Nothing really blog worthy about the event, except we hear so much about how nutty the public schools have become, and how Christmas has been expunged from "The Holidays." Well, I'm happy to report that at least one school in Florida, nice Christmas books with a mildly religious message are still on the menu.
Bravo. Special Double Bravo to Ozona's new Principal, Mrs. Kerry Apuzzo, for maintaining a tradition and standard of excellence.
I've been having so much fun volunteering I've started pondering becoming a teacher myself. Haven't figured out how to handle the cut in pay, but that's the only thing stopping me.
And the teacher said I could read a book to the kids all by myself next time. I do a very unique Rainbow Fish -- I call him Comrade Rainbow Fish and I do the whole book in outrageous Russian accent to bring across good Soviet moral of story. My version of first sentence:
Long vay out in deep blue sea lived fish. Not just ordinary fish, but most beautiful fish in entire ocean. Scales every shade of blue and green and purple, with sparkling silver scales among dem....
But that's another post. For this I just wanted to say "Well done" to the teachers and staff of Ozona Elementary School, Home of the Ospreys.
My high school friend Mikey (voted Most Likely to Take a Rifle Up Into a Tower) has submitted his summer reading list to me. Comments are welcome:
The Nautical Chart
by Arturo Perez-Reverte, Margaret Sayers Peden
You have to like sailing or the sea to like this one.
A treasure hunt for a Jesuit ship sunk by pirates off the coast of Spain is
the plot on which Perez-Reverte's new novel turns, but a love story is the
real heart of this nicely crafted, carefully told adventure. A suspended
sailor happens on a maritime auction in Barcelona, where he meets the
beautiful Tanger Soto, a museum curator whose winning bid buys her a
17th-century atlas that may reveal the final resting place of the Dei
Gloria. Coy, the sailor, is totally smitten, so it's no surprise that he
signs on to help Tanger track the sunken ship to its grave in waters he's
sailed since childhood. Enlisting the aid of a diver friend, Coy and Tanger
stay a few steps ahead of the crooked salvagers who've been trying to get
the atlas, outmaneuvering the attempts on their lives and the efforts to
keep them from the treasure. Perez-Reverte (The Fencing Master, The Club
Dumas) is better at plumbing the mysteries of the human heart than those of
the sea, but The Nautical Chart manages to combine history, suspense, and
obsessive love in a slow-paced but ultimately engrossing read. --Jane
Adams --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this
Little Green Men
by Christopher Buckley
This was hilarious
In Christopher Buckley's hilarious fourth novel, Washington, D.C., is naturally enough a place of sex, lies, and videotape. Unfortunately for Little Green Men's pundit protagonist, John Oliver Banion, it is also the HQ of Majestic Twelve, a very, very covert government project. Since "that golden Cold War summer of 1947," MJ-12 has had a single mission--to convince taxpayers that space invaders are constantly lurking below what's left of the ozone layer. "A country convinced that little green men were hovering over the rooftops was inclined to vote yea for big weapons and space programs," the author thoughtfully explains.
But one disgruntled operative wants out. Nathan Scrubbs is fed up to the back teeth with the art of alien abduction--not to mention his cover as a Social Security flunky--so when his request for a transfer is quashed, he drunkenly decides to take it out on ubiquitous ultra-prig Banion, who happens to be on TV at the time. The ensuing high-tech kidnap, at Maryland's Burning Bush Country Club, is only one of the thousands of convulsively funny scenes in Little Green Men. Not that the novel isn't a skewed morality play of some sort: as Banion comes to believe in Tall Nordics and Short Ugly Grays, he is quickly removed from every A-list in town. But oddly enough, social and political disaster turns out to be as liberating as the finest alien probe. Let's just say that long before Banion and Scrubbs have a close encounter at the Millennium Man March on Washington, this Beltway barrel of monkeys attains a truly extraplanetary level of amusement. --Kerry Fried --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Hit Man -- by Lawrence Block;
I'm a big Lawrence Block fan. I read/listen to anything of his I can find.
A man known only as Keller is thinking about Samuel Johnson's famous quote that "'patriotism is the last refuge of a scoundrel'... If you looked at it objectively, he had to admit, then he was probably a scoundrel himself. He didn't feel much like a scoundrel. He felt like your basic New York single guy, living alone, eating out or bringing home takeout, schlepping his wash to the Laundromat, doing the Times crossword with his morning coffee... There were eight million stories in the naked city, most of them not very interesting, and his was one of them. Except that every once in a while he got a phone call from a man in White Plains. And packed a bag and caught a plane and killed somebody. Hard to argue the point. Man behaves like that, he's a scoundrel. Case closed." But Lawrence Block is such a delightfully subtle writer, one of the true masters of the mystery genre, that the case is far from closed. In this beautifully linked collection of short stories, we gradually put together such a complete picture of Keller that we don't so much forgive him his occupation as consider it just one more part of his humanity. After watching Keller take on cases that baffle and anger him into actions that fellow members of his hit-man union might well call unprofessional, we're eager to join him as he goes through a spectacularly unsuccessful analysis and gets fooled by a devious intelligence agent. We miss the dog he acquires and loses, along with its attractive walker. Like Richard Stark's Parker, Keller makes us think the unthinkable about criminals: that they might be the guys next door--or even us, under different pressures. For a small selection of the many Blocks in paperback, try Coward's Kiss, A Long Line of Dead Men, The Sins of the Fathers, Such Men Are Dangerous, and especially When the Sacred Ginmill Closes. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
Master and Commander (Aubrey-Maturin (Paperback))
by Patrick O'Brian
I have listened to a few of this series, and so I feel that I can recommend a book that I have not yet read.
This review is for those who watched the "master and Commander" movie and are now contemplating reading the series.
The caveats are that it is a long series of books (20) and that the pace is much slower than Hollywood's. That said, if you have any interest in the times (The Napoleonic Wars) and the topic (sailing, naval warfare), you will certainly want to set sail with Patrick O'Brien. In "master and Commander," you will find almost no overlap with the eponymous film, except that the principal characters are Captain Aubrey and Dr. Maturin, and much revolves around their relationship.
Indeed, personalities and relationships are one of the strong suits of these books, which have rich and evolving character development. Start here, read through a few, and by the time you are several books in, half the Royal Navy will be old friends, or adversaries. Likewise, don't be put off by the details of sailing; the topgallants, the weather gauge, and the bo'sun will all be well-understood in time.
O'Brien lets plot, character development, and technical explanation unfold over time. Be patient. After all, you wil be reading a ripping sailing yarn with exciting battles and exotic places in the interim.
O'Brien opens a lost world to us, with wonderful research into history, natural phenomena, speech patterns, and more. Set sail with him now and you will never regret having joined the crew.
by Stephen King, Richard Bachman
This is a good read if you like Steven King
An evil creature called Tak uses the imagination of an autistic boy to shift a residential street in small-town Ohio into a world so bizarre and brutal that only a child could think it up. It's as two-dimensional and gaudy as a kid's comic book, but for this reviewer, The Regulators is a gripping adventure tale about what happens when a mind fixated on TV (especially old Westerns and a cartoon called MotoKops 2200) runs amok. As Michael Collins writes in Necrofile, "[Stephen] King offers his readers a glimpse of the true evil of popular culture ... which has no design or intent, only an empty need to sustain itself. King is, I think, about the canniest observer of what America is, and that he generally writes horror ought to give us pause from time to time."
The Art of Exceptional Living
by E. James Rohn, Jim Rohn
Change your life
Every Man a Tiger (Commander's)
by Tom Clancy, Chuck Horner
Not the ususal Clancy drivel
Into the Storm
by Tom Clancy, Fred Franks
Excellent view from ringside of the military industrial complex.
I'd add the Steven Stirling books, and Gates of Fire, but you already read them....
Pedro sez... Gates of Fire and Island in the Sea of Time are great!
So I took the trouble to write a book review a few days ago (see lower left -- American Gods by Neil Gaiman), then I had the bright idea to submit my review to Amazon.com for a review. I didn't notice the little box telling me there were already 389 reviews until just a few minutes ago when I went looking for my own. Just reading all the divergent reviews (or rather, some of them, no way was I reading all 389 of them) was fascinating. People sure are different. We forget that. We get used to our normal circle of weirdoes, and blogging seems to attract the like minded and the polar opposites. But books are different. Go to that Amazon page, or pick any page of any book you like and read the reviews.
“Great characters but boring plot.” “Great plot but the characters were flat.” “It was obvious the author had made the same road trip in real life and that made the book great.” “It was obvious the author had made the same road trip in real life and that made the book weak.” “Deep thoughts.” “Shallow drivel.” “My favorite.” “Made me wretch.” And on and on.
Another thing -- apparently the author is also a well known comic book author. That’s one thing the literary types are not willing to forgive him for. Those folks know how to sneer but in sneering seem so small.
I just finished reading American Gods by Neil Gaiman. Wow. It’s a book I just sort of snatched off the sci-fi shelf at my local Barnes & Nobles when I was getting impatient. After the first few chapters, I thought it was like a book written by Steven King’s normal brother.
Now that I’ve finished it, it’s not like that at all. It’s more like it was written by Steven King’s older brother, the strange one who left William & Mary because its Comparative Religion department was too tame. After leaving W&M, he transferred to the University of Bulgaria at Transylvania where he got a PhD in Really Weird Shit. When he sat down to write American Gods, he found just the exact tone to make the hair on the back of my neck stand up.
You know how sometimes in the early morning, you half wake up but you’re still dreaming? You’re having the kind of dream that you can steer a little, or at least you think you can. Not exactly a nightmare but weird. And you don’t quite figure out it was only a dream until you’re done with your shower? It’s like that.
The plot is compelling and the characters, despite being divine or dead, or mostly dead, are likeable and fascinating. The ending is satisfying.
I’m a re-reader of books. Some of my favorites -- Dune, Lord of the Rings, Watership Down, Time Enough for Love, The Uplift Wars, Red Storm Rising, the entire Hornblower series – I’ve read a dozen times over the years. I’ll be reading American Gods again, but not for a few years. It will take that long to sink in.
If you want to follow it to Amazon.com, go to the lower left part of the blog to the Books I'm Reading list and click on the book.
I added a new list to this site today, "Reading Now..." Look for it at the lower left.
Very cool how typepad does it -- I just go to the Amazon page for the book, copy its ID # from the address bar and paste it in, and presto a picture of the book pops up. Clicking on the pic will take you directly to the Amazon page to buy it, read more about it, reviews, etc.
The best part is, The Happy Wife and I are reading it aloud to each other. We haven't done that in 8 years -- not since Rochelle was born. It is very, very nice to do that. I highly recommend it.
The book is good, too. Very interesting background information about some old Christian and Pagan history.
Hummingbird Finally, my first hummingbirds. Saw them on a fire bush in Crystal Beach, FL. My rental's neighbor's yard is all xeriscaped, which is ugly to me but just fine with the little hummers. At first, I thought they were the biggest hornets I'd ever seen.
Flamingo! One of these dudes flew right over my house. I couldn't believe it. And please don't tell me it was a roseated spoonbill because it was a frickin' flamingo, dude! Huge and pink and right there above me. I was like so freaking out, you know?
Falcon! Don't see these guys too often. Wish we did. Bet the morning doves don't.
Black Skimmer These beauties are getting scarce, but one flew by yesterday at low tide on the hunt for minnows.
Dead sea turtle cool, but smelly
Reddish Egret These have been hanging out around the pool quite a bit lately. Must be a new group of adolesent birds -- the youngsters like to hunt where the water is clear, and it takes them a day to figure out there are not now and never will be fish in the swimming pool no matter how clear the water.
Brown Pelican I saw a flock of about 200 of these at Disappearing Island yesterday, just south of Anclote Island on the west coast of FL. Good to see such a large flock.
Wood Pecker They've developed a sudden interest in the orange tree, which just went into bloom.