Book-Review

Book Review: Crossing the Blue Line by William Mark

Crossing the Blue Line should be on your “beach read” list.

“All hell broke loose the last time we sat on a deck like this drinking beer, contemplating doing something stupid for the right reason….” – William Mark

Crossing the Blue Line by William Mark (image courtesy Southern Yellow Pine Publishing)

William Mark’s Crossing the Blue Line is the sort of book that some magazines would put into their lists of “great beach reads.” It’s a fast paced, high energy narrative about crooked cops – on both sides of what is known in police jargon as “the blue line.” What sets Mark’s book apart from most such novels is that he gives us crooked cops who take the law into their own hands for the right as well as for the wrong reasons.

Dylan Akers and Beau Rivers, the heroes of Mark’s previous work in this emerging series, are both on thin ice with their superiors at the Tallahassee PD when the novel opens. Both have been demoted and moved to backwater assignments (Akers, a top homicide detective, has been made head of a dead end division of the department; Rivers, the epitome of the “loose cannon” type, has been given an even more dead end assignment) as punishment for having committed a crime that can’t (seemingly) be proven against them: the execution of two criminals who raped and murdered Dylan’s young daughter. Continue reading

Woman-Power

Patriarchy in the news, 8/21/16

Woman-Power

I haven’t done one of these in a while, but there is so much out there.

First up, trending on Twitter is #thingsfeministmenhavesaidtome. There are surprises, but the golden oldies are well represented, such as these:

“You’re just assuming all guys are like that, which is pretty sexist.”
“Aren’t you generalizing men if you discuss patriarchy? Don’t alienate allies now.”
“I consider myself more of a humanist.”
“Just because women think something is sexist doesn’t mean it automatically is, you know.”
“I support feminism, but I think women need to lighten up.”
I guess a hashtag things”feminist”menhavesaidtome might not work as well.

Continue reading

Ryan Lochte for president

I’m not disappointed in Ryan Lochte.

Liar Liar 2, starring Ryan Lochte - coming soon to a theater near you.

Liar Liar 2, starring Ryan Lochte – coming soon to a theater near you.

That would be like getting disappointed at the sun for rising in the east. At squirrels for hoarding nuts. At Arsenal for finishing fourth. No, I’m not disappointed in Ryan Lochte. I’m disappointed in myself.

When I saw the headline – Ryan Lochte and three others robbed at gunpoint in Rio – my first thought was something like “damn, that’s awful.” But it should have been “wait – what’s the operative word in that sentence?” The answer, of course, is “Lochte,” and if I were even a little alert I’d have known, without question, that a raging, sideways douche-bro shitrain was a’fixin’ to blow up.

I should have known. You should have known. We all should have known, and the fact that we didn’t, that’s on us.

And it just keeps getting worse. First he made up the robbery story. Then we get video proving he lied and we learned that it all went down because he and some douche-bro teammates were trashing a store in the middle of the night. Then he lies some more. Continue reading

WordsDay: Literature

On reading a book one doesn’t like…

“There is always room and occasion enough for a true book on any subject; as there is room for more light, the brightest day and more rays will not interfere with the first.” – Henry David Thoreau

Books – I like them (image courtesy of freedigitalphotos.net)

As I’ve mentioned on other occasions, I am one of those people who feels a weird sort of moral, ethical or, most likely, neurotic need to finish books that I begin reading. As a reviewer, it seems to me that it is a courtesy writers deserve. As a writer, it is a courtesy I hope – but don’t always get the feeling – that reviewers give me. As a bibliophile and avid, perhaps compulsive reader, it seems to me that books and their writers deserve my attention – and possibly my affection.

The problem with a weltenschauung like this is that it compels one to wade through books one doesn’t particularly like. I am doing just that at present.  Continue reading

Here’s to Henry

Bukowski would have been 96 today…

How do I pay tribute to a man who both enriched and destroyed my life? If I had never read his work I’d be less of a boozer than I am, but also less of a human being. Charles Bukowski would have been 96 years old today, and I have praised and cursed his very existence with every gulp of cheap beer or sip of fine rum that I have ever taken.

(↑Kiyokawa, Tokyo 2012)

Continue reading

ArtSunday: LIterature

Writers of slender acquaintance: Jorge Ferretis

“He would never wish to see his son as he himself had been once, living discontentedly amidst men at the beck and call of masters.” – Jorge Ferretis

Jorge Ferretis (image courtesy Enciclopedia de la Literatura en Mexico)

I’ve finally made my way through the lengthy collection of stories A World of Great Stories, I’ve found a number of the selections rather creaky (likely a fault of older translations) or by authors who are obscure outside their own countries. (I see this as a positive since it introduces American readers to talented authors they might not otherwise encounter.) There is a sincere effort by the various region editors to include representative work from most of the world – the U.S., British Isles, eastern and western Europe, the Middle East, Latin America, and Asia. Africa is not represented, an omission one feels more keenly now than might have been felt when the collection first appeared in 1948. Still, it is a collection that has reminded me about – or introduced me to – writers such as Sherwood Anderson, Rudyard KiplingRhian Roberts, Lauro de Bosis, Karel Capek, and Ryunosuke Akutagawa, writers who represent all the previously mentioned geographic regions except Latin America.

This essay on Jorge Ferretis, A Mexican author you may, like me, not be familiar with, completes the full tour of all the geographic regions covered by the story collection I’ve been blathering on about. He’s a good choice because he allows us to talk about Latin American literary history a bit. Continue reading

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Peter Thiel and Ambrosia: A modern-day Dracula reboot for self-absorbed rich people

Transfusing youth, 21st century style…

(At the sound of wolves howling) – “Children of the night: what music they make!” – Dracula (in Tod Browning’s Dracula, 1931)

Dracula, Lugosi style (image courtesy Wikimedia)

Several recent news items from reliable sources have explored the research of scientists into the benefits of blood transfusions from young persons to old ones. If you are like me and find this at its best macabre, at its worst Mengelean, then the following is, as a writer and TV host used to say, “submitted for your approval….”

A new company called Ambrosia is willing to offer customers trial participants a series of blood transfusions from 16-25 year old donors. Recipients must be older than 35 to qualify for the deal trial. The purpose of these transfusions is to combat aging, particularly by improving brain function and muscle strength.

If you followed either of the links for the clinical trials, you’ve noticed that there are a ethical issues galore related to doing this kind of research and these kind of clinical trials, no matter how noble the aims might be.  One of the issues causing real concern in the scientific community is that those who wish to participate in the trials are being charged $8,000. Yep. $8,000.  Continue reading

Journalism

CNN (and others) and its overuse of anonymity: There’s more to the story …

First, there’s this headline:

Secret Service spoke to Trump campaign about 2nd Amendment comment

CATEGORY: Journalism Then there’s this lede graf:

(CNN) — A US Secret Service official confirms to CNN that the USSS has spoken to the Trump campaign regarding his Second Amendment comments.

Then there’s this second graf that does not identify “the official”:

“There has been more than one conversation’ on the topic, the official told CNN.

Then there’s this fifth graf: Continue reading

CATEGORY: Baby Boomers

Judge not the group; rather, see the individual

By Carole McNall

ICATEGORY: Baby Boomers’m a female baby boomer.

Knowing that, what do you know about my politics and points of view?

Absolutely nothing.

But wait, you might argue: I know a couple of things that should allow me to predict what shaped your world view.

Really? Let’s test that theory.

Baby boomers are classically defined as those born between 1946 and 1964. That’s an 18-year span. Consider, for a moment, how different the world would look for people at varied points along that span.

John F. Kennedy was assassinated in 1963. Continue reading

Be this guy

A dad with grace and humor for #HopeTuesday…

She was chewing on a French pastry, he had her pacifier in his mouth. I’m not a dad so I don’t know how these things work, but the incongruity of it was surprising and delightful. I also think this man showed a lot of humor and grace by keeping his kid’s chew toy in his mouth so some stranger could snap a picture of him in public.

I figure if I had ever decided to be a father, I’d have wanted to be this guy instead of the tight-ass my own dad was…

(Midtown Market, Brisbane, California 2016. See more of my work here.)

Politics: Democrats vs Republicans

Congressional honor? A breeder of hope? Hold not your breath …

As honor dwindles, so does hope.

Screen Shot 2016-07-30 at 10.02.11 AMIs hope a descendant of honor?

If if is, perhaps a little hope can be derived from recent statements of members of Congress in response to the lunacy of the GOP candidate for president. Donald “I am your voice” Trump has rashly criticized two Americans who lost their son to combat in a foreign land. Trump did this, apparently, because Khizr and Ghazala Khan are Muslim Americans from Pakistan.

Some Republican members of Congress have repudiated Trump’s remarks.

From Sen. John McCain of Arizona: “While our party has bestowed upon him the nomination, it is not accompanied by unfettered license to defame those who are the best among us.”

From Sen. Kelly Ayotte of New Hampshire, who is seeking re-election: “I am appalled that Donald Trump would disparage [the Khans] and that he had the gall to compare his own sacrifices to those of a Gold Star family.”

Continue reading

2016 Cheyenne Frontier Days: five notes

I attended the 120th annual Cheyenne Frontier Days this afternoon and it was awesome.

A few things, first on the competition front:

1: The guy who won the bull riding was a rookie. A 20 year-old rookie. He rode three bulls in three rounds. These are serious bulls, and the idea that anybody rode one of them is ridiculous enough. Three in three days? By a wet-behind-the-ears kid? That’s absurd.

2: The guy who won the all-around was FIFTY. SIX. YEARS. OLD. Continue reading

ElCamino-1049-2

Determination

Snack it up on human moments for #HopeTuesday

I don’t know about you, but my Facebook and Twitter feeds are saturated with links to media coverage of the race to the White House between TweedleBint and TweedleBitch. I’ve grown physically weary of the topic, and the climate of fear and anger that has washed over my country because of it. I found the best way to recede from this madness is by taking time to look around me at people and what they do. Observing such things brings a sweetness and a kind of joy to life that no fascist or machine-politician president can take away from us. I really believe that.

And there’s hope in this, which is why I pursue it and why I’m encouraging all of you to do likewise. You don’t even have to plan anything, just savor the unexpected moments life is throwing at you right now.

For example, recently at a Mexican supermercado I encountered a little girl who really wanted the hell out of some Cheetos. She knew I was watching, and didn’t care. She would not be denied, and so…

Continue reading

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An American president under age 35? Oh, my …

Captain Morgan’s real campaign premise here is just to increase its share of the rum market.

Tcm_logo_image-e1427478632990rump (age 70) vs. Clinton (age 68)? This is the best choice the vaunted two-party system can provide for Americans?

If they’d like better, they ought to begin drinking rum. Especially Captain Morgan, a brand owned by Diageo, which bills itself as “the world’s leading premium drinks business.”

Captain Morgan will campaign for a constitutional change — allowing American residents under 35 years old to serve as president.  A petition is already parked at the White House, hopeful of attracting at least 100,000 signees.

According to AdAge, “The effort will get significant paid support, including a print ad running in Tuesday’s New York Times.” Continue reading

Raise2

Peace so far at the RNC in CLE

Raise2Day 2 of the Republican National Convention in Cleveland is beginning peacefully. And, quite frankly, that’s just the way we like it. There are thousands of people who are trying to keep it that way. Because we know that if peace prevails in Cleveland, we win.

The Donald Trump campaign knows that, too. They depend on turmoil as a substitute for substance. And they admitted it on Day 1:

At a breakfast discussion here Monday, Donald Trump’s top campaign adviser suggested that “lawlessness” surrounding the Republican National Convention could benefit Trump, the presumptive GOP presidential nominee.

“Frankly, that impact will probably help the campaign,” Paul Manafort told his audience, reports Bloomberg Politics, which hosted the session.

Since well before the RNC convened, while the barriers were going up to divide us, people in Northeast Ohio were looking for ways to pull together for our own good and for the good of the country. Continue reading

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The search for a ‘peaceful journey’

Last summer camping by the Imnaha River, I had a dream.

Imnaha Blue Hole

the Imnaha at Blue Hole

By Tamara Enz
It was August, but on the river in the bottom of a forested canyon and at elevation in the Wallowa Mountains, it was cold. I slept in the bed of the pickup, curled into my down sleeping bag, with multiple layers of clothing, and a hat. I don’t remember much about the dream except that it terrified me and I awoke as I was about to be decapitated.

Startled awake with the sound of water rushing downstream to join the Snake River, the trees crowding in above me, and the stars brilliantly clear in the gaps between the branches far above, I wondered what had occurred on this site. I lay awake a long time thinking about the dream and whatever energy I had tapped into.

As happens, the year waned. The dream, all but forgotten, left my conscious memory.

A few weeks ago, I was camping by the Imnaha. I had a dream. It was June, but in the river bottom, in an open ponderosa pine park and in the spring rain at elevation in the Wallowa Mountains, it was cold. Continue reading

Donald Trump

New Yorker starts analysis of Trump with, “honestly…”

What have we learned about that?

Well, actually, the headline is just a hair away from that, “Being honest about Trump.” I think it qualifies, though. So would WSJ in this piece, I think.

For all of my complaints about Glopnik’s article, I love his description of the center:

“While the habits of hatred get the better of the right, the habits of self-approval through the fiction of being above it all contaminate the center.”

One has to love this much naive honesty. The problem with their fiction is that they’ve believed their own PR just a bit too much. Continue reading

#HopeTuesday: Let’s #takebackourfuture, one day at a time

Today we launch a new campaign aimed at taking back the future.

#hopetuesday #TakeBAckOurFuture #breathe

The original text for this meme was a lot longer. But when you boil it down to its essence, the message is pretty straightforward. We have become so incredibly negative that it’s eroding our ability to even consider the positive. We’re so terrified of where we are that we have ceased thinking about where we want to be.

In a world that’s 100% about problems, we have no energy left to discuss solutions. Nobody is for anything, only against.

Continue reading

hough

An open letter to left-wing RNC protesters

Cleveland is not your enemy.

hough

50 years ago in Hough

Dear Left-Wing Protesters,

Please don’t destroy the city of Cleveland or its people in which you could find so much sympathy, support, and common ground. Whatever your cause, someone here will hear you out. Not everyone all the time. But you’ll find people who will listen.

Here’s something to start with: Monday, July 18, 2016–the first day of the Republican National Convention in Cleveland–is the 50th anniversary of the Hough Riots. The Hough Riots were a violent clash between police, the National Guard and residents of the Hough neighborhood on the East Side of Cleveland.

Hough had been home to people from Eastern Europe and Appalachia during the first half of the twentieth century. Continue reading