Thursday, September 30, 2004

Just discovered that I'll have to cover for another librarian this evening. I'll be working until 8:00pm, so I may miss part or all of the debate if I have to take the subway home. To be honest, I can't see anything positive coming out of the debates at this point.

I doubt that anything which occurs during them will change the mind of anyone already leaning towards one candidate or the other. Unless George II begins foaming at the mouth or speaking in tongues, his supporters will say that he was brilliant. I think we can also count on one of the journalists wording their questions to Kerry in such a way to make him look bad, while allowing Bush to get away with not answering or lying. (My guess would be Charles Gibson, but that's my personal prejudice against ABC showing.)

The newspapers will headline tomorrow how well G.W. did, even if he merely is able to string a sentence together without stumbling. I'd lay odds that the New York Post will have a banner along the lines of "MISSION ACCOMPLISHED" or "Home Run", showing a smiling (well, sneering actually) Bush.

Wednesday, September 29, 2004

Here's the latest Joe Bob Briggs review. Until they send me some more books it will also be the last for a while. Not that anybody but me cares. :-)


AN INNOCENT AMONG THEM by Jack Allen; Reviewed by Steve Chaput
Burping Frog Publishing. ISBN: 0-9703053-1-1

This is the second novel featuring Allen’s Josh McGowan, as main protagonist. McGowan is an operative for U.S. Naval Intelligence and a former Navy officer. McGowan is not your average NI field agent, but rather a killer sent into situations where his skills come in handy.

In this book McGowan is close to being let go, since Congress has decided to cut the budget of his particular section of NI. In order to justify his paycheck, Josh is sent to protect the spoiled daughter of an American ambassador in Paris. When an attempted assassination attempt goes wrong, McGowan (wounded while saving his ill-tempered charge) finds himself back in D.C. where he is given the seemingly simple assignment of investigating a new employee. Naturally, things are never simple in these types of stories, and McGowan soon finds himself traveling from the U.S. to Europe and finally Egypt in pursuit of a deadly terrorist.

Apparently, from hints given in the book, a number of the characters central to this novel were introduced in Allen’s first novel, CHANGE OF HEART. Fortunately, he fills us in enough so that a reader new to the series is not completely lost. Allen does a good job of bringing depth to most of the characters, both those on the side of good and their opposites. Sadly, the one character we can never really get a handle on (or learn to empathize with) is Jennifer, the girlfriend of the new agent, Josh is investigating. Since she turns out to be the trigger for many of the events which take place it hurts the novel to some extent. Frankly, there are more than a few times when we wish that Allen would let one of the bad guys put an end to her.

McGowan finds himself teamed with an Israeli Mossad agent, Caroline Haffenberg. She and Josh have crossed paths before, gaining a mutual admiration for the other’s skills. When she is introduced we find that she is much more interesting than Jennifer and an obvious love interest for McGowan.

Allen’s choice of title is interesting, since as different characters are introduced it is easy to see that many of them (including Josh, to some degree) all fit the characterization. Whether through naiveté, or through some code of honor, they are indeed caught in a situation where innocence can be deadly. Three stars.

Several groups comprised of military families are actively campaigning for John Kerry, or againt G.W. (depending on how you look at it). Either way they are speaking out to show that you can still 'support our troops' and not have to stand behind the Commander and Thief.

I'm linking to the site of one of those groups, Military Families Speak Out. They are have created a pro-John Kerry campaign ad which will begin airing in certain markets prior to the election. I think these are folks deserve to be heard.

Monday, September 27, 2004

Another weekend spent trying to keep track of relatives in Florida. We heard from Donna's aunt & cousins in Palm Bay, FL, who were unharmed by the hurricanes, but did suffer some slight damage to the yards. Sadly, it took them almost two weeks to get power back after Ivan hit and now are without power again. Her aunt has a well and needs power to get water, so she & her son will be staying with her daughter for a while. We have been trying to convince her to come up for a few weeks to Brooklyn, just as a break from everything.

The Red Sox took two from the Yankees, both of them real smackdowns, which always make me feel good. The Yanks will probably get the needed games for the AL East this week, with the Sox having to battle it out once again in the 'wild card' race. Still the BoSox have come back a couple of times this season already, so anything is possible. :-)

A few Prime Time predictions: L.A.X. & DR. VEGAS probably won't survive into the New Year. I also doubt that FATHER OF THE PRIDE (even though Donna and I love it) will be around for more than however many shows are already in the can. Haven't seen John Goodman's new show yet, but have a bad feeling that it will meet the same fate as his last. We did see Jason Alexander's new program which will probably not be around for long, though it really wasn't all that bad. Just nothing that we haven't seen before.

Our current favorites are all returning shows. The dramas include: CSI, CSI: MIAMI, COLD CASE FILES, THIRD WATCH & NAVY:NCIS. Comedies: EVERYBODY LOVES RAYMOND (which seems to be going out strong); TWO & A HALF MEN (how could you beat a season opener with Sean Penn, Elvis Costello & Harry Dean Stanton?); and SCRUBS.

Oh, and just to show we aren't elitists, we actually watch a few 'reality' shows: THE APPRENTICE (yeah, guilty pleasure for sure); Animal Planet's KING OF THE JUNGLE II (where folks compete in stunts related to animals and knowledge of same, for the chance to host their own one-shot show on the network); QUEER EYE FOR THE STRAIGHT GUY (both the U.S. & U.K versions); plus several of the poker & blackjack shows featuring celebrities, as well as the World Series of Poker.

In between we switch around from ANIMAL PLANET, THE TRAVEL CHANNEL, FOOD NETWORK and just about any medical show on TLC or Discovery that catches Donna's interest.
Having Direct TV can be dangerous!

Friday, September 24, 2004

I haven't been new comics lately, but have picked up and read some of the trade paperbacks here at the library. If something really catches my eye I'll mention it.

In this case, CLAN APIS by Jay Hosler, is something very different. Believe it or not the book collects a the series which appeared originally in 1999 - 2000. Hosler tells the life story of Nyuki, a honey bee from her days as a larva to her final 'gift' to her hive. I'd read reviews of the book by Tony Isabella and others, so was intrigued when I saw that the Rego Park branch (where I'm currently working) had a copy. It really is a sweet story, appropriate for all-ages, although a parent might have to explain some things to a very young child.

Hosler won a Xeric Award, which allowed him to complete his work. Not for everyone, but a book which you might want to give to non-comics readers to show them that the medium can do more than super-heroes.

Wednesday, September 22, 2004

I've been having problems with my blog of late. As you'll notice all the links have been removed from this site for the time being. When I have a chance I'll get back to replacing those links, some of which were not working properly. I hope no one takes offense or thinks that they are going to be dropped. It's just a matter of not having the time to correct everything and I felt it better go back and start from scratch.
As a fan of genre films, I was sorry to hear of the passing of Russ Myers. Myers was chiefly known for an output of "B" movies aimed at the drive-in crowd. His "FASTER PUSSYCAT, KILL, KILL" is one that shows up at colleges and movie festivals all around the country.
He also helmed the notorious BEYOND THE VALLEY OF THE DOLLS, which was scripted (at least partially) by Roger Ebert.

The standing ovation which both welcomed G.W. to the UN and followed his speech, surely warmed the hearts of all those who were transfixed by the vision and insight he demonstrated. Oh...that isn't what happened, is it?

Tuesday, September 21, 2004

Josh Marshall mentions an article appearing in the Lafayette Daily Advertiser (link over on the Left to his Talking Points Memo site), about vandals hitting the Democratic headquarters. It reminds me of when I was working for the McGovern campaign in Norfolk, VA. The office space we rented had all of its streetside windows smashed twice and pro-Nixon graffette sprayed on the plywood outside.

Monday, September 20, 2004

Just checked and discovered the source of the information on how pollsters are having difficulty getting folks to even reply. Check out Jimmy Breslin's Sept. 16th column (you can follow the link over on the left).
If you scroll down the page you'll find the spot on this page which keeps a running tally of the dead and wounded U. S. service folks in Iraq. It also provides a link to the website, where you'll find more statistics and information on just what is going on in Iraq on a daily basis.

It has become so grim that I cannot for the life of me understand how folks are not demanding that we begin seriously considering a full pull-out of our troops.

As an old acquaintance of mine, S.H. Otis, has said,"Why don't we just leave and let the bastards kill each other? It seems to be what they want to do anyway!"

Be honest: haven't you heard at least one of your friends or family members say exactly the same thing?
I suppose we shouldn't be surprised that the Bush National Guard memos turned out to be fake. As Al Franken said earlier today, it's another demonstration of the mainstream jumping on anything in hopes of a story, especially an 'exclusive' one. Unfortunately, it will allow the Republicans to further obscure the actual facts of Bush's failure to complete his NG service in a proper manner.

As I've said before, I'm continually amazed that G.W. remains so popular, at least according to some polls. However, I read a recent article which pointed out that the various polling companies may be falling behind the times. At this point there are many folks who do not have 'regular' phones in their homes. They use only their cell phones or are hooking up with the new internet phone services. This fact immediately eliminates all these fine folks from being contacted by pollsters. You probably have more and more folks who are using their answering machines to screen any & all calls, thereby cutting down on the number of households available for polling. Just an interesting item I thought I'd pass along.

Donna and I didn't do much this past weekend. The horrible weather on Saturday kept us inside. Also, STARZ had one of the 'free weekends' so we took advantage and caught a half dozen films we missed in the theatres.

Thursday, September 16, 2004

Check out some of the articles in the latest issue of the New York Review of Books. Fascinating overviews of the 9/11 Commission Report and that of several reports on the Abu Ghraib prison scandal.

This is the type of thing the mainstream media should be discussing and not who did what thirty years ago. The current adminstration did not protect us and doesn't like us reminded of that fact.

Wednesday, September 15, 2004

It's Wednesday again, so I'm depressed. I'm also more convinced than ever that G.W. & Co. are not only going to win the up-coming election, but are going to do to Kerry what the First Bush did to Dukakis.

To be honest, I don't know that I can actually bring myself to vote for the Democratic nominee at this point. His defeat is such a forgone conclusion that I might as well vote for a Third Party candidate. Just have to decide which long-shot is least annoying. What's the Socialist Labor Party up to these days?
I'm currently reading DUMBTH: The Lost Art of Thinking, by Steve Allen. The premise is that Americans have by and large given up (or perhaps never been taught) how to use the logical facilities they are born with. Sadly, Mr. Allen is no longer with us, but I'm sure he would be taken back by the current sad state of affairs in our political climate. One can only imagine what Mencken would have thought of the situation?

If Steverino were around I'd love to tell him about some of the patrons we have here at the Library. Here in Queens folks have to have a 'PIN' number in order to log into their library account. You are allowed to choose any four numbers for that purpose. Would you like to know how many each day choose "1,2,3,4,"? I'm constantly reminded of the scene in Mel Brook's SPACEBALLS.

Thursday, September 09, 2004

"Now, I'm no military man. But aside from orders that contravene the laws of war, the Geneva Conventions or the US constitution, I don't think an officer or an enlisted man is allowed to disobey an order just because he comes up with some logic by which he decides the order doesn't really make sense. An order is an order, right? "

The above is a direct quote from Josh Micah Marshall's blog. (Linked over on the Left).

On the other hand, I was a 'military man', serving over eight years in the U.S. Navy. Trust me, you did not want to disobey an order; either 'direct' or 'lawful' there would be trouble. I accidentally missed the sailing of one of the ships on which I served and ended up restricted for thirty days, plus forfeiture of some pay. I also knew a few guys who disobeyed one order or another and ended up in the same situation as I did. I can't imagine what would have happened to any of us if we had just taken off for the last few months of our hitch.

Like millions of others, I watched the Dan Rather piece on 60 Minutes last night. On top of that the release of dozens of heretofore unknown pages of G.W.'s military training records. "Oops, we must have misplaced them." :-)

I also found it interesting that G.W. was given permission to transfer so he could work on a political campaign. Reservist or not, I can't imagine the DOD handing out permission like that for your average flyboy.

No, Mr. Bush, you were not treated like every other member of the military, officer or not. Just my personal opinion, of course.

Tuesday, September 07, 2004

This past Saturday I had the opportunity to see HERO, at a local theatre. Director Zhang Yimou's brilliant martial-arts film, starring Jet Li as the nameless warrior.

The acting and use of color along make this film stand out from the usual samurai action film. A fictional depiction of the Qin Kingdom and how it's leader came to conquer and unite the peoples of China. Li is a warrior who has apparently killed three famous assassins who had plotted the death of the Qin emporer, taken to the imperial palace Li tells of how he defeated the three.

As the story unfolds it becomes apparent that there is more than one version of events. It does get a bit confusing towards the end as we come to see that even things we have witnessed might not have taken place as first shown. It's easy to see why this film was such a major box-office hit in Asia. Highly recommended for those who enjoyed CROUCHING TIGER, HIDDEN DRAGON.
Another weekend of trying to keep track of relatives in Florida, while also watching the aftermath of things on Russia. It is impossible to grasp either event, but interesting to see the news networks filling hour upon hour with file footage.

Also have been finding time to check out TRIO, where I finally had a chance to see the documentary on the Golden Globes, which Mark Evanier talked about a few months ago. Fascinating stuff. TRIO also ran some of the old Ernie Kovacs shows, back to back. Dated, of course, but still a lot of fun to see Kovacs & Co. playing in the relatively new medium. As other folks have said, it is often funnier to see the bits begin to bomb or not work out as planned. Kovacs and Steve Allen were the geniuses who helped shape what Letterman & O'Brien(and to a lesser extent Leno) are doing now.

The Travel Channel has something called A Day of Doing Nothing (or something like that), in which they point a camera down the beach of some resort, or vacation spot, allowing whatever happens over a half hour period. The effect is like sitting in a beach chair and spacing out. Quite relaxing.

Wednesday, September 01, 2004

There is something about Wednesday that brings out the extreme pessimist in me. Perhaps because I was born on that day of the week and remember my mother always reciting that nursary ryhme about "Wednesday's child is full of woe."

Anyway, it hit me this morning as I was taking the subway to work and glancing at headlines of New York's various papers that G.W. is going to be re-elected (or elected for the first time, depending on how you feel about the 2000 results). For a short time after the Democratic convention I was beginning to have some hope, but now it seems that Kerry/Edwards have disappeared from the radar completely. Except of course for knowing that Kerry didn't really serve in Vietnam, while the President was running bombing missions over Hanoi (or something like that!). I get confused.

Unless there is a real turnaround, and I can't see much chance of that, since everything so far (bad economy, the jobless figures, increases in poverty, the death of over to a thousand service people in Iraq & Afghanistan) seems not to have dimmed the luster on G.W.

Maybe I'll feel better when election day is closer, but I visualize myself going into the voting booth (if we are still allowed to vote come Nov.) and pulling the lever on a machine which may or may not work. Then going home, not watching television or listening to radio. The headlines will reveal it all the next day.

Hunker down for four more years and get ready to pack a bag for those camps, brothers & sisters!