so on.

You know, while reading this book, I was stricken with insight into why you don’t tend to see a lot of these sorts of plots in the twenty-first century: people move around a lot, particularly the people in larger communities and places where writers live. You don’t tend to get several generations of different families sharing the same space. Maybe I’m mistaken. Maybe I’m projecting. Maybe I don’t read enough contemporary fiction to know what I’m talking about. But a lot of newer books have different sorts of crimes and not so much sins of the fathers are visited upon the sons vibes.

At any rate, a good book. Worth reading and/or rereading.

Books mentioned in this review:

Book Report: I Am Legend by Richard Matheson (1954, 1995)

A better title for this book would have been I Am Legend And Other Stories, as the book contains the 170 page novel that served as the source for the Will Smith movie as well as The Omega Man. However, I thought the whole book was the title story, which meant I expected the title story to extend the whole 300 some pages. When it ended at page 170, I was a little disappointed since I thought the book would carry on for another 130 pages of plot twists. Still, a decent book and worthy of making two films, although I bet neither of them end the way the book itself ends.

In addition to the title story, we get some other tales of varying length. An interesting note: one of the other stories, “Prey”, also made it to the big screen in the film Trilogy of Terror. Of course, true fans of Matheson already knew this, but when I make connections like this between unrelated bits of knowledge in my head, I feel clever.

A good book, and I guess Matheson is well known for his work. It’s punchy prose from horror pulp, and its terseness is quite different from Stephen King, which means it’s a quicker read and just as rewarding. I’ll have to monitor book fairs for more of Matheson’s work, which is the second-best compliment I can give to a writer.

Books mentioned in this review:

Joseph Kittinger, Jr, Award Winner Chris Everhart

A former Marine defends his camping children from a bear:

The ex-Marine saved the lives of his three young sons when a 300-pound bear attacked their Georgia campsite last weekend.

While cleaning up after dinner, the family came face to face with the large animal.

“From out of nowhere we heard this loud crash,” Everhart said on “Good Morning America.” “For a second, I didn’t know what it was, but I realized it was a bear. I went to the back of the Jeep to get my pots and pans to scare the bear off.”

At the same time, Everhart’s 6-year-old son, Logan, tried to frighten the animal. Instead of running away, the bear turned on the boy. Logan’s brother, Kyle, tried to help him.

“I threw about five rocks at the bear to keep him away,” Kyle Everhart said.

Realizing his sons could be killed, Everhart grabbed a log and threw it at the bear’s head, striking and killing him.

Gall as big as church bells.

On the other hand, you have to do what you have to do.

What Would ObamaCare Have Done To Lance Armstrong?

The patient:

On October 2, 1996, at age 25, Armstrong was diagnosed with nonseminomatous testicular cancer. The cancer had spread to his lungs, abdomen and brain.

The treatment regimen:

The standard chemotherapeutic regimen is BEP (Bleomycin, Etoposide and Cisplatin (or Platinol). Armstrong, however, chose an alternative, VIP (Etoposide, Ifosfamide, and Cisplatin), to avoid the lung toxicity associated with the drug Bleomycin. Armstrong had surgery on his brain tumors, which were necrotic, and an orchiectomy to remove his diseased testicle. After his surgery his doctor admitted that he had had less than a 50% survival chance.

I wonder if a government health program would have been so flexible.

Or would Lance Armstrong have received a couple of prescriptions for pain pills and the affected bureaucratic sympathy in a form letter?


And Then Armed Amazon Agents Shot Will Collier’s Dog and Seized the Book

Instapundit comments on the Amazon Kindle revoking license to books:

The underlying issue here is that Amazon, among many others, see the rules for digital as different than those for other things. It would never have crossed Amazon’s collective mind to grab a physical book from you if the company had shipped you one that it did not have the right to sell.

I imagined the scenario if they had when Will Collier got his Harry Potter book early:

With no disrespect meant to J. K. Rowling’s innumerable devotees, I’m not a particularly big Harry Potter fan. But I’d read two or three of the early books, and being as susceptible as the next guy to the hype for the last book in the series, I placed an order a few weeks ago at DeepDiscount.com, the store that was offering the lowest price. Ironically, I didn’t even spring for expedited shipping.

The first thing I thought upon seeing the book was, “Boy, somebody screwed up.” Hallows is famously scheduled for release at midnight on July 21, more than four days after my copy arrived.

That would have ended very differently if booksellers did go to take back ill-gotten books with the ABA Black Ops team.

It’s Not Censorship, It’s Just A Bad Decision

Conservative merchandise not available for sale at Concord Mills mall in North Carolina:

“Impeach Obama.”

“Al Qaeda’s favorite days: 9/11/01 and 11/04/08.”

“Work Harder. Obama needs the money.”

The bumper stickers and posters sold at “Free Market Warrior” at Concord Mills are meant to be “biting,” the kiosk’s owner Loren Spivack said.

At least one passer-by found them racist and bigoted, and took time to tell the mall in a letter and a letter to the editor of the Charlotte Observer.

Whatever your opinion, the fact is this: At the end of July, “Free Market Warrior” will not be allowed at Concord Mills Mall. The kiosk chain’s owner shared e-mail correspondence with Newschannel 36 that explains that the mall management has decided that the items sold are not “neutral” enough. The lease will be allowed to expire July 31, 2009 without an option to renew.

Meanwhile, Che shirts are probably still on sale at several of the trendy shops along with campaign merchandise from the current administration.

No word on whether the B. Dalton’s will have to remove Atlas Shrugged and The Road to Serfdom because they’re not neutral enough.

Accounting Isn’t Their Strong Suit

Claire McCaskill’s office responds to protestors reprehensibly:

McCaskill’s office manager locked the doors, pull down the blinds, called the cops and forced the protesters across the street.

Senator McCaskill explains:

There was only one male staffer at the office on Friday, and I knew he wouldn’t do that. He is an Iraq veteran, who handles almost all of our case work for our veterans. He is soft spoken and hard working and just not the type to lose his cool.

Mystery solved. Our office only occupies the first floor, and a marketing and advertising firm has the office space above us on the second floor. They acknowledged that one of the men that works in their offices made the gesture and they closed their blinds.(On the first floor our blinds are always closed). It’s confusing because the signage makes it look like we occupy both floors.

However, previously, she said:

On Friday, our office was short staffed(four were attending community events and meeting with people in the St Louis area), and the protestors were frustrated with our inability to meet with them when they arrived. They began banging on windows and doors and ringing the buzzer, so that the two staffers in the office could not focus on the phones, that were ringing constantly. They asked the police to help calm the situation, and when one of our staff got back to the office at around noon she met with representatives of the group, and we have scheduled another meeting with the group.

Claire McCaskill and her staffers seems to have a bit of trouble accounting for the number of workers in the office at the time. And that’s a small office. Now, project that to the entirety of the Federal government. I think it’s a good instance of how management skills scale.

(Link courtesy of Instapundit.)

Book Report: The Black Death by Nick Carter (1970)

Well, the book had no icepickings, but it had a bunch of murder and mayhem. This is the 56th book in this paperback series following a Killmaster for the secret agency AXE. Nick goes with a revolutionary to Haiti; she wants to invade, he wants to extract a physicist who is building the Haitian bomb. Carter recognizes their guide as a KGB agent with his own agenda. The plot utlimately gets explained as an afterthought. A Haitian nuke? Ah, who cares, BANG BANG naked woman BANG BANG knifing explosion naked woman. That’s why one reads pulp.

As an addendum, I said this when I read another Nick Carter novel:

    Fortunately, no trained goats tempted Nick, or it would have been a much different story.

All I have to say about that is this book features a trained goat.

Books mentioned in this review:

Book Report: Happy Days: Ready to Go Steady by William Johnston (1974)

This is the first book in a series based on the television series Happy Days. As such, you can expect that there will not be a number of icepickings.

Instead, the book gives me a weird timewarp sense. I grew up in Milwaukee when the television series was actually on television, so it (and Laverne and Shirley provided a bit of pride for the city (which now sports a Fonzie statue in a prominent place, if I am not mistaken). So I am reading a book about a television series from my youth which depicted my hometown in a bygone era. Needless to say, that’s some weird nostalgia.

The book is a thin, teenish high school thing about Richie meeting a new girl and getting his first job over the summer. Things progress until he’s actually engaged to her, and then they break it off and agree to be friends.

The book gives no sense of Milwaukeeness; instead, the Cunninghams live in some nameless and smallish-seeming town. Chuck, the older brother who disappears from the television series, appears, but the book focuses on Richie and Mr. and Mrs. C. with brief appearances of Potsie and Ralph Malph. You will recognize some of the names, but not really the tenor of the series, in this book. Of course, I might not remember the series well.

It’s definitely a book for people who, 35 years later, are interested in the niche into which the book falls. Otherwise, you’re better suited reading something else.

Books mentioned in this review:

Correcting and Explaining

Last night, a photograph apparently depicted President Obama looking at a woman’s back side.

This morning, Good Morning America is on the case, giving an alternative explanation and mocking the French President to much laughter in the newsroom.

A question, good friends, is how often did the media throw its newsgathering apparatachiks into gear to provide context for an unflattering George W. Bush or John McCain photo? I believe that answer is and ever shall be Never.

The media continues to beclown itself with its haste to correct and contextualize anything unflattering about Obama I.

Book Report: Bachelors Get Lonely by A.A. Fair (1961, 1971)

You know, Erle Stanley Gardner wrote innumerable Perry Mason novels and far fewer in this series featuring Bertha Cool and Donald Lam. A shame, really, because these are a touch more enjoyable than the lawyer novels. They feature a small private detective who is irresistable to the ladies and who is quite easily roughed up. A bit tongue in cheek, I think, but not burying the needle in Campy.

In this book, a businessman hires the team to find a leak in his organization. They do, easily, but Lam thinks something more is at work. He finds a tangled web of love affairs, double-crosses, and women who like to take their clothes off. Lam manages to dodge a murder rap and, of course, solve the crime to the chagrin of his boss and the local police.

I’d be happy to find more of these in the wild. Someday, I might have to actually order them by name if I cannot.

Books mentioned in this review:

Another Article Ignored

The Constitution of the United States, Article 2, section 1:

The President shall be Commander in Chief of the Army and Navy of the United States, and of the Militia of the several States, when called into the actual Service of the United States; he may require the Opinion, in writing, of the principal Officer in each of the executive Departments, upon any Subject relating to the Duties of their respective Offices, and he shall have Power to grant Reprieves and Pardons for Offences against the United States, except in Cases of Impeachment.

He shall have Power, by and with the Advice and Consent of the Senate, to make Treaties, provided two thirds of the Senators present concur; and he shall nominate, and by and with the Advice and Consent of the Senate, shall appoint Ambassadors, other public Ministers and Consuls, Judges of the supreme Court, and all other Officers of the United States, whose Appointments are not herein otherwise provided for, and which shall be established by Law: but the Congress may by Law vest the Appointment of such inferior Officers, as they think proper, in the President alone, in the Courts of Law, or in the Heads of Departments.

The President shall have Power to fill up all Vacancies that may happen during the Recess of the Senate, by granting Commissions which shall expire at the End of their next Session.

The Obama administration:

With the clock running out on a new US-Russian arms treaty before the previous Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty, or START, expires on December 5, a senior White House official said Sunday said that the difficulty of the task might mean temporarily bypassing the Senate’s constitutional role in ratifying treaties by enforcing certain aspects of a new deal on an executive levels and a “provisional basis” until the Senate ratifies the treaty.

“The most ideal situation would be to finish it in time that it could be submitted to the Senate so that it can be ratified,” said White House Coordinator for Weapons of Mass Destruction, Security and Arms Control Gary Samore. “If we’re not able to do that, we’ll have to look at arrangements to continue some of the inspection provisions, keep them enforced in a provisional basis, while the Senate considers the treaty.”

Samore said administration lawyers are exploring the “different options that are available. One option is that both sides could agree to continue the inspections by executive agreement; that would work on our side. On the Russian side, as I understand it, that would require Duma approval.”

So, do you think our legislative branch of government will stop this power-grab by the executive branch? Aw, hell, no. That’s just one more actual responsibility removed from their plate so they can convene show hearings, pontificate, and abdicate their Constitutional duties for easy busy work.

(Link seen on Instapundit.)

Book Report: The Legend That Was Earth by James P. Hogan (2000)

I’m always up for a James Hogan novel. I first read Inherit the Stars in middle school and have encountered other novels in the 20 years since (see also Paths to Otherware and The Multiplex Man).

This book starts in the near future, where aliens have established contact and want to impose a soft totalitarianism on the world, and they find helpful accomplices in Western governments, particularly the United States, where the ruling class wants power and wealth that collaboration will bring. A fixer gets dragged into insurgent plots because his ex-wife has become a revolutionary. The battle for Earth becomes bloodier as the insurgents arm up and begin convincing aliens that the Earth way of creativity and experiential pleasure beats the rational and regimented alien way.

I enjoyed the book, even the italicized expositionary chapters describing the alternate science that powered the aliens. In the middle of the book, though, Hogan splits the characters and then goes into their points of view covering the same time period for some reason. It didn’t really add suspense and just seemed to bog the book down. But when the timelines merged again, the book picked up.

So it’s not his best, but it’s pretty good anyway.

Books mentioned in this review:


 

 

 

Kicking Taylor Swift to the Curb

I’m giving up Taylor Swift as my current songstress crush because, frankly, a large number of her songs refer to her Daddy, and each time she does, I’m reminded that her Daddy is probably my age, and that makes me feel creepy. If it makes me feel creepy, it must be creepy indeed.

Instead, here’s Jane Monheit:


I am pretty sure Monheit translates into Hot, man in some language.