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!