Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Navy Seals are Bad...


It was the night of May 1, 2011, several us were winding down in the lobby of the Peabody hotel on the last day of the Beale Street Music Festival in Memphis TN. Sipping, speaking, sleeping(not really but it sounds good), slurring and sitting in the lounge bar wondering what to do.

Around 10pm, a buzz went through the lobby and one of my great friends says, "My wife just text-ed me saying Bin Laden was killed". Based on all the fun we had and indulgence in which we partook, the rest of us thought he was crazy. Which he is, but we thought more so this time.

Looking around, people were furiously checking blackberries and smart phones and slowly the news was confirmed.

Filled with the intoxication of the moment we scurried to one of our rooms to check out the news on TV. Packed together like in a college dorm, we watched what had earlier been confirmed - - Bin Laden was Dead!  SEAL Team Six took him out!

Fast forward to January 24, 2012. President Obama, making his way to the podium for the state of the union address when he says to Leon Panetta, Secretary of Defense, "Good job tonight, good job tonight..."  Job?

The same group of Navy Seals, SEAL Team Six, rescued two hostages from a group of nine Somalian thugs.

Hearing how these brave, courageous men killed the most wanted man in the world, then reading Howard Wasdin and Stephen Templin's book, SEAL Team Six: Memoirs of an Elite Navy SEAL Sniper,  and then this daring rescue of American Jessica Buchanan and Dutchman Poul Thisted in Somalia, I've come to the conclusion that...

Navy Seals are Bad Ass!

(Like I needed further confirmation?)

Other books on Navy Seals:( full disclosure, I've not read the other two. Pfarrer's is on my shelf to read and plan on getting Kyle's and reading his sometime soon)

SEAL Target Geronimo: The Inside Story of the Mission to Kill Osama bin Laden, by Chuck Pfarrer

American Sniper: The Autobiography of the Most Lethal Sniper in U.S. Military History, by Chris Kyle

Monday, January 23, 2012

What books did you read in 2011?

Here's the list of the fifty three (53) that I tore through, down a bit from my record of a hundred and one(101) in 2010. 

My 2011 travels took me to many places. Thanks for everyones recommendations, keep 'em coming!

Any questions on my reading list below? Or perhaps other recommendations?

Through the magic of blogging and tweeting, I'm thankful for the connections this past year to authors: Andrew Gross,( Love your books!); To Richard Doetsch, Robert Jay Parker, Kevin Flanagan, Sally Nicholl, Gregory Stenson and Lawrence Kelter, I look forward to starting a new journey into your wonderful world of words. ( to learn more about the authors listed above, click on their names to visit their websites)

Happy Reading!

Baksi, Kurdo                      Stieg Larsson: Our Days in Stockholm
Barr, Nevada                     Track of the Cat
Burpo, Todd                      Heaven is for Real
Chabon, Michael              Wonder Boys
Chandler, Raymond        The Big Sleep
Coben, Harlan                  Gone for Good
Connelly, Michael            The Last Coyote
Cornwell, Patricia             The Scarpetta Factor
Deaver, Jeffery                  The Bodies Left Behind
Deaver, Jeffery                  The Broken Window
DiCamillo, Kate                  The Tiger Rising
Edsel, Robert                     The Monuments Men
Franzen, Jonathan           Freedom
Gabrielsson, Eva               "There Are Things I Want You to Know" About Stieg Larsson and Me
Grant, Jennifer                  Good Stuff: A Reminiscence of My Father, Cary Grant
Grisham, John                    The Confession
Gross, Andrew                   Reckless
Gross, Andrew                   Don't Look Twice
Gross, Andrew                  The Dark Tide
Gross, Andrew                   The Blue Zone
Helget, Nicole                   The Turtle Catcher
Higgins, Jack                      The Judas Gate
Hillenbrand, Laura           Unbroken
Hingson, Michael             Thunder Dog
Horowitz, Alexandra       Inside of a Dog
Isaacson, Walter               Steve Jobs
Lansing, Alfred                 Endurance: Shackleton's Incredible Voyage
Larrson, Steig                  The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest
Larrson, Steig                  The Girl Who Played with Fire
Parker, Robert B.             Sixkill
Parker, Robert B.             Painted Ladies
Parker, Robert B.             The Professional
Parker, Robert B.             Rough Weather
Parker, Robert B.             Now and Then
Parker, Robert B.             Hundred-Dollar Baby
Patterson, James             Merry Christmas, Alex Cross

Patterson, James             The Christmas Wedding
Patterson, James             Kill Alex Cross
Patterson, James             Kill Me If You Can
Patterson, James             Now You See Her
Patterson, James             10th Anniversary
Patterson, James             Toys
Patterson, James             Tick Tock

Reichs, Kathy                    Deja Dead
Reitman, Janet                 Inside Scientology
Sandford, John                 Shock Wave
Sandford, John                 Buried Prey
Stockett, Kathryn              The Help

Wasdin, Howard             SEAL Team Six
Woods, Stuart                 Dirt
Woods, Stuart                 New York Dead
Woods, Stuart                 Palindrome
Woods, Stuart                Choke

Sunday, January 22, 2012

And the Golden Globe goes to...

George Clooney for best actor in The Descendants.

Reading just doesn't include novels, memoirs, non-fiction and cereal boxes but magazines as well.

Talking on the phone other than for work is a task that has found it's way onto my communication scrap heap, along with fax machines and postage stamps but during a  rare phone conversation last night, a dear friend and fellow reader suggested I read an interview of George Clooney in the January edition of Esquire.

Although apprehensive to read it  as I'm not a big Clooney fan, his movies are slowing growing on me. Up in the Air was fantastic as was The American and who can forget his leading role in the Coen Bros. movie, O Brother, Where Art Thou?, so I thought well, we'll see.

With Sunday morning coming down, I wandered aimlessly through a local used book store picking up a first edition of a Stephen Ambrose book called,  The Supreme Commander: The War Years of Dwight D. Eisenhower and a signed copy of Alan Greenspan's The Age of Turbulence, when nothing else tickled my literature funny bone. Then as serendipity would have it  I ambled by the magazine rack and  there was the issue of  Esquire that my friend recommended, right on top of the rack, yelping for me to read it much like Clooney's best friend, his dog Einstein.

Whether you like his politics or not, Clooney does have a down to earth outlook on life and how to live.  Interviewed by Cal Fussman back in September 2011, Clooney tells why he pushes some limits,  "... right now I can, and while I can, I want to do it. So when you're eighty years old and they ask you what you did, you can go, ' When I had the keys to the car, I drove it as fast as I could and as hard as I could. I took it to places the owner didn't really want me to take it.'" All the while he understands that one day they'll come to  repossess the car.

Learn how he chose his dog Einstein for a furry friend and a practical joke he and  Richard Kind pulled on Harry Hamlin. Politics don't make the man and clothes don't either, although Clooney does have quite the wardrobe.

Fussman opens Clooney's intellectual closet not all the way, but just enough for you to see his turkey meatball smothered shoes.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Since the World is "ending" about Scientology?

According to the Mayan calendar, the world is ending on December 21, 2012. Since that's the case, I've decided to follow the lead of the Church of Scientology and not pay taxes or at least pursue an exemption.

Although my objective of tax exemption status is fictitious, the Church of Scientology tax relief isn't.

When recommended I read Janet Reitman's Inside Scientology: The Story of America's Most Secretive Religion,  I hesitated at first. I wasn't sure the subject matter would hold my interest but in being naive on the topic and only  hearing about it based on its connection to Hollywood, I gave in to my insatiable curiosity.

Religion and Politics are two subjects that conjure up intellectual emotion, topics that I generally avoid. I'm not here to argue or opine on one's First Amendment right to freedom of religion nor is Reitman. You can worship a head of lettuce for all I care. What Reitman does though is rip the shroud off the face of Scientology unveiling past discretions, including human rights violations, leaving one to wonder, how can a self-proclaimed religion and church hold itself in such a way then claim tax exemption?

If one considered themselves a house of worship or a religious based organization, why the need for guards at your gate?  Visit Clearwater FL.

From founder L. Ron Hubbards travels on his yacht, Apollo,( for the sole purpose of avoiding prosecution) with all his teenage girls called Messengers as part of his Sea Org, to the intense salacious attack against the highly critical author Paulette Cooper, Reitman doesn't state opinion, only facts through hours and  hours of interviews with former members and current members, ( some names changed to protect privacy).  

Phone taps, burglary then using Coopers' stolen stationary, they sent bomb threats to the NYC chapter of Scientology. Cooper was arrested on felony charges and faced fifteen years in prison. Her saving grace? Passing a truth serum (sodium amytal ) test dissuading the government from pursuing prosecution. Are such activities worthy of being called a religion or church?

Then there's the sad, tragic case of Lisa McPherson. McPherson, distraught, psychotic, and living in a constant state of paranoia  died while in the care of the organization. Died, due to the overwhelming neglect of proper medical and mental care.

How does one consider themselves a religion when they  engage in activities blatantly contradictory of social decency, not to mention illegal?

Welcome to Hollywood - - Tom Cruise, Kirstie Alley, Mimi Rogers, John Travolta and Kelly Preston just to name a few are devout Scientologist and wield quite the power. Reitman devotes, for lack of a better word,  two chapters to the pursuit of the Hollywood elite...The Celebrity Strategy and The Seduction of Tom Cruise.

So, how did the Church of Scientology become tax exempt.

Here's a couple of ways:
  • By having members of their "religious" sect infiltrate the IRS and the FBI. Once hired, they were tasked with uncovering records then copy these documents and report back any activities the IRS and FBI were engaged in against the Church. Makes one wonder what type of screening/hiring process the IRS and FBI had at the time.
  • Then file thousands of lawsuits, pressuring the IRS to rethink and redefine their definition of church and religion.

The result: Tax exemption status to the tune of billions. 

Reitman educates one on many other shocking and stunning revelations in her book. If it's called the Church of Scientology, then what are they worshipping? I guess, Scientology. But what is it? A bunch of whooey is what I think or maybe a  head of lettuce, but hey, only my opinion.

I did however come to the  realization that after reading Reitman's authoritative book on Scientology,  Hubbard was one cup of kool-aid away from Jim Jones and the "L" in L. Ron Hubbard's name stands for - - Loony!

See you on December 22, 2012.

*** Serendipitous connection - - Upon discussing this book with a fellow reader, she suggested I read Under the Banner of Heaven: A Story of Violent Faith, by Jon Krakauer.  After finishing Reitman's book, I was reading through the notes and appendix and Reitman sites, Krakauer's book as a reference for additional reading.

Friday, January 6, 2012

e-Readers vs. Bookstores, how would you explain...

We've discussed this before. On CNBC's Squawk box tv show this morning, the tweet question of the day is, "How would you explain to your grandkids what a "bookstore" is/was?

Barnes and Noble recently announced guidance and it was dismal and they're contemplating spinning off their NOOK business to unlock the value.  Stock dropped 20% yesterday.

So, with the increase in popularity of e-Readers, how would you explain a bookstore to your children or  grandchildren?

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Painted Ladies and a Cree Indian named Sixkill

Rounding out 2011 with the late Robert B. Parker, Spenser went on the hunt for an art fraud in Painted Ladies.

Add caption

Parker's style of writing -  succinct, bantering,  and a dry sense of humor -  reminded me of the "just the facts, ma'am" dialogue of the TV show, Dragnet starring Jack Webb. Perhaps it was not only his prose that conjured up this observation, but the fact that a couple of days prior to reading Painted Ladies, Jack Webb's co-star, Harry Morgan passed away.

The terse and conciseness of the colloquy of Sgt. Joe Friday ( Webb ) and Officer Bill Gannon (Morgan) were about the only comparisons one could make between those two closely cropped suit wearing detectives and Parker's Spenser and Hawk who were personified in the TV series Spenser for Hire, starring Robert "Dan Tanna"  Ulrich as Spenser and Avery Brooks as his trusty, stylish, ladies man sidekick, Hawk.

Parker's last Spencer novel, Sixkill, left this reader wanting more of the series.  Sixkill, a Cree Indian, is a new character Parker introduced into the fold. Learn more about the continuing of the series, by Ace Atkins,  in an interview with Joan Parker, Robert's widow. Joan was the inspiration of the Spenser's love interest, Susan Silverstein.

Coming in May, Spencer "sings" a Lullaby...

Ironically, the Raymond Chandler estate asked Parker several years ago to write a couple books on Phillip Marlowe too.

***Serendipitous connection: In the book Sixkill,  a few words were song, "Buffalo Girls won't you come out tonight, come out tonight..." were sung. As I read them, I said, where have I heard that song before.  - - a few nights prior to Sixkill, I watched "It's a Wonderful Life". In it, Mary, Donna Reed's character,  sang the same words.

Monday, January 2, 2012


It was a cold December Friday afternoon as I boarded a plane for a southern destination. The wheels touched down and I deplaned only to find I was still in cold weather. Did I actually leave? Was it deja vu that here I was in Memphis and the weather wasn't much warmer than in Minnesota. Perhaps the familiarity feeling stemmed from my trip here in May and the reason for coming here again, to see Bob Seger in concert. I seen him in May in Minnesota too.

Or maybe it's because while flying the friendly skies, I was reading Kathy Reich's first Dr. Temperance Brennan novel called, Deja Dead.  Based in Montreal, Temperance,  a forensic anthropolist sifts through recent murders and wonders are they linked. With the many French references in this book, I wished I'd advanced further through my Rosetta Stone French Level 1 course prior to reading it. But Reich's style of writing helps the reader understand anything spoken in french and takes you on a tour of Montreal hunting down a killer.

Brennan could be compared to Patricia Cornwell's Kay Scarpetta character as they pursue similar fields, but make no Bones about it, Brennan will give Scarpetta a run for her money. If you're a Scarpetta fan, you'll love Brennan!

Reich's novels are the basis for the TV show, Bones.  With fourteen Brennan novels released, 2012 should be a forensic filled reading journey.