Friday, May 27, 2011

Once Upon a Town...

With the Memorial Day weekend upon us, I reflect on the many military history books I've read over the years. Several come to mind, but one in particular expressed a deep sense of community. A sense of purpose; To come together either in tough times as in the recent tornado ravaged towns of Joplin, MO and Tuscaloosa, AL or for a common cause.

 Once Upon a Town: The Miracle of the North Platte Canteen is an example of how a small town, North Platte Nebraska, came together for a common cause: to support the millions of soldiers in WW II.

From December 1941 til the end of WW II, the citizens of North Platte greeted millions of soldiers as they traveled on troop trains through their beloved town.  Bob Greene's heartwarming story  is based on eye witness accounts of how the Canteen greeted these many soldiers as they journeyed onward to places unknown.

The Canteen, established through the transformation of the train depot, provided a respite to their long journey and the opportunity to grab a home cooked meal, read a newspaper or magazine or two, or listen to some music. This station of support was staffed and funded by the twelve thousand citizens of North Platte and opened at 5am til midnight or until the last train went through.

Through interviews with citizens of North Platte and GI's, Bob Greene brings to light the art of patriotism, volunteering and helping others.

 A short inspirational read that may leave you wondering, how can I help?

Once Upon a Town: The Miracle of the North Platte Canteen

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

What it's like to be a Dog..(Day 1)

Yea, I've been called several things before including a dog.."You Dog!"  Now I know what it's like to be one, well not literally, but I've learned alot thus far in Alexandra Horowitz's Inside of a Dog: What Dogs See, Smell, and Know
Inside of a Dog: What Dogs See, Smell, and Know

A detailed account of the origins of a dog, a dogs umwelt, breeds, difference between a wolf and a dog (they're very quite different), learning habits, dog-body language ( somethings aren't always as they seem)  types of punishments for bad behavior and that's just in the first few chapters. Interesting book to say the least.

Why would I read such a book? Well, a conversation on the topic of searching for a pet lead me to this book and I thank the person who recommended it.

Now you may not agree with all that Horowitz accounts for in her book, everything is up for interpretation, but she does come with  credibility: PhD in cognitive science at Univ. of California- San Diego and has studied the cognition of humans, rhinoceroses, bonobos and dogs. She now teaches psychology at Columbia University. (if I want a rhinoceros for a pet, I'll know whom to ask)

So I'm on a journey for a dog. Granted, I've not garnered the courage to add a four legged roommate to my home, but  more research may strengthen my resolve to do so.

Now, I've had my fair share of canines in my life. It all started with Pepper, an ADD Chihuahua who ran around the house as if he was plugged in, he never stopped running ( we should've named him Forrest Gump!). Next was Frisky, a wiener dog or dachshund which Horowitz footnotes in her book can be quite the aggressive type dog  which may not be commonly known for a dachshund,  as it  can easily be  " <stashed> away in a tote bag"  I don't recall any aggression out of Frisky. Then there was a set of Beagle pups, one was affectionately known as Snoopy and the name of his lovable counterpart escapes me. Chico was next, which I believe was a border collie and, I'm old in terms of dog years ( is it 7 times the # of years old?) and can't quite recall if that was the last four legged creature to habitat my childhood home. 

All that history leads me to selecting a breed and name of dog...Meet Udall the fictitious (for the time being)  Bulldawg. Why a bulldog you may ask? Well, I'm in search of a low maintenance dog , relatively speaking, essentially  one-step up from a stuffed animal. The canine investigation thus far, both hands on and literature, has pointed me towards my selection. Plus they look damn cool.

So I continue on with my research and the reading of  Horowitz's book.  It may lead me down a path of chewed furniture, stained carpet, slob, drool and the unenviable task of picking up after the dogs "business", but it'll be a fun and interesting journey. Until next time, I'm dog-earring the book and leaving you with these questions, open for comments:

Your favorite pet and it's name?

Read any dog or pet books, if so, what were they?

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Happy Birthday, Mr. Zimmerman...more books on their way..

Happy 70th Birthday Bob Dylan...., who gave us  classic lines such as...

" Come mothers and fathers Throughout the land, And don't criticize, What you can't understand,..."

"Once upon a time you dressed so fine, you threw the bums a dime in your prime, didn't you ?..."

"Yes, I wish that for just one time, you could stand inside my shoes, You'd know what a drag it is to see you"....

Books on Dylan include  his autobiography called, Chronicles: Volume One, which this reader thoroughly enjoyed and awaits the next volume.
Chronicles: Volume One

Bob Dylan by Greil Marcus: Writings 1968-2010, which I've read a bit of.

Bob Dylan In America by Sean Wilentz...and...

A Freewheelin' Time: A Memoir of Greenwich Village in the Sixties by Suze Rotolo

In January, Dylan signed a six book deal with publisher Simon & Schuster, including proposed sequels to his 2004 Memoir, Chronicles: Volume One

The times truly are a-changin..

Saturday, May 21, 2011

700 Sundays, A Twist of Lemmon and Here's Johnny..

While reviewing the list of books in my library, I came across this wonderful memoir by Billy Crystal called, 700 Sundays and spoke the title out loud. Why? Because it was that great of a book. 

700 Sundays
What's up with the title you might ask?  700 Sundays is the amount of time Billy spent with his father, who passed away when Billy was 15. This tribute not only tells the story of the Crystals' love of jazz, but opens you to the comedic foundation that made Billy the funny man he is today as he hung at at jazz clubs and record stores in NY City. Hilarious, poignant story of the love between father and son.

You want funny? check out Here's Johnny! Ed McMahon's memories of Johnny Carson, The Tonight Show and 46 years of Friendship. This book had me laughing to tears as McMahon recalls the  funny skits from the Tonight Show. You'll get a glimpse into the reclusiveness of Carson and the answer to the question, What was Johnny really like?
Here's Johnny!: My Memories of Johnny Carson, The Tonight Show, and 46 Years of Friendship

In Chris Lemmon's tribute to his father Jack in A Twist of Lemmon: A Tribute to My Father, learn of their annual trout fishing trips to Alaska, endearing golf games and life with a famous father. One hysterical story I recall involves trout, Alaska and a big bear!

A Twist of Lemmon: A Tribute to My Father

All great Father's day gifts...

Friday, May 20, 2011

The World is Ending..or so they say...

With the world ending tomorrow, here are some survival guides to read or put in your shelter, but only if you read this blog post by tomorrow (Saturday) evening, otherwise it won't matter.
SAS Survival Handbook, by John Wiseman

How to Survive the End of the World as We Know it, by James Wesley Rawles  This book title shouldn't be confused with the song by R.E.M.

The Complete Worst-Case Scenario Survival Handbook, by Joshua Piven

Good Luck!

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Witness Protection Program

No, I'm not in it, nor plan to be, nor want to be.

But, imagine if you were.

Imagine if every day you had to look over your shoulder, wonder if you're being followed. Or when you open a door or start your car.

How well do you know someone? You  trust a person your whole life only to find the mere buzz of a cell phone shatters it all.

When does the past, stay the past? Does the past ever die and stay just that - - the past?

Hold your breath with each sentence, page and chapter of Andrew Gross' debut chilling, thriller, The Blue Zone.  It is breath-takingly brilliant. A book where you fight the urge to read a sentence or two ahead! No wonder DeMille, Patterson and Child have endorsed it.

Anxiously await his new release, Eyes Wide Open - release date, July 12.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Inside the World of ESPN

Those Guys Have All the fun: Inside the World of ESPN by James Andrew Miller annd Tom Shales.

Just saw this today, comes out next week. Should be a great read and gift  - - behind the scenes of the network that changed how we watch sports! 

Any favorite Sportscenter/ESPN moments?

The commercials?  Charlie Steiner yelling during their hilarious Y2K promo, " Follow Me, Follow Me to Freedom!"

Fathers and Daughters...Daughters and Fathers..

We learned a little about Jennifer, a little about Cary and a lot about their lives together. Jennifer Grant, daughter of Cary Grant, shares with us a tender eloquent memoir of herself, her father and their wonderful relationship in Good Stuff: A Reminiscence of My Father, Cary Grant.

Discover how Cary insured that the little tokens, notes, letters, drawings and everything that Jennifer's childhood may encompass was kept through the years.  Cary, being sixty years older than Jennifer, retired from motion pictures  when she was born so he could devote more of his time to raising her.

Warm, cute, loving dialogues between father and daughter are included  as Cary made numerous audio tapes of conversations between the two and Super 8 movies of their time together as she grew up an only child.

Full of insights into understanding the presence of a new woman in Jennifer's life:  Barbara Harris, who after a long companionship became Cary's his second wife, ( Cary and his first wife divorced shortly after Jennifer was born); Dodger Dogs, being a pip, and friendships with the Sinatra's, Prince Rainier and Grace Kelly, Howard Hughes, Quincy Jones and her love for Madame Sylvia Wu, the famous restaurateur.

And sadly his passing.

It's a beautiful tribute from a daughter to her father, the man born Archibald Alexander Leach.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Bob Seger concert review

Okay for those who have followed my blog from it's inception, I made the comment that from time to time you may see a post announcing an upcoming concert ( as I'm a music fanatic) and a review of a show or two. So with that, I divert away from talking books for a moment and talk concerts. A Rock n Roll Concert in particular, that being Bob Seger who I recently saw Live.

Granted I was 4 rows from stage, but he put on a show, completely unabashed of what record companies want him to sing and he played...and played ..and played. This guy giving the crowd a rockin' great show and he seemed to enjoying it as much as us!

He played as if he was at his first gig  in a local bar cranking it out for those who dared to listen....played as if it was the first time he's played. Now older and "drifter's days are past me <him> now", loving life, enjoying what got him to stardom and playing for his audience and only his audience! No light show, video laced theater, record corporation crap- just good, Old Time Rock N Roll!

The smile on his face told it all...told the story of how he's made it but hasn't forgotten his roots...humbling, play-it-to-me straight, pure Rock n Roll that takes all of us back to the days of innocence and our Night Moves; only to poetically refrain the challenges that we endear when we're Against the Wind.

Only a few shows left through the end of May. No news on additional shows..yet!. If he were to return to St. Paul, I'd definitely go again!

Next up..Jackson Browne ..5/29.

Unbroken, Flyboys and George H.W. Bush

For those that enjoyed Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand, try Flyboys, a True Story of Courage, by James Bradley. Bradley is the best known for his book,  Flags of Our Fathers, a story of the flag raisings on Iwo Jima.

Son of a flag raiser at Iwo Jima, Bradley writes in Flyboys of  the struggle of eight airmen shot down and captured in ChiChi Jima and the barbaric torture that ensued. None survived. Bradley tells of  the dramatic plane crash survival and rescue of  a ninth airmen - Navy pilot George H.W.Bush and a decision made by the former President that  haunted him for years.

Unbroken, Flyboys and Flags of Our Fathers are must reads for any WWII enthusiast or any one who wishes to learn of those who came before us and their heroic efforts to make this world a better place.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

What's next? Andrew Gross..

As I dine on lemon butter dill marinated salmon,  sip a glass of Cabernet by Leese Fitch, and have  Dylan, Jones, Morrison, Adele and a compilation of Troubadour artists tossing notes and lyrics through  every corner of my home,   I wonder what fictional tale shall I read next. 

I've recently come across another new author that you may or may not be familiar with - Andrew Gross. He's new to me in the sense that I've not read any of his solo works only his co-authored endeavors with James Patterson. Thrillers such as Lifeguard and Judge and Jury, and the first three volumes of Women's Murder Club: 1st to Die, 2nd Chance and 3rd Degree ( all excellent reads!!).  

Mr. Gross has been endorsed by such  best selling authors as Nelson DeMille, Lee Child and Linda Fairstein, and releases his fifth solo creation called, Eyes Wide Open,  on July 12, 2011.

So with my eyes and mind wide open, I journey into The Blue Zone, a zone the Witness Protection Program dares you not fall into!!

Buried Prey by John Sandford

Buried: to dispose by depositing in or as if in the earth. To conceal by or as if by covering with earth.

 Lucas Davenport digs and digs trying to find the answers that have gone unearthed in a case over two decades old in John Sandford's Buried Prey 

In this the 21st installment, Sandford reveals how Davenport broke ground in his career in Minnesota Law Enforcement and how the slightest coincidence leads him to the brink - the brink of solving the case and the brink of letting his emotions make the biggest mistake of his career.

Intensely fast paced, Buried Prey is sure to leave the reader holding on for dear life!! This is one of Sandfords - - best!

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Lucas Davenport is at it again...

For all you John Sandford fans, Lucas is BACK!!  Buried Prey just released today is Sandford's 21st in the Davenport series. 

For those unfamiliar with Sandford, he was once a writer for the St. Paul Pioneer Press and his first "Prey" book was released in 1989 called, Rules of Prey.  If you haven't read any of the "Prey" books although it's not necessarily 'required' to start with Rules, it sure helps.

History creeps back into Davenport's life as  on the outskirts of Minneapolis the discovery of two bodies, takes him back all the way to 1985 when as a young detective a crime went unsolved. With this new evidence, can Davenport finally discover the truth of  a case that was closed for over two decades?

Sandford has written over 30 books, with characters such as Davenport and Virgil Flowers, who he introduced us to in Dark of the Moon. Flowers is solving crimes again in Shockwave, due to be out in September/October.  You can pre-order it here on this website.

This "Prey" series and Sandford's books rank at the top of my list of favorites. Perhaps it's because they're based in Minnesota, making the reader transform themselves and feel like their part of the book, riding along  with Davenport or Flowers to places and streets that are all too familiar ( and some not so familiar)  as they solve one crime after the other.

Mr. Sandford won't be doing any formal book tours for Buried Prey, however, it's understood that a book tour is in the works for the release of Shockwave in September/October.