Book Report: Emotional Memoirs and Short Stories by Lani Hall Alpert (2012)

Book coverI bought this book after I attended the Herb Alpert / Lani Hall concert last year. I didn’t have enough cash to buy it at the theatre, but I ordered it promptly after I got home.

It’s a collection of short memories from Ms. Hall-Alpert’s life growing up in Chicago interspersed with short stories inspired by some of those memories–or perhaps the recollections are prompted by the short stories.

Regardless, it’s a collection of ten short stories (“Come Rain or Come Shine”, “Standing Appointment”, “Mr. Belmont”, “Something in Common”, “The Professor”, “The Ringing Bells”, “The Cleaning Lady”, “Curiosity”, “Coonfrontation”, and “Inland”). They’re mostly mainstream, slice-of-life style fiction you used to find in women’s magazines or in Colliers and sometimes Short Story magazine. They’re not self-consciously literary, which is nice. They deal often with men’s and women’s relationships and/or a woman’s, particularly an artistic woman’s, self-doubt. They’re nice little stories, and I cannot pooh-pooh them even though I have an English Degree® because I’m not having a lot of luck in writing my own short stories these days even though I’m gathering a little box full of ideas.

So they’re worth reading, especially if you’re a fan of her music.

You’re probably more familiar with her singing “Mais Que Nada” with Sergio Mendes and Brazil ’66, but she did the theme song for the Bond movie Never Say Never Again which my boys and I will watch after Octopussy which is next in our queue, so it seemed the thing to include in this book report.

Book Report: Rogue Warrior: Echo Platoon by Richard Marcinko and John Weisman (2000)

Book coverWhen I cracked open this book, I thought I’d read it before. It begins with a water-infiltration attack on an oil drilling platform. But as I went through the set piece, I thought, No, the other book included an assault on an oil platform in the North Sea, and this one is in the Caspian Sea. Completely different. So it’s like James Bond: Watching the movies rapidly in succession, one realizes how many of the set pieces are repeated, especially ski chases, SCUBA fighting, or the sudden large scale assaults of United States troops, astronauts, or ninja on the enemy compound.

At any rate, in this book, Marcinko is in Azerberjan to “train” the locals, but when his plane lands, he finds a hostage situation that requires the oil platform landing mentioned above. After the hostages are rescued, the convoy taking the hostages to safety is hit by tangos, resulting in the loss of all those the SEALs saved. So Marcinko investigates the connection between the Russians, the Iranians, and a questionable NGO and its billionaire founder. Which leads to a number of set pieces and assaults that you would expect, all told in the meta- and, erm, course style of the Rogue Warrior series.

How meta? Well, he talks about the editor telling him to move the story along, and he even admits

Now, this here book is pure fiction, but the sort of Warrior leadership I’m talking about can be found in real life, every now and then.

Like the example set by Master Sergeant Roy Benavidez. Master Sergeant Benavidez was attached to Fifth Special Forces back in Vietnam. Here, quoting from the citation for his Medal of Honor, is what he did–and how he led by example.

The book then relates the story of what he did.

So the book–and the series–blend the fiction with real actions and authentic government behavior effectively. I like the series overall.

However, this book comes at the end of the Clinton years, and Marcinko calls the former president out by name several times. I don’t like sucker punches from the left, so I rankle a bit about the ones I agree with, too. It not only can turn off half the audience–well, by then, the circles in the Venn diagram of Marcinko fans and liberals were probably far apart already–but it also dates the book. By just fuming about military cutbacks, you could imagine it in just about any Democratic administration instead of pegging it to something that kids these days won’t relate to.

At any rate, still a fun book to read while waiting for my thirst for Shakespeare to resume.

GN/BN, Comic Book Shop Edition

Yesterday at the comic book shop, the guy behind the counter gave me a discount because I was always in there buying comics (and by “buying comics,” undoubtedly he meant, “helping him clear the deadwood out by buying the dollar comics that no one else wanted”).

Good news, I got a discount.

Bad news, apparently at almost fifty years old, I’m the type of frequent comic book shop customer that warrants a discount.

I’ve had to start going to the comic book shop without my boys because whenever I take them by as a cover for my own comic book shopping, they’d complain even though I let them pick out something for themselves. “Ugh, not another new comic book, Dad.”

I think about, from time to time, talking about the newer (2014-2016) independent titles I find in the dollar bins from imprints like Dynamite, Boom, Black Juice, and whatnot (I mean, aside from the occasional tidbit, but I’m not sure how my regular readers (that’s you and you) would feel about it. I’m sure John Farrier would be all for it, but it’s been years since he’s been around.

Good Morning; Or, How Charity Silent Auctions Upset My Musical Balance

I go on and on about how my musical purchases tend to fall neatly into two camps: Heavy metal and jazz songbirds (or maybe three if you include “Pop Music Recommended By Mr. Hill). But the truth is much more complicated.

Okay, it’s not. I will also buy CDs of local artists when I find them in silent auctions, and sometimes I do not include them in my balance tallies simply because I use my Amazon order history to build those lists. Which is why I don’t mention the Liz Moriondo self-titled CD I bought at a trivia night silent auction last winter, although I did mention her parody “All About That Bass” (which is not on the album) here.

Well, friends, I confess: I did it again.

On Friday night, I went to the Republic Pregnancy Resource Center for its annual Bluegrass and BBQ fund raiser which features bluegrass music from local bands and a silent auction. I behaved myself this year and did not bid the face price on every gift card and buy a bunch of Branson shows and attraction gift cards since the summer is winding down, and we won’t be traveling an hour to the south much this year. But I did bid on two CD auctions.

The first was for a single CD from Lily Belle called The Sunshine Projects.

The has a video for the catchy song “Good Morning”, which would I guess be the first single from the album if anyone still thinks in those terms:

It’s a little poppier than what I listen to, but darn, if it doesn’t kind of make me want to smile. Which is about as close to smiling as I get.

I just assume that she’s local, so I’d like to think I recognize the park as Sequiota Park, but I’m likely mistaken. My Springfield park knowledge is pretty limited, although I did visit Nathaniel Greene park yesterday.

The second auction I bid on was a lot featuring CDs from the two performers that played at the event, That Dalton Gang and Lonesome Road:

 

I’ve listened to the That Dalton Gang CD, but not yet the Lonesome Road album. Bluegrass. You know. I actually have a number of bluegrass CDs bought in this manner, but I don’t tend to listen to them a lot. It’s not my bag, but supporting the Republic Pregnancy Resource Center is.

So, yeah, I paid more than the asking price for these CDs.

Now, before you get to worrying about me, I also did get a No Grave But The Sea by Alestorm and From Birth to Burial by 10 Years on the heavy metal side (and I’m looking closely at Prequelle by Ghost to pick up when I next buy Christmas gifts on Amazon according to the One For You/One For Me protocol). I’ve also picked up another disc from Natsumi Kiyoura, Hodo Auko.

So on the whole, I’m still in balance, but the silent auctions throw me out of whack a bit.

Where Do I See Myself In Twenty Years?

Aside from somehow wasting vast amounts of time culling and curating thirty-five years of MfBJN archives, probably here:

A pair of elderly German men escaped from their nursing home to go to a heavy metal festival, it was reported.

After the home reported them missing, police found the two at 3 a.m. at Wacken Open Air, the world’s biggest heavy metal festival.

Explaining a Facebook Status

On Facebook, I said:

I’m not saying I got a little sun yesterday, but I am ready to infiltrate Helium to deliver a confidential message to Dejah Thoris from the Jeddara of Nogglestead.

Originally, I was going to say the Jeddak of Nogglestead, but thought the better of it because I did not want the beautifule Jeddara of Nogglestead to ask exactly what were the contents of that confidential message to the Princess of Mars, nor did I want to explain the joke to a wrathful John Carter.

In Milwaukee News This Morning

This could be my cousin:

A man stopped for driving 99 mph in a 55-mph zone said he was speeding because he was late to a soccer game.

The 26-year-old man was stopped on I-94 southbound in Oak Creek by a sheriff’s deputy working the speed saturation patrol shortly after 8 p.m. Monday.

The math and the sport works out right. I’ll have to ask him.

Fedora-wearing man charged in armed robbery of West Allis jeweler:

A man in a suit and a fedora who robbed more than $200,000 worth of jewelry from a West Allis store later pawned the goods for money to buy heroin, according to a criminal complaint.

Why is it everyone hears about a guy in a fedora, and they automatically think of me? I bet this guy left the feather in.

Flashback: Brian J. Noggle, Flip-Flopper

Way back in 2003, I pooh-pooh LASIK surgery.

Spoiler alert: A couple years later, I had LASIK surgery.

Perhaps it was when I corrected the misunderstanding:

Pardon me, but my family doesn’t have a generations-long tradition for opening the front of the eyeball like a can of french-cut green beans and firing a computer-guided thing-we-used-to-call-a-“laser” against the retina until it scorched enough of the cones and rods to make things better, as though it was a military expedition to win over the hearts and minds of my optic nerve with napalm. Oh, yeah, and then they close it back up, and it either works or you’re blind, oops.

The laser doesn’t work on the retina after all.

Also Not The Right Time: The Night Time

A hearing aid add asks, “Are you wanting to upgrade your current hearing aids?” and adds, “There’s no better time than now!”

Over a picture of a family on a speedboat.

I am no audiologist, but I think it might be a better time to upgrade your hearing aids when you’re at an audiologist’s office.

This is what happens when your low-budget ad shop has already purchased a piece of stock art and needs to use it.

In case you’re wondering, I don’t have hearing aids (yet) to upgrade, but I’m thinking about getting some so I can listen to heavy metal even louder.

Book Report: The Devil Wins by Reed Farrel Coleman (2015)

Book coverWell, well, well. This was a pleasant surprise. I was not pleased with Blind Spot, the first Jesse Stone book that Coleman took on after the Brandman Dynasty. I knocked it for its slow pacing, for its early revelation of the bad guys, and some thick prose of the sake of thick prose.

With this book, though, Coleman seems to find his footing. In it, the collapse of an industrial building in a winter nor’easter uncovers the bodies of two teen girls killed twenty-five years ago, and Stone has to uncover the unlikely group of killers. Paradise thinks this is its deep, dark shame from the past, and it threatens to hidden secrets from people Jesse has known for a long time. In series business, Jesse is still dealing with the aftermath of Suitcase Simpson’s shooting in the last book, starts visiting the shrink again, and meets the new ME who will become his friend and maybe more. The series business doesn’t overwhelm the story of this book, though.

So, overall, not bad, although the whole “in the deep past of 25 years ago” might ring a little truer if the first Jesse Stone novel hadn’t come out in 1997, 21 years ago. Also, deep, dark past doesn’t work for me since I can remember being an adult(ish) back then.

But good enough that I’ll look for other entries in this line at book sales.

Flashback To That Time I Interviewed A Dolphin

Well, not really, but I did dedicate a lot more time to the blog in the distant past, such as that one time I put together a pod cast to make fun of something John Kerry said extraneously a couple presidential elections ago: World Exclusive!

As with the photoshops, they’re fewer these days. Where did the time go? And I don’t mean the passage of the years: I mean all the time I had every day.

Oh, yes. Children. A better use of the time, surely.