Friday, December 29, 2006

Our Christmas Village

This is Donna's Christmas Village up in our living room. There were a couple of other buildings, plus the 'skating ring' set which couldn't fit. Maybe next year.
If you go over to Parting Shots you'll see pictures of the Chiara & Chaput pets enjoying the holidays.

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Some Christmas photos

Pictures of Kristina & Marissa's tree with and without presents. Also the whole Christmas group around the table, minus me taking the picture.
Starting from the left you have Donna, Marissa, Kristina, Marissa's grandmother Marion, her sister Dana, and Marissa's parents Lynn & Jerry, with Michael (Kristina's father) last but not least.
The cat on the couch is Kristina's Wilber.

Friday, December 22, 2006

The usual rambling....

I think I may be watching those old B&W movies from the Thirties on Encore Western a bit too much. I actually caught myself saying "Dag nabbit!" when I dropped something the other day. I've lost the Gabby Hayes whiskers, but still find myself channeling him.

Damn, but it seems like there's nothing else going on around the world since the 'war' between Rosie O'Donnell and Donald Trump is the top story on just about every entertainment program. I guess we should be thankful that that has pushed Anna Nicole and Britney's bad behavior from the headlines. One more segment with an obviously drugged up Anna Nicole or digitized Britney crotch shot would have had me tossing heavy objects at the Sony. Remember when all the newscasters were saying something along the lines that "after the events of 9/11 everything will be different"? Television and popular entertainment seems pretty much like it did in August of 2001 to me!

Maybe I'm not watching TV at the right time, or not checking the schedule, but I have only seen a single showing any version of "A Christmas Carol" so far this season. This was the made-for-television one featuring Patrick Stewart as Scrooge, hardly one of the best. Don't get me wrong, I was lucky enough to seen Stewart's one-man show version of the Dicken's story in New York and he was absolutely brilliant. Sadly, he just doesn't seem to bring the same level to this particular telling. He almost seems bored with the whole thing. Give me George C. Scott or Alastair Sim anytime!

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Review: No Time to Hide by Rob Palmer

Here's the last Joe Bob Briggs review I'll be doing for the near future, at least. They haven't posted a new review over on the Joe Bob site for over a year now, and I haven't received new books for more than half that time. I'm sorry to see it end.

No Time to Hide by Rob Palmer
Published by Leisure Fiction/Dorchester Pub.
ISBN: 0-8439-5667-4

I actually wanted to like this book better than I did, but I don’t blame writer Rob Palmer for that in the end. It just seems that of the last four books I’ve reviewed this is the third one featuring political turmoil in Cuba as the backdrop. Also, considering the current events taking place on that island the stuff here seems dated.

Psychologist Ben Tennant works for the U.S. Marshals Service as specialist in the Witness Protection Program. It’s his job to see if candidates for the program are psychologically prepared for the types of emotional changes necessary in successfully completing the change to a whole other way of life. If Ben feels the person will simply return to criminal or anti-social behavior they are rejected.

Ben also has a kind of side business, which is known to only a few associates and pretty much ignored by those of his fellow Marshals Service agents who know of it. Under the code name The Laundry Man, Tenant will help people who don’t qualify for the ‘official’ program disappear into another identity safe from those who may be hunting them. Patrice Callan, a con artist is one of those unofficial clients, with whom Ben had spent several months creating a new identity. Unfortunately for Ben, he also found he was falling in love with her. When Patrice disappears Ben realizes that he was also one of Patrice’s cons and she has taken files which reveal the identities and locations of all of his other clients.

When elements of the CIA begin pressuring Ben to turn over Patrice, he finds that several other people including anti-Castro Cubans are seeking Patrice for their own reasons. It’s up to The Laundry Man to help Patrice, despite what she did, and stop what could be an international incident which would take hundreds if not thousands of innocent lives.

Palmer does a good job making Ben someone you like, and even allows some of those on the other side moments of humanity. Sadly, for me, it was Patrice who is the weakest character, so you don’t have as much sympathy for her as you should given the events. Even at the book’s end you get the feeling that things aren’t going to remain quite as sunny as they are. Whether this is setting up a sequel or not, remains to be seen.

I think Palmer has created a very interesting character with Ben Tennant, but I think I’d like to see him in action either before or after Patrice is part of his life.

Two and a half stars

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Dogue Vogue: Who are these folks?

Two weeks ago I attended DOGUE VOGUE, which was held at the Cox Sports Park. As it is located right next to Heritage Park, I couldn't resist walking over.

I have more pics, but just wanted to give you a taste of what some folks put their canine friends through just to prove how much they love them. Right! Food, boarding and companionship aren't enough.

Monday, November 06, 2006

Remote viewing: Encore

With Cox Cable here in Ladera Ranch, we have a number of stations we didn't have access to back in Brooklyn. Part of their Digital Tier gives us the full range of Encore stations, which feature older movies and TV shows in various genres, plus we also get IFC & Sundance.

Naturally, I'm loving the ability to watch hours of Westerns any time I want. Encore Westerns not only shows the usual major films with Big Name stars, but also older B&W stuff with Roy Rogers, Gene Autry, Don "Red" Barry and others. I can't get enough!

Click the above headline and it will take you to the Encore Western site where you can check out for yourself what I may be viewing.

One of my favorite non-movie things on Encore Western is "Cowboy Poet" Bob Boze Bell, who is featured on the True West Moments every day discusssing how things actually were in the Old West, as opposed to what we are seeing in some of the films.

Happy Trails!

Friday, October 27, 2006

Cardinals Win!

Well, it's all over and the St. Louis Cardinals have won the World Series. I feel bad for the Tigers, but at least I saw them whip the Damned Yankees. :-)

Wonder what company will be using the team in promotions? Expect to see some ads hitting the airwaves in the next few days.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Review: A Time to Run by Barbara Boxer

Personally, I like Senator Boxer but that has nothing to do with my review. Again, it is one of those books that I get sent by the Joe Bob Briggs folks that I don't feel fits the 'thriller/suspense' genre I'm supposed to be reviewing.

Oh, and in case you're wondering I'm rooting for the Detroit Tigers.


A TIME TO RUN by Barbara Boxer with Mary-Rose Hayes
Published by Chronicle Books; ISBN: 0-8118-5043-9

The first novel by Senator Barbara Boxer is set in a world she knows very well, namely the insider world of Washington, D.C., with the usual suspects. You have the ‘good’ liberal Senator from California, first-timer Ellen Fischer and her staff, up against the ‘evil’ former GOP member whose seat she won, long-time political wheeler-dealer Carl Satcher. This takes place during hearings for a Supreme Court nominee, the ultra-conservative, Frieda Hernandez who just may be the one to swing the Court votes over on a number of issues.

Senator Boxer, aided by Mary-Rose Hayes (who has several romance novels to her credit), certainly knows what it’s like in the nation’s capital, but we can only hope that political decisions there are not made in the fashion described in this book. Frankly, it appears that the authors really wanted to write a straight romance novel about three people who meet in college and become friends. Since there is one gal and two guys it is evident that both men will fall in love and when the lady chooses one guy the other spends the rest of his life trying to win her back. After they got that part down, Boxer & Hayes probably figured that throwing in a bit of politics would help, given the Senator’s name on the cover.

The novel begins in 2001, several months before 9/11 and sets up the plot of Fischer being given documents showing that the Associate Justice nominee may be guilty of child abuse against her own daughter, going back years. It doesn’t take long to discover that the ‘evidence’ may not be all it appears and that the Senator is being set up by old foe Satcher. We then jump back to 1974, where Ellen meets Josh (who would become her husband) and his friend Greg (who would become a muck-racking journalist and eventual cause of Josh’s death), all of whom are attending Berkeley at the same time. The rest of the story weaves through the next several decades following the lives of the three characters until we get back to the current situation.

The story of whether Ellen falls into the trap set by her enemies, or is able to rise above it, sort of disappears while Boxer & Hayes spend most of the book in a Harlequin Romance tale of love & betrayal. Not badly written and actually more interesting than I would have expected, still not the political novel that folks would seem to be looking for given the well-known author.

Two and a half stars.

Sunday, October 08, 2006

So much for that Subway series, huh?

While there wasn't a lot of joy this post-season for me as a Red Sox fan, it is great to see the Mets doing so well. I know that Donna, Fran and Donna's Aunt Marge couldn't be happier. Also, my friend Sue Raboy and my ex will be delighted I'm sure.

For me, of course, the icing on the cake was seeing the Damned Yankees once again fall short after the season ended. There won't be many tears shed west of Queens on that account. :-)

I think a Detroit/New York series would be pretty interesting myself, but we still have to see the Mets through one more NCS. Fingers crossed for Willie's boys!

Monday, October 02, 2006

Remote viewing: the fall season

Haven't been able to catch all the new shows and not sure that I'd want to. It was so much simpler back when there were only the three networks and a few syndicated shows. Now it seems that everybody from Animal Planet to The Weather Channel are bring in new programming at the same time. Thankfully USA won't be showing new episodes of MONK, PSYCH & THE 4400 for a couple of months.

Caught one episode each of THE CLASS, 'TIL DEATH and SMITH. Not sure that I'd set the DVR for any of them at this point. The first two episodes of STUDIO 60 ON THE SUNSET STRIP, both of which I enjoyed. Matthew Perry & Bradley Whitford are both doing great jobs as the writing/producing partners out to save a threatened network comedy show. However, I just don't see this as drawing in the audience that the show's creator, Aaron Sorkin captured with WEST WING. Come Emmy time the show might garner some nominations, but I don't know if the show itself will still be around.

I really like JERICHO, especially as they are keeping much of what actually happened to the U.S. a mystery. Two episodes in and there are several characters, including Skeet Urich (as Jake Green) the lead who has about five years in his past that he is keeping hidden. It appears that Robert Hawkins (played by Lennie James) is hiding things for some unknown reason from the rest of the town also, including just where the bombs may have gone off.

I'm sure you're surprised that a fanboy like me hasn't seen even a single episode of HEROES. Maybe I'll eventually have a chance, but as in the case of CSI: MIAMI the show is on opposite something else that Donna and I are watching.

Probably have more to say on television later, but that's it for now!

Saturday, September 16, 2006

Watching zombies & other creepy stuff

Donna had to be recertified in CPR before returning to work, so was attending a class last night. I took advantage of that and our free HBO on Demand to see a couple of horror movies I haven't had that chance to catch.

The most fun was George Romero's LAND OF THE DEAD from last year. Dennis Hopper chews the scenery as a nasty business tycoon who has created a 'safe' haven for the living in what used to be Chicago. Simon Baker & John Leguizamo are mercenary types who go out among the walking dead to scavenge goods which Hopper can then sell to his clients. Plenty of zombie action, with pretty clever leader "Big Daddy" (played by former CLF offensive lineman, Eugene Clark), bringing the dead into the city. Romero's movies are always a lot of fun, as he doesn't take much of this seriously. His zombies in the mall scenes have become a zombie film staple.

While each of the four "Dead" films stand alone, Romero has created a history of sorts which you can follow. I read a neat book a few years ago called "Book of the Dead" which takes place in Romero's world. Sadly, it was one of the books I donated to the library before moving out here. Recommended for some great zombie stories by Stephen King, Richard Laymon, Ramsey Campbell and others with an introduction by Romero himself.

The second film was a sequel to one of my favorite horror films of the past few years, THE RING 2. Simon Baker is in this film also but has a smaller, though pivotal, role as a co-worker of Naomi Watts. Watts returns as Rachel Keller, whose son Aidan is the focus of supernatural forces. Once again a videotape starts the action, but it switches to that of Watts attempts to keep Aidan from becoming possessed by Samara ( the girl from the well in the first film). Not as good as the first American version (and no where as excellent as the Japanese original), there are still some nice scare scenes. If nothing else it proves that even deer can be pretty damn scary if used in a certain fashion.

I still recommend the original Japanese version RINGU with English subtitles. It is different enough from the Americanized film, but you can see why it created a cult in its native land, with novels, sequels and manga adaptations. In fact, the director of that film, Hideo Nakata, directed this American remake of his own Japanese sequel.

The first movie, along with the previous year's MULHOLLAND DR. made me a huge fan of Naomi Watts.

Monday, September 11, 2006

I'm back!

Hard to believe that it has been a month since I last posted here. I've dropped a line or two over on the other site, but haven't gotten around to this one.

Not going to go all political here, but I must note the anniversary of 9/11. Almost all the stations have had something to commerate the event this past weekend, and the major networks & news channels have gone overtime. Best to just take a moment to reflect on those who lost their lives and their family members who will always remember them.

Caught a few segments of Stan Lee's WHO WANTS TO BE A SUPER-HERO? sometime last week. If nothing else it shows how silly the costumes are and why super-heroes in movies often modify (as in the BATMAN films) or do away with them (as in the X-MEN). SUPERMAN really isn't SUPERMAN without the red/yellow & blue outfit, so you can't do much about that, although SMALLVILLE seems to be doing quite well without Clark putting on the cape & tights.

Kristina & Merissa were over the other night and we all watched DERAILED, with Jennifer Aniston and Clive Owen. Not a bad film at all and with a number of surprises, I suppose I should have seen coming but didn't.

Just finished DR. DEATH by Jonathan Kellerman this morning. I'm a fan of Kellerman having read or listened on tape to over a half dozen of his books, including DOUBLE HOMICIDE which he co-wrote with his wife, Faye Kellerman (an equally well-known writer). I'm going to get started on the last two Joe Bob Brigg's review books I still have on hand. As I've said before, the website hasn't posted a new review since last year, but I still feel obligated to finish what I started. The Kellerman book was not a JBB book, by the way, but rather something I picked up out of the apartment complex 'library'.

I will try to post at least once a week from now on, if I can.

Friday, August 11, 2006

Mike Douglas Passes Away

I was sorry to read over on Mark Evanier's site, as well as at (you can see the CNN obit by clicking on the above headline), that talk-show host Mike Douglas as died. Along with Merv Griffin, Douglas commanded a very loyal following for years. Doing during the day what Johnny Carson was dominating on latenight, Griffin & Douglas were both entertaining and yet were hardly similar. Douglas was more like Carson, in that he brought a gentle mid-West style to his show, while Griffin was totally Vegas/Atlantic City in the way he did things.

I was always more a Jack Paar/Steve Allen kind of guy, but my mother loved Douglas.

Respect and condolences to his family and many friends.

Monday, August 07, 2006

Going, going, gone!

Seems that those boxes of comics (photo posted last week) are going to go to a good home. Or at least not taking up space at the soon to be vacated Chez Chaput. Apparently, Christina Stoffo's boyfriend Dan will take them off our hands sometime next weekend. Fortunately, just a few days prior to the movers coming in to remove everything else.

For those who care about such things dozens of fanzines, comics related magazines and other such things from the past are heading to recycling tonight. Trust me, it hurts to see much of it go like this but we have to be realistic.

You don't even want to know about the boxes of photographs, videos and other personal stuff that both Donna and I are parting with.

Quick Review: The Flash #2 (DC)

THE FLASH #2 (Sept. '06)

Writer Danny Bilson and artists Paul Demeo & Ken Lashley do another nice job bringing the latest Scarlet Speedster into the DCU. I’ve always been fond of Bart from his introduction as Barry’s grandson from the future. The IMPULSE series was a lot of fun, as was Peter David’s YOUNG JUSTICE stories. This Bart is older and much more serious, but I think I could grow to like him as much as I grew to like Wally before him.

This story continues to fill in new readers and folks returning to the character, by retelling much of the history of not only Bart but the other speedsters in the DC Universe who he has encountered. It also shows us a new speed oriented character, but it’s not yet known if this one will be a hero or villain. By issues end Bart has put on the costume we all know, this one a “clone” of Barry Allen’s which S.T.A.R. Labs created from remains of the original. I thought that was a nice touch and, of course, the Flash ring once again makes its appearance.

As I mentioned in my review of the first issue, I’m not regularly reading and buying comics at this point. If this series continues to be this good it might be something to bring me back.

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

FLASH back!

My co-worker, Carlos, has let me read the first issue of the new FLASH series from DC. Bart, once Impulse & then Kid Flash, has aged several years and has lost his powers. At least until something apparently happens at the end of the first issue. It's always great seeing Jay Garrack (the original Flash) around and I'm curious about the problems with the good old 'speed force'. Since we see The Flash on the covers of both #1 & 2 we assume that Bart will take on the name and red costume before too long.

The first issue also introduces a few characters, new to me, and brings in our friends from S.T.A.R. Labs.

I haven't been reading new comics for over a year, so I'm only aware of changes in the DCU thanks to folks like Tony Isabella reviewing stuff online & in CBG. I'll let you know what I think about issue #2 in a day or so.

Monday, July 31, 2006

Boxes of Comics: Pickup and Take 'em, Best Offer

We haven't had much of a response to my comics list, so I'm going to have to take the next step. I have ten long boxes and the smaller box you see above. Make me a reasonable offer and they are yours. These include over two hundred issues of CEREBUS and lots of DC/Marvel/ books from the mid-80s to 2004. There are a number of complete mini-series, graphic novels & some TPB collections.

The only thing is that you have to be able to pick them up and take them away. I WILL NOT SHIP!! We're stripping the office and moved this stuff to the living room, to make things easier.

E-mail me at: or via this blog.

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

The Beat: Heidi MacDonald

I have finally gotten around to adding Heidi MacDonald's PW blog to my list of links. I want to thank Mark Evanier for reminding me that Heidi is one of the more entertaining bloggers around. If you missed the San Diego Comicon as I did, you'll love Heidi's take on the event and what went on.

Back in another life (at least it seems that way at times), I frequently had the opportunity to chat and hang out with Heidi. These were generally at Friends of Lulu functions, but also at comic conventions or events which brought fans together. Heidi was always a joy to talk with and almost always the life of any party. Trust me, you haven't been entertained until you've seen Heidi and Johanna Draper Carlson (her "Comics Worth Reading" linked over on the side) out on the dance floor of some convention hotel.

Sunday, July 23, 2006

Nothing to report!

We're still waiting to hear the final outcome of my interview in Los Angeles, last Tuesday. I don't feel as upbeat today as I did at the time, but have to remain hopeful that I will still get the position. Folks at the Braille Institute couldn't have been nicer and I'd love the chance.

Almost exactly thirty years ago I was attending the 1976 San Diego Comicon, so it was weird being out there and not having a chance to check it out. Our flight was on Saturday, so it would have been impossible to even head down for the annual Capa-Alpha Breakfast. Fingers crossed I'll be able to attend next year. It would be great to see Jeff, Rich, Dwight, Bill and Bob, as well as any other former & current K-a members.

I can't wait to read the blogs and see the photos of folks who did have the oppotunity. Anybody with links to that let me know and I'll post the links here. If you click on the headline above you'll get the "official" site page and see what you may have missed.

Friday, July 14, 2006

Are we there, yet?

Donna and I are flying out to Los Angeles tomorrow for a week. We've got a few things to do while we are there, but I'd rather not go into all that right now. Fingers crossed I'll have some news to report when I return.

Since I might not be able to post for the next week I wanted you to have something to look at. Not as cute as towel animals, of course.

Thursday, July 13, 2006

Red Buttons:Did he ever get a dinner?

I was saddened to read of the passing of long-time actor & comedian Red Buttons earlier today. Growing up it seemed that Red Buttons was every where in both films or on television. Back when Dean Martin was doing his series of 'roasts', Buttons could be counted on to deliver one of the funniest bits each show. He would begin talking about famous or infamous individuals of various types and always end with "He never got a dinner!"

Films like the POSIEDON ADVENTURE, THE LONGEST DAY and others demonstrated that Buttons could also turn in a solid dramatic performance given the right material. He was the classic, average man often thrust into situations he could not control.

Much sympathy to his wife & children. His many fans will miss him, but his film roles will be around to entertain us for years to come.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Nothing better to do

I’ve been enjoying NBC's THE LAST COMIC STANDING this time around. Possibly as there really is nothing else that appeals to me at the same time on Tuesday night. I was sorry to see Gabrielle be sent off, but he did break the rules set down in the contract. First sneaking a Blackberry into the cabin and then after being caught making another phone call from the ship.

The fact that Donna and I will be watching the AMERICA’S GOT TALENT semi-finals tonight probably says more about us than I’d like. Of course, to be honest I’m the one more into both these shows, since when I get home the more brain-numbing things are the better.

Perhaps when the Fall season begins I’ll start watching stuff which takes a bit more of my attention and intellectual functions. We’ve seen promotions for one show which looks good, namely "Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip" from “West Wing” creator Aaron Sorkin a drama that includes Matthew Perry and Bradley Whitford (both who appeared in "The West Wing", Whitford as Josh and Perry in a semi-regular role for a couple of seasons even before FRIENDS left the air). While Donna could not care less, I’m willing to give HEROES a chance.

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Procrastination Funnies!

You can ask anyone who knows me and they’ll tell you that I am a notorious procrastinator. It really takes a major deadline or being pushed to finally get me to actually do something. In this case it was the looming possibility of a move to California.

I have had fourteen long comic boxes sitting in the computer room since the day we moved back to Brooklyn. In most cases the boxes were still taped shut from the move. Since I’ve only purchased a handful of comics since getting here there was no real reason to go through them. Finally, this weekend I spent most of Saturday & Sunday going through each box, plus two other cardboard boxes of various fanzines & other stuff. The past two days I’ve been trying to put together a ‘sale list’ of material.

Do I keep CEREBUS or my Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles? Is it better to hold on to X-FILES or TRANSMETROPOLITAN? There was never a question about the T.H.U.N.D.E.R. Agents, but do I keep all my westerns or just the BEST OF THE WEST?

As I mentioned yesterday I have two lists that are available for those interested. After sending out the lists I came to realize that I had still more material to add, so I’m slowly inserting the new stuff into the lists. I’m going to be adding some TPBs and graphic novels to the comics list, but you’re welcome to request what I have already.

Believe it or not, not counting what remains on the bookshelves I have only four long boxes of comics that I’m keeping. These boxes aren’t even full, so you can imagine how ruthless I’ve been. Of course, the threat of a campfire with the entire collection helped!

In case you're wondering Spider Jerusalem beat out Sculley & Mulder, while the the sewer dwellers won out over the Earth Pig.

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Cleaning out my collection!

I know my might catch flack for this, but I'd like to give the folks reading my two blogs first dibs on comics & fanzines I'm clearing from my collection. I may be moving in the next few months, but even if we remain in Brooklyn I think it's time to weed out stuff I no longer want/need. There's about ten long-boxes of stuff I'm getting rid of one way or the other.

The fanzines/magazines include stuff from the 1970s, i.e. a couple of issues of RBCC, GUTS, OMNIVERSE and others. I also have some copies of Comic Book Profiles, Amazing Heroes,etc. There are also some zines (pro & fan) on "B" movies & serials. Some of these are yellowing with a bit of water damage on a few.

The comics are mostly in Very Good or better, but that's according to my standards. Most are DC & Marvels from the 1980s-'90s, when I was collecting heavily. Many individual mini-series, and cross-over tie-ins. There are also a few 'adult comics','anthropomorpics' and 'independents', including some 'ash cans'.

If you are interested in either or both lists I'll send them along as an attachment via e-mail.

write me at:

Thursday, June 29, 2006

Lennie Weinrib

Over at Mark Evanier's site (a link to which you'll find over on the side) he has posted several items, including video links, about his friend Lennie Weinrib. If you click on the above headline you'll get over to the Internet Movie Database page which has a partial listing of Mr. Weinrib's career. Looking at it was like getting a flashback to a lot of my childhood. As a writer/performer on many of the Sid & Marty Krofft's shows his voice (and he seemed to have dozens of them) was heard by all of us kids.

Mark also mentions, with another link, that Mr. Weinrib was the voice of "Timer" a character used in a number of nutrition cartoons which ran on ABC for seemingly decades. The spot Mark uses is about cheese. There are still times when I find myself singing part of the tune ("I hanker for a hunk of cheese!").

My sympathy and condolences go out to Mr. Weinrib's family and many friends.

Saturday, June 24, 2006

Summer viewing

Sorry, but I haven't had much chance to post this past week. Things have been pretty busy at work between catching up on things for the end of the fiscal year and my assistant manager being on vacation. Add to that some major air conditioner problems at the library.

With most of our faves in rerun or off for the summer, Donna and I have been watching a few new shows plus checking out things on the higher cable stations we have had to miss.

THE 4400 is back on USA and is just as good as ever. The Returnees are gaining increasing strength and even some new powers. We were sorry to see the passing of Lilly (actress Laura Allen) and are intrigued by Isabelle's rapid aging. Jeffrey Combs, as scientist Kevin Burkhoff, is for me the most fascinating character, and possibly the best actor on the show. I can't wait to see what changes is going to undergo via his research and self-experimentation. I had the opportunity to actually see Combs in person at a FANGORIA Convention and found him very funny and friendly in public. I also don't think we have seen the last of the presumed dead (and missing) Collier, former leader of the 4400 Institute.

I'm embarrassed to admit that I have been watching LAST COMIC STANDING and the first episode of AMERICA'S GOT TALENT. Both of these are of the 'car wreck' variety of shows, being so bad at times that you can't turn them off. Of course, the idea of David Hasselhoff judging these folks is amusing in itself. I'm one of those folks who don't have strong feelings one way or the other about Hasselhoff, sometimes actually finding him funny. He reminds of me Lee Majors, basically an actor who lucked into a couple of roles which clicked for a brief time. Naturally, I'm willing to watch Regis any time. :-)

Monday, June 19, 2006

Havana Passage by Jay Lillie: A review

This is going to be passed along to the Joe Bob Briggs folks for eventual posting.

I took this book on the cruise, but didn't have as much chance to read it as I had hoped. Ended up finishing it during my daily commutes. While, as I state in the review it reminded me of the similar PATRIOT TRAP I reviewed a few weeks ago, it was a decent read if you don't go all political about this type of thing.
Published by Ivy House Publishing Group
ISBN: 1571974520

With the end of the Cold War writers of thriller/suspense novels have had to search for a new foe for their heroes to confront. International drug cartels just don’t cut it anymore, so since 9/11 various Islamic nations or ‘terrorist’ groups have become the main focus.
While the last few Communist nations (China & North Korea, for example) can still cast their evil shadows over the U.S. and their allies, it really amazes me that some authors seem to let their gaze wander only ninety miles from our shores.

In the past few months this is the second book I’ve reviewed in which the main character and his/her companions are threatened by elements in Cuba. In both, the chief protagonist ends up in Havana, caught between parties attempting to overthrow the Castro government or attempting to gain power when the current regime ends with Fidel’s passing. Also, oddly enough, in both novels the characters at some point are escaping from Cuba by boat only to be caught off the Florida Keys in approaching storms or hurricanes. I guess this happens more frequently than you’d think.

When a fishing vessel is stopped by the U.S. Coast Guard off the coast of Cuba, it is discovered that one of the men aboard is without documentation. When the boat’s owner is arrested and his boat confiscated this triggers a series of events which brings together law student Kate Stevens, Washington D.C. lawyer Gordon Cox and the first female President of the United States. The President, looking to end the decades old trade embargo, sends Kate and Gordon (who at one time dated Kate’s mother) to Havana in order to discover what the reaction might be to such a decision. The lawyers find that things are much more complicated than they appear with angry Cuban exiles on one side and a possible coup by Army officers on the other. Add to this mix the mysterious Santiago deCristo, a one time member of Castro’s elite guard who has his own reasons to return to his native land.

Writer Lillie brings an old fashion feel to his book, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing. It’s a fast read, ideal for vacation reading. The author throws in the occasional sexual detail and “F” bomb, but it feels as if he is doing it more to appeal to a section of readership who want that sort of thing, rather than something which comes naturally. While the character of the President never rises above reminding me of Geena Davis in COMMANDER IN CHIEF, Lillie brings enough life to the rest of his cast to pull the book up a notch from similar fare.

Three stars

Sunday, June 18, 2006

Tortola, British Virgin Islands

Just to give you an idea of one of the shopping areas in Tortola. There was a less 'scenic' one right outside the pier area, but this one was located near the main shopping district where most of the tour buses loaded up.

I wouldn't mind going again, to have a chance to check out the beaches. You can sit by the fountain with chickens running around you, drinking cokes and local beers. Pretty pleasant way to spend an hour or so.

Shots of San Juan

A few shots at Casa Bardardi, including your's truly in front and the open bar. Also a couple showing the fort at the entrance to the harbor of San Juan, as well as the view from our balcony. That's not Donna, but the lady in the next cabin checking out the sites. I feel bad that I can't recall her name at this point, since we had several nice conversations in the early mornings peaking around the balcony seperation.

Monday, June 05, 2006

So what's the 2nd worst?

As near as I can figure there are around twenty folks who read this and my other blog on a fairly regular basis. Of those, there can't be more than a handful that will know what I'm talking about in the next paragraph. Are you one of the chosen few?

It will be hard for those of you who know me and have read Ted Rall's "The Worst Thing I've Ever Done!" to believe that I am actually being considered for a certain position in California. I'd probably be better off not jinxing it, but it does make me stop and consider the things I've done in the past. If there is such a thing as Karma (as the title character in MY NAME IS EARL would say) it's about to bite my a**.

Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Just some catch up!

Was sorry to hear belatedly of the passing of comics great Alex Toth. His work on ZORRO, his own BRAVO FOR ADVENTURE, Archie's BLACK HOOD and dozens of other titles made him an inspiration to a number of working artists. I had the opportunity to meet and speak briefly with him at a convention about a decade ago. He was polite and couldn't have been nicer as I gushed in typical fanboy fashion. Rest in peace and my condolences to his family.

Surprised this morning to find that both the Rachel Maddow Show and Jerry Springer morning shows on Air America Radio spent a few minutes on DC Comics announcement of the new BATWOMAN. I'm sure that this won't be the only things we hear, not all of them positive. (Anybody want to bet that Pat Robertson will have a few words about this?) I don't know anything about the new DC continuity post-Infinety Crisis, but isn't this a real ret-con of an old character? Unless this isn't the same BW who used to run with Batman in the Silver Age. Apparently she's having a lesbian relationship with another character who has only recently come out.

Also heard that Warner Bros. is moving up the premiere of the latest SUPERMAN film to a week before July 4th. I had also not known that they were going to edit in some Marlon Brando footage, with the late actor appearing as Jor-El. Anybody know if they are using the dialogue from the first film or are they using a voice actor?

Monday, May 29, 2006

Carnival Legend: An incident at sea

Some of you will recall that Donna and I sailed on a Caribbean cruise last week on the Carnival Legend. You may also have seen that ship in the headlines the last day or so.
The next few days I’m going to be telling you about the cruise and posting photos. We generally had a good time and so I wanted to mention tragedy right off the bat.

It was around 1:15am on Saturday morning when I was awoken by the Captain’s voice over the public address system. As any of you who have cruised before know, they seldom make announcements after 10:00pm and NEVER in the middle of the night. The Captain said, as closely as I recall, “Operation Bravo. Operation Bravo, all staff. Operation Bravo on the starboard side.”

Having served in the U.S. Navy my initial reaction was that there was a fire. When I noticed no alarms sounding, I immediately realized that it had to be the second worst incident, namely a ‘man overboard.’ Going out on the patio I noticed, being all the way aft, the ship was slowing quickly and then turning sharply. Peter, who was sharing our cabin, also awoke and we saw the ship’s searchlights playing over the surface. A call to the Purser/Reception Desk got me an ‘everything is under control’ response. It was only about twenty minutes later when the Cruise Director came over the P.A. to verify the ‘man overboard’ situation.

For the next twelve hours the Legend, along with the U.S. Coast Guard (via aircraft) and at least one other vessel (a private sailing boat) continued to cover the area in which the man had disappeared.

According to word making the rounds (including several of our tablemates, who had a stateroom several doors down from the man and his family), the husband had been drinking quite a bit, and had lost a ‘large amount’ in the casino. He and his wife had been heard arguing several times around the ship and security was called around 12:45. Upon several members of the security team gaining entrance to the room, the husband made a dash for the patio and leaped over the railing. This was witnessed by the security team, the wife and at least one of their two children (reported to be around seven years old, and I have been told there was a young child as well). Obviously, in this type of situation rumors abound, but I’ve tried to keep this to what we heard from first and second hand sources.

Over the next two nights, Donna and I saw the wife accompanied at all times in both the dining room and in the lobby leading to the buffet by a female security officer. Our table mates, who shared the deck with the family, told us that a security guard was posted permanently outside the cabin.

Sadly, no report I’ve yet heard or read states that the man or his remains have been located. From my knowledge of the vessel and my experience in the Navy, I have to assume that he was more than likely immediately pulled into the wake of the ship, probably under & into the propellers.

We may never know the entire situation, but my thoughts must go out to his wife and children, as well as any other surviving family. This is an incident that will remain with them for the rest of the lives and I hope that the media will leave them in peace.

Saturday, May 20, 2006

Bon Voyage!

Like I've said before, nothing says cruising like towel animals.

Donna, Pete and I are headed off today for an 8-night Caribbean Cruise aboard the Carnival Legend. We'll be back on the 28th and I'll fill you in on all the details. take care!!

Friday, May 19, 2006

Time to set sail!

If I have a chance later today or early tomorrow, I'm going to post a few photos we took during our last cruise of the towel animals we found each night in our cabin. Folks familiar with cruising will be familiar with this tradition of the cabin stewards creating some wonderful items our of towels and bits of paper. Every night we would find one of them sitting on our bed or otherwise visible, along with our nightly chocolate/mint on the pillow.

If I don't have time I at least wanted to remind you that I'll be off for the next nine to ten days. Eight of those on the cruise and a day or two to rest up after. Enjoy your Memorial Day holiday!

Saturday, May 13, 2006

PATRIOT TRAP:by Raymond Duncan, a review

I think I come off more negative here than I meant to, since I didn't really dislike the book. It was more that it held no surprises and seemed very much 'by the numbers', if you know what I mean. I've been doing these reviews for a couple of years and I'm getting pretty used to the trappings of the thriller/suspense genre. In this case, I was pretty much able to stay way ahead of the plot.

Patriot Trap by Raymond Duncan
Published by Leisure Books/Dorchester Publishing
ISBN: 0-8439-5631-3

Neal McGrath is one of those heroes who seem to exist only in the imagination of a Tom Clancy, or Robert Ludlum and their numerous imitators. Usually he is a university professor, with some military background and a stint with some intelligence agency. They are usually in their mid to late thirties and have some personal tragedy (dead wife, fiancé, child, etc.) from which they have never fully recovered. For some reason or other a former friend or superior, still working with the agency, will suddenly pop and ask the hero to take on some small mission. Almost always they will be assured that there is no danger, of course,

Raymond Duncan doesn’t bring his hero to life as much as simply put him through his paces. We know that there is more to the request by his former CIA superior than to simply ‘look up’ a former student of the professor’s, Elena Rodriguez who just happens to be working for the Cuban equivalent of our own intelligence agency. From the opening sequence, straight out of CSI: Miami, with speed boats picking up bales of drugs dropped from planes, we see that Duncan is not going to let up on the action. McGrath and his friend, Don Samuels quickly find themselves on the wrong side of political tensions in Havana. They also discover from Elena that she has information which could link the head of her department, General Ramiro, to the drug running that is becoming widespread in the island. Unknown to Elena, on the other hand, is the fact that the General is also part of a group planning a coup against Fidel Castro. Toss in a Mexican assassin, bent on killing the President of his country, while he is on tour in the United States and you get a pretty complicated plot.

McGrath and Elena sometimes appear to be getting along more on luck than skill, something even one of the books characters comments upon. Of course, many writers in this genre going back to Alistair Maclean and Ian Fleming did a lot of the same type of thing, so you can’t really blame Duncan for doing so. From escaping a hit & run in the streets of Havana to surviving in a small boat a violent hurricane, the duo seem to go from one dangerous situation into another. In the case of General Ramiro, Duncan truly seems influenced by Fleming’s villains for his James Bond novels, as Ramiro has his henchman feed his enemies to poisonous sea snakes and piranha.

On the whole it’s not a bad book, but just nothing special. The nicest sections were those dealing with contemporary life in Havana, which I found realistic. If you enjoy this type of thing and don’t really expect any surprises Duncan may be the perfect author for your beach reading.

Two and a half stars.

Thursday, May 11, 2006


Both ABC shows were on last night and gearing up for the Season Finales. LOST wasn't quite as intense as last time, with the shootings of Ana Lucia & Libby, but things did happen. It was nice to see another flashback featuring Mr. Echo and his brother. The strange flashback/dream sequences always through you since it's sometimes unclear if what you are seeing is real or not. I'm sorry to see Libby go, as she was one of the nicest characters outside of the original castaways. It will be interesting to see if Locke tells Jack of his new discovery regarding the computer sequence.

INVASION gets more intense each week, and it is odd that the viewer is beginning to actually like Tom, as he was set up in the original episodes as the obvious villain. The hybrids appear to be about to sacrifice the uninfected townsfolk, but I think something it going to happen to prevent a wholesale success. Also, I can't wait to see if the pregnancies are allowed to take place this time and what we will see.

Sorry that I had to miss the final episode of TOP CHEF, but I'm sure that Bravo will be running the shows again. I knew that Stephen wouldn't make it to the final three.

Monday, May 08, 2006

End of the Season Viewing

The networks are wrapping up their major shows for the summer hiatus, which means that we will be overwhelmed by try-outs and 'reality shows.' We're going to miss WILL AND GRACE, and WEST WING now that they are ending their runs. Also, looks like both CSI and CSI: MIAMI are going to end with characters being shot. LOST will be wrapping up in a week or two as well and I have a feeling that several more characters are not going to be coming back.

Fortunately, the summer also means that USA Network will be bringing us new episodes of MONK and THE 4400. We'll probably be watching a lot more Animal Planet, Food Network and other stuff that we've skipped since the Fall season began.

Did I ever mention that I got hooked on Bravo's TOP CHEF, while Donna's guilty pleasure is that same network's "The Real Housewives of Orange County"? Sad, but true, plus we watch them both together, so what does that say for our marriage?

Friday, May 05, 2006

No Free Comics Day for me!

Sadly, for the first time since the national Free Comics Day program was started I won't be able to take part. I'm working tomorrow (5/6) and there aren't any shops in the area. By the time I get out most shops will be closed and generally I just like to go straight home after work anyway.

Hope that the rest of you will take part in the event, which is held at the better comic shops around the country. You'll find a link to the official web site over on the side and it will inform you about some of the publishers taking part, as well as some of the special product being produced just for FCD.

Happy reading!

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Sounds like...KONG!

I haven’t yet seen the Peter Jackson version of KING KONG, but I hope to get a chance on DVD one of these days. I’ve always loved the original and even saw the 1976 version Jeff Bridges and Jessica Lange. As a kid, even watching it on a small b&w 15 inch screen in my bedroom, the original film kept me captivated. I always felt such sympathy for Kong, which I think was the intent of the filmmakers.

The new Jackson film has inspired a number of books to be written (officially and otherwise) about the various films and for Blackstone Audiobooks to come out with a special unabridged reading of the 1932 novelization of the film. Written by Delos W. Lovelace and based on the script by Edgar Wallace & Merian C. Cooper the book expands a bit on the film actually giving us a bit of background on some the major characters, especially Ann (played famously by Faye Wray in the original).

Read by award winning narrator Stefan Rudnicki, the audiobook brings the book to life and you can visualize the scenes in your mind as you listen. Rudnicki, who I’ve heard on other audio adaptations, captures the ‘voices’ of the dozens of characters convincingly enough so that you’ll instantly recognize them throughout. If you're a fan of Jack Black, you might not like how his character, Carl Denham, comes across in the novel. A tad more P.T. Barnum, mixed with uncaring business man (perhaps not a inaccurate mix at that) than likeable showman. Also, the Kong in the book is closer to the savageand brutal beast we remember from the early film.

An added bonus is that following the adaptation you’ll hear interviews with such folks as Ray Harryhausen, Larry Niven, Ray Bradbury and Harlan Ellison each of them speaking about the influence (positive & negative) the film has had on them and the American public since its release. Highly recommended for Kong fans or lovers of good audio.

Sunday, April 23, 2006

Cleaning my collection!

Even though I didn't get the OCPL job, Donna and I still intend to move eventually. With this in mind it's time to start ridding myself of thousands of comics that I've collected over the years (or the last two decades to be precise).

Most of this stuff is from the 1980s & '90s and at least in VG or better condition. I don't have the money or interest in sending anything out for slabbing and most aren't even bagged. I have most of it cataloged so I'm going to begin putting information out here for anyone interested. As I go through them you'll find that the majority are DC and independents (as we used to call smaller publishers), with very few Marvels.

I have a number of TMNT comics from the B&W days, including stuff like SHELL SHOCK, the First Comics TPB collections and Mirage's own THE COLLECTED Eastman & Laird's TALES OF THE TMNT TPB from '89. Also have a few of the Archie series around somewhere.

Got gaps in your CEREBUS collection? I have an almost complete run beginning from #50 thru #300 and the CEREBUS Bi-Weekly #1-26. Even got a slighly yellowed and chipped SWORDS OF CEREBUS #1 signed by Dave Sim from his 1992 New York Tour, with a small CEREBUS head he drew.

Drop me an e-mail or post a reply here if interested. I'm not expecting to make a fortune, but would like some of this stuff to go to another fan.

Saturday, April 22, 2006

Cutting down on links

If you check over to the Right you'll note that I've removed a number of links. I don't have anything negative to say about any of them, but it was just getting ridiculous. More than half of them I haven't gone to since I placed them there to begin with. Several have not been updated for months and a few were to sites no longer active. I may be adding or dropping others as time goes by, as I'd like to keep things interesting for myself and anybody reading this blog.

I want to apologize for not posting more often here, since my mind has been on other things. As I have been reporting over on Parting Shots I have been actively looking for library jobs in southern California and my online time has mostly been directed towards resumes and want ads.

Thursday, April 13, 2006

FURY by Robert K. Tanenbaum: a review

Here's the latest Joe Bob Briggs review. I finished the book prior to my California trip, but only just now had a chance to put my review notes together.

FURY by Robert K. Tanenbaum
Published by Atria Books; ISBN: 9780743452908

I don’t recall reading any of Robert Tanenbaum’s previous novels, but I suppose it’s possible I may have listened to one on audio book as I only started keeping track of that for the past year or so. I also wasn’t sure how much I was going to enjoy the book after the first chapter or so. Perhaps, if I had read an earlier “Butch Karp/Marlene Ciampi” novel I wouldn’t have been so quick to judge.

This is the seventeenth book in the series, so I was unfamiliar with the characters and their history. Fortunately, Tanenbaum fills in the new reader once the story begins to unfold. On the other hand, as Joe Bob has said in some of his movie reviews “there’s a whole lot of plot getting in the way of the story.”

It begins with a flashback to a brutal rape in Coney Island, reminiscent of the well known Central Park incident, with a gang of ‘wilding’ black youths beating and nearly killing a jogger. Convicted of the crime four members of the group are later freed when another who took part confesses that he was the only one involved. Now the “Coney Island Four”, with the aid of an attorney (part Al Sharpton, part Johnnie Cochran, and totally corrupt), is bringing a law suit against the city, the NYPD and the District Attorneys who worked the case. Throw in a crooked judge, another lawyer looking toward her own political career, police union officials, and some other dishonest types all tied together, things look bad. Apparently not satisfied with all this, Tanenbaum tosses in some Islamic terrorists, Russian gangsters (with ties to Karp and his family), and some underground dwellers who may be led by a serial killer thought dead. Besides the central case, we also have Marlene looking to defend a university professor wrongly accused of rape and a dirty bomb being constructed to go off in Times Square on New Year’s Eve. There’s enough going on here for several novels and a movie or two.

The mere fact that Tanenbaum is able to keep all these balls in the air is a feat in itself. Helped by a few coincidences and good luck along the way Karp & Co. are able to come out ahead for the most part, even apparently tying up some loose ends from previous books and setting things up for the next. Kind of a cheat in my book, but it’s easy to see why the author is so popular. If some of his characters come out less than three-dimensional I think I can forgive him since he more than succeeds in telling a pretty good tale.

Three stars (but kick it up another half for the closing chapters).

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Viewing at Thirty Four Thousand Feet!

The past few years Donna and I have flown almost exclusively on either Jet Blue or Song, so I've gotten used to having those individual TV screens and dozens of channels to watch during flights. This time out to the OC I went on American Airlines so it was plugging into the feature film choice and other stuff.

On the westbound flight we saw THE THING ABOUT MY PARENTS with Paul Reiser & Peter Falk, as father and son taking a road trip when Falk's wife of forty plus years (played by Olympia Dukakis) writes and tell him she's leaving. Mostly light comedy with some slapstick moments and tender bits thrown in. Nothing special, but enjoyable enough with an overall 'made-for-TV' feel about it. Prior to the feature American has a couple of hours of CBS network material, behind the scenes stuff and bits from 60 Minutes, The Early Show and an episode of one of their sitcoms. After the film they had episodes of TAXI, and FRAISER, which was an odd switch to NBC product.

Eastbound they showed FUN WITH DICK & JANE, a remake of the '77 George Segal/Jane Fonda comedy, with Jim Carrey and Tea Leoni where husband & wife turn to robbery to pay the bills. Made in 2005 the film takes place in 2000, with Carrey losing his job after the CEO of his firm (played nicely by Alec Baldwin) bankrupts the company. The film ends with a more timely joke and the credits aim a dedication at some well-known firms, many of which are no longer with us. A cute bit and a safe political jab at the same time. Since the flight was shorter (had to switch planes in Chicago, as opposed to the direct flight I had going out) we had the feature first with only part of the CBS segment getting in before we landed. I barely recall the Segal/Fonda comedy, but found the remake enjoyable enough. Again, a safe non-offensive film for a trapped general audience.

Saturday, April 08, 2006

Hotel San Diego

If you click on the headline above you'll find an item Mark Evanier posted a couple of days ago (I'm trying to catch up on my blog reading before going cold turkey while I'm in California) on the up-coming implosion of the Hotel San Diego.

When I was in the Navy in the mid-1970s & stationed in the area, the Hotel SD already had a shakey reputation, at least among the sailor's I knew (the joke being that it should be called the Hotel STD). It was notorious for the hookers working the area, and it was also known that late night you could get the guy at the desk downstairs to send one to your room. I stayed there a couple of nights when I had a weekend off, but after a couple of run ins with the 'ladies' in elevators and the lobby, I began spending those weekends out of town.

Elayne Riggs will back me up when I say that our stay at the hotel during a Comicon in the early 90s wasn't the most enjoyable evenings we shared in southern California.

Thursday, April 06, 2006

Play ball!

Only three games into the season, but the Red Sox have a nice 2-1 record, taking a couple from the Texas Rangers. The Damned Yankees on the other hand are 1-2, falling to Oakland which always gladdens my heart.

If I end up getting the job in California, do I have to start following the Dodgers or the Angels? To be honest, when I was stationed in San Diego in the 1970s I had a nice time watching the Padre's play in their home stadium. Yumm! Padre Dogs & beer!!

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

That trick never works!

Perhaps forgetting that female anchors for the network news hasn't worked in the past, CBS has announced that Katie Couric will be taking over the spot once held by Walter Cronkite and Dan Rather. Not really known for hard-hitting interviews (except when talking to the likes of Howard Stern or Michael Moore), Couric seems to me an odd choice.

On the other hand, CNN seems to be doing well with Paula Zahn and Robin Meade so maybe the American public is ready for this.

Thursday, March 30, 2006

Blog spam

I've just deleted it after discovering that somebody had put in a Comment to yesterday's posting, which was acually a link to a Sport Betting site. That's a first over here and I hope the last.

Then again, it shows that somebody must have read the post since it did have to do with basketball and March Madness!

Monday, March 27, 2006

March (yawn!!) Madness

I suppose one of my ex-therapists could have made something of my disinterest (if not out & out dislike) of basketball. My late father loved the sport, having played back in his highschool days. Weekend afternoons would find him glued to the set watching the college and pro games. The hoop he put out in the backyard rarely got any use and was eventually taken down when it became obvious that I had no interest.

In highschool and later in college I could never bring myself to care the least bit about how the various school teams were playing. Then again the whole school spirit thing never really rang true to me either.

On other hand, my father also was a pitcher on his highschool team and continued taking part in soft-ball games until he was in his forties. While never good enough or with enough ambition to play little league, I did play my share of backlot ball with the other guys in my neighborhood.

All this simply to say that I'll be happy when CBS gets back to regular programming and the regular season baseball games start being played. It is the IMHO still America's pastime.

Friday, March 17, 2006

Youuuuuurrrrrrrr Out!!!

Not exactly the career ending game that Roger "The Rocket" Clemens was looking for, but I guess you can't blame the U.S. loss totally on the pitching. On the other hand, the Mexican starter, Oliver Perez and his relievers kept the American players down to only three hits. The final score was 2-1 with Mexico beating the U.S. team, eliminating them from the World Baseball Championship.

I haven't had a chance to see any of the WBC games on TV, but have been trying to keep up with things online. If I'm lucky I'll catch a game or two this weekend. I really do hope that this becomes a tradition and not a promotion gimic that only lasts a year or two. The idea of some of the best professional baseball players in the world competing against each other is great in my humble opinion.

Speaking of baseball, the Queens Library has again sent every employee two tickets to a Mets game for Library Appreciation Week. Fingers crossed the weather on Friday, April 7th isn't too bad at Shea.

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Korean Team Kicks U.S. Butt

This is from the article in a Korean paper, via World

The Korean national team dealt an ego-bruising 7-3 defeat to the home of baseball on Monday during the second game of quarter-finals play at the World Baseball Classic in the Angels Stadium at Anaheim, California. The win all but assures the as-yet undefeated team a place in the semifinals. An auspicious 101 years after U.S. missionary Phillip Gillette introduced baseball to Korea, the country has overtaken its teacher to secure the ultimate bragging rights by sending an American all-star team packing.

You can't help but love it, right?

Monday, March 13, 2006

Identity Crisis: a review

If you've been reading this blog for a while you know that I'm probably the last guy on the 'net to get around to doing comic reviews. It's been a while since I had that $100 a month habit and almost a year since I even went into a comic shop. Still I'm an old time fan and still like to read something on occasion. In this case the series (collected here in hardcover) that really brought about some changes in the DC Universe, many of which are being revisited in the current INFINITE CRISIS maxi-crossover event.

Should you be among the few who haven't read this book or have not read the hundreds of other reviews (good & bad) already out there I want to send out a huge SPOILER WARNING.

Writer Brad Meltzer creates a story which reveals that things happened years ago among the Justice League of America that may tarnish their reputation. We learn why the original Doctor Light, went from second-string competent to comic relief in later appearances. When they discover that he raped Sue Dibny, the wife of Ralph "Elastic Man" Dibny, members of the JLA decide to not only erase his memory of the event (and his knowledge of some of their identities) but also to do a bit of tampering with his brain. Using the magical abilities of Zatanna, they give the villain a mystical lobotomy. Not only this but when discovered by Batman, they do a bit of tampering with the Dark Knight. Now years later, Dr. Light recovers his memories and apparently begin seeking revenge for what happened.


Meltzer does a solid job with all the heroes, even those who appear only briefly. The art by Rags Morales is magnificent and is aided by the inks of Michael Bair, who allows Morales' pencils to shine through. Hats off also to colorist Alex Sinclair and letterer Ken Lopez, who do the job by not drawing attention to themselves yet add to the overall package. In addition the hardcover gives us additional treats with background on the story & art by Meltzer and Morales; as well as a cover gallery of the original series covers by Michael Turner and other goodies.

Some of the best moments are with Wally "FLASH" West, who learns that the heroes he grew up with and admired may not have been as free of sin as he may have thought; in addition much of the story is seen through the eyes of Oliver "GREEN ARROW" Queen who knew of what happened and has kept the secret for years. In the end the story is ultimately about friendship and family, not just a bunch of people flying around in tight outfits punching each other.

Although I knew from reading the comments on the Tony Isabella messageboard and in CBG what to expect, as an Old Fart of Fandom I finally wanted to read the book myself and judge it. I don't exactly like what happened, especially as Ralph & Sue Dibny were two of the nicest and most enjoyable characters I remember from the Silver Age. From Ralph's early stories he was a favorite. On the other hand, Meltzer allow us to see the couple as truly in love and lets that, in the end, be Ralph's salvation.

How I'll feel about INFINITE CRISIS when I eventually get around to reading more than the earliest 'countdown' issue, remains to be seen. It will certainly be interesting to this aged reader what the 'new' DCU will be like.

Friday, March 10, 2006

WOKEN FURIES by Richard K. Morgan: a review

Another Joe Bob Briggs review completed. A change of pace from the usual thriller/suspense books they send and I actually enjoyed it more than I thought I would. It took me a couple of chapters to shake the feeling I was reading a bad BLADE RUNNER ripoff.

Woken Furies by Richard K. Morgan
Published by Ballantine Books: ISBN: 0345479718

I’m probably the wrong guy to review this novel, expecting as I was to be reading another suspense/thriller. Imagine my surprise and admitted disappointment to find a science fiction novel among the review copies. I have to be honest in saying that I haven’t read more than a dozen SF novels in the past thirty years and several of those were part of Douglas Adams’ Hitch-hiker’s series. Still I’m willing to give it a try since back in high school I was reading little but SF.

Richard K. Morgan won a Philip K. Dick Award for his first novel, Altered Carbon (2003). This book is the third in a series featuring Takeshi Kovacs, a former government operative (called Envoys, although they were more assassins and enforcers) in a distant future where people generally don’t die as we know it. When their life span ends or if they are killed in some fashion their consciousness can be placed in another “sleeve” to continue. These new bodies are either artificially created or clones of the deceased. This depends on money, of course, as well as into which societal class the individual belongs. Kovacs himself has been around for close to three hundred years, inhabiting a number of sleeves depending on his current mission.

Not having read any of the previous books in the series I sometimes found myself a tad confused, as dozens of characters (many of whom have some type of history with Kovacs) keep popping up. Writer Morgan fills in a lot of the background, but it still feels like coming in during the second reel of the film. Discovering that he is being tracked by a younger version of himself while on the run from several other factions, Kovacs finds temporary sanctuary with a band looking to salvage alien technology in abandoned ruins. The brief respite comes to an end when on of the team apparently becomes infected with the consciousness of a long-dead rebel leader, Quellcrist Falconer. The planetary government and possibly his former Envoy team mates are not happy about this situation.

I’d probably have enjoyed the book more if Morgan didn’t stop the plot for several pages of graphic sex every couple of chapters, or to have several of his characters spend another few pages arguing futuristic socialism (or Quellism, as it’s called in the book). Also, I’m always amazed to discover that thousands of years in the future in galaxies far away the underclass loves to drop the “F” bomb (as Jim Rome would put it).

Morgan does a good job bringing solid characterization to a very large and diverse cast. Playing the hard-boiled card can be difficult, especially mixing it up with SF, but Morgan does make it work.

Three stars (Add an additional half star if you’re an SF or Morgan fan already)

Friday, March 03, 2006

Navy Blues

Believe it or not, this is me back 1969. I was either on the USS BOXER or the USS CAMBRIA, since this was taken in Norfolk, VA and before I had my mustache.

Could I really have been that innocent at 18 yrs of age?

I was working as the supply clerk for the Electronic Technician Dept. on either ship. Since I'm in Dress Blues it was either early Spring or Fall of that year.


The photos above are of the USS BUTTE AE-27 upon which I spent my last two years on Active Duty from 1984 thru early 1986. Stationed out of Earle, NJ the Butte was one of the busiest 'ammunition ships' at the time.

To those of us who served aboard the ship the AE stood for "all expendable" which is how we felt. The first question you'd ask to a new crew member was, "Who'd you piss off?" {Ask Elayne about some of this if you doubt me!}

When in port we were at the end of a two mile long pier which itself was over a mile and a half away from any inhabited buildings. When fully loaded we were told that if we exploded we'd probably take out everything within five miles of us at sea. There was a reason that we were never allowed dockside when in foreign ports, even U.S. ones. We always anchored out.

As you can also imagine abandon ship drills were a matter of high hilarity, while any actual fire alarms were taken with dead seriousness.

A moment of truth in advertising: The photo on the left is one of those "official" photographs. I never remember the Butte looking that clean or rust free in all the time I served aboard. Part of which time I served in Deck and hung over the side painting the ugly, haze grey sonuvabitch.

Thursday, March 02, 2006


During my second stint in the Navy I was stationed our of San Diego on the USS WADDELL, a guided missile destroyer.

Most of the stories I have about that period took place off the ship when I wasn't on duty, but I still have some nice memories of the ship and crew. This was back during the mid-1970s, so you can imagine what southern California must have been like.

Dennis Weaver, Darren McGavin and Don Knots

Between my trip down to Atlantic City to catch Frankie Valli (discussed over at Parting Shots) and my 24+ hours suffering a stomach virus, I haven’t had a chance to write anything about the passing of three long time favorite actors. They do say these things come in threes but not this damn close, huh?

Of course, I remember Dennis Weaver most from his days as Chester Goode, opposite James Arness’ Marshall Matt Dillon on GUNSMOKE. He did tons of cameo roles in later TV shows before and after that, along with starring in one of the best made-for-TV movies ever, DUEL, directed by pre-JAWS Steven Spielberg. Younger folks probably remember him as the cowboy in the Big Apple McCLOUD from the early 1970s.

Darren McGavin is probably better remembered by folks of my generation as Carl Kolchak, THE NIGHT STALKER from that great television show. Back before Scully & Fox Mulder joined the FBI, Carl was working on his own “x-files”. Stories which his editor Tony Vincenzo (played excellently by Simon Oakley) never let Carl get into print. While I don’t recall if I ever saw him playing Mike Hammer, but my father mentioned it a few times so I’m sure he did.

Many of you probably recall him as the father in my all-time favorite ‘family comedy’, A CHRISTMAS STORY. If you were wondering who it was that was watching 18+ hours straight of the film on TNT it was me! I also have it on DVD, though sadly it has no bonus material. McGavin was also a popular ‘reader’ on audiobooks doing a number of adaptations of “Travis McGee” novels by John D. MacDonald, among others.

There is nothing I can say about Don Knotts which hasn’t been said at length already in blogs, newspapers and on television & radio. He created one of the most beloved and imitated characters on television, with his portrayal of Barney Fife on the old Andy Griffith show. I actually remember him playing one of Steve Allen’s “man in the street” characters, along with Louis Nye and Tom Poston. My father, who never called me Steverino, was a huge fan of all of Allen’s shows and it seems I grew up watching them.

My most sincere condolences and sympathy go to the families, friends and millions of fans these three men left behind. You will be remembered long after most of us are but dust.

Friday, February 24, 2006


After the USS Cambria was scheduled to be decommissioned I was transferred to the commissioning detail for the newest Landing Platform Dock (also labeled Amphibious Platform Dock at some points) the USS Shreveport. It was still being built in Tacoma, WA so we spent a couple of months undergoing training in Norfolk,VA before flying out to meet our new ship in January of 1970. With two ships decommissioned underneath me in less than a year I was beginning to feel like a jinx.

As part of the commissioning crew I'm considered a "plank owner" which probably doesn't mean much to anyone who hasn't spent time in the Navy. I still have my plague around and plan to actually put it up in the computer room/office one of these days along with some of my other Navy memorabilia.

Thursday, February 23, 2006


Found a photo of the USS Boxer online over at a site dedicated to the ship and crew. Lots of stuff dealing with her during WWII and Korea before she was converted to a helicopter carrier.

She was my first ship and I served aboard her for about seven months prior to her being decommissioned. Did one Caribbean cruise aboard which was quite an eye opener for this kid from Taftville, CT.


This is the USS Cambria a cargo and Marine transport ship on which I served back in 1969. It was the second ship I sailed on, the first being the USS BOXER LPH-4 an old wooden deck carrier. I have a photo of the Boxer around somewhere and will try to post it in the next few days.

Whenever I get depressed I find myself reminiscing about my Navy days. Pretty sad, huh?

CowboyPal Old Time Radio

I've added a link, either via the above headline or over to the Right, to the CowboyPal Old Time Radio site. It's over at Live so you'll have to listen to ads for that, but you'll still have the opportunity to listen to radio shows from the 1930s thru 1950s.

I've been a fan of OTR since I was a kid and having these old westerns available 24-7 is a lot of fun. Unless you subscribe you'll only have a limited number of shows to sample but that's more than enough to see you it's your cup of tea.

Saturday, February 18, 2006

You would think I could read a calendar!

Originally I had planned to attend the up-coming New York Comic Con. It's been a while since I've been to a convention and was hoping to catch up with a few folks I haven't seen for years.

For some reason, I had it in mind that the convention was this weekend, so when my friend Pete called to invite me down to Atlantic City for next weekend I agreed. Doh!!!

Anyway, since I haven't bought tickets and this is a chance to do some male bonding I'm blowing off the convention. Hey, Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons are performing that night at Caesar's!

Regrets to those folks who had been hoping to see me. Maybe we'll have the opportunity on Free Comic Book Day. If I'm not working that Saturday you can probably find me at Jim Hanley's Universe first thing that morning.

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Are you a Librarian?

Click on the headline and take the quiz.

I am ashamed to say that I only got 44% on this.

Guess it's time to go back to Pratt for some re-education or to at least start reading Library Journal more regularly.

Monday, February 13, 2006

Free Comic Book Day is May 6th

I'm putting a link over to the side for the FREE COMIC BOOK DAY site. For those unfamiliar with this concept, imagine every comic shop in the U.S. putting aside one day each year where they actually make an attempt to give you something and not just take your hard earned dollars.

Each year many of the major comics publishers will supply stores with thousands of special comics in the hope that something will strike your fancy and you'll come back for more. For me it's the one day each year that I actually do go to a comic shop, which I stopped doing a couple of years ago.

Check out the site and support those local shops who are taking part.

Watching the Olympics pt2

It was a pleasant surprise not having Katie Courac doing the opening ceremonies the other evening. Bob Costas also was nicely sedate for most of it, so Donna and I could actually listen and enjoy. It is also nice that they are showing every country entering in order, as they can edit it between ads. I'm sure there are folks here in the U.S. who may have connections or family in other places and would like to see their teams. In many cases it will be the ONLY time you'll ever see them during the next two weeks.

It would be good to see something other than hockey, considering the number of events being held. There may be a few folks not sitting up or taping stuff overnight. With hundreds of hours of competition certainly NBC could have one of the five or six channels repeating material from earlier in the day.

I'm missing Curling tonight, since I have to work and am really bummed out.

Also, for regular TV viewers: Donna and I caught the last two episodes of GRAY'S ANATOMY and really weren't impressed. (SPOILER) The climax of the two parter was pretty predicable and Donna was surprised that they actually did blow things up.

Saturday, February 11, 2006

Costa Maya, Mexico

The soldier types in the one picture are Mexican military and they remain stationed at the end of the pier. Other than those guys you never really see much in terms of the security the cruiselines and various ports have in place.

I took that one photo by standing on one of those box like yellow things you see in the picture, actually leaning partially over the water. Later, when talking to another passenger, I learned that several people had seen two to three foot sharks swimming beneath and around the pier. Probably better I didn't know at the time!

Mamasita's is the largest of the bars you'll see at the port and it's quite good. I didn't have any food but the beer is cold and service fast. You really wonder about their mascot though, not to be too politically correct here. As I said over at Parting Shots there is enough to see and do here at the mall that many folks went no further into the town. It was fun, but just know the prices are a bit more than you'll find outside the plaza. On the other hand, you can get some quality guarantees from the cruiselines for these shops you might not otherwise have.

Friday, February 10, 2006

Watching the Olympics pt. 1

Click on the headline and you'll go over to the "official" NBC Olympic site. It will give you the schedule and let you keep track of medal winnings. Which of course is the ONLY reason to follow the events, as any real American knows.

I've gotten beyond my 'cheer for anybody but the U.S.' phase, since it really isn't fun or fair to anyone. Now I just try to ignore the most sugar-coated of the close-up pieces and enjoy the sports themselves. I think I'm actually getting some understanding of Curling, believe it or not. A sport which I think I'd actually like to see in person. Like my ex, Donna loves watching the figure skating, while shout my usual "Suck ice!" at the screen during the routines. It's hard to believe that I actually have a college degree or two, isn't it?

Donna and I both hope that Katie Courac and Bob Costas are able to put a sock in it long enough so that we can enjoy the opening ceremonies. They weren't as bad two years ago as they were during the previous Winter Games where they talked over the entire thing, explaining to us what we could see as if they were on radio. Of course, I have a low Courac tolerance anyway.

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Revenge in Exile: A review

Here's the latest book I've reviewed for Joe Bob Briggs. It's a pretty decent read and perfect for taking along on the cruise for pool side reading.

McCauley is aiming at the Ludlum crowd and does good job in his premiere effort.

REVENGE IN EXILE BY Scot McCauley Published by Leisure Books:
ISBN: 0843956305

Author Scot McCauley is a retired U.S. Navy Vice Admiral. He skillfully uses his expertise in military matters as well as his knowledge of the workings of Washington to create a solid first novel. Unfortunately, he makes the common first time author’s mistake of bringing in a few too many characters, and appears to lose track of a couple when wrapping things up in the end. This was the only real flaw I found in an otherwise nice thriller.

McCauley introduces us to David Andrews and Cole Palmer former Navy officers who were close friends but took very different paths after their early days. While Palmer remained in the Navy, Andrews left to initially pursue a career in business and then in politics. The book finds him as a National Security Advisor to President Washburn, a Democrat up for re-election. Things may be going fairly well on the domestic front but turmoil in Mexico may cause problems for the Washburn campaign. It also appears that Andrews has been going behind the back of his bosses to solidify his own political future in a second Washburn White House.

Former Mexican President Victor Hidalgo had to leave his country in disgrace when it was discovered his brother was involved with some illegal activities. Hidalgo is planning on a triumphant return to his native land, even if his attempt to regain the Presidency could cause a constitutional problem or even civil war. Taking advantage of all this is Javier Navarro, leader of La Eme the major Mexican drug cartel. Navarro has gotten his hands on some ‘suitcase’ bombs created by and left behind by the former Soviet Army when they departed much of their former empire. While some of these will be used in the usual terrorist bombings in markets and hotels to confuse authorities on both sides of the border, Navarro has cleverly gotten one such device into the Promonotorio Mountain nuclear waste depository. The bomb is set to go off during the grand-opening ceremonies attended by President Washburn and his Mexican counterpart.

NSA advisor Andrews calls upon his old friend Cole to look into things in Mexico City, where, the now widowed Palmer meets Dr. Elizabeth Cramer, an economist working at the American Embassy. Palmer falls back on his own military skills and those of a team of Navy SEALS in an attempt to discover just what Navarro and his henchmen have been up to in the desert. Unfortunately, this puts him and Dr. Cramer in the way of La Eme’s plans, which is not where anybody would like to be.

McCauley brings enough depth to most of his major players to make us care about what is happening to them. It’s only in his over populating of the story that he nearly capsizes the whole thing. There is also a good deal of coincidental good luck on Palmer’s part, but that can be said of the lead in any number of thrillers. Chalk it up to a freshman writer stretching himself a bit too thin.

Three stars.

Britney Spears: White Trash Mom?

I haven't heard the entire story, and frankly couldn't really care less. However, seeing the photo of Baby Spears in Momma's lap while she drove was priceless. Hey, at least she didn't dangle the kid from a balcony window!

Sunday, February 05, 2006

Al Lewis: actor and activist

The headline above will link to a brief obit on Al Lewis over at

Lewis had a show on Pacifica's WBAI 99.50 FM here in New York City for years. He'd rant on politics, culture and prison reform (in which he was especially active). I recall first seeing him in the classic CAR 54, WHERE ARE YOU? television series and later in his most famous role as "Grandpa" Munster. Howard Stern fans will recall him from his frequent appearances on Stern's pre-Sirius program.

Rest in Peace, Mr. Lewis!

Friday, February 03, 2006

Parting Shots

I have finally put a link to my other Blog over on the Right. The idea was to keep the two blogs seperate, especially since I get political over at PS. The last couple of weeks I've been posting stuff about the cruise and other things on both so it finally made sense to link the two. Enjoy!

Princess on her throne!

We had let Donna's sister Marilyn borrow one of our recliners during her pregnancy. The other night her husband Doug and I carried the chair back to our apartment. Before we could put it back together, Babie decided it was a perfect place to nap.

I have no plans to get into the Friday Cat Blogging habit, but just wanted to share these.

Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Big Black Wha...wha..whaaaaaaaat???

If you ever get to Grand Cayman you'll have to check out the Pirate's Grotto where you can have your picture taken with the legendary (at least acccording to the tour guides and locales) and imfamous Big Black Dick (or Richard, if you will). A pirate who supposedly sailed in the area of the Caymans. There is also a Big Black Dick Rum, which is quite good.

There are some days where you'll find half a dozen tourists standing in line just to have their photo taken. Sadly I don't think you can actually read the scroll, but it is pretty funny seeing some of the older and more conservative tourists reacting to the whole thing.

Thursday, January 26, 2006

The Child in her California office

Since I frequently mention her, here's a pic of Kristina (often referred to as The Child, here at Chez Chaput). She is Donna's daughter and I'm proud to say my step-daughter. Living out in California and happy having just bought her own condo.