Tuesday, October 24, 2017

"Book Blogs"-- October 2017

A disparate group of books fills the first quarter of "Book Blogs." Each provides a brief synopsis along with comments about the origin or the author or the setting.
Four of the books are novels: Adam Bede, Allan Quartermain, Beau Geste and Crime and Punishment. The novels were written in the late 19th and early 20th centuries . While reading these novels allowance must be made for the devices and style of the time in which they were written.
Contrasting with the novels the non-fiction books that make up the balance of the selections in the first quarter are written in a more contemporary style even though describing historical events. The books range from autobiographical (Big Russ and Me) to a duobiographical (Desert Queen) and include adventure, crime and music.
These blog pieces were fun to write after reading the books that were the subject of the subsequent blogs. So it's on to the second quarter of "Book Blogs."
A disparate group of books fills the first quarter of "Book Blogs." Each provides a brief synopsis along with comments about the origin or the author or the setting.
Four of the books are novels: Adam Bede, Allan Quartermain, Beau Geste and Crime and Punishment. The novels were written in the late 19th and early 20th centuries . While reading these novels allowance must be made for the devices and style of the time in which they were written.
Contrasting with the novels the non-fiction books that make up the balance of the selections in the first quarter are written in a more contemporary style even though describing historical events. The books range from autobiographical (Big Russ and Me) to a duobiographical (Desert Queen) and include adventure, crime and music.
These blog pieces were fun to write after reading the books that were the subject of the subsequent blogs. So it's on to the second quarter of "Book Blogs."

Dracula, Drood, Faceless Killers, Firewall, For Whom the Bell Tolls, Fordlandia, Freakonomics, Goodie's Ghost, Hitch 22, a memoir, H.M.S. Ulysses, If Chins Could Kill, In the Garden of Beasts, Jurassic Park, King Solomon's Mines, Known and Unknown, LA Confidential (The Novel), and Last Train to Paradise.
In the second quarter we looked at the seventeen books listed above, ranging from the horror classic Dracula to the historical account of railroad building and hurricane destruction in Last Train to Paradise.
Each book, novel, autobiography or history provides insight into the topics explored and ultimately into how we look at the world.
If you choose to read any of these books you will find the time spent to be productive, probably in many different ways.

Marine Sniper: 93 Confirmed Kills, Intellectual Morons: How Ideology makes smart people fall for stupid ideas, Nana, Nicholas Nickleby, Public Enemies, River of Doubt, Scorpion Down, She, Sherman: A Soldier's Life, Shiloh: a Field Guide, Taj Mahal, Tallgrass, The Big Short, The Brain, The Chili Queen and The Dogs of Riga.'
The above listed reviews of fiction and non-fiction provide both entertainment and enlightenment. From common criminals to an ex-US president, they all seek adventure and risk death to do so. We, however, are safe in our vicarious look into their lives.
These and other reviews in the last quarter of "Book Blogs" provide tidbits of information and could be analogous to book jacket flaps with the exception that they are not flagrant attempts to sell you a book and are all written by one writer.
Much like a compendium listing movie reviews this book can provide you with options in both fiction and non-fiction.
And now it's onto the final reviews in the last quarter of "Book Blogs."

The Fatal Shore, The Girl who kicked the Hornet's Nest, The Girl who played with Fire, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, The God Delusion, The Irregulars, The man who loved China, The Moonstone, The Name of the Rose, The Persian Pickle Club, The Pillars of the Earth, The Soul of Battle, The White Lioness, The Yellow lighted Bookshop, The Travels of Jaimie McPheeters, Through the Looking Glass, Thrown Them All Out, Treasure of Khan, Two Years Before the Mast, Wild Blue, and Wings Like Eagles.
Twenty-one books, ranging from History to intricately plotted novels. Some readers will gravitate to foreign authors like Stieg Larsson (The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo trilogy) or Henning Mankell (Wallender series) or Umberto Eco (The Name of the Rose). Others will prefer home grown writers (Sandra Dallas or Clive Cussler). All will be rewarded with enjoyment or possibly enlightenment (The God Delusion, The Yellow Lighted Bookshop and Throw Them All Out).
As bibliophiles our journey through these reviews has shown us that the printed word is not only relevant to our lives but can enhance the quality and enjoyment of life's passage.


Tuesday, September 26, 2017

September Digireads " Probe: The Movie"

In the first quarter of the book we see the alien probe and its cargo.
With seismic activity near or on the San Andreas fault the probe opens and the man we will know as "Dorn" emerges.
Dorn inhabits a temporary body and requires one that is more permanent. He takes over a truck driver's body and identity as he makes his way to LA proper.
At City Hall Dorn surprises a receptionist and a guard with his question about "The Authority."
After demonstrating that the guard's bullets have no effect, Dorn confronts a SWAT team with the same results.
Dorn and Mayor Biggs go to the City Council chambers but there is no one there.
Meanwhile LAPD has set up a command post outside of City Hall.
A crowd of anti-police demonstrators shout various anti-police epithets as the Chief and Assistant Chief try to get a handle on the situation.

In the second quarter we see the frustration of the mayor with the City Council.
Dorn destroys the Transcom building to demonstrate his power and the need for authority to be handed over to him.
Mayor Biggs, bedraggled and yet curious as to what the "rules" are that Dorn keeps referring to, still attempts to convene the City Council.
Meanwhile Motz and the other scientists think about the possibilities of a rupture in the San Andreas fault and whether the borehole has any cause and effect relationship to the measured tremors.
Dorn has caused consternation all the way to the governor in Sacramento. The governor activates the national guard to try to defeat Dorn.
All the action shifts from LA and the chaos there with the anti-police protesters and the police attempting to control the situation to the borehole. Dorn enters the hole to interface with the probe.
The scientists, national guard and various police units stand by waiting for Dorn to reappear.

After three quarters of the story, Dorn has not only alarmed all the political and police powers in LA but the governor has escalated the threat by calling out fighter jets armed with missiles.
As the contractor attempts to seal Dorn in the borehole with inflatable bladders topped with cement Dorn senses what is happening.
Breaking out of the borehole and destroying the bladder/cement dams Dorn commandeers a NG Hummvee and speeds away from the borehole.
Two F-16 fighter jets launch missiles at the Hummvee and destroy it.
An Abrams tank investigates the destroyed vehicle and one of the soldiers from the tank checks Dorn who comes to and commandeers the tank, continuing his drive to LA.
Mayor Biggs speaks with Dr. Motz about issuing an impending warning about a rupture on the San Andreas fault. He is not convinced an alert is necessary.
Dorn enters, scans Motz and says she will be his mate. That announcement provokes Motz who testily asks numerous questions of Dorn.

A desperate plan to deal with Dorn involves Dr. Motz as bait to lure Dorn away from LA.
Motz is appalled at the plan. She says they are going to murder Dorn. And she will have nothing to do with it.
Unfortunately Dr. Motz has been put into protective custody, which means she is essentially a prisoner.
Motz and the others arrive in Las Vegas and drive out to the nuclear test site.
The administrator of the site describes how they will ensure Motz's safety once Dorn has entered the site.
Dorn arrives in Las Vegas, sees that Motz has been there and is driven to the test site.
Dorn's super powers appear to be diminished because he's so far from the probe.
What will become of Dorn? Will Motz become his mate? Will the Nevada Test Site be able to withstand Dorn's weakened but still powerful energy beam?
The conclusion of the story is there and only awaits your interest in getting the answers to the questions.



Thursday, August 31, 2017

Oziumund's Quest: August Digireads

If you've ever seen children absolutely immersed in a story then you'll be able to understand how three different classes of second graders waited for the next chapter as they listened to the stories contained in the three Thomas, Goldilocks and White Bear quest stories.
One invention that particularly absorbed the students was the sound of the patoopah train. They enjoyed chanting those three syllables as a way to interact with the train and the story.
With their imagination the students conjured the Golden Forest and Captain Hook. Peter Pan was the easiest of all to recreate.
Each chapter is short enough so that children like the information an
d can readily recall the gist, the setting, and the characters after a week's hiatus.

Gauging the children's reaction to a story is easy. If they answer with a resounding "Yes!" to the question: "Do you want to hear more?" then you know the time spent writing the story has been well worth it.
The quest for White Bear's mouth goes on with more items going into Thomas' belly pack.
Each chapter takes the trio to exotic locales where there is an item that has to be collected as part of the quest.
A treasure in a secret place yields a blue gem that Captain Hook stole from a prince named "William." Trying to return the gem to William takes the trio to different lands.
Thomas' experience with places like Disneyland and stories like "Alice in Wonderland" allows him to understand where they have landed during their adventure.
Goldilocks has an insatiable appetite for angel food cake and she is cross when they arrive in a place that doesn't have her favorite treat.
White Bear has to endure Goldilocks ravenous appetite since he has no mouth.
Thomas appears to be satisfied to continue the quest that he hopes will provide White Bear with a real mouth so the little bear can both communicate and eat the treats they find on their quest.

The quest for White Bear's mouth goes on with more items going into Thomas' belly pack.
Each chapter takes the trio to exotic locales where there is an item that has to be collected as part of the quest.
A treasure in a secret place yields a blue gem that Captain Hook stole from a prince named "William." Trying to return the gem to William takes the trio to different lands.
Thomas' experience with places like Disneyland and stories like "Alice in Wonderland" allows him to understand where they have landed during their adventure.
Goldilocks has an insatiable appetite for angel food cake and she is cross when they arrive in a place that doesn't have her favorite treat.
White Bear has to endure Goldilocks ravenous appetite since he has no mouth.
Thomas appears to be satisfied to continue the quest that he hopes will provide White Bear with a real mouth so the little bear can both communicate and eat the treats they find on their quest.

Getting the Blue Water back from Wallah Gare was a coup for Thomas who remembered the Riddle of the Sphinx.
Returning the artifacts, the Intrepids had collected on Ozimund's Quest took them back to the lands where they had found or been given the items.
As always Goldilocks was only interested in whether angel food cake was available.
White Bear patiently awaited the return of what was in Thomas' belly pack so he could exchange his string mouth for a real one.
Will they find Chief Red Sky? Will White Bear get his real mouth?
The answers, dear reader, are there for you to discover.



Sunday, July 30, 2017

July reading: Movie World II

How does a character like Arthur Tageman come into his world? Does he escape from Zeus' brow fully formed?
The process is more complicated and at times much like a human gestation requiring months to come to fruition.
In this case Arthur resulted from the catchphrase "Burn it in there Fred." That phrase was the introduction to my back in the day novel "The Eastman Kodak Movie." I really liked the phrase and having it as one of Arthur's recurring interior monologues meant I had to have an interior for the monologue, ergo the birth of Arthur Tageman.
After that part of the novel had been grounded, Arthur had to have a place and a movie studio struck me as a good fit for Arthur as long as he wasn't intimately concerned with scripts, sets or actors. Placing him in a quasi-research position working for a boss who seethed with idiosyncracies also appealed.
Given the current fictional fad of boy meets girl, etc. Arthur had to be somewhat keen on one or more of the opposite sex, even if his ex was quite demanding. And so both Marsha and Maizie entered Arthur's world.
Marsha didn't last long and Maizie had ties to law enforcement, which meant Arthur had to be vetted for trustworthiness.

Another female enters Arthur's world as "safari" Rosie brings him a message. It's a strange message. He's to keep his eyes and ears open when he meets Sharma Poot.
His vacation has taken a decided downturn. At the La Brea tar pits Rosie shows up again without a message and his car is vandalized with the Five Tins logo scratched into the paint.
Further disruptions to his serenity occur as Sid Havers, the Hollywood agent, cajoles Arthur about signing a contract. At the same time a news stringer wants to get Arthur's side of the Megaworld story.
Arthur vents the frustration of his life to Gordon Pym, his lawyer. Pym takes Arthur's life another notch downward as he asks whether Arthur has a gun.
With all the negative aspects of his life making his vacation one that in reality is no vacation at all, Pym suggests that Arthur get away from LA. One of his law school buddies lives in Sacramento and owes Pym a favor.
With a voucher provided by Pym Arthur takes a Southwest flight to Sacramento.
Al, Pym's friend, works for a legal firm that has scheduled a party for the evening of Arthur's arrival.
At the party, Arthur meets another female, Felice D'courte. She's a striking red head that finds him attractive. Will anything substantial come of this meeting? We have to read on to find out.

Back in LA, Arthur's mind is fraught with images of the five tines logo, possible demotion based on Sharma Poot's decisions about Megaworld, and Sharma Poot herself.
Arthur is called back to work by his boss. He has no inkling what Charles has in mind, especially, at such an early hour.
The surprise of Arthur's life comes from Charles' announcement that he has received a temporary promotion to fill the vacancy left by his boss who is the target of an alphabet soup conglomeration of federal agencies. Charles is now set for a choice spot in the "ghetto."
A further surprise is even more earth shaking: Arthur has been chosen by Charles to fill his vacated position. The promotion is staggering even though no money was mentioned. It also justifies Rosie's prediction that Arthur would be needing a secretary.
Rosie arrives and with a deft hand supervises moving Arthur's things from his warehouse office to his new office in what had belonged to Charles. In a swirl of activity Arthur is called into Charles' new and much more luxurious space.
There he finally meets Sharma Poot, a very attractive woman who is direct and keeps Charles in a very muted position.
Arthur can only hope that his temporary promotion edges toward becoming permanent.

Arthur gets "redecorated" with a new suit at Sharma's request.
Both he and Charles are given facsimilies of the org chart Sharma has on the wall in her office. Their task is to analyze the chart for the problems that Megaworld is in.
Arthur asks Rosie what she knows about org charts but she only knows how she fits into DHS's org chart.
In another meeting with Sharma Arthur is tasked with finding out what Spiels and Jones know about Wentworth and McNeal, the two previous members of Megaworld's upper echelon, now targets of a multi-agency investigation.
Arthur attends a meeting in the same warehouse where he first met Agent Smathers.
The meeting's purpose is to elicit information from Spiels and Jones about McNeal and Wentworth and the missing money.
Arthur hopes the threat of torture will convince Jones, who is really spooked by possible waterboarding to spill the beans.
We'll have to read the final quarter of the novel to find out the resolution of: the five tines' threat, the decisions made by Sharma and her friend Felice D'courte, and the information Agent Smathers wants.

Arthur and the rest of Sharma's "team" meet at her apartment ostensibly to engage in a team building effort. They find out that Sharma expects them to ferret out problems and ill-gotten gains from McNeal and Wentworth's nefarious activities.
After the party Arthur has another sexual encounter with Felice D'courte. Their tryst is interrupted by Freddie Spiels pretending to be a cop.Arthur finds out that Felice carries a fearsome looking pistol, which she claims is only used for defense.
After Arthur returns to work and explains to Sharma why Spiels is after him, she contacts McGinty to see whether he can provide protection for Arthur.
Gertie, a grunge dressing cop wannabe, is assigned to be Arthur's bodyguard.
Rosie is interested in the artwork that used to hang in McNeal's office but now resides in Arthur's old warehouse digs.
Arthur, Rosie and Gertie are surprised by Sharma and Felice as they inspect the rather pedestrian artwork.
The surprising ending to the story takes place with most of the main characters inside Arthur's warehouse office.
I hope you find the ending as satisfying to read as I did to write.


Wednesday, June 28, 2017

June reading: Duel at Sea III

Frank Berg, wounded in the fight with a U-boat, transferred from the damaged ship Charles Maguffin to the destroyer escort Crowley.
Both Crowley and Berg required repair so he was given a ride to the Brooklyn Navy Yard where he underwent surgery to repair his gunshot leg.
After recuperation and contacting Anne Campbell again Berg was ordered to give an account of the action that had resulted in the death of crew members and the destruction of Maguffin.
Rather than being mustered out of the Navy Berg was given command of Excalibur, a lend-lease destroyer escort. His task was to acquire an Omega coding machine.
Berg familiarized himself with the ship, added crew members and set sail to Bermuda on a shakedown cruise.
Would his crew be combat ready by the time the shakedown was finished?

Frank Berg received an order for him to terminate the shakedown and join the convoy being assembled in Bermuda.
The crew of Excalibur had shore leave along with the ration of beer that had been promised. Scuttlebutt soon told them that the shakedown had been canceled and they were going on patrol.
Excalibur, Georgina and Crowley the escort ships of convoy BHX 32 ranged the boundaries of the three columns of ships doing their best to protect the ships and their precious cargo.
Even with sharp eyes and full attention one of the ships was hit by a torpedo. Rose O’Hanlon, a tanker filled with aviation gasoline, exploded sending flame and debris into the maritime sky. Few of the men sailing on O’Hanlon escaped the holocaust.
The fate of O’Hanlon weighed heavily on the rest of the convoy and the escort ships.
As the convoy neared the farthest limit of air protection the tension that had become routine with General Quarters called at dawn and dusk sent a wave of adrenaline-laced expectation into all the men in the convoy.
Would the revelation from the captain of Miniver Steel make Frank Berg’s job as captain of Excalibur even more difficult?

Frank Berg's task, set by Admiral Sheffield to retrieve an Omega device, was constantly on his mind.
When a U-boat made a surface attack on the convoy he thought his chance had finally come.
He ordered Hurtzfeld to take a boarding party to the surfaced sub.
Hurtzfeld thought it odd that only one man with a white flag was on the sub's bridge. It was even odder when he asked the officer why the captain wasn't on deck and why the hatch leading below was still sealed.
After receiving the okay from Captain Berg to blow the hatch if it wasn't opened in five minutes, Hurtzfeld began the countdown.
Finally the hatch opened. The rest of the crew including the captain exited the U-boat. Hurtzfeld and the submarine's captain went below.
Finding the scuttling charge, Hurtzfeld thought he disabled it by knocking the timing device off.
He picked up pieces of the Omega from the radio shack.
Back on deck the scuttling charges exploded.
Hurtzfeld and the German prisoners abandoned the sinking U-boat and returned to Excalibur.
Berg had space for only a third of the prisoners so the officers were transferred to Crowley.
Berg was mightily disgruntled when he looked at the trashed remains of the U-boat's Omega.
Moving on toward the convoy's destination Berg learned that the scuttled U-boat had two Omega's aboard.
Maybe, Berg thought, with U-boats having two of the coding devices his chances of finally capturing an intact one were good.
We'll have to read the final quarter of the book to find out whether Berg was successful.

The tension and at times the tedium of patrol was shattered by a torpedo hitting the starboard side of Excalibur.
Even though the torpedo seemed to be a dud it still required courage and skill to defuse what could be instantaneous death.
With the torpedo secured by welding it to the hull, Berg concentrated on getting the U-boat responsible to the surface.
Another disappointment as Berg discovered that the Omega had been used as part of an escape ruse by the U-boat.
Hoping for another chance at securing an Omega Frank Berg received a message that the last U-boat in the pack had an ace commander.
Berg knew that having an ace in command would make it even harder to force the U-boat to the surface.
After much maneuvering and a successful boarding, Berg finally had an Omega in his possession.
As A neared the British coast Ian Landers' mood was vastly improved by knowing that Berg's command was coming to an end and Excalibur would soon again be under his command.
Frank Berg received a message from Admiral Sheffield congratulating him on capturing an Omega. Berg reflected on Sheffield's enigmatic end to the message: what was the task that was right up his alley?


Friday, June 2, 2017

Movie World, May Digireads

Arthur Tageman stands at the bottom of the Megaworld corporate ladder. He doesn't appear to have any problems but that situation changes almost as soon as the story opens.
Receiving strange letters that consisted of the word "Probe" starts him on a quest to find who has written them. With only a postmark indicating Studio City Arthur finds men who are connected to the studio but have no apparent connection to the letters.
Arthur loves Winchell's Donut shops. And so does his friend Marsha. During his coffee break Marsha tells him that she's heard of something happening in Studio City, a bit of info that Arthur connects to the letter postmark.
Charles Searcy, Arthur's boss, uses him as a go-fer. During one errand Arthur can't make the delivery. While contacting one possible sender of the letters who lives in Studio City Arthur has his car broken into and the package stolen.
As Chapter Two closes Arthur is no closer either to finding the sender of the enigmatic letters or the meaning of "Probe."

Arthur finds himself wrapped in mystery: first there were the bizarre letters. Then there was Marsha being killed outside Winchell's. Adding to the enigma was another death: Julius the intended recipient of one of Charles' packages.
A partial solution to the mystery of the "probe" letters was solved by Maizie whose real name was Melanie. Finding that Arthur was trustworthy, Maizie revealed that she had written the letters. Arthur found out that she had two reasons for so doing: one to find out whether Arthur was trustworthy, and two to rule out the names she'd given him from her investigation.
From an interested bystander, Arthur had become an integral part of Maizie's investigation. At times he feels uncomfortable and at other times downright paranoic.
Arthur and Maizie are compatible in bed and that "reward" blunts the possibility of danger he sees Maizie react to at times.
What's in store for Arthur and Maizie now that they have joined forces? Will they find out the nature of the crimes at Megaworld? We'll have to read more to see if the answers are forthcoming.

Like most of us Arthur Tageman expected his life would be measured in coffee cups and donuts perhaps with a few ups and downs either financially or emotionally.
What he was unprepared for was having his world become a jumble of disparate threads tied to unseen problems. At first he experienced a degree of excitement at entering the world of sleuthing even if it was only a tangential relation that bound him to Maizie nee Melanie with both sexual and intellectual ties.
The bottom fell out of Arthur's world when Maizie was brutally murdered and he was the chief suspect.
All he could hope for was that his lawyer Gordon Pym discover exculpatory evidence that at first appeared to be tied to gang graffiti.
Three unlikely events added to the surreal world that Arthur now inhabited. First, his boss, Charles Searcy, changed from being under suspicion to tasking Arthur with uncovering the principals behind some kind of fraud affecting his department. The second bizarre twist came in the form of an agent wanting to sign Arthur to a contract in hopes of having his story turned into a movie. The third appeared to be a solicitation from the same people Maizie worked for.
Does Arthur's world ever get back to coffee cups and donuts? We'll have to read the last quarter of the story to find out the answer.

How much more will further disrupt Arthur's life?
Being recruited by the same agents Maizie worked with was one such disruption. The only positive aspect of getting involved with them was the hint they might be able to help with his murder charge.
All the ICE agents wanted was for Arthur to find any incriminating evidence on Megaworld's higher-ups.
Charles Searcy, Arthur's boss, gave him the user name and password to allow him to search for the possible culprit that was skimming from their department.
Charles' assignment dovetailed with the info the ICE agents wanted.
Having the gang logo scratched into his car paint added to the anger Arthur felt for Maizie's death.
And then he was shot at, but having chosen bullet resistant glass avoided becoming one of LA's shooting victims.
Because of the possibility the gang might be behind all of the violence Arthur had experienced his lawyer, Gordon Pym, suggested he move in with him temporarily.
At breakfast Arthur receives good news. And reading about it will make your day.